Cheap Eats in Bruges

I love Bruges, this idyllic town captivates me, but with hostels an average of €18 a night and meals ranging from €7-25 it’s not the cheapest city to spend your time in.

Imagine my delight when stumbling upon Brasserie Medard; an inconspicuous, hole in the wall, family run type of joint that’s full of locals and cheap eats! I arrived maybe 40 minutes before closing time and was greeted by a young man. Despite all tables having a reserved sign on them, he sat me down and handed me a menu. The atmosphere seemed fairly nonchalant and homey, with a group of older locals chatting together while occasionally yelling into the kitchen to chat with the chef as well; clearly they were regulars and everyone knew each other, which reinforced my belief that this place was a good decision.

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It’s a little bit difficult to order as the menu is only partially translated into English and the server couldn’t speak English, but I managed quite well anyway. 🙂 I ordered a glass of red wine and a small spaghetti from the snack menu. I don’t know if snack 20161017_193237translates the same from English to Dutch, but if that was their idea of a snack sized spaghetti portion then they have serving sizes big enough to rival America. The spaghetti rang in at only €4 and the glass of wine just €2.50. While tucking into my super sized meal one of the women from the table next to me asked me something in Dutch, and after seeing my blank face she repeated, “delicious?” I smiled and nodded enthusiastically, making her laugh. She even made a point to say goodbye to me before she left (she may have been a couple glasses of wine in by that point but she was still lovely).

I wandered home having made barely a dent in my wallet and stomach close to bursting, not even tempted by the sweet aroma of fresh waffles drifting through the air.

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Quick facts:

Located just off Grote Markt on Sint-Amandsstraat (maybe 30 meters down the road from the square).

Snack menu certainly delivers…”small” saucy, cheesy, spaghetti is €4 and is more than enough

Do not expect much English

NOTE: After looking up reviews of Brasserie Medard, I was startled by the reviews on trip advisor and feel like I must include a bit of a warning. I may have just been lucky as I was seated served without a problem, but apparently this might not be a very tourist friendly place. Many people complain that the owner is a very rude man who has a strong dislike of anyone who isn’t Belgian and they were often denied service and essentially pushed out the door. I did not see the owner while I was there, just a woman in the kitchen and I assume her son or other family member serving. I had a pleasant experience, but I suppose if you do find yourself in Bruges and craving some spaghetti, proceed at your own risk… and good luck!

 

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Belgium’s Best Hot Chocolate

Belgium, undeniably, absolutely nails it when it comes to all things chocolate. When I was in Brussels I sampled some mouth watering waffles but Bruges introduced me to a whole new delight: Belgian hot chocolate. 

I don’t mean to say I’ve never had hot chocolate, I’ve had more than my fair share (as a child I literally required a mug of hot chocolate in the mornings before I could talk, function or be in any way remotely pleasant. This was obviously pre coffee years). However, I had never had hot chocolate made with Belgian chocolate. So once I settled into my hostel I set out to find that hot mug of heaven.

Out of an the tea rooms in Bruges, I walked into De Proeverie.

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De Proeverie sits just across the cobblestoned street from it’s sister chocolate shop, Sukerbuyc, inconspicuously nestled up next to the canal on Katelijnestraat. De Proeverie sells a tasty selection of cakes, pastries, scones, ice cream, tea, coffee, and (most importantly) hot chocolate.

Not only do they use Belgian chocolate from across the street, all ingredients are arranged on a tray and you allowed to concoct your own perfect cup of cocoa! It’s a delectable DIY treat.

20161017_155110At €4.50 this is arguably a bit of a ‘treat yourself’ if you are budget traveling, but it is definitely worth it. You will be given a tray with a cup of steamed milk, sugar cubes, a chocolate20161017_155142 stick to melt into the milk, whipped cream, and 4 extra pieces of chocolate. So not only do you get hot chocolate but you can also sample a bit of dark, milk, and white 20161017_155300chocolate as well as a chocolate truffle. You know, in case you wanted to pop across the street later after having a taste of what they offer. 😉

 

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One Night in Brussels

I decided to make my great escape from the UK and wander over to Belgium. (Also deciding to write about Belgium while it’s still fresh.) After an exhausting overnight bus/ferry trip from London I finally made it to Brussels! A quick search on hostel world revealed, surprisingly, a hotel as one of the cheapest accommodations.

There were very clear directions on how to get to the hotel via public transport from the central bus station, and the underground was very eat to navigate dispite the language barriers. I finally made it to Meininger Hotel late morning. Unfortunately check in is quite late at 3 pm, but the time if no surprise they clearly stated such online. While I couldn’t check in early I was able drop off my bags and was then free to wander the city.

A word about Meininger Hotel: it is absolutely amazing. The dorm rooms run at €15 per night and can sleep up to 6 people. The beds are comfortable, come with linen and blanket (and bath towel), and each bed has a personal reading lamp and an outlet. The toilet and shower are separate, which is convenient, and both are located in the room. The shower gets nice and hot and there is excellent water pressure! You even have a hair dryer. It is like having a nice hotel room at a quarter of the cost! I would definitely recommend this hotel/hostel to anyone going through Brussels.

Brussels itself was a little bit underwhelming for me. It is a nice enough city with plenty to see but it lacked personality and felt a bit like “just another city”. However, it is worth spending at least a day wandering around and checking out. I got a kick out of the mannekin pis (little pissing boy), which is a famous landmark for both tourists and locals alike. There is also a pissing dog and a 20161016_111035pissing girl somewhere in town, but I didn’t find them (a bit of a scavenger hunt for you when you choose to visit!).

On the road just near mannekin pis you can find shop after shop of chocolate and waffles. Thank you Belgium for being you and providing such wonderful treats. 🙂 After fully engorging myself on a chocolatey waffle I wandered over to Grand Place.

 

During the day Grand Place is, well, grand. It’s very pretty and you can admire the architecture and whatnot but if you do nothing else in Brussels….go to Grand Place at night!

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I promise you it will be worth it. Standing in Grand Place at night feels just like you are standing in a fairy tale. I now know where 20161016_190708Disney got the inspiration for the castle. I was amazed at the transformation from day to night of this place, it was stunning! Don’t miss this.

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