Our time in Belgium was spent in Brugge – a medieval town with a wealth of wandering canals and ornate houses. It is popular with tourists which means it was fine when we were there but could be very busy in peak season (summer).
Here we found another little nugget of a hotel being the Fevery Hotel. It was in the old town so walking distance to everything. The family room was only Euro$120 a night and it had a separate bed room for us so we had some privacy. Paul, the owner, was also very nice. He has relatives in Adelaide, Australia, and had just come back from visiting them. Unfortunately he said that his last Australian guests had just finished off the vegemite so none left for us!!!
Our first day in Brugge we spent exploring which included many chocolate shops. We climbed the Belfort Bell Tower. It is the tall building in market square that provided beautiful panoramic views of Brugge. It is a fair climb (366 steps) and is also a working bell and clock tower so was great to be at the top and see the bells chime while you are up there. Does take a while for your hearing to recover however!!!
We had lunch the first day at the De Halve Maan Brewery and then did the tour which gave the opportunity to discover the old traditional brewing methods in Belgium. Like all good Brewery tours it finished with samples but unlike the Budweiser Factory tour I didn’t cash the girls tickets in for beer and let them get a soft drink – the Belgium beer was much stronger and I was still recovering from lunch!!!
That night we went to the Concertgebouw (Concert Hall) to see a string quartet. I had read about the Concertgebouw a while ago as it is well known for the quality of its sound. When they built it in 2002, Brugge was the culture capital of Europe for that year, they spent a large portion of the budget focusing on sound rather than aesthetics hence it is an ugly thing but serves well for what it is designed for. We were not in the main concert hall but in smaller hall done out like an old Shakespearean theatre – is basically was just one big box with the quartet on the floor in the middle and everyone lined up around the various levels. The concert was good but the half hour before the concert where they explained the pieces was in Dutch which got the girls off to a sleepy start!!!
The second day we kicked off with a bike tour with The Pink Bear Bike Co. You meet them at 10:20am under the bell tower in the market square, take a short walk to pick up a bike, and then head off on a 3 hour tour down canals to Damme, an old town just out of Brugge. There was just the four of us (off season) and the weather was good. The kids got to ask lots of questions of the tour guide. In the afternoon we did a tour of the Chocolate Museum and then I took Emily back to the hotel for a rest while Molly and Kerrie went off Chocolate shopping.
The architecture around Brugge was interesting as they had been a major trading city many hundreds of years ago it had a mixture of Dutch, French and German style buildings but he most noticeable were the traditional Belgium style of stepped roof façade as shown in the attached photo – note the Dutch style in the middle which is a high pitch slanting roof façade (not stepped). Another note of interest is that Brugge was the location of the first ever stock exchange many centuries ago. There is nothing to state that but we did go to the building that housed the stock exchange and looked at it’s front door!!!
We finished off our stay in Brugge sitting in a café that night in the market square eating Belgium Waffles and drinking Café au Lait.