Here my eldest is awaiting a pain du chocolate before we board the train at London’s very beautiful St Pancras station. This lovely rail station was built in 1868 and was almost demolished in the 1960s before it was restored and opened as the main Eurostar hub. Lots of good restaurants and shops to wait your time out in too.
The Victorian architecture is very pretty. The 243 foot arched span, designed by W.H. Barlow, was an engineering marvel at the time and the largest enclosed space in the world in 1863!
It’s quite easy to get over to Belgium on the Eurostar. In just around 2 hours or so you arrive in Brussels and from there you can take another quick train North to Bruges. The Eurostar is very comfy and traveling as four you can share a table. These two were spending the time watching a movie. They are into Game of Thrones right now.
If you think travel on the Eurostar is going underground it’s actually not so much. You are in a tunnel for maybe 15 minutes. Most of the time you are passing the French and Belgium countryside and all the little villages built around churches. Travel by rail is unique because you can say you have really seen a country.
I also find it so romantic. I love to look out my window, daydream and listen to one of my iPod travel mixes.
Yes it was cool the whole time we were in Europe. This photo is in the last week of June. I have on a jacket, two scarves, along with long pants, thick socks and tennis shoes! My four pairs of sandals did not see the light of day. Duh.
Bruges exceeded our expectations in so many ways. It was beautiful, quaint, fun and not crowded at all. Our stay was made even better by our Hotel Adornes, which was a Rick Steve’s website suggestion. The people at Adornes, especially Rik, were so welcoming and had some great recommendations.
Bruges is part of the Flanders region of Belgium where Dutch is spoken. In the south of Belgium is the French-speaking Wallonia region.
This was the view from our family room!
Out front of the hotel on the canal.
Breakfast was in this cozy room each morning. How can you not appreciate a day begun with a basket of homemade breads and croissants? European breakfasts are the best.
Hotel Adornes has a terrace full of free bikes for guests so we took advantage to see more of Bruges.
Bruges is totally walkable. We spent all 3 days on foot, a little biking and a boat ride and never needed a cab or car to get anywhere. The town has a great path that goes around the city that takes you past some of the best canals. It’s a joy to putter along here and we did that a lot. It feels uncrowded compared to other European cities.
No words needed right?
I am enchanted when my tea is served like this. It’s all in the details.
My husband loved the cookies here too. Food outstanding. Cozy, warm and lovely people. This pastery shop was opened again in 2004, in it’s original spot, after being closed for 40 years. The chef’s grandfather and brother were famous bakers who ran this place from the late 1800s. Pretty cool.
Our kids took this. I wanted to show you the 18th century decor of this place behind us and we matched! Loved the wallpaper, mouldings and chandelier.
Bruges is a Unesco World Heritage Site and has most of it’s medieval architecture intact. In fact, if you see a building with a stepped roofline (like the grey and peach homes above) it dates from the 1600s. It’s very cool how much is exactly like it was, and that they had had the foresight not to modernize everything.
Buildings also have the dates they were built in many cases. Love this one above from 1676, which is still being used as a storefront and an apartment.
Little cafes are jammed in every corner and yes you can sit outside even if they have 5 feet of space! This one across from our hotel was closed, but I loved how they fit in this corner.
The charm is everywhere!
The Markt (or market square) in Bruges is lined with more spots to enjoy the cafe lifestyle.
Bikes are everywhere with stylish riders.
Jan Van Eyck a very famous 15th century Flemish painter who lived in Bruges and he is honored in many places.
Most all the streets are cobblestone which are lovingly restored and replaced as they wear out.
Here they are repairing one.
A gate to a shared yard that many homes have here.
Most homes open right onto the street, but they find ways to add some curb appeal.
These are just a few of the window boxes as you walk along the residential streets.
Walking down this very quiet street we came upon some painters and they were blasting, Der Kommissar by Falco. Funky! I know it was German, but it was just one of those strange happenings you can’t forget. A Northern European moment I guess. (If you have forgotten this, so bad, it’s good song, check out my link to the original video.)
What a charmer.
Lots of bird lovers here.
There are two cute restaurants out this way as well.
Around the corner literally from our hotel and down this tiny street, was Bruges oldest pub, Herberg Vlissinghe, built in 1515.
Indoors is authentic and you could swear you were back in the 16th century.
It was a nice day so we sat in the beer garden.
Kids and adults can play games like boules and there is a little Jack Russell running about. The beer from the Half Moon (De Halve Maan) brewery in town is unbelievably good and also I tried a rose beer, which is very light from Hoegarden which I quite liked. You can also visit the Half Moon brewery in Bruges and they have a restaurant as well. We didn’t get there this time.
Yes, all the Belgian beers were as good as this looks and I’m not even a beer drinker, but when in Rome. . .