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Bruges, Boats & Beers!

We lugged the kids to Bruges, Belgium. I say lugged because Abel wanted to ride on my back the entire trip. Thank you Ergo baby! Link for purchase:

Bruges is my real life fairy tale. I’ve never seen anything like it. Canals, castles, cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages, cathedrals, lace, chocolate shops and lots and lots of the best beer in the world! It’s called the Little Venice of the North due to its canal system and 80 bridges.

We stayed in a flat right next to the canal that must have been an old stable. Abel kept saying it was the garage. It was AWESOME. The flat at 2 stories and had 3 doors on each floor that opened to the canal. The kids must have been the talk of Bruges because they waived at every tourist boat that went by which was every 5 or so minutes. Even when we weren’t looking we could hear them gasp “AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW.” Oh and we had a cat wander in. A big orange cat Abel said was Garfield. We then had to watch Garfield on the iPad…. In French.

The location of the flat was right behind the Church of Our Lady Cathedral which holds a statue of Madonna and Child by Michelangelo- the only to ever leave Italy. From our flat we could walk everywhere which we did. But not all that easily with a buggy. We took our pocket stroller which folds down into a back pack for convenience but it was a struggle in a city of all cobblestone. So if anyone drives to Bruges with kids, take an all-terrain. We survived but not without a whiplash moment and mummy flying over the buggy and getting a gnarly bruise on her hip.

When we travel with kids we don’t have any set agenda. You just can’t. You see what you can see and survive. So here’s what we did…

We did a canal boat ride of course which was very inexpensive at 8 euros a person. It was about 30 minutes and Norah loved every second of it. Abel….well he fell asleep waiting in line and then slept with his head on the back of the boat most of the time. It was a great way to see the city from the canals and entertain kids.

We also did a horse and carriage ride on the “clip clop horsies.” This was SO FUN. Abel waited so patiently in line. This was another great way to see the city with kids. They were so entertained and Abel named our horse "Clive." I think I heard “clip clop clip clop clip clop” for days.

In Burg Square we went into the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The outside of the basilica is dark and grey, very gothic. On the inside it houses a vial of blood that is said to be that of Jesus. We saw it from the queue but didn’t wait to get up close. The kids were getting antsy and the last thing I wanted were two loud toddlers in a basilica.

We wandered around the Grote Market, the main square. There was a lovely man making balloon animals. He didn’t just make the animals, he also did a mime like routine that was unexpectedly really cute. Without words he asked if we just had two kids, if we were done having kids, if Andy or I were getting the snip, what country and state we were from. He had 4 kids and we knew their ages. All without words! He’d also blow a balloon and let it stick to people walking by. It was really light hearted and everyone was enjoying him. When the balloon artist was completed, Andy shook the man’s hand, gave him a tip and said “God Bless.” The man then reached into his pocket and gave Andy a small booklet about Jesus and being saved. Andy and I are both Christians so we of course welcomed it and I honestly felt God’s love through that man as he performed for our kids. He could have passed out booklets to everyone who approached him but I don’t think he was doing that as we hadn’t seen booklets around or seen him pass one along to anyone in line before us. Either way, it’s wonderful to see someone spreading joy and God’s love!

We found a park just off the square for the kids to run around. In Europe it’s not surprising that almost every park we find is by a cathedral. It never gets old watching the kids play with stunning beautiful facades all around. This park was particularly interesting because not ONE child in the park spoke English and it didn’t seem to bother Abel or Norah as they just wandered around with them all.

As adults travelling with kids, it’s a must to reward yourself with drinks. I feel no shame that I took my kids to Belgium’s wall of beers at 2Be. When you order the menu is on a bungee cord hanging from the ceiling. You pull down whichever language you speak. The bathroom sink is an aquarium!

We also went to the brewery of one of the best beers I’ve ever had, Bourgogne Des Flandres. Incredible beer and incredible atmosphere!

Things to note:

  • Official Languages- Flemish and French. Most speak English but don’t automatically expect it. And Flemish looks and sounds so strange!

  • Cobblestones- ALL the streets are cobblestone. An umbrella stroller is tough. Wear sneakers.

  • VERY touristy. It’s the most visited city in Belgium. Go in off season if you can because it’s really crowded.

  • Almost everything closes early. The grocery closed at 7pm. Restaurants were closed by 8pm. Thank GOODNESS we found a dominos.

There is no question, that will not be the only time I visit Bruges, Belgium.

#brugge #belgium #bruges