It was anxiety rather than excitement that I felt waking up the morning we were leaving for Bruge. Grandma and I were taking Lucy on a train trip, we had six modes of transport to tackle, hours in transit and a toddler- a terrifying mix of T’s!
First ray of sunshine- my sister found a direct train to Kings Cross St Pancras, winning! Second happy moment (despite a bunch of overexcited teenagers shouting to each other about their planned escapades in Amsterdam) was this:
Sorry grandma for the sleeping photo and Lucy I guess too, but hooray (yes she fell asleep with her leap frog phone to her ear! Love that toy!). I wasn’t going to pull it off her, a sleeping baby is something you wish for in these moments and she must have read my trip notes because she slept pretty much the whole journey to Brussels! Good kid!
Two more modes of transport to go; a local train to Bruge (note: make sure you book the Eurostar ticket to ‘any Belgian station’ for this to be included) and then a taxi to the hotel and we had arrived! A lot less stressful than I had imagined- the sun was well and truly shining.
First thing first, time to refuel and get some food in our belly. Staying at The Grand Hotel Casselbergh meant we were close to everything, a stones throw from the Burg and from the beating heart of the city, the Markt (the marketplace) so off we trotted to one of the restaurants that lined the Markt square for some much needed sustenance.
I love trying famed local dishes so it was Flemish beef stew (cooked in their famous Belgian dark beer) for me and a not so traditional spaghetti for Grandma. I think Lucinda liked Grandma’s choice much better than mine. No table manners for this toddler just happy she was happy to eat and wasn’t begging for biccies of whinging for a food pouch- another win chalked up to me!
We were all exhausted from the trip so after lunch it was back to the hotel for a quick nap – upon request they had set up a portacot for Lucy, a service that cost 10 euros a night but for not having to lug the portacot or find a place to stow it on the train it was well worth it for us.
An hour of power staring at the back of our eyelids and we were ready to explore. And what a city to explore! Every turn was a postcard worthy shot, Bruge is an amazingly stunning city with so much history that has been beautifully retained.
I had picked up a guide book off my sister so we altered a few of the do it yourself city walks to fit in with our plan of attack. First priority was to let Lucinda explore, she has well and truly progressed from waking to running so we wanted to find a park to let her roam.
The streets were full of tourists, bikes zipping past and huge horse carriages thundering by, not the best spot for a fearless one year old to run about so I searched for a green space away from the masses.
We ended up at Hof Arents, a inner city garden which wasn’t as grassy as I thought but it was away from traffic and canals so safe enough to let the toddler burn off some energy and indulge her inquisitive nature.
In the corner of the garden a path lead to a small foot bridge over a canal, the Bonifacius Bridge which took us to The Church of Our Lady.
Simply breath taking scenery though I think it was just a jungle gym for Lucinda who just wanted to climb up and down the stairs and was not having a bar of trying to get a nice snapshot with mum- oh that face!
We decided to continue our explorations so grandma was on stroller duty, on four wheel drive over the bumpy cobblestones, as I recited historical accounts from our always trusty guide book.
Our final stop was again in search of sustenance and this time we dined at a cafe in the Burg right near our hotel, an equally scenic and touristy spot but we were again pleasantly surprised by the delicious food. I opted for the local waterzooi, a creamy chicken stew with potatoes (Lucinda was a huge fan of this and ate half my meal along with croquettes we had ordered for her).
What a day! It was around 10pm I think when we called it a night, very late for a little one but she is forever surprising me with her endurance and resilience! Ready to do it all again no doubt about that.
PART TWO and PART THREE of our Bruge trip coming soon- a toddlers Belgian Food Safari full of chocolate, waffles and frites!
(Nothing healthy there – but hey we’re on holidays)