We’re in that between time of ‘what day is it & why is my belly overhanging my jeans like that’ – yup, those spare few days before the new year where you just don’t know what the flip to do with yourself (build that new Lego set, obvs).
Although for me, as I write this, it’s 7am and I’m on a train to work. Good job I bloody love dogs, eh?
Let’s talk Bruges. Let’s talk about all the cute buildings & cherry beer. Let’s talk about this city break that kinda signified a big old shift in my life (more about that laterzzzz)
It’s no secret that Max & I are huge fans of European city breaks. For example, you can read my seriously enthusiastic post about my love affair with Budapest here. And when Max suggested we escape to Belgium a few days before Christmas I was like ‘Hell to the Yeah’ gimme gimme.
One of the best and most important things to note was that we drove there. A mini adventure of small proportions with all the excitement of a full blown expedition. I mean, I could take as many pairs of shoes and different coats as I wanted because ‘hello’ no luggage restrictions. Also, all the possibilities for bringing home silly amounts of alcohol & Belgium chocolate.
It was a serious no-brainer when we stumbled across the package deal on Secret Escapes and we couldn’t get over how quick the journey would take us (it was only an hour and a half from Calais, why had no one told us this before?)
We decided to extend our mini adventure by one night and stay over near Folkstone before our crossing. I wouldn’t have bought this up if it wasn’t for the adorbs accommodation we stumbled on by pure chance. We nearly booked a Travel Lodge. We nearly booked a Premier Inn. But thank God we didn’t, because for less money’s and more authentic cottage cute, we stayed at The Wife of Bath. Little did we know until we arrived that it was newly renovated and had only opened two weeks before.
It’s interior included original beams, a retro radio on the bedside table, dinosaur bookends & a Nesspreso machine – what’s not to love. Oh & their bar was Spanish themed serving lashings of giant G&Ts and bloody good tapas. The dining room was also massively Instagram worthy.
If you’re looking for a stop over before your Eurotunnel crossing I can highly recommend this charming little place. Did I mention it only cost £50 to stay? Yup, cray cray.
By 11am on Thursday 22nd December we were in France, speeding our way up the motorway on the right hand side (all types of mental). By 12.30pm we had arrived at our ultra central 4* hotel, The Prinsonhof. It was all Belgium-esque, a fire roaring in reception, clogs in our room & a cute chubby hotel dog that was left to wander as he pleased. My kinda place.
After a quick change, we headed out to explore the city. It was crisp and cold and the streets were cobbled. The architecture was everything I wanted it to be, all gothic and intricate (such an old lady thing to say but seriously, check it out). The streets were lined with chocolate shops, waffle stalls & quirky gift stores. There were two Christmas markets and enough horse & carts to make anyone think cars did not exist in this town.
There was an abundance of restaurants, eatery’s and bistros to choose from; we were ravenous and completely spoilt for choice. We settled on a small restaurant off the beaten track which by the sounds of all the foreign chatter seemed to be a locals favorite. It was a good move; the food was insanely good. I had myself a pear, Camembert & Parma ham salad (what is Christmas without a giant round of melted cheese huh?) and Max had a classic beef stew with Bruges fries. Nom.
Slightly boozy and full of all the good food, we went in search of the Minnewater Bridge (or the ‘Lake of Love’ as it’s sometimes referred to – how cute). It’s only now when I look back that I realise that Max seemed particularly fierce on finding this little gem. Completely oblivious at the time, I skipped along the streets of Bruges in zero rush asking to stop at every coloured, wooden door to have my photo taken. I have no shame.
Before finding our bridge, we ended up in an ace beer house sampling some local brews with a couple from up North. They’d just got engaged that day and I was so bloody pleased for them; the irony was yet to dawn on me there and then.
And then we found it (the sun had disappeared & the sky was proper inky) The bridge and the lake and the fairytale looking house that overlooked it, and it was super simple why it had earnt the title of the Lake of Love – quite simply, it was beaut.
And then Max got down on one knee and asked me to marry him so that was pretty swell. I mean it was really, really bloody ace. The biggest smiles (and happy tears) exploded out of my face. I did ask if he was serious as in – ‘do you really know what you’re getting yourself into, my dear?’ And in just a brief moment we went from ‘pre-engaged’ to fully fledged fiancées.
Did you know there’s a male spelling & a female spelling for that term? Fiancé & fiancee. Yeah me neither, but true story.
I won’t bore you with the details but we did a lot of ringing around to let everyone know and we got a lot of ‘oh thought you already were‘ & ‘what date you getting married then?‘ & ‘about bloody time too’. N’aw.
We did a lot of boozing that night. I also did a lot of cooing over the ring because omfg boy did good.
And now I’m gonna get back to Bruges, the city you must all visit because I’ll probs do a separate post about being all engaged. Here are the other things you must try & do when you go:
1. Eat waffles at Lizzies Waffles. For waffles as light as air but as big as your head, you must visit this place. The food was hashtag food porn. And the best advice the couple next to us gave was ‘don’t share‘.
2. Get your butts on a boat. Seeing Bruges by water is like a pitstop tour of the city. Having some beardy guy point out all the places that are great to visit whilst bobbing along some seriously pretty waterways is a great way to spend 45 mins of your Bruges adventure. Swear down.
3. Try all the beer. Even if you don’t usually like beer, try it. Because I can gaurentee there will be at least one you like (probably the cheery beer which is basically juice with all the alchol vibes chucked in for good measure).
Max & I stopped in at a cool place called B Taste which was basically a ‘pour it yourself and get merry’ kinda affair. A gazillion different beer taps to try and a pre-loaded card for us to pay with – it was like being 12 again with a pay as you go mobile phone, except the beer was the text messages and I kept running out of credit. Thats a really shit metaphor but go with it year.
Bottom line is; we had all the fun. And the lady running the place was super duper nice so make sure you hit it up when you visit.
4. Buy chocolate. Seek out the very best shops because there are tons to choose from on every street. But there are those ones that are 100% a cut above the rest y’know? We choose to pick up our souvenir chocolate from Dumon, an old school chocolatier. We also purchased a few boxes of rather swanky (and modern) chocolate from B2B.
5. Climb the steps of the really tall tower. Okay, so I’ll be honest – I wasn’t enthralled by this activity but it kinda felt like a ‘must-do’ whilst we were there. Everyone kept referring to that scene from the film and it’s a whacking 366 steps to the top. It leans slightly to the right hand side and lemme tell you something; it was flippin’ scary being at the top. I thought I might blow away in the wind. I thought the floors/ceiling/walls might collapse at anytime. So I guess you should visit just for the thrill of it really. Bit like watching Goosebumps.
6. Mingle with the locals. On our last night we found ourselves in a student bar singing a mix of The Strokes, The Arctic Monkeys & Wham along with the local student mix. I know, what a combo. We were perched on a window ledge, me with a giant G&T and Max with a beer called Max (at the time this was very amusing).
All the while, a couple of teens were gyrating in our space and the girl had really giant dreadlocks that kept getting all up in my grill. The things you remember when you’re pissed, eh.
7. Visit Minnewater park and maybe get engaged (although maybe not ’cause I kinda see it as my spot now kay thanks).
Whether bae is thinking of popping the question or not, you should 100% visit this pretty area of Bruges. Grab yourselves some frites & mayo and go for a stroll around the ‘lake’. You know it makes perfect sense.
Go on, give it a visit and tell me what you think.
I hope you’ve all had special Christmas’s and your food baby’s aren’t too bad. I also hope you have that sparkly outfit ready for tomorrow night. Here’s to 2017 and all the magical things that I’m sure are gonna happen.