At work we are continuously measured against set goals: keeping the budget, pushing through activities, reaching sales figures or keeping up the quality. Stressful. Therefore, setting goals to a holiday weekend seriously damage the idea of relaxation. After all, that’s what holidays are about.  

On the other hand, if you visit a nice place without any planning, you may end up in a situation, where you would like to explore something genuine, but you have no idea of the nice places or restaurants. In the end you are just sunbathing on the balcony and eating in tourist restaurants, and on the last day, you realize that you could have done a lot more.

My solution to the problem is to do some research on the destination and set moderate, pleasant goals. Three museums per day is a no-no. One is enough. And when the whole place feels like a museum, you don’t even need that. 

The lady weekend in March in Bruges (=Brygge), Belgium, is a prime example. I knew the place was famous for chocolate, beer, old architecture and good food. In addition, our friend Mrs J. lives nearby, so she knew a lot of nice places. So on the way to Brussels, my travel companion Miss MbMJ and me listed the things we wanted to do, and it looked like this:

Start with champagne. We thought this double-package was a bargain for 49 euros: one as a souvenir for Mrs J and her hubby, the other to be enjoyed at the hotel. Unfortunately, after purchasing, we found out that  it was only a single bottle of expensive champagne wrapped in ten layers of cardboard!   

Shopping was another goal. I wanted a pair of shoes and Mrs MbMJ needed a leather jacket. Mrs J. drove us to Antwerpen to do some serious shopping before Bruges. Somehow, we all ended up swiping our credit cards at Clarks!

The jewellery shop window was like honey to bees… The city was not at its best on a rainy Friday in March. But isn’t holiday also an attitude? We visitid all the luxury boutiques and dreamed a lot. And instead of an umbrella, I bought sunglasses from Burberry! 🙂 

 The sun wouldn’t still come out. To feel better, we visited Ladureé macaroni shop to get some necessities for our upcoming champagne picnic at the hotel. (Photo: Mrs J.) 

Our hotel, Oud Huis de Peellaert, was beautiful, but the service wan’t up to the standards. Read more on my TripAdvisor review.

But the fantastic dinner next door at De Gouden Kroes made up for that. The best Portugese mussels I have ever had. And one more goal, eating mussels, reached! 🙂

Good morning Bruges! (Photo: Mrs J.) 

Saturday morning and no rain. Time for a stroll on the brick lanes of Bruges. The spring had not arrived, so even though the town was beautiful, the wind got us shivering. A reason to escape indoors. To a pub for tasting local beer

Or would be…

”Why isn’t this open? It’s past noon, but the sign says thay open at 4 pm! Why?”
Mrs J: ”That’s when the pubs usually open over here.”
Miss MbMJ: ”Maybe we can go and have a warming waffle instead?”
Mrs J: ”Well, the waffle places don’t usually open until at 2 pm.”

Finally we found a nice cafe. This  wheat beer (Photo: Mrs J.) was soon followed by Brugse Zot, the famous beer of Bruges. One of the best thing in town, according to Mrs. J’s Belgian husband. 

After the warming break, Miss MbMJ found her leather jacket, not at Massimo Dutti as expected but at Mango. Meanwhile, I was exploring the windows of Chocolate Line, one of the best and most famous chocolate makers of Bruges. 

Here’s what we found: a perfect chocolate treat box for the afternoon. They come in all thinkable flavours: in addition to hemp we had lemongrass, cabernet sauvignon, basil, mojito, cola…

After eating almost the whole box at the hotel, there was probably no need for a bistro dinner, but we had booked a place that was recommended by Mrs J’s colleague as a relaxed restaurant with culinary ambitions. It was a jackpot, Kok au Vin

After the dinner, we visited a wine bar and even a night club. I wanted to dance, but both girls seemed more interested in getting a portion of Belgian fries, so we ended up queuing on the marketplace grill kiosk directly after midnight. 

Mmmm…. These had nothing in common with the McDonald fries. ”They F*cking drown them in that shit”, was said about mayonnaise and fries in Pulp Fiction, and that’s true in Belgium, too. 

I went to bed with the thought that I haven’t felt a sign of hunger in the past two days.

On Sunday, we counted the goals we had reached: champagne, shopping, mussels, good food, fries, beers (bought some for Alanmies, too!), walking around the town. All goals met. Or almost… Something was missing…

…yes, eating the famous waffles! We had had pancakes (see photo, with three sugar options), ”regular” waffles with chocolate and cream, but the real, local ones were missing. And if one thing was sure by now, it was the fact that Belgians love sugar.  (I had also tried chocolate drops with toast and brie cheese. Not bad, actually.) Finding waffles shouldn’t be that hard, although I wasn’t sure if I could down any more sugary treats.

So the last thing we did on Sunday, was to try to find the real thing. Based on Mrs J’s photo  above, we succeeded, but actually we didn’t. She told us that these thick, sweet waffles that are being sold in every other street corner, are not the local ones, but we run out of time and had to buy them. They were – needless to say – good! Even without extra sugar or chocolate sauce.

And finding the local waffles is one of our goals for the spring 2014, when we will return. Hopefully with Norppa and some other friends, too. 

Before that, I will need plenty of time to digest.