Venice of the North, historical pearl in Belgium
I have been lucky to visit Bruges twice and both times around Christmas period. But my love towards this city goes back in years when I watched movie In Bruges for the very first time. Its true spirit is revealed during misty, dark, silent and cold nights when city goes to sleep. Lights, historical buildings surrounded by canals, foggy and narrow streets, moist, almost thick air. So enchanting.. and it is so easy to fall in love with Bruges. It might be a Disneyland, but with a touch of fairy tale, a little bit a tourist trap, but still seducing making you fall in love with it despite knowing that it is mostly just a shiny appearance. So beautiful, polished and rich with decorative and historic architectural gems.
taste the Bruges
Chocolate – Bruges might be the chocolate capital of Belgium. It has plenty of chocolate shops and chocolateries, sweet aroma of chocolate is swirling in the air. But try to avoid touristic chocolate shops and instead discover the real gems of this delicacy. Here are two suggestions worth exploring.
B by B Babelutte by Bartholomeus, is a unique concept, created by chef Bart Desmidt (Two stars in the Michelin guide for restaurant Bartholomeus in Knokke) and master chocolatier Jan Verleye. Each chocolate had his own number and taste and is presented in a white and almost architectural setting, but with a splash of color. You can make his own selection of flavors, to his own liking.
Address: Sint-Amandsstraat 39
Sukerbuyc is another artisan chocolate originating in Bruges. It says that the secret ingredient is always chocolate and I couldn’t agree more. For already over than 4 decades it is a family run chocolaterie and shop currently is run by Elise who is third generation chocolatier following the footsteps of her grandparents. You can have chocolate tasting plate there or buy a box with you to take home and enjoy later.
Address: Katelijnestraat 5 , Brugge
Beer – Belgium, of course, is legendary for its beers. And Bruges is not an exception. There are more than 300 active breweries with over than 3000 types of beers in this little country and in Bruges you can find beer museum that will be interesting for beer lovers and also a beer wall which will be an exhibit of all Belgium beer brands. It is located on Wollestraat 53 and is free of charge. Historically it used to be a Mayor’s house built in 15th century. According to suggestions 5 beers from Bruges that you have to try are: Brugse Zot, Bourgogne des Flandres, Cafe Vlissinghe, Straffe Hendrik Quadrupel, Trippel de Gare.
Waffles – sweet, rich in flavour, so aromatic.. waffles in Belgium are must try. And Bruges is place where I’ve found the best waffles in Belgium so far served at Otto Waffle Atelier. Batter is made with oats and that adds bit of nutty flavour. And together with secret methods of Otto they taste like heaven. Don’t buy the ones on the street with Nutella, but go straight to the best place. Their address: Katelijnestraat 1, Bruges.
Dinner at Brasserie Raymond (Eiermarkt 5, next to the chocolatier Dumon). This Michelin guide restaurant is the epitome of a brasserie with wood panelling, red bench seats, a friendly bustling atmosphere and a straightforward menu, prepared according to time-honoured culinary techniques.
Hot chocolate or drink and a game of chess at Hotel Heritage Bruges. Playing chess next to the cozy fire, surrounded by carefully selected beautiful items was one of the nicest chess games for me so far!
Christmas markets are very popular attraction during Christmas time. They are crowded, lively and surrounded by aroma of mulled wine. Overall, I think they are nothing special, but it is worth to go and enjoy them at night as city then is magnificent and views around market amazing.
In conclusion Bruges is definitely a fairy tale in a reality. Better to be enjoyed cold, misty and during dark hours. It a great destination for a weekend getaway and place where to let yourself spoiled with pleasure and tasty flavours. Such a charming city, interwoven with canals and cobble stone streets, full with myths and history that all forms its unique character. The only thing that I do not suggest is to go to the ice rink. Don’t disappoint yourself and keep only good memories about this wonderful city.