One major bonus to working in the travel industry is that sometimes you can win or be sent away on trips to explore brand new places. Just as I mentioned earlier this year when I got sent to Vietnam and Cambodia. Definitely feeling like a lucky human over here.
Back in January we do a big incentive event with work and I won the top prize of a 3 night break in Bruges. I really wanted to take my mum and we decided to leave it until November so it would be nice and festive.
We headed on our trip on Monday 25th November just after the Christmas Markets had begun. I want to tell you all about our trip and why I would definitely recommend visiting Bruges for a long weekend.
Day 1 – Railing over to Bruges.
Now, I work for a company specialised in rail holidays which is fantastic as it meant we had all of our rail organised for our trip. From York down to London, we then got the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Brussels Midi/Zuid. It wasn’t my first time on the Eurostar but it was my mums; what I always find amazing is how quickly it takes you to get from A to B. You get a much more relaxed journey and you get all the scenery to admire.
My mum was so shocked with actually how short the journey under the Channel Tunnel is, if that is the part you are frightened of and puts you off the Eurostar then there is no need. You can sit back and relax, read a book and in no time you’re in France it truly is amazing.
On arrival in Brussels Midi/Zuid, I looked on my Trainline app and found the connecting train from Brussels Midi/Zuid to Bruges and we headed for our train. It only took an hour to get from Brussels to Bruges and it was really easy.
It can seem quicker and often more cost efficient to fly but I found going by rail although we did change on arrival into Brussels it was a lot less stressful. We hopped in a taxi and headed to our which was the Hotel Aragon.
The Hotel Aragon
This is a 4-star property and in terms of location it was ideal. We were given a map on arrival which we used for the whole time we were in Bruges. All we had to do is take a couple of lefts out of the hotel and within 5 minutes we were in the main Market Square.
It was perfect and meant that in the evening on our first night we had dinner in the Square and got our first glimpse of the Christmas Market.
Our room at the hotel was a Comfort Room and the bed was extremely comfortable it was perfect for the two of us and the breakfast in the morning really set us up for the day with plenty of options. If you wish to go for the weekend then I do believe this hotel is a fantastic option.
Day 2 – Waffles, Chocolate and Walking, Oh My!
I really wanted to steer away from having a set itinerary on what I wanted to see. I wanted it to feel very relaxed and we just kind of went with the flow. We started off by walking towards Minnewater Park which has a lovely story all around the Lake of Love. On Visit Bruges’ website the story is said to go like:
A young and pretty girl named Minna who was in love with Stromberg, a warrior of a neighbouring tribe. Her father did not agree with her love and arranged her to marry a man of his choice. Minna escaped and ran into the forest. When Stromberg finally found her, she died in his arms of exhaustion. The lake was named after Minna and the bridge by the lake was considered the bridge of love, in her honour.Visit Bruges
After our peaceful start to the day for some reason, even though I may not be a religious person I do always find myself to be drawn towards the Churches and Basilica’s in the places that I visit. They are always so beautiful, well maintained and peaceful. They do always completely mesmerise me and you can just take your time and wander around.
We headed towards the Church of Our Lady, it is the tallest building in the city of Bruges and is eye-catching straight away with it’s tower standing at 379 feet tall. It is not quite clear at first but most of the Church is free of charge. Behind the Church of our Lady, you will find Bonifacious Bridge which has the most scenic views. There is also a rumour that when you cross the bridge the first person you see on the other side you will marry…not quite sure how this works with mother and daughter…
We decided to have a little halfway break and we came across The Old Chocolate House, it is just around the corner from The Saint-Salvator Cathedral. When a sign tells us to have Hot Chocolate we will do just that, we had the Tiramisu Hot Chocolate which was delicious. It was such a perfect spot for a break and they had tons of choices and their own chocolate shop downstairs as well.
After our break we carried on our wandering around and I remembered that I had seen all about the Basilica of the Holy Blood and it looked beautiful so we made our way there. It is set in Burg Square where you will also find the beautiful Gothic Town Hall.
Now, as I am writing this I am doing a bit more research and the Holy Blood Basilica actually has an upper and lower level. The upper level is where I visited and you will see the ornate details all across the walls and the lower level is a Romanesque chapel. The level of detail is incredible and I made sure I donated some money as they were in the process of doing restoration work there.
We made our way back towards the Christmas Markets and to be perfectly honest with you the markets are very similar to what you would get at home. I know in York the markets do tend to all sell similar products, although it had such a lovely warm festive feel. Our final part of the day was going to get our first waffle of our trip, we found the House of Waffles and they served us enormous Belgian Waffles with Cherries for me and Bananas and more Chocolate for mum. They were delicious and ended our day nicely.
The evening consisted of visiting a local restaurant called Bones which was around the corner from our hotel, they served unlimited ribs, which were amazing and for 18 Euros. We didn’t actually end up asking for seconds but the food was really nice. Then as a little bedtime tipple we headed to the markets and got mulled wine and took in the atmosphere.
Day 3 – Canals and Horse rides.
We had a relaxing start to our day, we looked at the map from our hotel and saw another section that we hadn’t even been close to. We decided to head towards Jan van Eyckplein square.
We followed the canals around and just kept on walking until we came back on ourselves quite a long way down. Little bridges and different coloured houses dotted the canals and with the autumnal colours it made for a very picturesque start to our day.
I found a couple of my favourite houses and it did take us a while to realise until the end of our little circle route that the Toll house was tucked away in the corner of the Square and became pretty obvious in the end. It was really quiet and peaceful and we just wanted to explore more areas that we had not seen yet.
We decided that after our long walk we wanted another Hot Chocolate and went back to The Old Chocolate House. We had seen there iconic Hot Chocolate and decided to try it ourselves, I ordered the Mr. T (A Snickers flavour) and Mum ordered the Winnie the Pooh (A Honeycomb flavour).
It was hands down the best Hot Chocolate I have ever had and in 2 easy steps – Just get your Hot Milk and put your Chocolate Bowl in, then give it a good whisk.
We carried on our walking for the day stopping off at several places for a bit of shopping mainly Christmas gifts and decor for our own tree. We were really lucky with the weather and the sun was peeking out at several points making our walk around even better. After our shopping and exploring was over we decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for our evening.
We had seen the Horse and Cart ride in the main square and we decided to have a go. It is 50 Euros which you could question is it worth it? We went in the evening and it had started to rain so we had the cover up so we actually could not really see that much. The experience was nice being on the horse as we both have never done it before. You do get half an hour and it was helpful having several parts pointed out to you that you may have missed.
Overall I would say if you have some Euros left over and you want to see Bruges from a different perspective give it a go, you can also take canal rides which personally if I go back I would try as my mum is not keen on boats at all. They take around the same length of time but for around a fifth of the price at around 10 Euros per person for Adults.
To finish off our festive weekend we decided to have a Christmas Market Dinner with Mulled Wine, Waffles and a German Sausage.
Day 4 – Home time.
It was actually quite sad to say goodbye as we both had such a lovely time together and felt really relaxed despite the amount of walking that we had done. It was time to do our rail journeys and we were experts going between Bruges and Brussels, then it was time for the Eurostar from Brussels to London. Coming home on the Eurostar we were in Standard Premier which does feel more comfortable and we had lunch served to us with drinks at our seat and we had window seats so it felt more open.
By the time we got out train from London back to York I got pretty tired but I just found it quite amazing that we can do these journeys all by rail in the same day and be back home by the evening.
I know we all now probably have endless lists of places that we want to visit. Honestly, if you just want to go somewhere for a relaxing city break for a long weekend. Bruges is so lovely, taking my mum was a bonus as it was ideal for us. It is not too big but there’s so many different streets with shops and food places to see that you can easily fill up a couple of days.
It is just a beautiful place and in November what I loved even more is that it did not feel too busy and all the autumnal leaves were still out so it really added to the atmosphere.
I feel so grateful that I got to take my mum with me and to see her having a good time and exploring a new place with me was really nice. I definitely feel inspired going forward into 2020 as I would love to do another trip together.
I want to thank you for reading this and I hope that it has given you an insight into Bruges and why you should add it to your list, if you are not subscribed already then please do to The Book it Blogger. You’ll be notified on when my new posts are released and if you follow me on Instagram @bookitblogger, you can follow my journey and see any of my future or past trips.