Christmas in BrugesJanuary 28th, 2011
Our little 3 day bags were packed, Railbookers documentation (complete with maps and timetables) were safe in our hand luggage and the Eurostar was on time-who says the snow and ice always causes delays! My mum and I were on a mini Christmas Market adventure to Bruges.
Due to her penchant for travel and my love of chocolate, I had treated her to 2 days in Bruges for her Birthday/Christmas present (the joys of the gift of travel!). An early start ensured a much-needed coffee and with a warm drink in hand we boarded the 07.30 departure and set off across the Kent countryside (blanketed by snow) and under the tunnel to France. After crossing the French/Belgium border we arrived at Brussels Midi just 2 hours later in time for a quick connection to Bruges.
On arrival, the Centrum bus took us promptly to the main square where carols were already in full swing and mulled wine was in full flow. After a quick distraction (the mulled wine!), we sauntered along the cobbled streets and across canals looking wonderfully picturesque under a thick layer of ice until we arrived at our humble abode, The Flanders Hotel. The boutique hotel hosts 41 comfortable rooms, tasty English breakfast and a stylish hotel bar with a very tempting happy hour during the evenings. Adorned in coats, hats, and gloves we swiftly set out to experience why this charming little town had played the star in Colin Farrell’s Hollywood blockbuster “In Bruges”. Passing little boutique shops twinkling with fairy lights, tea houses serving steaming hot chocolates and picturesque views across icy waters and petite little houses we understood.
Our time over the next couple of days was spent eating, drinking and in the age old hobby of merriment. We strolled through the Christmas markets stopping for waffles, admiring the handmade crafts and enjoying the festive atmosphere. We climbed the famous Belfry Tower (after some general moaning from myself that we would actually freeze after climbing 366 steps and standing at the top!) and visited Bruges cathedral – a stunning construction built in the 10th Century and housing some fantastic stained glass windows.
To say that there are lots of chocolate shops in Bruges is an understatement – 50 shops in total all ready to offer a plethora of truffles, pralines, white, dark, red, green, festive, not to mention turkey shaped, chocolates! We were spoilt for choice with decisions for Christmas presents and I assure you will not leave empty handed.
One the 3rd day, we bid a fond farewell to the Flanders hotel and returned to the train station. We decided to make a brief stop in Brussels to compare the festivities of the capital and one of its smaller cities, (there was plenty of time before the 14.24 train). The city features the fabulous Grand Place and great shopping but I believe the romance and the beauty lies in Bruges. Quaint and charming, Bruges is the perfect mini city break which comes alive at Christmas – just remember to wrap up warm!