Tour of Flanders between Christmas markets

Who I am
Joel Fulleda

Author and references

This tour we go to Brugge, in Flanders. With the usual loved / hated ryanair, we got tickets in August for less than 60? each return from Trapani to Charleroi. Departure on 13th and return on 16th December.
We leave on time and arrive early in Brussels, where we collect the rental car they had booked with europecar: an Opel astra station wagon a 208? insurance included for 3 days. The idea of ​​getting a station with a large trunk? it was a stroke of genius, all our luggage (5 adults and a child!) fits in safely! We immediately take the highway to Brugge which is exactly 150 km away

1 day

We arrive and we go to the parking lot near the center "T-Zand" where for 48 hours we pay 15,40 (8,70? Per day), great price! From here, in a few minutes we reach our hotel, the Boterhuis, in Sint jakobsstraat 40. The receptionist is not? black belt of professionalism, but makes up for it with sympathy! The hotel? small, but the rooms and triples they assign to us are very large and equipped with all comforts. We immediately place the luggage with the obvious desire to see everything immediately! On the same road, about 200m away, we immediately find the picturesque and rightly famous Markt Place ... believe me: you will feel like you are in a fairy tale! Perhaps also accomplices all the beautiful Christmas decorations that are wisely placed in all the houses, palaces and various monuments, but the scene that presents itself as soon as we get there? truly a blessing!

In the center of the square there are some cute wooden houses that all together form the Christmas market. They sell many traditional products both manufacturing and gastronomic ... many of these also have tables, even covered by gazebos, where you can lean on to consume there? they sell. In the pi? near the Belfort there is an ice skating rink that seems to be very successful, judging by the many daredevils (many really good, actually?) who try their hand at this adventure! Far be it from me to even think of doing something like that! But, taken by too much curiosity? to immortalize someone ruining on the ground, I waited a few tens of minutes ... inevitably? happened ... and I was ready. No, come on, don't you? badness, ? just to make fun of someone ... and nobody yes? hurt! After seizing the moment ... me? taken an irrepressible urge to take pictures of all the picturesque facades (especially the famous ones that all those who think even just to come to Brugge have certainly seen!) in the most? low of the square stands the imposing Beffroi, the 83 m high bell tower that you can? visit (opening at 9.30) paying 8? for adults and 6? for under 12s and climbing only about 366 steps! Most of which are so tight that you can pass one at a time and not even without difficulty! Once you reach the top, however, you can enjoy a view of the town of Brugge that will leave you there. out of breath! A few meters further? on the left, compared to the belfry, you will find the Burg square, where you can admire the town hall and the church of the holy blood, you can't miss it, why? also this ? something wonderful! Also decorated for Christmas with a large tree in the center of the square, it offers a beautiful glance. In the small street that connects this square with the Markt Place, there are a number of cute (but among the most expensive!) Souvenir shops, mostly chocolates. Let's go back to the market stalls of the markt and among the many people who entertained themselves among the various corridors, the smells, the hunger ... we decide to treat ourselves to one of these since? tempting sandwiches with sausage and sauerkraut! Choice turned out, perhaps not stylistically the best, but the palate and stomach have much appreciated!
Another stroll and then, you want for the temperature that goes down with the progress of the evening and the tiredness that, instead, goes up ... let's go to bed!

2 day

Wake up and breakfast at the hotel. There are not many things and to prepare it c '? only one person, helped in the room by the receptionist on the morning shift (multipurpose!), no coffee? espresso, no cappuccino or hot chocolate ... but the things they offer aren't bad.
After breakfast we immediately take care to dispose of the calories consumed and, how already? indicated above, we climb the belfort tower! An hour to go up, take a few photos and get off ... and we continue to the bejhnof (beguinage), an ancient village consisting of a series of white houses and green lawn, where there is a great silence (warmly recommended also by the many signs that invite you to continue in this direction!). Once it gave asylum to beguines, or women in difficulty? that here were placed in more conditions? haves.
Just adjacent is Lake Minnewather, populated by ducks and lots of swans that run to you if you give them something to eat !!
Out of respect for my tradition, here too I go to visit the stadium of the local team, the Brugge club, second in the standings after Gent. Arrived I take note that the stadium? open and then I allow myself a couple of photos inside. The adjacent shop store opens at 14pm on Mondays, the other days at 10am. The tradition, therefore ... this precedes a souvenir shirt of one of the favorites of this club for my son: 90? for a shirt with the captain's name and relative number (simons n3!) printed on the shoulders! From there, given the late hour, we look for a place to have lunch, since? to get to the center which is 5 km away it takes a while.
By chance, we come across a place, Piazza Carlito's, complete with an Italian flag ... usually I don't go to Italian restaurants if I'm abroad, but the time and distance here have done s? that it was like this. I admit we were also lucky: the place? very refined, the staff, needless to say, speak and understand Italian well,? very friendly and nice! We took some starters that weren't bad at all! And since? the portions were more? how abundant (some of us didn't make it to finish it all!) we couldn't add anything else! For 6 starters, drinks and cover charge 100 ?! Among the dishes we took, the pasta with 4 cheeses certainly stood out, which I would highly recommend! Special mention also for lasagna.
Having eaten lunch, we get closer to the center, but this time differently from the outward journey they wanted to do on foot, by bus. The ticket you can do on board me once issued is valid? of an hour. Does it cost "only" (!!) 3? ...
The rest of the afternoon we dedicated to shopping ... and here there is no shortage of nice things to buy! Among others, right in the gallery of the station, Starbucks, for our usual collectible cup and, why? no? A good hot chocolate with cream!
So let's book the table for dinner at the Poules Moules restaurant, why? we read well about the typical local dish, that is the flavored mussel soup as pi? you will like it, beer, wine, etc. At the appointed time we go to the place and order the mister soups that they sell served accompanied with paper cones full of fries and sauces. The local ? small but cute, just excessively hot! The prices are in line per dish that everyone here advertises and serves, that is: for 4 soups, 1 men? children and a portion of roast chicken with mixed salad and 2 half-liter bottles of water which alone cost 5? each (!!!), we paid 135 ?! But we took off the whim and, I confess, I'm not dying to do it again!
After dinner, digestive stroll in the cool, usual stop at the Markt Place and then to bed.

3 day

Breakfast at the hotel, check-out and away from Brugge. We take the car back to the parking lot and go towards Gent (or Ghent, depending on the language). Gent too? A beautiful place! But you will have to continually, without fail, dribble the thousand trams that run as if they were crazy !! Really crazy! At one point I thought their drivers were crazy and chasing each other !!
The center of the city? ? love, and even here they have set up a nice market with and usual adorable wooden houses! At the center of which stands a Ferris wheel and on the side of the beautiful basilica of San Nicola, here too a crowded ice skating rink. Here the channels are more? large and navigable than Brugge, so for 7? adults and 4 under 12 we buy tickets for a boat trip that will last? 40 minutes and all entirely marked by the words of the guide who never stopped describing every corner! Pounding ...
Then we visit the 2 famous docks, Graslei and Korenlei, these also characterize the almost totality. of the symbolic photos of Ghent! We take a sandwich on the fly, we recover the car we left at the S. Michel car park, right next to the church of the same name and 200 from the center, where we paid 4? For about 6 hours. From here you go towards Brussels ...
To get to the center of Brussels after leaving the motorway, don't you? that was exactly that simple! And the what? been made even more? complicated by too many detours for jobs that we encountered ... but we arrived. We parked 300 m from the Grand Place, where you pay 24? For 15 hours, and a few steps from there? have we reached our hotel, the hotel Saint Nicolas, in rue march? aux poulets 32. Excellent hospitality and not bad overall the structure. It would seem that they are renovating it and what not to do? that improve the gi? pi? what an acceptable customer judgment. For a triple and without breakfast we paid 94? +4, 5? of tourist tax per night. Great! Leaving the hotel are you already? immersed in the flood of people who go or return from the Grand Place, since? ? really close!
Immediately we allow ourselves an excellent waffle to recharge the lost energy (??) and then to admire the famous Place.
I confess that I am not very prepared about this site ... so the fact that it remained so? so surprised does not make me strange! Why? the Place? really a great beauty !! How all there? that we have seen so far, the Christmas decorations emphasize the charm of places and / or structures already? beautiful of them, but here they know their stuff !! At every hour, after dusk, a show of lights projected on the façades of all the buildings that surround the square goes idle, and music that, if like us you are not prepared to live, will leave you? really hooked !! Ecstasy!!
In the center of the square, moreover, they have set up a huge Christmas tree and in the most? high a large hut with the nativity ?! We still enjoy the place and then we reach the very close mannequin pis ... what to say? Disappointing! In a corner at a road intersection this "puppet" is no longer placed? 50cm tall who does the pip? in front of your feet ... nothing too exciting, in my opinion.
We continue to the cathedral which, however, being evening? already? closed, then we return to the starting point, the Grand Place, from where a nice and interesting Christmas market unravels in the adjacent streets. We visit it all, but since? drizzle, let's speed up the operation. We decide to go back to the Grand Place to organize ourselves for dinner ... Do we consult our guides and decide unanimously? that we will have dinner at the TKelderke restaurant, at number 15 of the same square very close to the hard rock café.
We pass and make sure they have room for 20.30pm, so we book. We rigodiamo another music and light show (it's always worth it!) And then off to dinner. The local ? located in a rustic style basement with vaulted red brick ceilings. Not very big, but really cozy. We sit at our table and they immediately bring us the menu ... we try to decipher the dishes they serve (what a great invention the internet, the reviews of travelers and translators !!!) and we make our choices. As soon as the dishes arrived and tasted the foods they prepared for us, each of us professes to be happy with our choice! The highlights turn out to be the "Carbonnades a la flamande" and the "Mixte di lard e sausicce", respectively: a meat stew and a very tasty dark sauce and excellent sausage with bacon and a side of broccoli puree and very good potatoes! We also got a men? children (plats enfant), in our case meatballs in sauce with side fries (boulettes, frites) that for 8,50? has really satisfied us for quality? and quantity ?! Total divided by 6: 88? !! Excellent for what it will be? unanimously voted the best dinner of our Belgian trip!
After dinner, we go for a ride in the square itself first and then in the markets ... we buy some souvenirs, but quickly, again because of the rain, then we return to the hotel

4 day

On the last day we get up early to have breakfast, which we will have just 2 steps from the hotel, where we pay 3 euros for 3 very good croissants and 12 hot milk. We then go back to the hotel to finish packing our bags, then we collect the car from the parking lot and, under a pouring and incessant rain, we head towards Charleroi airport.
Remember not to buy anything that cannot be transported, why? the controls are very scrupulous and in any case, immediately after undergoing the latter, you will find an open space where you can buy most of the characteristic products and also at acceptable prices. The flight, even if it left half an hour late, recovered and we landed on time. End of this short but intense holiday.
See you next time!

Audio Video Tour of Flanders between Christmas markets
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