In 2014 we had the absolute privilege of visiting a small city in Belgium, called Bruges. It was by luck, actually, as I’d never heard of it before someone mentioned it to me while we were still busy planning our holiday. We did a bit of research (what did people do before Google?!)and it quickly became a no-brainer that we had to go it and see as our original itinerary had us quite close.
Bruges is really, really special. Nothing in the guidebook prepared me for it. I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. You find yourself walking past beautifully restored windmills on green hills on the outskirts of town, then down into the city’s historic centre (a UNESCO World Heritage site) with its picture perfect cobbled streets, over stone bridges that cross canals, and medieval towers rising out above the buildings. I got quite emotional when we ended up in Burg Square – we were wandering around and came around a corner and unexpectedly I was faced with one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Just the sheer beauty of the place combined with a deep sense of gratitude that hubby and I have been so blessed to have the opportunity to experience these wonderful things in our lives really touched me in that moment.
It was while I was doing research on what to see and do in Bruges that I found a reference to a Christmas shop called De Witte Pelikaan. Me, being a bit of a Christmas nut, knew immediately that I absolutely had to go and find it. (It is located at 23 Vlamingstraat and their website is http://www.dewittepelikaan.be)
Although we were there in May, the shop is open the whole year and it really did not disappoint. It was spectacular! The shop’s first floor has baubles and bows, snow-globes, wreaths, wrapping paper and the normal (but extraordinarily looking “normal”) type of Christmassy things. (Also the cutest paper mache fish; it was actually their store window display at the time.) However, if you go down the stairs to the bottom floor you enter a magical world! It is almost cave-like, with arches and alcoves and gigantic Christmas trees everywhere. The ‘cave’ is an off-white colour, with soft lighting; fairy lights twinkling and sparkly crystal chandeliers hanging from the roof. For me, never having experienced a white Christmas, it gave me a glimpse of how special it must be!
Each corner held a little scene… Beautifully crafted glass baubles, unlike anything I’ve seen before. Figurines that looked life-like. A wooden house with Santa inside; the windows glowing red with warm and inviting light and Santa looking as if he was going to whisper “Ho-Ho-Ho” to me at any moment! Stuffed toys so real that you expect the squirrels to run up a tree as you approach or the ducks to fly away as you got closer. Owls sitting quietly in a snow covered cove, looking at me through icicles. I was enchanted by this little piece of Christmas heaven.
The store is not huge, but we spent over an hour there, captivated by its charm. (I am also known to be a bit indecisive at times, so just imagine how long it took me to pick something to bring home with us!)
So in the spirit of Christmas, some pictures of Burg Square and De Witte Pelikaan (including three little gems we get to hang on our tree each year).