For anyone who does not know, Bruges is a small town 30 minutes from the coast in Belgium. It is sometimes called the Venice of Northern Europe because of its various canals that run through the city. For our 2 year anniversary, Dillon and I took a weekend trip here. I won’t get all mushy on here, but I will get into the awesome details of the city.
On Friday we flew into Brussels and then after various modes of transportation finally made it to our Air Bnb. The Air Bnb was amazing. We had a private room and there was a sun terrace with free tea and coffee. Our host, An, gave us so many suggestions and a city map. Everything she suggested was great! Since we got there pretty late we grabbed food and went into town to walk around. We sat down for some Belgian beer and waffles! The beer here is the best I have ever had!
We got lucky to be here for a full Saturday because every Saturday morning there is a local market. There was a bunch of stands with fresh fruits and vegetables. (Of course I stopped at the cheese booth) There were also a myriad of antiques and cool objects. If a hipster wanted to decorate an apartment, this was where they would have found the objects to do so. Along with the antiques there were local artisans. I ended up buying two small paintings of the canals that I watched the artist make.
After this we went on a canal tour. It was a bit touristy and the boat was crowded. I could barely hear the tour guide, but the views from the boat were gorgeous. It was only 30 minutes, and I wished I could have spent all day on a boat roaming through the canals. We did learn on this boat cruise that the first language in Bruges is Dutch, then French and then German. Most people do speak English though. We went to a small sandwich shop for lunch and one of the ingredients listed everywhere was “Philadelphia.” Turns out they call cream cheese Philadelphia. (PHILLY PRIDE!)
Next we headed to The Chocolate Story, a museum about the origins of chocolate. (Mainly we went for the free chocolate) The story starts with the cocoa drink, which was prepared for the first time around 2000 BC. The Mayans and Aztecs used cocoa beans as a means of payment, or as offerings to the Gods. It was not until the Spanish invaded these areas, that milk and sugar was added. The best part about the tour was this guiding picture of a piece of chocolate. It looked more like the smiling shit emoji from the i-phone and a lot of the pictures were a bit phallic. (I’ll let you be the judge from the photos below) At least he gave a good history lesson I guess.
This all led to the all important question we have all been wondering over the years…Is chocolate an aphrodisiac? To be honest, I was never wondering that, but apparently the museum thought it necessary to tell me. You can read below if you have been dying to know!
At the end of the tour we were given a chocolate demonstration. We learned the process of making chocolate filled candies. (He made it look easy) The greatest part was that he gave us all a free piece of chocolate that he freshly made that day. IT WAS SOOOO GOOD!! (Don’t worry friends I am bringing home some Belgian chocolates for everyone to try)
Then we headed to a local place suggested by An called Brugs Beertje. They had a selection of 300 different Belgian beers and snack foods. We decided on a cheese and salami plate and two beers to start the night. The beer in Belgium is so different from anything I have had in the States. The taste is amazing the percentage of alcohol can go up to 12%. (I’ll get more into the beer in a minute)
Since it was late we decided on a romantic dinner of wings, fries and coffee. (This is what happens when college students try to fancy)
The next morning, we got some beers on one of the canals. I tried my favorite beer here. It is called Hoegaarden Rose. I usually do not like fruity beers because they taste too sugary, but this was just a hint of raspberry. I wish the imported version in the States wasn’t as expensive because IN BRUGES a glass was only 2 euros (about 2/3 dollars).
After we headed to a brewery tour of a famous Bruges beer. It is called Brugse Zot. They make 6 different types of beer locally in town. Although the modern facility is downstairs, we were taken up 246 steps to the old brewery. Unlike brewing companies in other countries, Belgian beer has no restrictions. There can be any alcohol content, along with any herbs, spices and fruit. This is what makes all their beers so tasty and different.
Another fun fact that our tour guide felt necessary to point out is that the hops plant, which is used in all beer, is related to cannabis. (If you do not know what that is, you can look it up) Then the guide made a funny joke. She told us that this is the reason why the Belgian people are so “hoppy.” (Sorry…I know corny)
After the 246 steps, we got to the top of the building on the roof. We got an amazing view of the entire city. The entire time she kept reminding us that there was beer waiting for us on the way down. (No one complained after that) Most Belgian beers are served with a lot of froth on top. This is to create anticipation because the person must wait for the froth to dissolve before drinking. (Great marketing)
After we loved the Brugs Beertje place so much that we went back and got the same food, just different beers. (If you are curious on the exact beers, I can send you an entire list of what to try)
The rest of our time was spent exploring the city. All the buildings are colored and there are a couple market squares filled with churches, museums and shops. You can also stroll down the multiple canals, sit down and grab a drink.
Then we headed to dinner only to realize it was a Sunday and the only thing open was a Chinese restaurant. (You win again Dillon) After delicious fried rice, we headed to bed early for a long day of travel.
Our flight was leaving from Brussels at 10:30am, so we needed to take a train to the airport from Bruges. First we took a 6am bus from the town center to the train station in Bruges. Next we hopped on a train to the airport and got to the check-in desk with plenty of time to spare.
All was fine, until we looked at the security line. It was not just wrapped around some poles, but stacked around all the check-in desks and through the entrance of the airport. I checked my phone…we were gonna miss our flight if it left on time. There were multiple news crews all filming the long lines and soon we figured out that the Brussels airport security decided to go on strike that morning. (Convenient)
By the time we got the security check where they stamp your passport, our flight should have taken off. There was no going back, we had to keep going. In the Brussels airport, they check your bags and stuff once you are at the gate. Once the passport was in our hands, we booked it! (Yes, you know those crazy people running in the airport) I stripped my jacket and appropriate sized liquids and shuffled through the security machine panting. We grabbed our things and took off again. Stumbling to the gate with my bags and shoes not meant for running, we made it on time…well the plane was delayed so technically we did not make it on time. WE GOT SO LUCKY!
After some intense Monopoly and Yahtzee on the Ipad, we landed in Dublin. Then we took a bus back to UCD (that is where Dillon is studying in Dublin) and took a nap and watched Netflix. (Well deserved I think) Later we made tacos that were fantastic! Sadly I had to come back to UL for my Tuesday classes. I got on the 9:45pm Dublin Coach bus and did not get back until a little after midnight. At this point I was just so exhausted and I was excited to get back and sleep.
I want to thank Dillon for making this weekend so special and I cannot wait to see you in May!
This weekend I will be staying overnight on the Aran Islands and then on Monday I head to Northern Ireland for 3 days. After I will be in Scotland for 4 days. (You can expect great things to come for my next blog post)
Until then…please enjoy this picture of Dillon using a squish penny machine at the Chocolate Story. (I do not know why I have so many pictures of people doing this)