The Christmas Markets in Bruges was one event on our QM2 itinerary that I was extremely excited about. You know how much I love Christmas, and visions of old-world stalls laced with gingerbread and hand-crafted decorations danced through my head. Sadly, the reality was more rubbishy market stalls selling cheap made in China beanies and gloves. Sigh.
Bruges is a lovely town, very clean and sensible, with a distinct lack of seedy characters, and it has made me want to come back and visit Belgium again, however, the markets were a disappointment. Nevertheless, I managed to find a few stalls and shops more suited to my sensibilities.
There was a Christmas shop that couldn’t be any more Christmasy if it tried, where I was able to pick up some gorgeous little decorations. Phew. It would have been sad indeed to come away without new additions for my little cabin tree.
The first, and only stall to my liking at the markets, all calico and twine, was a beautiful gourmet foodie type stall from De Klok, selling gorgeous jams and liqueurs. Being a sucker for a jam, apple and rose leapt into my hands, as did a chocolate-based liqueur similar to Baileys. Cannot wait to crack that open for a celebratory Christmas drink.
There were certain Belgian eats I had to consume before departing and they were the obligatory waffles, hot chocolate and chips in a paper cone.
Warm and smothered in syrupy cherries and fluffy cream, these waffles were a real treat. Pretty to look at too, I appreciated the kitsch flag stuck in. Mmmmmm.
I saw stacks of people queuing for what looked like fat, shards of potato excellence, however, they were presented in boxes… I needed a cone of chips, that’s what makes them special to me, luckily, this chip purveyor par excellence coned them up for me. Swimming in mustard and ketchup, this was a meal fit for a king. Well played, Belgium.
Would a visit to Belgium be complete without a small lorry full of chocolate to take back? No. As soon as I saw it, I headed straight for Leonidas. These chocolates are superb. They used to have a shop in Chifley Plaza, Sydney, and they were some of the best chocolates I have ever eaten (my mother – the chocoholic, can attest to this), however, they closed down a few years back. Terrible! I bemoaned this to the shop assistant. She said it got too expensive. Sigh. She loaded up a box of these beauties for me and I look forward to taking solace in each cocoa-y bite in my cabin over the coming weeks. Self control and restraint. That’s what it’s all about. Savouring and remembering.
Although finger-numbingly cold, I did enjoy walking around Bruges’ scenic squares and cobbled streets. Next time, I’d like it to be summer and I’d like to not have two shows that evening, so I can sit with a frosty beer and bowl of mussels. Thank you, Belgium. I look forward to our next dance.