European Road Trip - Part 1 - Bruges & Brussels

29/01/2017 Belgium

A new year a new adventure! Back in Spring/Summer time last year, my friend Jon and I planned a short European road trip for the start of 2017 in his car that would take us through parts of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. Now, with us both arriving safely back home from our trip with the awesome experiences still fresh in my mind I had to put it all into a blog post, so grab a brew and kick it back with me.

The adventure began for me by hopping onto a train down to stay with Jon and his family near Brighton over the weekend before we departed on our road trip on the Monday. The train from Hull down to the Brighton area is pretty hassle free as I always make sure I can grab a straight through train to King's Cross and with a quick walk across to St. Pancras you can hop on another train that takes you straight through to Brighton. After about a 4 hour train journey, Jon picked me up and took me back to his place on the outskirts of Brighton and after a quick bit of unpacking and a compulsory brew we headed out to the centre of Brighton where we made our first stop of the night; Burger Brothers - the promised land, a tiny burger bar right in the centre of town that make the best burgers that I've ever tasted (see the beauty of it below, viewer discretion is advised as extreme hunger may ensue). Afterwards, we headed to a couple of bars for a few pints and called it a night. It was good to be back down in Brighton as things are different down there. There are so many different fashion trends, interesting sights and people are actually out in the city centre at night! [shock horror!]

Simple Jack Burger with extra Halloumi - Burger Brothers, Brighton

On the Sunday we met up with our friend Adam for a Sunday Roast at a local pub. Now, being a Yorkshire lad, I love me a good roast and expect nothing but the best prime cut of beef and a proper Yorkshire Pud on my plate - sadly that wasn't what I ended up with, though the company and ale that accompanied the meal more than made up for it. Later in the day Jon and I headed out to the cinema where we caught Ben Affleck's new movie, Live By Night which was phenomenal. People give him some stick for his acting but god damn, the man can direct. The cinematography was so on point and the plot really kept me gripped; I'm definitely going to have to make a purchase when released in stores. I've put a trailer for it below if you've not seen or heard of it, as its a must see!

Live By Night

After a great weekend down in Brighton catching up with some old friends we had the great joy of waking up at 5AM on Monday morning to get to Folkestone for our Euro Shuttle crossing to Calais at 7:50AM. With a 30 minute crossing on the shuttle, we arrived in Calais and made our hour long drive to Bruges. Keeping an eye out for trams, strange road markings and signs, and remembering to drive on the right hand side of the road, we made it in one piece with relative ease. Upon arriving, we were pretty impressed with Bruges' centre as the tall, impressive architecture was really stunning and everything just looked really clean and well maintained. After a quick round of research on Tripadvisor to make the most of our single day in Bruges we decided to head to the Torture Museum which had great ratings. For €7, we were able to walk around a roughly 2 hour long exhibition of torture through the ages. The exhibition was really informative and in depth, with models, exhibits and relics of the past that you could get right up close with and learn about. Its definitely worth a visit if you love history and ever find yourself in Bruges.

Seeing a lot of torture devices through the ages somehow works up an appetite so after picking up a fine selection of Cuban cigars to enjoy over our stay in Belgium we headed out to the nearest cafe and found these amazing Brioche/Scone looking slabs of goodness sitting in the window. They were a god send; pure naughtiness served up on a plate with a coffee on the side. They sure knew how to charge for them too though, with the bill coming to just under €20 we soon found out why Belgium was renowned for its high prices and living.

Later in the day we found ourselves at the Bruges Beer Experience, naturally. The somewhat lengthy exhibition tour which had us pointing iPads at various exhibits to learn about the history of beer was very monotonous and soon grew old. We were rewarded for our perseverance though as our ticket included 3 beer tokens at the end of the exhibition where we could taste different styles of beer. There we spent a good hour or so relaxing and watching the world go by with beer in hand as we researched for a good place to get our evening meal out in the city centre before we came up with a winner. We headed out to Ribs 'N Beer, a restaurant rated #8 of all the places you could eat in Bruges, where we had all you could eat ribs for €18 each. Now, believe me when I say that this meal was easily within the top 5 meals that I've ever had the joy of experiencing during my past 25 years of living on this planet. The slow cooked tender meat, the delicious sauce it was covered in, the fact that as soon as we were down to our last rib the waitress was stood by our table and asking whether we needed more; even the surroundings and atmosphere of the restaurant all added to the experience. If you ever find yourself in Bruges, you NEED to visit this place. (No picture unfortunately, as the only thing on my mind at the time was devouring ribs).

Boom Kriek - Red Ale 4%, SteenBrugge Wit - Wheat beer 5% & Palm Royale - Amber Ale 7.5%

After a great start to our European road trip in Bruges we were back on the road again the next day, heading towards our next destination, Brussels. The hour and a half drive from Bruges to Brussels was easy enough, with only a few parking related hiccups upon arriving into the city centre of Brussels. Our first impressions of Brussels were quite mixed as the city itself looked really gorgeous and stunning, with large buildings and very up market shops such as Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana; though to put it simply, there really wasn't an awful lot to do in Brussels other than sight seeing.

Never the less, we ventured into the city centre, taking in the sights and developed a serious addiction to Belgium waffles. Overall, it was a really chilled out day at a slow pace just people watching and seeing sights such as the various parliamentary buildings, Brussels Park, the Cathedral St. Michael & St. Gudula and the Hotel de Ville. As the day ended we found ourselves at yet another Hard Rock Cafe where we both had a burger that was packed with different local meats and cheese, accompanied by a large glass of Grimbergen Beer. It was probably our best experience at a Hard Rock as the food tasted so good and the service was great. After dinner we headed back to the hotel for an early night as the next day our adventure would lead us to the Amsterdam.

I hope you enjoyed my first blog post as a part of my EU Road Trip series. Have you been to Bruges or Brussels before, if so what did you get up to during your visit? Let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to follow me @HiLukeTaylor on Twitter to keep up to date with when I publish new blogs. Next up, I'll be blogging our visit to Amsterdam and Berlin. 

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