Guest post by Jacquie Fisher.
With our summer holidays seeming like a long way off, I decided we needed to get away on a short city break, and Bruges seemed to tick all the boxes. Easy to get to via the P&O Minicruise from Hull, good value, it looks beautiful and Belgium is famous for beer, chocolate, mussels and chips – what’s not to love?
This was my first experience of a mini cruise, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But now that I’ve done it I would definitely recommend it as a fun, comfortable and great value way to travel on a European short break. Living in Yorkshire, getting to Hull docks via the M62 couldn’t be easier, check-in was quick and once on the boat it’s like your holiday has started – 3 bars to choose from, an eat as much as you want buffet and even the opportunity to dance to live music in the disco!
Bruges has to be one of the most picturesque European cities I’ve ever visited and as it’s quite small, it’s easy to walk around and explore all of the sights – as well as stopping by the many cafés, bars and museums en-route.
To get our bearings we took a trip round the city in a horse drawn carriage; my husband Gordon nearly passed out at the €50 price tag – but the driver was really friendly and we learned a lot about the culture and history as he took us through the beautiful cobbled streets and city square. We stopped for a break near Minnewater Park which was beautiful, and somewhere I don’t think we would have known about otherwise. Whether you choose to hop on a horse and cart tour or explore the city by foot, Minnewater Park is definitely worth heading to.
After splashing out on the horse and carriage we decided to tighten the budget a little for the next part of the day. Luckily, finding inexpensive beer in Bruges is a pretty easy feat. We stopped by the Duvel Grand Beer Café which has prime position on the first floor of the Historium, with views over Markt square. At just €3 for a beer it was great value too! I could have happily stayed here all day watching the world go by, but Gordon wanted to try more of those famous Belgian Beers so onwards we went.
If you’re a beer-lover like my husband, you can’t visit Bruges without seeing the Wall of Beer. The famous wall is a glass cabinet stretching the length of a wall leading to the Be2 bar, proudly displaying hundreds of local beers and their matching glasses. After walking the length of the wall you can stop in the Be2 bar, where you can take your pick from ten beers on tap. If you don’t want to limit yourself to just one, try a beer flight which allows you to choose four of your favourite beers. While the drinks are more than impressive, for me the best part of this bar is the view; the beer garden at the back of the pub is right on the canal, another perfect location to enjoy the Bruges scenery.
Another must-do for beer-lovers in Bruges is t’Brugs Beertje. The cosy pub is one of the oldest bars in Bruges, which is popular with locals and tourists alike. The menu provides over 300 local beers, so set aside some time to stay here for a while.
Mussels and chips
I love mussels, and noticed the many menus serving Moules et Frites as soon as we arrived. We chose to eat at Belle Epoque, a gorgeous traditional style Flemish restaurant; the menu looked amazing but I wasn’t to be swayed from Moules. I had the traditional white wine sauce and Gordon had the creamy beer sauce – both were delicious – and even though the portions were huge I still had room for dessert. Dessert alone is worth visiting this restaurant, for €6.80 we ordered a coffee which came with 8 mini desserts – amazing!!
Our next day started with a bit of culture and we visited the Church of our Lady to see Michaelangelo’s Madonna sculpture. From here we walked back to Minnewater park for a stroll in the sun and a hot chocolate – you haven’t lived until you’ve tried the hot chocolate in Bruges -basically melted chocolate and cream in a cup! Walking back in to the centre we weaved in and out of the many chocolate shops, all keen to let you taste their wares. I’d recommend you shop around before buying your chocolate gifts to take home – not only for the free samples but because the prices vary a lot. Once we were all stocked up with chocolate and souvenir beer glasses it was back to the coach to make our way home.
Bruges lived up to all my expectations and I’d definitely go back. We really enjoyed travelling by mini cruise, which is perfect for people based near Hull or Newcastle, but if you live further down south Eurostar is another great value and efficient way to travel to Bruges.