Tuesday, May 02, 2006


The first bank holiday weekend in May. We met up with Dave, Karen, Pete and Kristi to get out of London and spend the long weekend in Brugge. Brugge is a moderately sized city in the north-west of Belgium, and hence is known for beer and chocolate. This trip was much anticipated by many and we were all very keen to see what Ned (of the Flanders regions of Belgium) would serve up for the weekend.

BrugesI haven't put many photos up here. Dave has a great collection of photos from everyone that you can access by clicking this image.

On Friday afternoon we met at Waterloo station armed with a large array of snacks and drinks for the 2 hour Eurostar ride to Brussels. From Brussels we caught a local train to Brugge... but only just. The hotel was located in the heart of Brugge, just near the main market square. Brugge is definitely small enough that you can walk between all of the main areas. After finding the hotel we went out for a midnight dinner at a late night restaurant.


Today Brugge turned out a wonderful day. The sky was clear and although the breeze had a coolish edge, the sun more than made up for it. First call was a breakfast of coffee and omlettes. The Markt (large town square) is lined with cafes down two sides and bordered by the Belfort tower and the old provincial government building. The Belfort tower stands 83m above the town and has 366 steps to get to the top. Loaded up with breakfast we walked those steps and got a great view of the town and surrounding areas.

Brugge has a small canal that runs through the southern part of the town. Half hour cruises start from various parts of the canal and they offer a great way to see the more scenic areas. We did one of these cruises and saw many of the churches and buildings of the oldest part of the town. Along the way there were other such amazing sites like the smallest window and the doggy in the window ("He was soooo cute", says Kelly).

Brugge has many chocolate shops. After randomly selecting a chocolate store we made some purchases and walked around the south side of the town picking at them. Next stop was lunch, with a couple of Belgium beers, lunch and the requisite frites. We went up the road was the church with the Madonna and child statue.

This weekend there was a chocolate festival on. Many of the chocolate stores made an effort to create a chocolate display. Here is a intricate carousel and some chocolate boobs. Smaller boobs are also available, if that is your thing (see top and sides of photo). Sorry ladies, but we didn't see anything equivalent that might catch your eyes.

That evening we started with a session at the larger beer cafe in Brugge. This one boasts over 400 different types of beers, mostly Belgian. They range from 3% beers through to 10% triples, that really can go to your head. For dinner we went to a restaurant, de Vlaamsche Pot, which mainly sold traditional Flemish dishes. We had steamed moules, three-farmer's pate, beef stew, a mother-load of frites, and the now infamous Gentse waterzooi (Waterzooi with Chicken), amongst other dishes. It really was a nice meal and good value. Note that Kelly had the chicken.

Goodbye sun, hello drizzle. The day wasn't as nice, but it wasn't too rainy. Breakfast was on the markt square again - chocolate waffles, strawberry pancakes, banana pancakes sides of ice-cream and coffee. Today we planned on hiring some bikes and cycling around the town looking at the sights, amid much speculation of the spectacle of three pairs of tandem bikes and plenty of
Goodies references. Unbeknownst to the others, Pete and I hatched a plan to do a bit more riding than that - maybe out the beach or north to the Netherlands. One-by-one we convinced everyone that this was a good thing, so we went and hired bikes (singles as it turns out) and bought disposable rain coats.

The cycling to
Sluis in Netherlands was great fun. There are plenty of dedicated bike tracks and we took the direct line north-east along the canal, through Damme. Once over the border we parked in Sluis and had lunch - frites and a side of scampi or croquettes. Kelly wasn't feeling too well, so much that she had to sit away from us while we ate. Sluis is another little town that is a popular tourist destination. It doesn't have many claims to fame, but it is a good little town to have a day trip to. We were happy enough to just say that we cycled to another country!

On the way back Kelly wasn't feeling well and after troopering halfway home she passed out and threw up. Pete, Dave and I had stopped a while back to take photos, but we weren't too far away when Kristi came back to get us. After a bit of confusion, the fisherman on the other side of the canal communicated that he had called an ambulance. A bicycle policeman also stopped and called the ambulance. It didn't take too long arrive and Kelly and I were on our way to the hospital in Brugge. The emergency department was competent, if not somewhat off-hand, but they decided to hold Kelly in overnight for observation and a drip for what was diagnosed to be food-poisoning. Remember the chicken? Kelly did - many times that evening. I stayed back in the hotel for the night, after catching a cab at midnight. As for our bikes, Pete and Dave, did get into a bit of Goodies action by escorting our bikes back to town while riding their own. Thanks guys!

That night Pete, Kristi, Dave and Karen went back to the beer cafe for some well-earned beers, and by all accounts Pete and Dave had some rather large serves of frites with dinner.


Another drizzly day. Breakfast - we ordered omlettes and coffee again, 'Would you like frites with that?'. 'Hell no' was the overwhelming response. I think the waiter was a bit taken aback. I went back out the hospital to pickup Kelly and bring her back to town. Kelly wasn't so keen on eating for the next couple of days, but everything was fine.

For the rest of the morning we poked around town before catching the train back to Brussels. With a couple of hours to spare in Brussels we had another quick look around before getting back on the Eurostar to come back to London.

Brugge was a great trip, with a great bunch of people. Hospital stays aside, it is a beautiful destination for a weekend away. The town is obviously catering for tourists, but it is not a tourist trap. The beauty and cuteness of the town is not in any way fake and it was great value for money. King Gee reigns well and truly over this part of Belgium.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw the cute doggy too when I went!!!!