After a short snooze and a rest back at our hotel, we set off back into town find a place to have some dinner. At first we found it a struggle to find any restaurants open or that weren’t totally empty. We ended up going right into the centre near the Belfort before we saw anywhere suitably full.
We chose Brasserie Strijdeshuis which was down a side street just off the main square. I had a quick look at trip advisor and the reviews weren’t great but i was very pleasantly surprised. Which just goes to show, don’t believe everything you read. There was a friendly waiter, who seemed very pleased i had chosen a local dish (chicken in a creamy sauce) we had some wine and a coffee to end the meal. The coffee was amazing, i would go as far as saying one of the best coffees i have ever had. In fact all the coffees i had in Bruges were really very good. Don’t know what they do differently? I would not hesitate in going back to the restaurant.
We then had a short walk around town in the dark, the buildings are all lit up beautifully. Its a real shame if you just go on a day trip and don’t get to see Bruges at night. The town takes on an even more fairtale like quality with the quiet streets,the moonlit cobbles and the chiming of the Belfort.
Oddly enough Bruges by night seemed to be full of youths dressed up as cartoon characters such as Smurfs, Pokemon, Unicorns etc. It was great for people watching. We then went back to our hotel for a good nights rest before doing at all again tomorrow.
My mission for the morning was to find De Halve Maan Brewery my better half likes a lie in and we wanted to visit the brewery later in the day. I had seen great reviews about this place. I admit it took me a while to find. I actually walked past it once and didn’t notice it. It was a lovely sunny day and i think i was too busy looking elsewhere, totally my fault. It really isn’t that hard to find. It doesn’t really look like a Brewery so it confused me. Its located in a gorgeous square which had a lovely (distracting) view of Chuch of Our Ladys spire. Follow your nose if you visit in the morning (brewing time) you can smell the hops and yeast lingering in the air.
I had a lovely morning wandering the streets by myself, as a lone female i felt totally safe and at ease. With all the churches and landmarks around every corner if you lose your way its easy to locate yourself on a map if need be. I had breakfast in a park, took loads of selfies and generally soaked up the atmosphere. I sampled strawberries dipped in chocolate and hot chocolate. These were both amazing. Did a spot of shopping, there are surprisingly good shops in Bruges. With your back to the Belfort the street with high street type shops and department stores is to your left.
My boyfriend then came to meet me. Under the Church of our Lady spire. (sick of me saying its a great landmark to get your bearings yet?) We went on a boat trip, which cost 8 Euros for a half hour trip. We got our boat from near the market place. But there are several places you can get them. Because of all the low bridges the boats are small and hold maybe 20 or so people. The driver points out the landmarks along the way. Its well worth doing. I enjoyed it a lot.
We saw the famous beer wall… a rather impressive collection of beer bottles and glasses. A must location for a selfie and maybe drink.
We then went off to find a small bar located in an out of the way street, that we had been told about. If i am honest, the main excitement is that its location is kind of hidden away and they serve small cubes of cheese with every beer! Its called Cookies its lovely and a must for all visitors to Bruges. It down a tiny easy to miss alley way. Its dark and old, covers 3 floors and you expect Oliver Twist to appear at any moment. But its chock full of character, lovely beer (the staff will help you choose what to drink, or just ask for the beer of the month or house beer) Beware it fills up really quick with tourists especially at the weekend. Word of mouth obviously gets them lots of trade. But i loved it.
Time for the Brewery tour, now i knew the location! We got there about 3.15 just in time to buy a ticket for the last tour at 4pm. This for me was the highlight of the whole holiday. I think because it was so unexpectedly good. I thought it would be a walk around an old dusty building, being talked at about stuff i didn’t understand and then you get a free sample of beer at the end. I thought i had done all my girlie sightseeing pretty views stuff, we needed to do something more to my boyfriends taste. How wrong could i have been.
The people on the tour were split into what language we spoke, obviously we took the English and our guide was Peter. A lovely friendly chap who clearly knew a lot about the Brewery but had a knack of telling us about it in an entertaining way. The tour was very mobile, lots of steps, and some so steep they were practically ladders. It wouldn’t be good for anyone unsteady on their feet. Peter took us step by step through the brewing process explaining one part, then we moved through the locations for him to explain the next. It was basically a very interesting story about how a town centre traditional brewery has updated its business and brought it into the 21st century. They have gone from hand delivering beer direct to your door via a horse and cart, to sending beer through a pipeline to be bottled up at a plant a few km away. Halfway through the tour you get to go up onto the roof, (i wouldn’t go up there during bad weather) the view is gorgeous! Almost worth the entry fee on its own. My photo doesn’t really capture the height and depth of the view.
Once the tour is over you get to sample a full sized Zot beer. My now favourite Belgian Beer having heard all about it. They have a restaurant / bar with food we didn’t eat there but the menu looked great. We sat so long lingering over the beer we missed going into the gift shop, it was closed when we left. We went back the next day to grab a few bottles to take home. Peter saw us and recognised us and chatted for a bit, he said Zot is available in southern England but not in the North where we live. Booo.
Tired and slightly tipsy, we went back to the hotel.
To be continued….