Bruges: Beer, Waffles, and Ghost Stories

There are plenty of reasons to visit Bruges… or Brugge, in Dutch. 

You might visit Bruges to gaze, in awe, at one of the world’s tallest medieval buildings, Church of Our Lady, and the rest of the incredibly well-preserved medieval buildings that populate the city. 

Church of our Lady, towering over every other building in its vicinity.

You might visit Bruges for its world-renowned lace products — something they’ve been thriving at making for nearly four centuries. 

You might visit Bruges for its delectable assortment of chocolates and chocolate shops; to eat and experience Belgium chocolate first-hand. Many would argue that that’s a good enough reason on its own. (...by many, I mean us.)

How could you say "no, I won't eat you" to a face like that?

You might even visit Bruges to be regaled of its golden age through the 12th–15th centuries, and how it was likely the site of the world’s first stock market, “Bourse.”

While our short stay in Bruges had a little bit of all of these, we took home with us a different version of Bruges. 


Beer in Bruges

Alright, I'll preface this by saying that neither Marta nor I drink very often. 

That being said, there are countries where you drink — and others where you can safely pass on the ale without missing out on anything. 

You don’t want to pass on Bruges, a city that hosts one of the best annual beer festivals in the world. Every February 4th and 5th, you'll find over 350 beers at your disposition through the city. Not only that, but Bruges even has a beer pipeline flowing underneath it: a 2-mile pipe that pushes locally brewed beer at over 1,000 gallons per hour. 

In any case, one of the first things that might inspire you to order a beer or two is staying at St. Christopher’s Inn and their accompanying Bauhaus bar next door.

Just like every other hostel of theirs we’ve stayed at (from London to Newquay), the accompanying bar is an international hub of fun and mingling. Aside from the awesome bar, though...

Bruges has a fantastic selection and culture of craft beer, and we made sure to indulge in some of it before leaving:

 Beers & Pralines at the Duvelorium Grand Beer Cafe. From left to right, beer + praline: Liefmans Fruitesse + chocolate with strawberry and peppermint; Maredsous 8º + chocolate with plum and cardamon jam; Vedett Extra White + chocolate with cream of lemon, apple, and basil

Beers & Pralines at the Duvelorium Grand Beer Cafe. From left to right, beer + praline: Liefmans Fruitesse + chocolate with strawberry and peppermint; Maredsous 8º + chocolate with plum and cardamon jam; Vedett Extra White + chocolate with cream of lemon, apple, and basil

For just 10€, we found a beer tasting at the Duvelorium Grand Beer Café that includes a trio of expertly-paired chocolates (a.k.a. "pralines"). You can enjoy the whole ensemble with a remarkable view of the Bruges Market Place (pictured above). 

If beer is your thing, there are plenty of beer tastings, tours, and locales for you to explore in Bruges (a little more on that down below!)


Waffles in Bruges

People often ask us: "Do you do anything besides eating when you travel?"

Alright, so they don't really ask that. Or they do, and we're too busy eating to notice. 

What's so special about a Belgian Waffle, particularly a Liege Belgian waffle? To get a good idea of what a Belgian waffle is, imagine an American waffle, except with thicker, doughier, tastier batter used as a base. Then, Belgian waffles have larger, crater-sized pockets throughout the waffle that create tiny mansions for toppings like warm caramel, chocolate (milk or dark), or whip cream and strawberries. 

The Liege waffle is all of that, but it is slightly thicker and sweeter, on account of the pearls of sugar trapped inside the batter itself.  

And in our experience, one of the most affordable places to find it is the source: Belgium. 

Here's what a Liege waffle looks like seconds before being mauled:

 This is a caramel-covered Liege waffle — my diet would consist solely of this if I lived in Bruges.

This is a caramel-covered Liege waffle — my diet would consist solely of this if I lived in Bruges.

Bruges Waffle Recommendation 

One place we found to be amazing for these waffles, both in taste and value, was Chez Albert. While we didn’t eat at a ton of other shops to compare, we did gander at several of them and could immediately tell that the end product wasn’t as soft or fresh as what you’d find at Chez Albert.

If you’re traveling through Bruges and want a waffle that’s been to heaven and has been brought back down to earth, get yourself a liege waffle (especially if it's from Chez Albert!).


Bruges — Ghost Stories

Part of the allure of a Bruges is how well-kept the medieval architecture is; moreover, just how old it is. And with age comes a past laden with closet skeletons, which inevitably means...

Ghosts.

Why does black and white automatically make photos mysterious/creepy?

There are ghosts here, folks. 

(Or, just plenty of years for people at bars to tell stories over and over and over again. But that’s probably not the case here, right?)

The classic rooftops that make up Bruges iconic architecture... also made creepy by black and white.

A cool bike garage. Or a ghost basement, who knows.

First off, how did we even come to this topic while in Bruges? 

Legends of Bruges Walking Tours, that’s how. Aside from giving us a genuinely entertaining and engaging free walking tour, they gave us plenty of ghost stories to sleep on. We attended the 1.5-hour Bruges By Night Tour and liked it so much that we’d try one of their many other tours, including the free “A Taste of Bruges” food-tasting tour, their daily and also free history walking tour, or their 12€ Bruges beer-tasting tour. (Especially the last one!)

Ok — back to the sleeping-robbing ghost stories. 

We won’t ruin the stories by going into great detail, but we will say that when residents of a place tell of apparitions appearing in white gowns and whispering words as they solemnly walk through the halls... or doors opening and closing by themselves in the middle of the night, when cell reception starts to suspiciously cut out...

That, well, these are the kinds of stories that make for an excellent walking tour. 

One of the most famous tales in Bruges tells of a monk who fell in love with a nun in the 15th century. Although the nun loved him, she refused on one distinct occasion to break her vows and leave town with the monk. This refusal is said to have sent the monk into a furious rage that led him to kill the nun and bury her within the tunnels of Bruges. 

 Our tour guide Nicolas telling us of the grisly monk murder.

Our tour guide Nicolas telling us of the grisly monk murder.

The location of her covenant, which is no longer standing, is Spanjaardstraat 17. While that physical structure no longer stands, the metaphysical is said to still be living there, quietly haunting all those who've read of this tale. 

(I made that last part up. Had to.) 

Remember the ghost I mentioned that appears in a white gown? If you want to feel the same chills we did while listening to the story in front of the very building she likely still lives in... you know what free walking tour to take. 

Now — for some strange reason, the app I’m writing this on keeps crashing...


Conclusion

Bruges is the manifestation of enchantment. Which is to say, visit Bruges, and it will likely also have you under its spell. 

Although this article really only touched on a few of the things that makes Bruges slightly different — I mean, who doesn’t like beer, waffles, and ghost stories? — it’s the way the city brings it all together that proves to be so enchanting. 

Lastly, here is a small gallery of Bruges photos for those of you who want to visually explore the city without all of my distracting words getting in the way.

Random question of the day: Do you have ghost stories that you haven’t been able to forget? Or any strange, ghost experiences of your own?

Please do tell down below in the comment section!