04 Jun Beer Tasting in Bruges
After a few nights in wild Amsterdam, we headed to the sleepy, rainy city of Bruges in Northern Belgium. As the city is known for its picturesque winding streets, waterways and charming buildings we thought it may look similar to Amsterdam but it was completely different with much more of an old world feel to it.
The first night we arrived relatively late and headed out to get some thing to eat around 9pm. Walking through the quiet streets we realised that there were hardly any shops or even bars open but thankfully we managed to get a Snitzel from a tiny cafe that was just closing up. We had an early night and woke early the next day to explore the town, heading to the two main squares which host some beautiful architecture which we admired as horses and carts passed by. We visited the Basilica of the Holy Blood, a church built in the 12th century which is said to house a relic with the blood of Jesus. The church was free to get into and a donation is suggested view the holy blood. We also hit up some of the famous Belgian chocolate shops and being stingy travellers were delighted to find it that you don’t actually need to buy any as most shops offer you free samples!!
After wondering the beautiful streets and finding an amazing little pasta shop, we headed to the Minnewater Park which is home to the Bridge of Eternal Love. Tradition says that whoever you walk over the bridge with you will have eternal love for each other (sorry Andy). The views from the bridge were amazing.
That evening we headed to the hostel bar so Gemma could try tasting some Belgian beers. The session was led by a local beer connoisseur who talked through the beer making process before letting us sample six Belgian beers. There was a great variety of beers to try ranging from blonde to dark – something to suit every beer lovers pallet! The highlight was the final beer which is known to be one of the most exclusive beers in the world. Brewed by monks, West Vleteren is not sold for profit and made only on small scale production. The session was laid back, fun and informative and also a great way to get chatting with fellow travellers. After the beer tasting we sat into the wee hours playing King’s cup (Ring of Fire to us Scots) until eventually leaving the bar to go on a massive hunt across Bruges for chips at 3AM.
The following day when we emerged from our little dorm pods, Gemma was nursing a slight hangover which was quickly remedied by a maple syrup covered Belgian Waffle.
We headed back to Markt Square to climb the Belfry of Bruges, a large tower which overlooks the city. We climbed 366 steps to the top, stopping on the way to see the Carrillon in action as it rang the bell across the city. The view from the top was pretty spectacular and worth the climb.
Heading back to the hostel we remembered that we had spotted a windmill round the corner and went to have a look. In fact there was two windmills, one which was in working order. We managed to climb up the old wooden stairs of one of the windmills which was slightly terrifying!
In the evening, after a post drinking cat nap, we headed out for dinner and tasted the traditional Flemish stew. The stew was nice with a peppery taste and you could taste the red wine through the sauce.
We headed to the main square to join the nighttime walking tour and stood about waiting like a pair of idiots only to find out it actually left half and hour earlier, woops! Not discouraged, we decided to just do our own tour of Bruges by night which resulted in some eerie photographs.
Our time in Bruges has been great as we met some cool people and saw some amazing things. I would definitely like to return to the city, perhaps in better weather as I’d imagine the sunshine would only make it more beautiful. Next on our itinerary is an unplanned stop in another Belgian city, Ghent. We will spend two nights here to cut down our time in Paris which is currently experiencing really bad flooding.