I’m back! Let’s see, where did I leave you? Ah yes, after having spent a week exploring the Mediterranean (Click here in case you missed that post)– we changed course and headed North to the Beer capital of the world–Belgium. For what we considered our beercation.
First stop: Brugge*, Belgium (via Bruxelles)
*Brugge is the Flemish pronunciation and Bruges is the French.
Ok, let’s get to the good part. Fast forward past the train strike that started as soon as we arrived to our platform from the Bruxelles airport (FYI there are no direct flights to Brugge); don’t worry, the train finally came…now skip over the transfer that nearly didn’t happen due to the aforesaid train strike (imagine literally jumping onto your transfer with less than 1 second to go AND 2 weeks worth of luggage in hand…Thank God we are train station aficionados and found our platform without a moment’s hesitation..trust me there was no time for second guessing); ok…still keep fast forwarding past the local bus in Brugge that broke down on the way to our hotel… and STOP at Hotel Patritius. Whew.
And our hotel was absolutely charming…
Actually, now if I may rewind a bit… I had been to Brugge once before when I was studying abroad in Paris (eight years ago) and it was an incredible trip. It was the first time I had traveled by myself and may I just say… Brugge is just the loveliest little town. Everyone is friendly and speaks English, French, and Flemish (just in case your tri-lingual) and honestly you really don’t even need a map to get around. You can leisurely wander around the town for an hour or so and find your way back to where you started without even realizing it. Brugge just feels like home.
Having said that…my recollection of these said adventures wound up being a little hazy when trying to relive some of the experiences I had…. (me: Wait, I think I went down this street to find the best chocolate store, no wait–there was this amazing waffle truck at the end of a cobblestone street near a canal…I think) but with the help of my husband we came very close.
This square (Simon Stevinplein) was a favorite of mine upon my first trip to Brugge. On the weekends it transforms into a flea market and it was here that
my life was changed I had my first liege waffle.
There are a few restaurants located here and if it’s a beautiful day you most certainly should request to sit outside.
We had dinner on the square at Poules Moules. Probably the best mussels we’ve had. To begin our Belgium beercation I had the local brewery’s Straffe Hendrik tripel and my date tried the Orval Trappist.
After dinner we had a night cap at ‘t Brugs Beertje.
They have more than 300 Belgium beers to choose from. So one could easily never leave here…
We enjoyed the first of many lambics…I had the Cantillon Gueuze and the gentleman had the Brouwei Fonteine Oude Gueuze
De Hobbit is a few doors down from ‘t brugs beertje while we never made it here, it looked totally adorbs.
What can I say, I’m a sucker for Christmas lights.
Our hotel had a lovely spread each morning. It included your traditional European breakfast. We always try and stay at places with complimentary breakfast. It’s worth it in our books.
For our first full day in Brugge we set out early for the De Halve Maan Brewery
Hidden just around this cobblestone corner.
Look! It’s a beer pipeline!
De Halve Maan Brewery is in the final stages of completing an actual beer pipeline from the brewery in Brugge (founded in 1856) to it’s bottling facility right outside of the city.
The brewery is still run by the original family
This lovely copper contraption was the original cooling system for the wort. Back in 1856, copper was used as the heat exchanger to rapidly cool the wort. Today’s modern technology allows for fancy cooling tanks.
I think it makes for a lovely piece of art now.
Half way through the tour we were brought up to the roof deck for some panoramic views of the city.
In Brugge and In Love
Here ends the tour.
We came out of this little red door that opened into the courtyard. Naturally, we went straight for the bar.
We received our complimentary Brugse Zot on draft.
Blondes in Belgium.
We spent a good hour or so in the courtyard. Drinking.
Our next tasting was of the Straffe Hendrik triple and the Straffe Hendrik quad.
Afterwards we wandered through ‘chocolate row’ found on Katelijnestraat. And yes, you should absolutely go inside each and every chocolate shop. Trust me.
My favorite chocolate shop was Dumon. Their chocolates are tiny pieces of sophisticated art. They have two locations–we went to the newer store front which is in my favorite square Simon Stevinplein I mentioned earlier. I recommend walking north on chocolate row and ending at Dumon. It was the chocolate icing on the cake.
The shopping district begins right past the square, behind Dumon on Steenstraat which becomes Zuidzandstraat. Every other store is of lace and it’s fun to walk into each one and see what beautiful delicacies each one has.
After we finished shopping, we circled back to the Markt.
The Markt is really the heart of Brugge.
I think we walked through here at least a dozen times. It’s almost impossible not to.
The colorful Flemish architecture was my favorite.
Right off the Markt, is 2be Bar… a tourist attraction for sure.
The beer wall.
We sampled the Delirium tremens on tap. This is a fairly priced and accessible bottle in the States, but we have never had it on draft.
2be is pretty cool for your tacky tourist adventure. The rotating beer list on draft wasn’t anything to brag about but below the bar is a cavern of bottled beers for sale that exceed your wildest dreams.
Outside is a nice beer garden–but it was way too crowded for us to try and squeeze in.
We finished our beer and day here and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
Did I mention, how hard it is to take a bad picture in this town…
Really hard…what an awful evening in Brugge.
For dinner, L’Estaminet was recommended to us as one of the locals favorite place to eat.
The beer and food did not disappoint!
This place is known for its inexpensive pasta dishes and I’ll vouch that my pasta carbonara was nothing short of egg-cellent!
Our beers for the evening were a Geuze Boon and the Karmeliet Tripel
After dinner, we strolled around town again…here we are at Burg Square.
Just past Burg Square and right down this teeny tiny alley, is Brugge’s best kept secret.
Welcome to Bar De Garre.
Home to classical music and its own exclusive Tripel van de Garre.
(You had me at complimentary cheese)
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast in the garden.
We decided to rent bikes for the day and explore the countryside. It was possibly one of the best decisions we’ve ever made together.
We followed this canal all the way to the little town of Damme.
Just before arriving in Damme we visited The Schelle Windmill
Also known as Schellemolen
The Schellemolen dates back to 1867 and is one of roughly a dozen actual working (milling) windmills in Flanders.
There was enough wind that day to see the gears and all the moving parts just milling away.
We awoke an old man nodding off in a dusty wooden chair. He seemed happy to see us and said something to us in Flemish which I imagine was “enjoy yourselves and have a look around” and then gave us a little pamphlet on windmills (in Flemish). It was probably the most authentic part of the experience.
150 year old windshaft.
I imagine the old man lives in this house which is right next to the Windmill. But I could be making that up.
We continued down this path until we arrived at this picturesque bridge that lead us into town.
The Damme Canal
also known as Damse Vaart
Strolling through the sleepy town of Damme.
After all that exercise we were perched. We stopped by a little cafe/chocolate shop Dam’s Broodhuisje and while I spoke very highly of Dumon just moments ago… the chocolate at Dam’s Broodhuisje takes the
chocolate cake! Not to mention they serve beer.
We tried the local Maerlant Triple, brewed on the outskirts of Damme and the Viven Blonde.
Biking back to Brugge we trekked on the other side of the canal which was wide open farm land. We saw cows, goats, and sheep. There were horses and farmers and locals biking with their families.
Following passed the countryside, we biked through what I believe to be the suburbs of Brugge.
Just when you thought Brugge couldn’t get any cuter, you stumble upon its own little suburb.
Entering back into the city we came through Dampoort. This was the original gate into the city and during the Medieval period it circled around the entire town.
Just past the gate is St. Janshuys Windmill.
This is an example of a windmill that is no longer a working (milling) windmill.
The final leg of our bike excursion–back into town we go!
Horrible picture. Sorry for posting.
After a little cat nap, we strolled through the Markt (again)
The Bell Tower (Belfort) is adjacent to the colorful houses I showed you earlier and has been a part of Brugge since the 1300s.
For our last night we finally found the restaurant I had dined at when I came to Brugge by myself.
Curiosa it’s located right off the Markt and in an old wine cellar.
We tried the Kwak (seen in this science tube experiment) and the Grimbergen Blond. Have a mentioned that each beer in Belgium has it’s own unique glass? It’s true. And the Kwak just so happens to belong in this funny glass–wooden stand included.
After dinner, we returned to ‘t brugs beertje for a Saison Dupont on draft. This is one of our go-to beers Stateside but we’ve never seen it on draft. Not to mention it was either 3 or 4 euro.
For our last night cap, a local at ‘t brugs beertje told us to check out t’ Poatersgat
As you can see it wasn’t that crowded and the hoppy decor was charming.
We ended our night with a Westmalle Trappist Tripel and the Achel blond Trappist.
Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
Late night canals.
Our last morning we took one last stroll around town…
…and passed through the Markt once again….
It starting raining which was the perfect time to grab some afternoon tea at Patisserie Prestige before heading to the train station.
Next stop: Bruxelles