Last week we went on our much anticipated multi city break! After a lot of research and deliberation we decided that we could fly to Paris, get the train to Bruges from there and then the train to Amsterdam from there.
It was just our luck that on the day that we were booked to fly to Paris, the French air traffic control decided to strike! We knew about this the night before but thought that it would be ok, as some flights were running. We got through security and everything seemed fine until 30 minutes before our flight was due to leave, it got cancelled :(. Cue loads of frustrated people crowding round the CityJet desk and a couple of flustered staff trying to sort it all out. We were told that we would all be booked on the next flight which was leaving in 3 hours, but some people, including us, were very skeptical about whether this one would actually leave! The two flights before our one had also been cancelled. We didn’t want to wait around for the next flight to potentially be cancelled, so we along with a few others decided to get a ticket for the Eurostar. This ended up costing us almost £300 but it was a lot less stressful! Turns out that flight did go in the end….but we would have been so stressed out sitting in the airport waiting!
I really enjoyed the Eurostar journey and would definitely choose it over flying! We were in Paris just under two hours.
We arrived into Gare Du Nord and made our way to the Metro. We bought a ‘Carnet’ of 10 single tickets which cost around 14 Euros, I think by the time we left Paris we had bought about 4 of these. I think if you buy one ticket it costs 1.80 Euros. We found the Metro pretty easy to navigate, plus the lines are numbered, which is a lot easier than London where they have stupid names like ‘Jubilee’, ‘Picadilly’ etc…that must be so confusing for tourists!
We stayed in the 14 arrondissement area at Hotel Acropole, which has the comfiest beds ever! Nick practiced his French with the friendly guy on reception and we chilled out for a while before heading out to dinner at a nearby restaurant. We ate at La Verre Sifleur which seemed to be full of locals, which was a good sign!
The next day we walked to the Catacombs at around 10am, and the queue was about a mile long already so we gave it a miss! A bit of a shame as we really wanted to go there but we had limited time! We walked from there to Montparnasse Tower, which is a hell of a lot cheaper that the Eiffel Tower, plus you get to actually see the Eiffel Tower plus the whole of Paris…on a clear day that is! It was really foggy when we arrived and the staff at the tower gave us discounted rates and said that it may clear. It didn’t clear and we could almost make out the Eiffel Tower, but I’m sure on a good day the view is amazing!
After that we got on the Metro to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which is where Jim Morrison is buried, along with a whole host of famous figures such as Oscar Wilde and Chopin. It was a bit weird going to a cemetery, but we are both massive Doors fans and I couldn’t leave Paris without visiting his grave. The cemetery is actually very lovely and peaceful, I know that sounds weird but it is! We were amazed to see some of the tombs there, some with ten members of the same family inside, and one with no date on it which suggests the person is still alive! Creepy!
It didn’t take us long to find Jim Morrison’s grave, as it was the only one with loads of people around it. The whole site around his grave is covered with people’s things that they have left behind, hair ties, bracelets, chewing gum (!), and his grave has lots of pictures of him and the Doors. I felt quite sad standing there looking at it so we didn’t stay for long.
It took us bloody ages to get out of the place as it’s huge, but once we finally did, we stopped off at a nearby cafe for some lunch before getting on the metro once more to head for Notre Dame. I would have quite liked to have gone inside Notre Dame but, again the queue was horrendous!
After that we wandered around for a while and went to a nearby bar called The Mazet, which was actually one of the last bars that Jim Morrison visited. It’s very different now, it’s an Irish bar but it was nice enough. It was however, over 10 Euros for a pint and a half!
We then made our way to the Eiffel Tower and had an amazing waffle whilst we sat under it before heading back to our hotel for a while as we were knackered!
That evening we went to Le Marais area for dinner. We had dinner at Pizza San Antonio which was lovely, then we stopped off at a nearby bar for a couple of drinks before heading back to the hotel.
The following day we headed to the Montmarte area, made famous by the film Amelie, which was filmed there, as well as being home to the Moulin Rouge. I really liked this area, although it was really touristy, I loved the little windy cobbled streets and cafes. We had an amazing (but bloody expensive!) breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien.
After that we wandered around the area towards Sacre Coeur. I knew to get there we had to go up, but I had no idea it would be so far up! We must have climbed well over 200 steps by the end and we were knackered!
I wasn’t quite prepared for how rammed full of tourists the area was, or how much we’d be hassled by people on the street. On one tiny alleyway, we must have been approached by about 15 of those caricature artists, it was ridiculous!
We got to Sacre Coeur finally and discovered that as well as going inside, you could go to the top aswell, which meant more climbing! 300 steps to be exact, round a tiny turret all the way to the top! But the view from the top made it so worth it, it was incredible. We were a bit saddened to see all of the graffiti at the top over the walls, who does that?!
After a much welcomed climb down, we went all the way back down to where we started and had a drink before heading to Jardin Des Tuilleries, which was lovely. We had lunch at a restarant nearby, which was a bit odd. The waiter was friendly to us initially, then the atmosphere turned randomly sour for some reason when he said that the restaurant don’t take debit cards, we produced a credit card which he took, but he was so weird with us, we actually panicked when we left that he had deliberately charged us twice as he was so weird. There was an Australian family sitting on the table next to us who didn’t make any effort at all to speak French, much to the annoyance of the waiter. When they arrived they asked for a table and he said ‘Manger?’ and made the action of eating, to which he got a bemused expression, plus they didn’t even make the effort to say any French numbers, which must be the most basic thing ever! We found that although our French isn’t great, they really do appreciate you trying at least, a few of them even said so.
That evening we couldn’t face getting on the Metro again so we went to a restaurant near our hotel, which had really good reviews on TripAdvisor…big mistake!! The atmosphere in here was just so odd, we should have walked out the minute we walked in but we didn’t want to be rude! Our waitress kept bumping into me and not apologising, even bashing a hot plate against me. She forgot Nick’s drink and he spent about 15 minutes trying to catch her averted gaze to remind her. My pizza was raw in the middle and tasted of nothing, plus we had to ask for the bill three times before we could finally escape. To top it all, it was one of the most expensive meals we had in Paris!
We then went for a drink nearby, and considered going somewhere else, but to be honest, after the restaurant thing and the past few days, we were a bit done with Paris and just wanted to leave! We just found it all a bit too busy, way too expensive (I saw a cafe that charged 6 Euros for a coke!), and we felt like we spent the majority of our time on the Metro. I know loads of people love it but it just wasn’t for us. It reminded us too much of London!
The following morning we checked out of our hotel and made our way back to Gare Du Nord to get our train to Bruges! We had to change trains at Brussels. Brussels station was a bit tense, due to the recent terrorist attack at the airport, but it was fine.
The minute we got to Bruges we loved it! At last we felt as if we were on holiday! I immediately fell in love with the cute buildings, little streets and cafes and CHOCOLATE SHOPS!
We stayed at Hotel Ter Brughe which was beautiful and right next to one of the canals. I loved this building, but the walls between the rooms are paper thin! We could actually hear our neighbour snoring so much that it woke us up, they were that thin!
After checking in , we wandered around for a bit then stopped at Bar Des Amis for the first of many Brugse Zot Blondes! We bloody love this beer! After Paris, Bruges was just what we needed, and it seemed like a much smaller, more chilled out Amsterdam. We sat outside the bar for a long time just people watching, before heading back to the hotel for a bit.
In the evening we went to another TripAdvisor find, a bar called Le Trappiste. My god. What an amazing bar! It’s an underground cave-like bar that stocks a hell of a lot of beer, has an amazing atmosphere and had great music and very friendly staff.
We had a lot of Brugse Zot here then went to El Churrasco Argentino for one of the best steaks we’ve ever had!
After that we went back to Le Trappiste and had a lot more beer and a great time! Nick even saw one of his brother’s friends there which was so random!
The following day we had probably the best day of the whole trip! We started the day off visiting Choco Story, a museum dedicated entirely to Chocolate!! It was actually pretty interesting, and we got to learn about how chocolate was first produced, as well as watching a chocolate making demonstration and getting chocolate samples! There were some rally random things on display in the musuem, such as a dead rabbit, dead birds, and a tablet behind a glass case, showing an advert for the tablet…odd but funny!
After that we went to the Belfort, which is the famous bell tower in Bruges. This did mean more climbing, however, the steps were broken up every now and then with a room to go into to learn about the history of the tower, which made a difference! At the top, you get to go into the room with the bells and every fifteen minutes they chime which was brilliant!
After that we went to the torture museum, which sounds a bit of an odd choice but it was so interesting! It was all about the history of medieval torture and had various devices on display, all of them horrific and it made us glad that we live in the world we are in today!
After that we went into a couple of shops and I purchased my first lot of Belgian Chocolate! It was so good, none of it made its way back to the UK. I want some more!
After that we went to Brouwerij De Halve Maan which is the local, family run brewery which makes…Brugse Zot! We had a guided tour for just under an hour of the brewery which was so interesting, plus we got a beer at the end!
Then we had the most AMAZING Belgian waffle ever!!
That evening, we discovered that a lot of the restaurants were closed (Turns out a lot of Bruges closes on Mondays…lucky us!) So we went to one of our back up restaurant options that we had spotted earlier in the day, La Cantina. Now it’s going to sound like we are so picky about restaurants, but just believe me when I say that this restaurant was so weird. We immediately felt the bad vibe the minute we walked in and again, should have walked out but we didn’t! The waiter was pleasant enough to us but he was so stressy! There was around 8 tables which isn’t a lot, but he was all over the place, plus there was no music playing which made everyone pay attention to what was going on around them. Gradually tables started filling up and there was only one table left, which had a reserved sign on and was behind us. A British couple arrived and said that they had a reservation. The waiter stood right beside us and said ‘Well you didn’t reserve it with me!’ and got all flappy about it, before telling them to go and stand outside so he could find them a table. He kept them waiting out there for about 10-15 minutes, all the while this ‘reserved’ table is still empty behind us! A few tables pay up and leave, another group arrives and get seated before the British couple and finally they get seated, but not on the reserved table which is still empty and still was when we left! The British couple had to wait at least 20 minutes for him to take their order and they looked so pissed off. Another guy got snapped at because he asked where his glass of wine was, then food got sent back for some reason, which for this waiter was just too much! Another group arrived and asked for a table to which he said ‘We’re full!’ Then the chef came down and stood staring at all the tables, how inviting! Our food was ok but not great, and to us, the waiter was fine, however the atmosphere was just awful and it was so tense! Do not go! You only have to read the negative reviews on TripAdvisor to see what I mean. One of the reviews is simply titled ‘No.’
After that we went to Cambrinus, a busy pub nearby with over 400 beers, then went back to Le Trappiste for a final visit! The music wasn’t quite so great this time, lots of random long jazz songs, but we really recommend this bar if you ever are in Bruges!
I was gutted to leave the following day, I really wish we had just gone to Bruges and Amsterdam and skipped Paris! Not many places make me feel like that, probably only San Francisco and Vancouver!
After a quick change of trains again in Brussels, we got on our train to Amsterdam!
This was our third visit to Amsterdam, but we love the city so much we’ll never stop visiting it!
We stayed at CityHub which is a sort of hostel, but really really nice and you all stay in these TINY ‘pods’ which aren’t for everyone! You check in at a self service station, then you get a wristband which gets you into your pod and also lets you use the vending machines and full bar (although the prices are ridiculous, 2.50 Euros for a half of a half pint!) The toilets and showers were really nice, and there is a great communal area. The staff were so friendly and helpful as well. As for the pods, they kind of slot in to each other, imagine two L’s on their side? You can choose whether you want a bed that you climb up into or down into. We chose the higher bed option. The floor space is tiny, and you can’t really fit two people in it, so one of us would have to sit on the bed whilst the other one was on the floor. However, the bed was clean, comfy and huge! The hotel has its own app which lets you control the coloured lights in your pod, plus it was totally soundproofed. When you check in, you are given a free Wifi box to take outside with you, so you get free Wifi wherever you are in the city, which was a nice touch!
Sleeping in the pod itself was ok, but it was incredibly hot, and as I discovered the following day, is probably the worst place on earth to spend hungover! A hot, cramped, airless box!
That evening we went to Paradiso to see Fat Freddy’s drop, which was bloody amazing but so busy! They really cram people in there but we had such a good time, hence the hangover the following day! I finally got to get something from Febo, a strange self service hot food place. I’ve always wanted to try this croquette I always saw there, and I have no idea what was the filling, but it was disgusting, as you can see below!
The following day I was not in a good way, but after a couple of hours I had sorted myself out and we went into the centre for a wander around. We felt like we’d already done all of the tourist things so we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do, so we went to the Allard Pierson museum, which has a lot of archaeological artifacts and a huge Ancient Egypt room, but most of the information was in Dutch, so we had no idea what we were looking at!
After that I felt it was time for hair of the dog, so we revisited a bar we went to the last time we were in Amsterdam, Proeflokaal Arendsnest. This bar is just so lovely, very chilled out and lovely staff. We had a couple of Belgian beers and repeated our last visit by having a sausage and cheese board, bloody delicious!
We also visited Cafe ‘t Molente a couple of times whilst in Amsterdam, we loved this bar, everyone was so friendly and both times we were in there, we got to meet this dog!
That evening we tried to go to Cannibale Royale, a horror themed restaurant, but upon asking when they would have a table available the guy helpfully replied ‘Emmm yeah… about 10pm!’ So we went to a burger place nearby called Burgerlikj, which was just unbelievably good!! Seriously the best burger I’ve ever eaten! It’s like a fast food place, but do not let that put you off, the burgers are incredible!
The following day it was sadly time to head home after an amazing week. Bruges was definitely the highlight, and I wish we had spent more time there. I’d love to go back there soon!
Until next time! Here’s some more pics from our trip.