With Valentines Day approaching I can’t help but think that if men are from Mars and women from Venus, the perfect place to reunite them would be beautiful Bruges in Belgium.
Bruges is often referred to as the “Venice of the North” and with its historic city centre, its jaw-dropping architecture and the canals curling around its beautiful old buildings and narrow streets it is not hard to imagine that you could fall in love here. It really is an amazing city that had me under its spell from the moment we arrived.
However, it is actually not its perfect postcard prettiness that leads me to believe that this is the perfect place to reunite the sexes.
No, what makes this the perfect common ground is the two things Bruges have aplenty… beer and chocolate!
Belgium is renowned for its beer so it is no wonder that the average beer drinker downs about 81 litres of beer a year. And when upon arrival at our lovely guesthouse in Bruges at 11:00 in the morning our lovely hostess immediately brought out some complementary beers, it became clear just how easily a person could reach that level of consumption!
I won’t pretend to be a beer connoisseur. (I have to admit, to me it tastes like sucking on some hay bales, but to each his own!) Having said that, it was fascinating to see just how many different types of beers you get and now and then I could even taste the odd one that I could swallow without pulling a face! Typically the Belgian beers are served in bottles and not cans, but what makes it even more special is that each type of beer has its own distinct glass in which it has to be served! According to those in the know, using the right glass for the beer actually improves its flavour. (Maybe that’s what’s wrong – I’ve been using the wrong glass all along!)
We were lucky enough to discover the famous ‘t Brugs Beertje beerhouse. It is located between the Markt and the Zand in 5 Kemelstraat. It is off a small side street of Steenstraat – look carefully, or you might miss it. Here you can find over 300 different Belgian beers! It is a unique little pub, with all kinds of beer paraphernalia on the wall. Tables are close together and quickly someone that you don’t know can become an acquaintance in the search for the best beer on offer!
Hubby’s favourite was the Brugse Zot, which is actually a beer produced by De Halve Maan brewery right there in the historical town centre of Bruges. It is a blond beer and hubby tells me it really tasted great; apparently fruity and not too bitter. He also tried the Straffe Hendrik Quadruple (you can translate that to “Strong” Hendrik). And boy, it is strong! It has an 11% alcohol content! (And tastes like many, many bitter hay bales!)
However, hubby’s ultimate favourite beer we found in a small pub in Damme. Damme is only about 10 kilometres from Bruges and we cycled there one afternoon along the canals. It was a superb experience; a bit misty but so beautiful cycling in such beautiful country side! We found the pub on a corner on the main road. He tried a few beers there as well, but when he put his lips to his first Leffe Blond, I had to accept that it would seem that in the world of beer, he thought blonds was more fun!
But don’t feel sorry for me and all the times I had to endure the bitter taste of the best Belgium had to offer. Oh no… because with bitter there is always sweet. You see, while our wonderful hostess brought out the beers early, she also brought out the chocolates for later!
As much beer as you can find in Bruges, that’s how much chocolate you can find. There are beautiful little chocolate shops all over town; some just selling their chocolates in the front of the shop in a display that dazzles and others where the master chocolatiers display their skill right in the middle of the store for all to see.
I was amazed by the little figurines – sheep, bees, soccer balls, ducks, angry birds (!) and yip, even little chocolate beer bottles! These were way too pretty to eat and I could only bring myself to take pictures of them!
But oh, the pralines! Little chocolate shells with soft-centred fillings of heavenly delight! I love any type of strawberry fillings. Orange fillings. And salted caramel. And coffee. Oh, and cherry! I love them all! And mint!
But don’t forget the truffles! A little bit of bitter cocoa powder around a soft ganache. So soft that you just have to eat them quickly otherwise they will melt! My favourites have a bit of nut mixed in the ganache. And the best time to have them is after dinner… and before dinner… really any time the craving strikes!
There was this little shop we passed by each day we we walked back to our guesthouse. We would walk in and just order a random selection of truffles and pralines and it was such a treat to pick through the box not knowing what you were going to get next! Our guesthouse had this lovely gazebo and we spent all our evenings sitting out there with some wine (for me), some beer for hubby and some chocolate!
So you see, Bruges provides the perfect setting to bridge the gender gap! It’s a beautiful and romantic setting that brings together bitter sweet in perfect harmony! Let there be love!