Travel | Bruges

Drizzly. That was my initial thought on arrival to Charleroi Airport. From drizzly Manchester to drizzly Belgium all in the space of an hour. But I threw caution to the wind (literally, because I made the intelligent decision not to bring a proper coat), grabbed a mango smoothie and caught the Flibco bus to Bruges. The bus can be caught directly outside of the airport and costs €20 if you buy your ticket on the day, if you book in advance you can save €3. The journey itself takes a couple of hours and has two stops, one in Gent and the final in Bruges. The ride itself was uneventful, apart from the extremely hairy/smoochy couple sat next to me, but the less said about that the better…

We departed the bus at the Central Station and made our way to our hotel. The place we booked was just 600m from the station and was really easy to find. Colliers B&B is on the Hendrik Consciencelaan, a five minute walk from the centre of Bruges and a traditional 3 story Flemish town house run by a lovely English couple, Christian and Jane. For €110 a night we got the attic suite, a simply stunning apartment style room with views that made you feel like you were a real part of the city.


Obviously, staying in a B&B or a hotel isn’t for everyone and it’s worth mentioning that if you’re on a tighter budget, then there are plenty of other places to stay. The Bauhaus Hostel is full of travellers and locals and really is a home away from home. Snuffel is a backpackers paradise full of English board games, beers and just laid-back people getting well and truly keise. Drunk, to you and me.

Jane from the B&B recommended an array of restaurants for us to visit on our first evening but all I really cared about was getting some chocolate, beer and frites, in that order preferably. She recommended that we go to The Chocolate Line a beautiful little chocolatier located on Simon Stevinplein, one of three chocolate shops to be mentioned in the Michelin Guide.


Now I am not over exaggerating when I say that this place nearly brought a tear to my eye, thinking of the smell alone makes me salivate, but oh my god it was heaven on earth. We stocked up on pretty much everything, including some incredible home made marshmallow and headed out to get some frites (chips) and beer.

We woke up bright and breezy on the Saturday and headed to the weekly market in ‘t Zand Square, (not to be confused with The Markt ‘Market Square’ of Bruges which is the main square located in the heart of the city – ‘t Zand square is just before this!). For the most part, it was a food market, full to the brim with shouting locals and delectable looking fruit. The market did sell flowers, nuts and various other non food related items but more notably, you could buy... pets! Yes, if you so desired you could pick up a rabbit for €6 or a baby chick for €3 – it took me all my strength not to buy all of the animals in sight and if I’m honest, I’m not sure whether they were really being sold as pets. The market also runs on a Wednesday on smaller scale.


Our next stop was the Dijiver canal, arguably one of the prettiest canals in the whole of Bruges. We caught a canal boat tour directly on the Dijiver and were thoroughly entertained for half an hour by a wildly eccentric English tour guide. He really knew his onions and the views were simply breath-taking. Amusingly, my most memorable sight was of ‘fidèle’ the most photographed dog in Bruges. This adorable pup can be found between the Meerbrug and the Paardenbrug and can be found relaxing on a window ledge watching the boats go by. He even starred in the critically acclaimed movie ‘In Bruges’.




A flea market is held every Saturday directly on the Dijiver running alongside the canal where you can find an assortment of treasures from bells and brass to trinkets and tusks. The experience itself was a wonderful thing; bustling hagglers, homemade jewellery, new and inviting smells and my favourite part was how authentic everything felt, I felt like I was at home, like I was a Belgian. A must-see in my opinion.



The one thing I knew I wanted to see when we planned the trip to Bruges was Michelangelo’s ‘Madonna and Child’. The Onze Lieve Vrouw Kerk ‘The Church of our Lady’ where the statue is homed is a minute walk from the Dijiver on the Mariastraat. The marble statue of Mary and Jesus was famously smuggled by German Soldiers in the Second World War in between two mattresses to Germany. It was found two years later in Austria and finally returned to Bruges. The statue is understandably the main event, but the church itself was just exquisite, the gothic architecture is divine and a sight well worth seeing, all for €3 I might add!


After a full day of sight seeing, we were ready for some waffles (Laurenzino is the best in town!) and of course, a nice cold beer. There was only one place we had in mind and that was the Beer Wall on Wollestraat. This quirky bar has by far the vastest collection of beers I have ever seen. Even if you don’t like beer, you WILL like beer by the time you leave, and even if you don’t then you should just go anyway. On a warm day you can sit out in the courtyard which overlooks the canal or if it’s a little chillier, you can sit inside next to your very own indoor fire. I opted for the Brugse Zot, a local beer which today is the only beer that is actually brewed and lagered in Bruges. If you want the full Belgian experience, you can even grab a Flemish ‘beer’ inspired breakfast.



One thing that is noticeable in Bruges and many other European cities is that the main mode of transport is by bike, so on our final day we decided to rent some. Admittedly, it took me a while to get my bearings being on the opposite side of the road, but once I found my ‘wheels’ there was no stopping me. It was still raining, but I didn’t care… we travelled all around Bruges, stopping at chocolatiers and frites shops, riding along the canals and taking in every inch of the city. I was in my element. One memorable part of the journey was cycling around The Beguinage, a female only nunnery which today inhabits nuns from the Order of Saint Benedict. The courtyard to the property is pretty and romantic and due to the ‘silence at all times rule’, it’s magnificently tranquil.



Our trip had nearly come to an end and we only had time for one last meal before we had to catch our flight back to the UK. We made our way back to ‘t Zand square, grabbed a bowl of soup and a glass of wine and spent the rest of that evening reminiscing over the wonderful sights we’d seen over that weekend.



Do I have any regrets? Yes, but only one, and that was visiting the Choco Story Museum. I mean, I knew there would be some factual elements to the museum, obviously, but a little heads up to those of you thinking you’ll be visiting Bruges’ answer to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – you’re not. You get ONE sample of chocolate, so ultimately I was bored and hungry. Just no Choco Story, no.

As on the way there, it was drizzling as I boarded the plane home. But this time it didn’t even dawn on me until later. If I’m completely honest my first thought when leaving Bruges was ‘crap, I hope my chocolate doesn’t melt’. I only really noticed when I got on the plane and I didn’t care, I would have happily hopped on a bike and circled my way around those beautiful cobbled streets again and again!

3 comments :

  1. THIS POST IS SO GORGEOUS. I desperately want to go to Belgium, and this has only confirmed it.
    x Justina // abentpieceofwire.com
    (trying to ramp up my bloglovin' game, help a girl out?)

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  2. Yes! I was looking for this. I actually really want to go back to Bruges too. If only to get more Dumon chocolates now that we are coming to the end of our supply! x

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  3. Bruges is so beautiful! It's only a 30min ride from my home, but I only visit it every two years or something.. Shame on me, right? :p
    xo Noor

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