The Essentials in... Bruges

+ I'm a fan of having little guides to reference when traveling. I mentioned a few when discussing intentional travel and one of my favorite resources is the New York Times “36 Hours in…” series. I’m going to borrow that idea and start doing city guides to share some of the cool things I’ve seen or, let’s be honest, the yummy things I’ve tasted while traveling.

Okay, Bruges, let’s do this! When we found out we were headed to Berlin for a week, we wanted to tack on a romantic weekend somewhere in Europe. Belgium has intrigued us for a little while, mostly because of the food. Waffles and Chocolate and Fries and Beer!

Bruges is picturesque because it wasn’t really impacted by either World War so many of the 13th-century buildings remain. It feels old and romantic, like a fairy tale. There are cobblestones, canals and amazing snacks! What we didn’t expect was to find some really modern inns and amazing Michelin-star food. We used the New York Times guide as a jumping off point, as well as the advice of a few friends who had visited (thanks W&L!).


1. Rooms at La Suite Sans Cravate. Arrive by train and taxi to either La Suite Sans Cravate or St. Jacobs. Both have modern furnishings which are rare in Bruges but also amazing breakfasts. We stayed at La Suite. Check-in was a delightful experience as the owner Victoria showed us around, brought us champagne and some homemade macaroons.

One of the benefits of La Suite is its slight distance from the square. Bruges can get touristy during the day and so it was nice to be a ten minute walk from “downtown”. After getting settled, we walked to town, checking out shops and bars along the way. If the weather is warmer, exploring the city on foot or bike would be lovely.

2. Waffles at Chez Albert. We LOVED all snacks in Bruges but the waffles at Chez Albert were perfection! Also try the street waffles at Jantje Vanille near the Beer Museum. I may or may not have eaten hot crispy frites at every meal. 'T Brugsch Friethuys had some of my favorite. 

3. Drinks at ‘t Brugs Beertje. There are lots of great little beer halls in Bruges. We went to ‘t Brugs Beertje and De Garre. Both have amazing selections and very helpful staff that can teach you more about Belgian beers. Oh, and not surprisingly, Belgian beer is a lot cheaper in Belgium!

4. Chocolate Shopping at BbyB. There are lace and chocolate and beer shops everywhere. The Bottle Shop has the best beverage selection including Belgian single malts and the best beer in the world. As for chocolate, check out BbyBThe Chocolate Line and/or Dumon.

5. Fancy Meals at Hertog Jan and Sans Cravate. Enjoy a lovely breakfast included at the inn! Lunch can be simple (fries and waffles?!) but we did have a great sit-down of moules frites at Poules Moules. As for dinner, maybe go all-out to a Michelin-starred restaurant. Our first fancy dinner was at Hertog Jan and our second was at Sans Cravate across the street from the inn! They both have smaller or a la carte menus on weekdays or for lunch which I would recommend. They are beautiful spaces with inspiring, delicious food. Hertog Jan even does beer pairings!

That was our 40 hours in Bruges. Will you go? Do meals of waffles and fries sound like heaven to you as well? And yes, all we really did on this trip was eat ;)

+ If we had had more time or more energy, we would have also added Michelangelo's Madonna and Child, Chez Vincent fries (he was closed) and the farmer’s market.

Intentional Travel

I am home from our European adventure and still struggling to get back into everyday life. This trip was one of our best! We had wonderful local guides in each city and it was a treat to enjoy the sights through their eyes. It was also one of our most intentional trips and we were able to be more present.

To make trips more meaningful, we like to practice what we call "intentional travel". Travel can be amazing and inspiring and transforming but it can also go by quickly without sinking in. I have done both over-planning and under-planning and there is a balance.


1. Prioritize it. Greg and I sometimes choose travel as a priority in our lives. That means carving out the time, energy and money to make it happen. We have a savings account for weekend getaways and also for a longer trip every 18 months or so. We know we'll be able to afford these trips as we transfer money in every month. Some of our travel planning starts years in advance, some kind of comes to us and we stay open to it.

2. Set intentions. We like to set goals and intentions around our priorities and we also do so for travel. When a trip is coming up, we think about how we want it to go. This helps us focus on the important things—being grateful for the opportunity and remembering how important connection is. For this trip, we both had loose work goals and growth/inspiration goals. We set the intentions in advance (usually during our quarterly planning) but review them on the trip out!

3. Plan a little bit. We try to find a balance between planning some structure while also leaving room for awesome to happen. It helps to have a few things figured out so it's easier to be present while there. We like to plan places to stay and a few activities that we might want to do, then try to let the schedule and inspiration flow. When possible, it's great to have someone local to meet up with. Before we leave, I also like to check out travel guides from bloggers or friends. On this trip, we referred to a few, including this one for Bruges and this one for Stockholm.

4. Pack easily. Travel is easier if you think you have everything you’ll need while not being weighed down. Try Lean Packing!

5. Maintain habits and priorities. It's easy to be influenced by adventures, which can be great, but not when it causes you to lose hold of who you are and what matters to you. One way to stay grounded is to keep to some routine. It can help with self-control and better decision-making. For this trip, we weren't able to easily stick to our whole morning routine... although I did stretch! Instead, we shifted to a shortened evening routine taking advantage of the nice bathtubs. You will fall out of routine and that's okay, even welcome sometimes, but try to find a way to do a little... it will reground you. (More on How to Keep Habits Going During Travel from

Do you guys do anything that helps you enjoy travel more?

+ To finish off this month of posts on traveling, I'm working on a few city guides from our trip!