Bruges – the land of incredibly creamy chocolate, caramelised waffles and the amazing medieval architecture. With all those temptations, who wouldn’t want to spend a weekend in Bruges?
After a hop, skip and a jump on the Eurostar, we found ourselves in Bruges over the long weekend in May. Just one hour outside of Brussels, this place has an enormous amount of charm!
After an early start and a rather ho-hum breakfast at the train station, we went in search of some lunch!
First stop was in D’s Cafe which is a deli packed with every type of cheese, cured meat and Belgium specialty that you could imagine! Keen to try some traditional food, we let the owner put us together a selection of Belgian canapés.
Although I know there was some salmon in jelly and duck pate, I’m not sure what else was in these tasty little morsels.
But that didn’t matter because the were delightful!
Especially this little guy – a crunchy sweet biscuit with some type of duck mousse on the inside (and I’m not even a fan of duck!).
Of course they had a huge range of wine and local spirits to wash down your delicious meal. I had a lovely crisp white with a roasted vegetarian stack slathered in hunks of tasty cheese!
We could’ve stayed here all afternoon trying wines and chatting over a cheese platter but thought we better drop off our bags and check into our hotel.
Not far across the other side of town, we arrived at The Dukes Palace Hotel which was the former residence of the Burgundian aristocracy!
Perfect for a Duke don’t you think?
The rooms also had retained some of their 15th Century elegance but with a modern twist of course (nescafe coffee machine and a double shower head)!
Down the beautiful stairwell we went in search of the garden.
And ran into a friend…
Mr TUQ was chuffed because his parents have a little toy poodle at home called Lily. This poodle was about 400x the size of Lily but he still went in for a big cuddle!
After a quick roam around the garden we went back out to explore Bruges.
We headed down the cobblestone streets and found ourselves in the heart of the city, known as Markt square.
Buzzing with people, the Markt square has a mix of traditional Flemish style houses and medieval style architecture.
Whilst the colourful gabled buildings were beautiful, I think the intricate medieval architecture really stole the show!
In the Markt square you can’t miss the Belfry Tower because it literally towers the square. At a whopping 122m (400ft) tall and with over 47 bells inside, it can be seen and heard from most of Bruges.
Just a short walk from the Markt Square we headed to the touristy Frites Museum to learn about the good old potato chip!
Despite people thinking fries might be French or American, the Belgian’s claim that they invented the fry!
A few other potato facts we learnt along the way were:
* Despite their bad reputation, potatoes have half the calories of the same portion of rice and spaghetti (obviously when not fried!)
* Potatoes are a natural first aid remedy for heartburn, light burns and bags under your eyes.
* The largest potato was found in Britain weighing 4,99kg (11lbs) – that’s one big chip!
But of course, my favourite part of the frites museum was getting into the frites parlour. Frites anyone? Double fried of course! And also pummelled the kids out of the way to get in the kids frites parlour too! Regardless of whether they did or didn’t event the the fry, the frites in Bruges were seriously good!
The little green carts in the Markt square serve up boxes of piping hot frites. Crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. With a large slathering of mayonnaise of course.
Mayo doesn’t really do a whole lot for me, but Mr TUQ thought it was heavenly!
Following our frites, we went in search of the next Belgium food staple – chocolate!
We stopped in at Dumon Chocolatier which is renowned for being one of the best chocolatier’s in Bruges.
A tiny shop below street level, Dumon has chocolates in every shape and size.
But the difference to any other chocolate I’ve tried is that every mouthful of this chocolate makes you weak at the knees!
I wanted to go pop all of these glossy chocolates into my mouth, however we settled on a small stash knowing we would be back for more!
Mr TUQ still believes that Swiss chocolate is his favourite, but I think the Belgium chocolate has taken number one spot for me!
With chocolates in hand, we kept meandering around the streets, enjoying all the beautiful homewares, food and flower shops.
On our travels, we smelt caramelised waffles wafting down the street. We followed our noses and arrived at a waffle shop called Oyya.
Whilst we were anything but hungry, we thought it would be rude not to try a Belgium waffle.
Caramelised sugar waffles with ice-cream on top and a good drizzle of Belgium chocolate – oh my!
A diabetic’s worst nightmare but I thought we’d hit the jackpot!
I have never ever tasted a waffle so delightful! I practically licked all the chocolate off cardboard because they were so, so good!
Following our waffle extravaganza, it was no surprise that I stumbled back to the hotel and I feel into a deep sugar coma (my reduced sugar intake was clearly on hiatus!).
A few hours later once the sugar had worn off, we headed out for a stroll before dinner.
At dusk, Bruges is even more charming with the evening light dazzling on top of the buildings!
We walked past the canals which run throughout the city and I felt like I was in a fairytale.
If I was Princess Jinny then this would be my turret where I’d spend the afternoon reading books!
This would be my bridge where I could sit and wave to the people of the town…And this is where I would live!
Once I’d stopped imaging ‘Princess Jinny land’, we ducked into Bistro Refter for some dinner.
A modern offshoot to it’s Michelin star brother, the food at Refter was on point!
We tucked into the most delicious salmon mousse I’ve ever tried (I think it was all that creamy Bruge butter!).
Followed by some cured salmon with fennel. The translation was a little lost of how it was cured but to me it tasted like my favourite Gourmet Traveller gin cured trout recipe!
To continue with the seafood theme, my main was a sweet and flakey flat fish smothered in butter. With a side of frites of course!
A word to the wise – whilst the food here is incredible, the service is extremely slow!
Ensure you don’t go hungry and stock up on drinks as soon as you arrive. The food is worth it though!
Having consumed enough food to last us a lifetime, we rolled ourselves back to the Dukes Palace and tucked ourselves into our regal beds.
With Day 1 down, we dreamt of chocolate and waffles and had a wonderful little sleep!
Day 2 and 3 of our weekend in Bruges will be arriving soon! They’ll be some cycling in the Bruges countryside, climbing 360 steps to the top of the Belfry and a trip to the chocolate museum (because we didn’t get enough chocolate on Day 1!).
Keep your fries peeled!