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Bruges: Canals, Cobbles & Beer

The kids are on break this week for February half term (basically a one week break in the middle of each trimester) so we headed out on our next family adventure to Bruges, Belgium. This time we decided to take the Eurostar which made for a comfortable, quick journey. By quick, I mean the Eurostar bit. From home to St. Pancras to Brussels to Bruges took 6 hours all in, but there was minimal complaining from the kids so I'll count that as a win.

Per usual, Beth had pretty much everything planned out. We tend to plan too many activities so this time Beth let the kids vote on what they wanted to do and she built the itinerary around that. They got to do what they enjoyed and Beth and I got to do some things on our own without them.

TUESDAY

When we arrived in Bruges, I made everyone walk to the Airbnb so that we could see the city a bit and get our bearings. Along the way we got a good feel for what the city was known for: canals and beautiful cobbled streets.




After struggling a bit to find our apartment, we noticed that it was actually located above the Torture Museum, one of Europe's oldest prisons.


Weird, ok, but look at this view from our place!


As we were in Belgium, naturally our first stop had to be the Bruges Beer Experience. Essentially this was a history of beer making and a bit about the culture of beer in Belgium. Two favorites for me here:

Learning about beer bellies

The great selection of postcards in the gift shop

Of course we had some beer tasting too. Michael and Elizabeth decided to have a beer with us (it's legal to drink with your parents at 15). We ate a nice Italian restaurant, sent the kids home, then Beth and I headed out for a drink at De Garre, a bar hidden way back in a tiny alley with a really good selection of beers.


Provincial Court

WEDNESDAY

We started our second day with a tour of the Belfort of Bruges (Belfry), which all of the kids wanted to tour because of the 366 step climb to the top of the 272' tall tower. The tower is a world heritage site famous for 47 bells housed inside the top tower.


I preferred it for the spectacular view of the city.



It was cold so we took the kids for a hot chocolate before dropping them back off at the apartment so that Beth and I could go on a walking tour. Whenever I travel to a new city, I try to do a walking tour; they're absolutely the best way to see a new city in a short amount of time. This tour was no different.

Looking back at our Airbnb (the set of windows on the far right building)

One of the oldest hospitals in the World

My love for beer never ends!

The Bridge of Love

After the tour, we headed for lunch with the kids for waffles! We were in Belgium, we HAD TO have waffles. On the way, we showed the kids the bridge of love.


Then had a delicious (and cheap) late lunch of waffles, frites (don't dare call them French fries) and a beer.


Our last stop Wednesday with the kids was at Choco-Story, which it turns out is EXACTLY the same as the one in Paris that Oscar and I went to a year ago on the same half term break.

Beth and I then celebrated Valentine's Day at Brugs Pittahuis, where I had a fantastic (and massive) pita with falafels and hummus. I had an 11 mile run scheduled for the morning, so back to the apartment we went and I crashed early (some things never change).

THURSDAY

My day started with some marathon training. Beth suggested heading out of the city along the canal to Damme, the town we would have gone to if we had done the bike tour. It was a long, straight, boring stretch, but good marathon prep.



Family time started with a visit to the old hospital, which houses works by Picasso and an Andy Warhol exhibit. After another lunch at the same waffle shop, we headed for Brouwerij De Halve Maan, a brewery owned by the Maes family for centuries that offered a great brewery tour. Our guide was a local woman who clearly loved here beer. We even got to go on the rooftop for a view of the city.


Again, Beth and I ditched the kids for dinner and stumbled upon another great local restaurant, Bistro Den Huzaar. We both wanted to stay out for a few drinks, so we went in search of Le Trappiste, which had been recommended to Beth and for which we had a free beer coupon from the walking tour.


I loved this place! Lots of beer options and I could order a flight of tasters.


Or maybe 2...I was trying to get to 500 unique beers after all.


Another really fun family adventure in a city I never thought I'd visit. I'd highly recommend Bruges as a stop for anyone, particularly those that love their beer.

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