Alex and I met 12 years ago today, ouch, it really hurts writing that! We were young and out exploring the world in February of 2002 and it just so happened that fate, as Alex likes to tell it, threw us into the same bed at a hostel in Brugge, Belgium! We were both staying at the Bauhaus hostel near the centre of the charming old town. The Bauhaus is certainly not the most luxurious place one could imagine meeting their future spouse. But there we were and Alex was sitting on the bunk bed above mine asking me where the bathrooms were. Being that we were in Belgium and that we were backpackers it isn’t so surprising that the evening lead to a pub with many Belgian beers consumed and subsequently our first kiss. The romance and indulgence in Brugge had captured us!
Chocolate! – Enjoy lots of it, and with some 80 chocolate shops around town, you can find great chocolate sleep walking after 10 beers. Don’t buy too much from any one place. Stroll around and savour the experience, buying little bits here and there. This way you’ll also receive more free samples and you won’t feel like you missed out on a phenomenal window display later. Definitely have a hot chocolate as it will be one of the best you’ve ever tried. There’s even a chocolate museum called Choco Story which we found to be worthwhile. Their life-size chocolate replica of President Obama was a little tacky, but entertaining too.
De Halve Maan Brewery – We’ve been to some great breweries and De Halve Maan (“the half moon”) is one of our favourites. The brewery is housed in the historic centre of town and features a fun tour through their tasty Belgian beer making process. You also have the opportunity to swing up to their roof top and enjoy an amazing view of gorgeous Brugge. The beers are pretty good too, while not our absolute favorite, we’ll still occasionally grab a bottle of Brugse Zot from a bottle shop. It’s much better quality than the mass produced Leffe blond, which is now found in many bars worldwide because it’s owned by Anheuser–Busch InBev.
Eating – Residents of Brugge speak the same language as the Dutch- Flemish. But no offense to our old home country of 3 and 1/2 years, but taste the food in Belgium and compare it to that of the Netherlands and you’ll understand why these are different countries. Because of the Netherlands historical ties to Calvinism, food is generally viewed more as sustenance rather than something to take pleasure in (though this mentality is slowly changing). On the other hand, the Belgians take food far more seriously- and while the French prefer to cook with wine, the Belgians generally do so with their delicious beers. A popular Belgian brew dish is rabbit stewed in lambic beer.
And did you know that “French fries” actually originated in Belgium? During WWI, American soldiers fought alongside French speaking Belgians who deep fried delicious cut potatoes in oil. Even though they were Belgian, the American soldiers decided to call them French fries, much to the dismay of some 21st century Americans. While we did not visit the the fry museum in Brugge, but you can learn way more about this storied potato history at the Friet Museum.
And of course there’s waffles, which are indeed Belgian as well, and absolutely delicious, generally. Always stick with the fresh made ones and not the ones sitting around in window sills waiting to be devoured by drunk people (though this is a more common trend in certain areas of Brussels). Waffles generally come topped in chocolate, sugar or strawberries and cream.
And if this isn’t enough you’ll also find delicious crepes around town with an abundance of other tasty treats at great patisseries and candy shops. Enjoy the romance and indulgence in Brugge as much as you can, worry about dieting when you get home!
Canal Boat Ride – Many cities claim to be the Venice of somewhere…Places like Amsterdam, Hamburg and Mykonos come to mind. Basically anyplace where you can cruise a small boat or gondola among gorgeous historic buildings can lay claim to this, and Brugge is no exception. If you want to save your legs for chocolate shopping, hop on a boat that will tour you through one of Europe’s most quintessentially beautiful towns.