Belgium

Een dagje uit in Brugge

(A day out in Bruges.)

We were in England at the weekend attending the wedding of two of our best friends, who just so happened to fall in love and get married. Too cute. Cue: massive party and a massive hangover!

Our Sunday plans got changed at the last minute so we decided to catch an earlier ferry and check-in to a hotel so we could wake up in Bruges the next day! (AKA – how to turn a bad thing into a good thing!) Due to the fact we were arriving after midnight – we were very limited on options – so we plumped for a budget Ibis hotel with a 24 hour check-in desk. The alternative was to drive through the night and we were both cream crackered, so this was definitely our best option! The room/hotel was very basic, but as far as plusses go, it had a few: only €50, booked online 2 hours before arrival, situated next to the train station so very easy access to Bruges centre, free wifi, parking only €3.50 for 24 hours. Bargain.

Horse and cart in Bruges

Horse and cart in Bruges

We’ve been to Bruges twice before, both times on the way to/from England and both times in a rush to catch the ferry. So it was great to spend a few hours wandering round… but it still wasn’t enough time! Bruges is so beautiful, even in dreary November! We decided on the drive home that we’ll spend a WHOLE weekend here at some point! YAY!

The other reason we have to go back is because most bars and restaurants were closed when we were there! I had frantically been searching on Trip Advisor and despite many of them stating they were open on Mondays, there was some sort of holiday and many businesses had notices in the window stating they were closed for the day. Jammer! (Shame!)

't Brugs Beertje

‘t Brugs Beertje

‘t Brugs Beertje (The Bruges Bear) was one such establishment. It’s not just a pub, but a tasting house and I’d also read that they serve great food too! So this is firmly on the list for next time!

This stunning building was directly opposite the pub, another great reason to visit!

Kemelstraat, Bruges

Kemelstraat, Bruges

After the disappointment of ‘t Brugs Beertje being closed, I had another card up my sleeve! The Beer Wall on Wollestraat!

The Beer Wall, Bruges

The Beer Wall, Bruges

Thankfully, this place was open… but we weren’t the only tourists to notice!! It was rather busy, but luckily the (heated) terrace had a large enough capacity to deal with the volume of English speakers! (I barely heard any Dutch/Belgian all day!) The terrace has a fantastic view, right next to the canal, so it’s the perfect spot to admire Bruges’ beauty and beer at the same time.

Combi deal @ the Beer Wall

Combi deal @ The Beer Wall

If, like us, you want to try a few different beers – they do a special offer of 4 beers and 2 snacks for €10! Unsurprisingly, this was a popular choice on the terrace and a great way to sample different varieties of beer without committing to a whole pint. (Or however many mls they serve in Belgium!) We also enjoyed the beer quotes which adorned the wall of the pub (and the cardboard beer carrier) including:

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Benjamin Franklin 1706

He was a wise man who invented beer. Plato 428 BC

And my personal favourite:

Here’s to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to all of life’s problems. Homer Simpson 1987

Belfry Tower, Bruges

Belfry Tower, Bruges

All in all – a fantastic day in this gorgeous European city! Have you been to Bruges? Any tips for our next visit?

Hayley x

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I’m going to Spa!

Nope, that capital letter isn’t a typo. Not a massage, chill out and put cucumber on your eyes spa. The race circuit in Belgium! The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps… the real Spa!!

Spa

Spa circuit

Now, I know what you’re thinking… girls don’t like racing… well actually, some do! I’ve been to five races at Le Mans, France (24 Heures du Mans), once to Nurburgring (1000 km of Nürburgring – as it was called then – part of the Le Mans series) once to Spa (WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps) three times to Silverstone (FIA WEC 6 hours of Silverstone) and to Thruxton for the British Superbikes!

I also had a brief fling working as a “hostess” (read: waitress) for the British Touring Cars series at Thruxton and Brands Hatch. The pay wasn’t great and I didn’t like being nice to snooty people for (not very much) money, so that affair was short, unsatisfying and over after two races!

So, anyway. Yes, I’m a girl AND I like racing. The atmosphere is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before in my life. It tops every party or gig I’ve even been to (and believe me, I have been to A LOT of amazing parties and gigs in my time!!) The people, the cars, the smell, the noise. It’s addictive. The adrenalin rush you get walking around the track is immense! And you’re just watching!! Imagine what the drivers must feel like!!

This year is particularly exciting for race-nerds as none other than Mark Webber (of F1 fame) is going to be there! Like many sports personalities, he’s a bit like Marmite. He has a lot of haters, but he’s going to attract fans who have never been to a WEC race before, so that’s great for the sport. I for one will be supporting him at Spa!

Walking around the circuit at Spa

Walking around the circuit at Spa

If you’ve never been to a motor race, but have always wanted to: Spa is a great taster session. It’s in Belgium, so easy to get to from surrounding countries: France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany. From the UK it’s pretty easy too (especially if you live in the south) you can get cheap ferries from Dover via DFDS Seaways (other ferry companies are available ;-)) to Dunkirk or Calais and it’s only a 3-ish hour drive from there.

Tickets are €35.00 for the whole weekend including Paddock entrance, which in racing terms, is peanuts. (Ever looked how much it costs to attend an F1 race?) There’s camping around the circuit and if you know the right place to go it’s FREE! You’re also allowed to take food and drink into the circuit!! (Excluding glass bottles – fair enough.) Something which is extremely rare these days! (Man, I sound old.)

Eau Rouge

Eau Rouge

So there it is. I wholeheartedly recommend that even if you have the teeniest tiniest bit of interest interest in racing – go to Spa. The websites you need are here:  FIA WEC and here Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

You’re welcome!

Hayley x

Ps – Take a waterproof jacket. It ALWAYS rains at Spa! But don’t worry… as Norm used to say: “it’s a dry rain”. (RIP Norm Koury, Turn 10 legend.)