Dougie and I haven't disappeared to Belgium this week but my niece, Jessica, has just returned, having had a short break there with her boyfriend, James. I asked her if she would like to write about their visit for my blog and she agreed. Here, with photos, is Jessica's review. I'm very tempted to book a trip there for myself.
Our romantic trip to Belgium
Jessica Grinsell and James Procter
We decided to go to Belgium for our two year anniversary. Why Belgium? Because Ryanair had tickets at only £35 pp return - bargain! We were convinced to book it because of the two things everyone said about Belgium - fantastic chocolate and fantastic beer!
Our first port of call was Brussels - which we loved. You literally stepped out the main entrance of the hotel and you were in a fabulous square with lots of bars and restaurants and a daily market. However as soon as we discovered the chocolate shops that was it - we were in our element. There were dozens of wonderful little chocolate shops, each selling unique products. We struck lucky finding a lovely shop which seemed much cheaper than the others, and the chocolate was exquisite. And they had samples - bonus. I would highly recommend it.
We headed to the Grand Place that evening for somewhere to eat, and were surprised by how much it felt like we were in Spain with the bustling streets where vendors were trying to convince us to eat at their restaurant "Madame your smile is so wonderful, I shall give you our best table". So we decided to walk out of the area, and found an Italian Bistro in a little side street. Unfortunately it was disappointing. Next time we would research a good restaurant. Back in the hotel we finished eating our chocolate and had some beer in our 24 hour bar - a perfect end to a busy evening trailing around the city.
The next morning we discovered Brussels properly; we had arrived late on the Friday and it was consequently hard to explore fully in the dark. We found a great little coffee shop which did perfect hot chocolate, went to a pub, which in English is called 'Sudden Death', where we had a few beers, and then wandered around looking at the beautiful architecture - which my Grandad would have loved - and bought more chocolate in my new favourite shop.
|Like I said … fantastic hot chocolate!|
|Enjoying a beer with stunning |
views of Bruges
Our next stop was Bruges which we reached later that day. We were relieved when it was as beautiful as we hoped it would be. The train had passed through lots of run down areas; we were amazed by the amount of graffiti everywhere - very Banksy. But fortunately Bruges is as quaint and picture perfect as past visitors had said it was. Again my Grandad would have adored it - Grandma has told me how he visited Belgium when he was a young man, which made our trip even more special.
Our hotel looked onto a stunning canal and bridge, and was only two minutes away from everything. The weather made this location even better; it was belting it down with rain so we could still explore without having to go too far and getting drenched. The weather cleared the next day which meant that we could properly wander around the city - seeing parts outside the normal tourist areas as well. We also found, you've guessed it, a fantastic chocolate shop, a fantastic coffee shop which sold fantastic hot chocolate and many fantastic beer shops. Literally on our doorstep was a bar and shop, which sold over 2000 beers each presented in their own glasses. My boyfriend, James, was overwhelmed by the amount of beers and we regretted not booking extra luggage for our flight home.
On the Saturday evening we had a stunning meal. As we had booked in advance, i.e. we popped in around 5pm to see if we could get a table for later, we were given an excellent table and service from the top waiter despite the fact that we were not seated in his part of the restaurant. Situated by a lovely fire we had a beautiful dinner and it fulfilled the romantic vibe that we were expecting from Bruges. By Sunday night however we had run out of money and had to eat chips from a takeaway for dinner! Not so romantic …