Upon arriving in Bruges we settled into our hotel, organised our rooms and relaxed with a drink before heading for Zand square. It had a very lively atmosphere and we got our first taste of Belgian food in a restaurant that had been recommended! It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal and it was a great start to our few days in Bruges. On our walk back to our hotel we passed fountains with lovely statues all lit up. It was time for bed as we had plenty of walking to be done over the coming days.
The following morning, after our continental breakfast, we set off for our first full days of exploring the city. Immediately we came across market stalls selling their wares. Early purchases were made before we walked on towards the central city area. We passed many horse-drawn carriages and looked forward to a ride ourselves. As we walked along we saw all the wonderfully dressed shops. Many offered such delights as fine chocolates and beers. Very tempting! However, we decided it was best to take a canal cruise and enjoy the fantastic views from a different angle in this extremely beautiful city. It was well worth it. Next, we had lunch at a nice cafe before wandering more streets ducking into the odd church or two and mingling in the other market areas. A few more gifts were bought and once happy with our first full day of sightseeing and shopping we went back to our hotel to freshen up for the evening. We had seen the restaurant we wanted to dine as we had wandered Bruges and we walked back to enjoy another pleasant evening dining on typical local fayre.
After breakfast we walked to the exhibition of ice sculptures. The theme this year was of Disney and it was again another fantastic and inspiring work of art. It is truly amazing what can be done with some frozen water! They even had an ice slide and those who didn’t mind a cold bottom braved it. We needed a warm drink after having spent much time in the freezing cold display. Once rejuvenated, we went for lunch followed by a ride around the city in a horse-drawn carriage. It was a fun experience and we learnt more from our guide about the important buildings and the history of this small but beautiful city. It was time to hit the chocolate shops and market stalls for further gifts. We all loved this part. While wandering the market stalls we stopped for a hot chocolate or Gluwein. We then went back for a short rest at the hotel, got spruced up for another night of fine dining and then a late night’s drink in a local bar.
The next day was our last and after breakfast we finished packing, loaded the minibus and took a stroll around the neighbourhood before setting off for Calais and our journey back to Blighty. We finished off our holiday on board in the Brasserie, having our first Christmas lunch followed by Christmas pudding. Perfect!!