Dates: 6 – 8 February 2015
Modes of Travel: Southwest Trains, London Underground, Eurostar, Belgian Rail
Cast of Characters: Dan, Bruce, Carol, Iain, Kristin, Dan, Gareth, Shannon and Ollie
Hotel: ibis Brugge Centrum
Day 1 –
We booked this trip to go to the Bierfestival Brugs. We went last year on our own and loved so this year we invited a whole group to go with us. In the end there were nine of us who went.
This trip started at the Champagne bar at St. Pancras for a nice glass of bubbles before getting on the Eurostar to Brussels.
Eurostar check-in can be hit or miss sometimes and today it was crowded as they had three trains leaving close to each other. Once we made it through all of the formalities, we realised that two of our group were in a different carriage and after working with the Eurostar staff, there was nothing we could do as the train was full! We resigned ourselves to the fact we would be separated until Brussels, and whilst that was sad, that meant we had four bottles of bubbles to share amongst the five of us who were near each other. After quick change in Brussels we were all reunited on what Carol referred to as a “Retro” train to Bruges and enjoyed another bottle of bubbles.
We arrived in Bruges and made it to our hotels. In the end our group stayed at five different hotels.
As per usual for Bruges, Bruce and I stayed at the ibis. We normally know what we are going to get when we stay at an ibis and sadly this one in Bruges did not live up to our normal expectations, the only thing that was normal was the smell you get when you walk in. In all other regards, our room sucked! It was small, there was mould on one of the ceilings joists and the shower drained slowly so your feet got a bath!
After check in we popped over one of our favourite bar, Don Quichotte aka the Rice Bar for a few beers and then over to the old Cool Cat (has a new name but no clue what it is) for a few more. By this point we all called it a night as the next day was the bier festival.
Day 2 –
Today is the day we all came for the 8ste Brugs Bierfestival. Bruce and I met Kristin for brunch at Cambrinus. I choose this place for the Spaghetti Bolognaise and the beer cheese, I don’t choose this place for the service as the staff is always a bit rude.
After this we headed to the square met up with everyone for the short walk to the bier festival. After a quick visit to the Delirium booth, I saw a hat I had to have, but Bruce said no as I already have a ton of hats. However, Shannon saw it a different way and when we went back from some Delirium Red, she bought me the hat for no other reason than Bruce said I could not buy it. She said it was the best €10 she has ever spent.
After many many samples, I think the clear favourite of at least Shannon, Carol and myself was the Lindeman’s Pêcheresse.
The Bier Festival got a little crowded so we left and headed to Staminee de Garre. They offer a beer that is only available there. It is called Garre, its ok certainly not mine or Bruce’s favourite, but we take people here as unless you know where it is you would never find it.
It was getting late in the day and I had booked us all in for dinner at a Thai place that we have enjoyed in the past called Sivalai Thai which is just up from our hotel. We have been a few times and always enjoyed the food and the service. It is run by a nice husband and wife team. The wife does all of the cooking and the husband does all of the serving. As usual we were not disappointed and it seemed everyone enjoyed themselves and their food.
After dinner we popped over to a “wine” bar we found last year called One. They were able to seat all of us in a cosy and I do mean cosy booth and we enjoyed five bottles of the house dry white. We chose it as the waitress assured us it was the better of the two white wines available. We realised afterwards it may have changed away from a wine bar since we were last in there and the white wine not as dry as we would have liked, but as we were all enjoying each others company, we dealt with the wine and it was reasonably priced so who can complain.
After the wine we weren’t done just yet so we headed over to the square and were going to go back to the Rice bar but sadly the whole area was packed so we stopped off at the Druids Cellar for a final beer of the night/trip. The place was packed and they were low on draft beer so I got stuck with a Juplier which is one of my least favourite beers, but Ollie assures me if sold in the UK it would be very popular.
After a drink fuelled day we turned in for some sleep.
Day 3 –
Woke up feeling pretty good and headed to Daya Chocolate for some chocolate to take home. This is my favourite chocolate shop, for two reasons, the staff are super friendly and normally remember me plus they are reasonably priced.
I headed to the slowest McDonalds ever for our Breakfast. It’s a new one (wasn’t there in December when we were there) so I hope that is why the service was so slow!
I took it all back to the room and we ate and finished packing. We met everyone at the train station and enjoyed a nice journey back on one of the new Belgian Rail trains to Brussels for our trip back to London. As we passed through Ghent we decided we want to go back and booked a trip for the summer and think for next years bier festival, we may stay in Ghent and just go to Bruges for a day trip.
We really enjoyed spending time with everyone and hope they enjoyed it too!