I. LOVE. BRUGES. It is officially my favorite travel destination, and possibly the most magical place on earth (move over Disney!). I mean, what’s not to love? It’s a medieval town that was untouched by the wars, which means that all the buildings are original structures and oh so quaint.
There are canals running through the whole town, with hundreds of swans swimming happily along. The swans are so important to the town that you can get thrown in jail for 3 years if you kill one, which makes the boat captains very nervous as they take tourists on canal tours. At least, this is what I was told. I could just be a gullible tourist…
And then toss in the best chocolate, beer and waffles in the world and let that simmer in some Flemish stew. Not to mention that everyone there seemed to be trilingual (French, Flemish, and English), so being an English-speaker was never a problem.
OK, stop drooling and let’s get to it. We only spent two days in Bruges, but I could easily have spent a whole week there even though it’s a small town. There are over one hundred chocolate shops, so that alone would have held my attention. In fact, the biggest regret I had after my trip was that I didn’t buy more chocolate in Belgium. Like, a LOT more. My favorite shop by far was The Chocolate Line, which had some really interesting flavors like passionfruit matcha that were superb and packed a ton of flavor into each perfectly crafted bite. Another one that I highly recommend is Dumon Chocolatier, which conveniently happens to be in the same square as The Chocolate Line.
But aside from the chocolate, Bruges really is a food-lover’s paradise. They perfected the waffle using a pearly sugar that adds a great crunch – not something you will usually find when you order a “Belgian waffle” in the States. The waffles are crunchy and sweet on the outside and then fluffy and warm on the inside – and are usually topped with any combination of whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fudge, ice cream, you name it! You really can’t go wrong here. In fact, it’s the very first thing we ate in Belgium.
Belgium is also known for inventing what we call the “french fry”, though obviously that is debatable based on what we call the dish. But let me tell you, they definitely do fries right in Bruges! There were two walk up food-truck-type “frites” carts in the marketplace square that competed with each other and were both open until around 3am – perfect for when you are finally making your way back to your B&B from a night of partaking of a slew of delicious Belgian beers. We tried both of them with various sauces, and the jury is still out on which one was better (Hubs preferred the one on the left, but I liked the one on the right better). But we both agreed that the curry mayo was absolutely the way to go. It may sound gross if you’re a fries with ketchup kind of gal or guy, but it was fantastic!
So remember how I had said in an earlier post that I created a huge spreadsheet with tons of ideas for activities and places that I wanted to eat at on our trip? Yeah, that really came back to bite me in Bruges. There are SOO many places to get delicious-looking food, but the town is so medieval and the roads and signs so tiny and unassuming that if you are looking for a specific place to eat, you end up getting lost and going in circles past all these places advertising moules-frites and other deliciousness, until you just can’t bear it anymore. This happened to us when we were looking for a late lunch after our arrival to the town, and after we searched and searched and then found that the restaurant we were looking for was closed between lunch and dinner (as many European restaurants are!), we found the closest waffle stand and just sat on a step to eat. There is no quicker fix to a foul mood than eating hot Belgian waffles with Belgian chocolate sauce, in Belgium, when you are “hangry”.
After waking from a dream-like trance after our first Belgian waffle experience, we decided that it would at this point be best to forget about having a real lunch and just snack on sweets until dinner. So we head around the corner to The Old Chocolate House, which I heard has the very best hot chocolate in town. Well, let me tell you, they did NOT disappoint. It was actually the best hot chocolate I have ever had in my entire life (even considering our Paris trip right after this one).
They gave us the choice between dark, milk, and white chocolate (we picked dark), and then they brought out this giant mug of steamed milk and this cup of chocolate chips that was made out of chocolate (which we ended up tossing into the hot chocolate right after the above picture was taken). I had read on a blog somewhere that the mugs were giant, so we only ordered one to split – and Thank God, because there is no way I could have handled the whole thing by myself. But it was sooooo amaazzinnnggg!!!! If we had stayed longer than two days I probably would have gone back for more – 2, 3, maybe 7 more times.
After we had had our fill of chocolate, we went on a canal tour where we spent 30 minutes grinning giddily at the beautiful sights and the hilarity of our tour guide/boat captain. I think we both agreed that this was the highlight of our time in Bruges, because there was just so much to look at and we had never been in such a quaint, medieval town before.
Our entire trip in Bruges was a delight, even when we were getting lost and standing out in the rain and cold to watch the Euro Cup Quarter-final match, Belgium versus Wales. Unfortunately Belgium lost that game, but the crowd was energetic all the same. Hubs and I were so impressed when the emcee at the outdoor viewing party started calling out the last names of all the players and the crowd screamed out the corresponding first names. I feel like I couldn’t do that with any team of any sport, anywhere.
It’s crazy how in less than 48 hours, this little town stole my
heart stomach and gave me so much to talk about. I could go on and on about the food, the beer, and just how much we enjoyed ourselves, but I think that maybe I’ll save that for another day. I’m not gonna lie though, I have definitely checked out the possibility of shipping out several pounds of chocolates directly from Bruges to my doorstep. I think I’ll just have to go back someday (soon)!