A Day Out in Bruges, Belgium

 I used to think coach trips were for old people and although I'm into my fifth decade I most certainly don't count myself in that category. But a friend owns a local coach company and I spotted on their socials that they were running a day trip to beautiful Bruges in Belgium. Colour me curious!

Bruges, Belgium view from canal bridge towards town

A few years ago I'd planned a trip with friends via the same coach company to the city's Christmas market which was cancelled due to Covid-19. We'd only paid a deposit and decided when restrictions eased to use it towards a trip to Bath's Christmas market. With Prosecco available on the coach, boozy hot chocolate and maybe a cocktail or two, the coach proved to be an excellent choice with no-one left nursing a diet coke in the corner.

As a coach-tripping convert I sold my slightly reluctant husband on this trip with the lure of Belgian beer, moules frites, Belgian chocolate and of course Belgian waffles. Fundamentally we decided we were going to go to Belgium for lunch.

It was quite an early start (5.15am) but that meant via Le Shuttle we were dropped a ten minute walk from the city centre in plenty of time to find a nice restaurant for lunch. 

Bruges was as beautiful as advertised.We loved the canals giving Venice vibes and the horses pulling carriages of tourists (€70 per carriage) as they clip-clopped along cobbled streets heading towards the city centre where ancient buildings line picturesque squares.

horse and carriage, Bruges, Belgium

Some of our coach load headed straight to the queues for boat trips along the famous canals but since we had created our itinerary very much around food we wasted no time looking for somewhere nice to eat.

Common sense and experience told me avoiding the touristy areas like Markt Square with its 13th century belfry (pictured below) would likely give us a cheaper and more authentic experience. 

Medieval Belfry, Markt Square Bruges, Belgium

Sad to say the back street bistro we chose which was busy with locals proved very unwelcoming.  We were ignored at our table for quite a while as the owner served literally everyone else including many who entered after us, and then we were told he'd "just" sold the last mussels and seemed disinterested in seeing if we fancied anything else, so we walked out.

Hungry and dispirited we ended up at Huyze die Maene on Markt Square where we found lots of lunch offers in gorgeous venues with much friendlier staff and a view of the bustling square. 

Huyze die Maene restaurant, Markt Square, Bruges, Belgium

madmumof7's husband eating mussels from dark coloured enamel pot in Bruges, Belgium

We scored lovely tasty moules served with frites and a smile for €17 compared to the €29 sans frites the less tourist-friendly places were charging. Even with a couple of strong dark Belgian beers and a glass of a nice white wine our total bill came in under €50.

On to ticking off a few more items from our list. DH loved the beer -Brugse Zot- he had with lunch so we popped into a small supermarket and picked up a pack containing four bottles of the locally produced brew and a branded beer glass for €14. Bargain! 

We also took the budget-friendly decision to pick up locally made chocolate bars for the children at 99 cents each from the supermarket after seeing the eye watering prices in the Belgian chocolate shops. They are lovely to window shop at but we spotted a small albeit beautifully decorated palm sized hollow easter egg was priced at €8 so we knew going inside would prove very expensive! I didn't ask how much the terrifying bunny cost.

Belgian chocolate easter basket, Bruges, Belgium

By then it had started to rain and the temperature had dropped. I noticed lots of people huddling in doorways trying to eat their Belgian waffles before the cream was diluted with rain. I didn't fancy doing that and in honesty with diabetes and a dairy intolerance I didn't want to eat something that might make me feel unwell - particularly with a long coach trip (with one tiny toilet on board) ahead.

We started meandering back towards the meeting point admiring the sights and shops along the way. 

madmumof7's husband in Markt Square, Bruges, Belgium

horse head on water fountain, Bruges, Belgium

river flowing under building, Bruges, Belgium

We nipped into one of the tallest and most crowded McDonald's I have ever been in for a bathroom break (expect to pay around €1 to use most toilet facilities in the city centre) but due to the crowds gave up on our idea of adding the Bruges branch to our list of foreign Golden Arches we have eaten at.

Mcdonalds frontage, Bruges, Belgium

Then I spotted a small unassuming cafe advertising frites and waffles with indoor seating. I mean it was a bit "Wimpy circa 1983" but they offered a basic waffle dusted with icing (powder) sugar at a reasonable price. Thankful for a sit down out of the rain we enjoyed two waffles, a beer for the bloke and a Coke Zero for me for the very reasonable total price of €12 - about the same as one fancy waffle at the many takeaway desert places.

Tummies topped up we headed back to the coach pick up point for 5.15pm just as the rain turned torrential. A quick stop at the duty free at Calais then back through the tunnel and we were home at 10pm.

My husband who had initially been dubious about a coach trip said he found it really relaxing. We were able to choose our seats and discovered we were by no means the youngest people on the vehicle. There were quite a few teens and youngsters, some with family members, and lots of couples like us. There were two lovely drivers on this trip who cheerfully guided us through passport control, dispensed cold bottled drinks and made the whole experience very pleasant and stress free.

The day trip cost £75 per person with Hertfordshire based family business, Masons Coach Hire and I'm already dropping hints to my children about a new European day trip just posted by them offering a day in the gorgeous coastal town Le Touquet in France and a stop off at a French Hypermarket in September for the same price. Of course on a coach you aren't bound by liquid volume limits so that sounds like a great opportunity to do some wine shopping. 

A ticket for that trip sounds like a great birthday gift idea to me 😉

Coach companies like Masons struggled to survive lockdown so why not check out what is on offer and support your local company. From holidays to transport for sporting fixtures and of course a whole host of excursions you might find, like us, that coach travel is easy, comfortable and convenient.

Disclaimer: I was not paid to share this honest review.