Mrs Lighty’s idea of holidaying didn’t used to be complete unless it involved a plush hotel and possibly all inclusive food and drink, too. But, in the past year, Mr Lighty and I have been on more self catering holidays than we have previously in all of the time we’ve been together. And the tide is slowly turning…
Yes it’s true, I’ve become a self catering convert! And if anything confirmed this, it was our recent festive trip to Bruges…
New Year, New Holidaying Habits?
You may remember from previous blog post How to Buy Hats for Lambs that it is tradition for Mr Lighty and I to spend New Year’s Eve with my family. We used to visit my Aunt and Uncle in the south of France, but we have now taken to shaking things up a little.
This year Mummy Hatchy found us a great apartment in Bruges for our week of celebrations. The apartment’s location had a lot to do with its greatness of course – on a side street off of the main square, and about 5 doors away from the bar which sells over 500 Belgian beers – but it was also the setup of the apartment itself.
Big enough to comfortably sleep 8 of us and with two bathrooms and a downstairs loo, it wasn’t so much the size of the apartment as the finishing touches that made this one really special: the owners of De Drei Koningen had gone to the trouble of decorating each apartment for Christmas and setting each apartment up with an iPad complete with Bruges tourist guide, restaurant recommendations and even an app for ordering your daily bread (!), and there was a fully stocked DVD collection to borrow from and an honesty bar to boot, too.
This, I told Mr Lighty, was how I am going to run our probably-pie-in-the-sky self catering holiday let when we can eventually afford it!
Best of Bruges
Of course, the set up of the apartment was such that it was ideal for chilled out evenings of DVD watching and book reading, and this was certainly our plan on our day of arrival after a hard day’s travelling (although, admittedly, Bruges has the advantage of being just a hop, skip and a Eurotunnel away from London), but it was also ideally located to take in the delights of Bruges itself.
Mr Lighty and I had previously been to Bruges briefly during a trip to Ghent, but this time we did it the other way around, with a few days exploring Belgium’s arguably prettiest city and a day trip out to Ghent. We took in Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child in the Church of our Lady (which was rather fitting having watched The Monuments Men on our first lazy afternoon in the apartment!), wandered the meandering canals and took in the masterpiece that is the chocolate nativity!
If there’s one thing that Bruges does very well, it’s a tearoom, surprisingly, this most British of institutions. A highlight for me was the stop we made to the Carpe Diem tea room, close to the Beginhof (convent), where we were able to enjoy hot drinks and beer of all descriptions – Glühwein, hot chocolate, peppermint tea, Bruges Tripel – in the cosily festive undercover conservatory, complete with Nutella tree ornaments. All was perfectly complemented by the delectable Belgium chocolates that are served as an accompaniment in all of the tearooms in Bruges and Mrs Lighty even found room for a cheeky banana split!
Apartment Living, New Year Style
Of course, our main objective of hiring an apartment for New Year was to see in 2015 together, as a family. This is where a self catering holiday really comes into its own, in my opinion. After a delicious meal and a hard fought round of Trivial Pursuit in the apartment, we were close enough to the town centre to head out and see what was afoot.
I must say, I never thought I’d be 4 months pregnant and seeing in the New Year at a disco on an ice rink in Bruges! Yes you did read both of those statements correctly, our 2014 ended with a very bizarre disco on an ice rink and 2015 is going to bring Mr Lighty and I our first bundle of joy – a great way to start and end the new year, by all accounts!
Bruges baby, and apartment living, is the new in thing.