Admittedly, Valentine’s Day is generally seen as a hallmark event–a terrible night to try and get a reservation, tacky cards, and bad chocolate. Growing up, Valentine’s was actually a fully celebrated holiday in our household. The Doc thinks this is weird and has made me aware that not all families take Valentine’s as seriously as mine. I blame my parents, but I look forward to Feb. 14 every year and have developed pretty high expectations.
With no call schedule to worry about or late hours in the hospital, we wanted to plan something fun to celebrate this year and opted for a weekend away in the charming Flemish city of Bruges. The Doc and I took a half day on Friday and hopped on the Eurostar for a quick 3-hour train journey to the northwest corner of Belgium.
Known for beer, chocolate, and lace, Bruges has a similar feel to Amsterdam, though much smaller and without the more illicit activities that Amsterdam claims. Plenty of canals, cobblestone streets, and medieval architecture make it a great city to explore on foot.
We arrived in time for a late dinner Friday night at Kok Au Vin, a lovely little bistro serving modern Flemish cuisine. With the menus only in Dutch and French, we had to be a little adventurous in our ordering, but we were not disappointed. We followed up dinner with a night cap at Comptoir des Arts, an underground candlelit beer bar, that was quite a hidden gem. The night was relaxed, with great food and a few good drinks–a perfect Valentine’s!
After a rather disappointing brunch Saturday morning, we set out on a walking tour of Bruges that took us through historic squares and beautiful old neighborhoods.
Part of Bruges’ charm is how manageable it is. It’s small enough that you don’t ever need take a taxi or a bus, and you can easily get a full sense of the city in a weekend. While we didn’t find any good lace to buy, we brought back plenty of chocolate and Belgian beer to happily enjoy in London.
Travel–take the Eurostar to Brussels (2 hrs) and transfer to a regional train to Bruges (1hr), which is included in the price of the Eurostar ticket.
Train station–the train station in Bruges is a 20-minute walk from the center of town, or a 5-minute taxi ride. At night and with luggage, I would take a taxi.
Food–it’s easy to fall into tourist traps so do some research before you go. We loved both of our dinner spots but fell short on the lunches. Definitely save room for a fresh belgian waffle, the best we had was from a van in the Burg square.
Stay–we stayed at this AirBnB and would recommend it. A convenient location in the town center, plenty of space, and a very nice owner.