Thursday, February 4, 2010

European Vacation: Bruges

Our next stop was the beautiful medieval town of Bruges in Belgium, a favorite holiday retreat for many Europeans who come for the Christmas markets and, of course, the chocolate. The only reason we knew about this delightful little town was because of the film, In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell and Bredan Gleeson. Even though it is a film about hitmen, it is a glowing advertisement for the city with its beautiful canals and cobblestone streets.

All film references aside, the city of Bruges is a truly magical place, and during the holidays her squares are filled with Christmas markets, selling everything from mulled wine to cozy knit hats. The main square of the city, the Market Square, even has a large ice skating rink set up for all the tourists to test their wobbly legs or watch their friends run into each other while sipping a hot chocolate on the walkway.

The two biggest foodie attractions in Bruges are, no surprise, beer and chocolate. And Bruges does not disappoint with every window advertising delicious Belgian beer and a chocolate shop on very nearly every street. The one remaining brewery within city limits, De Halve Maan brewery, gives walking tours (in various languages) through the brewery's old buildings and brewing facilities, culminating with a tasting of their most popular beer, Brugse Zot.

Keeping warm with a little Jagermeister:

The De Halve Maan Brewery, the only brewery left in Bruges:

Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate:

We couldn't decide if these little guys were here to be someone's pet, or someone's dinner.

The Christmas Market of Market Square:

The best way to end our stay in Bruges:

Bruges was a fantastic place to slow down and enjoy a beautiful, historic city packed with beer, chocolate, and Christmas everywhere.  But we hadn't even hit our stride, up next was Paris.