On day 7 we had our second European city visit to Bruges in Belgium. I had been really looking forward to this after a couple of days in Germany with not much to do as we were visiting family. I was ready to see some sights again and to see something new!
Unfortunately the weather was meant to be rain the whole day in Bruges which was typical after a whole week of high 30s sunshine! The rain even woke us up in the middle of the night as it hammered it down onto the roof!
Luckily when we left at around 9am it was just a light drizzle and it thankfully stopped at 10am for a couple of hours whilst we walked around the streets of Bruges.
We managed to park right next to Belfry Tower where we could park for a maximum of four hours at a cost of 9 euros. It was quite bizarre being able to drive right through the centre of Bruges through the market and swarms of people and then park on a cobble street next to the tower! It was also very lucky though as it meant we could dash back to the car when it started chucking it down with rain!
Thankfully the rain held off for a while and we were able to first explore the streets of Bruges whilst dry. We had planned on taking a tour, but decided to just wander around instead. There were a couple of spots I wanted to visit so we used our iPhone maps to find the way.
Bruges is so pretty. The streets are cobbled and lined with the most picturesque buildings that make it a delight to walk around. Of course we do like doing tours as you get to learn all the facts, but we decided we just wanted to wander around and stop and look at things at our own pace today. Plus we only had four hours parking so a leisurely stroll and a bite to eat for lunch was the perfect way to fill four hours in Bruges.
Of course we parked by the tower so we instantly saw this from right below. We walked up what must be the High Street with all the main fashion shops, including Superdry (where Ben and I both worked for 9 years each and where we met), and up to the market which we had driven through on our way in!
It was just a standard market however; full of clothes and toys most likely sourced from China, so we didn’t stay to look round. I love a more handmade market that is more interesting, but this wasn’t one of those. My favourite so far is the German Christmas market that visits UK towns and cities and is full of lots of unique handmade goods and not just tat!
I’d read about Minnewaterpark and so we first walked here which was around half a kilometre away. It was the perfect place to start exploring Bruges. There’s lots of grassy areas that would have been perfect for picnicking if the weather had been better. There was water all around with bridges and beautiful views.
We walked through the park for a short while and then headed back towards the centre where we were greeted with the clip clop of horses hooves and the surprise of a horse and carriage tour going past us. Now we were in the real Bruges!
Suddenly we were on cobbled streets that linked to another down narrow streets and alleyways. Beautiful ancient buildings with so much intricacy and detail that makes you want to stop and admire each one as each is like its own work of art. There was water and a zillion swans! More horses and carts were lined up waiting for tourists as we walked down the street and entered the amazingness of Bruges city centre.
It almost felt like we had been taken back in time with the preserved architecture, horses passing through and cobbled underfoot.
We stopped and bought some vegan friendly Belgian chocolate from a chocolatier. Belgian chocolate is of course renowned for being the best, so we had to buy some! We were gasping in amazement at every street turn as we saw a different view of the tower or church amongst more incredible architecture. It feels like a film set everywhere!
After walking for around two hours we were getting hungry so we found our way to De Brugsche Tafel which is a 100% vegan café which I had researched before we went. Rather disappointingly they were closed! We were a little before 12pm and thought maybe they opened at 12, but recent reviews online were of people enjoying breakfast there and Google business listings said they opened at 9.30am.
We went and found a toilet and then returned incase they did open at 12pm, but nope. Still no sign of anyone and all the lights were dimmed. It was so frustrating to have found a 100% vegan café in Bruges and then they were closed the only day we were in Bruges! Typical!
So we started to wander round to find some vegan food in Bruges and didn’t have much luck at first! We found a café opposite that had several vegan options, but then noticed they were cash only and we only had card to pay with! Then another had vegan burgers, but at 20 euros each they were too expensive. We didn’t want to pay 80 euros to have a burger each!
This was in the Markt where there were loads of restaurants and it looked like the main hub of Bruges and so probably the most expensive restaurants! Grote Markt, known as Bruges’ Markt or Market Square, is a must see. It is a large open space surrounded by a square of the most colourful and beautiful buildings. Most have cafes in front of them so it’s bustling with people and activity all around.
We read several more menus that didn’t have vegan options and we were about to give up and go and get some chips instead (apparently Belgium and France both claim to have invented the French fry and it’s an ongoing debate, so there are lots of small chip shops in Bruges) when an open menu on a corner table caught my eye! Vegan pizza! Yes!
This was at Otomat, which serves ‘heavenly pizza’ (their words) and it was. They had three vegan options and we tried two of them – the dirty vegan and the mega vegan. They were delicious! The dirty vegan was our favourite as we loved the garlic sauce, the pickled onions and the seitan – yum! It was a lucky find!
Our parking was nearly up so we looked in a couple of gift shops after this as Bella wanted gifts for a couple of friends, but then Reuben tripped over and grazed his knee and was quite distressed. We were near the car so decided to head back to the holiday home to relax for the rest of the day before our ferry home tomorrow.