We set off by train from London on Eurostar  to Brussels, where we changed on to a very comfortable two storey local express that took us directly to Bruges (https://www.visitbruges.be/discover). We arrived in the mist at the railway station but decided to walk to our hotel, the Bourgoensch Hof,  http://hotel-bourgoensch-hof.hotel-in-bruges.com/en/ This was on Wollestraat right beside one of the main canals in the middle of Bruges old town  in sight of the Belfry. The 83 metres high Belfry is the most striking tower in Bruges. Nearby, the main square was filled with a Christmas market and other entertainments  during the day and into the evening. We got a pigeon’s eye view from the Historium, which walks you through a virtual history of Bruges. At night, the Market Square was alive  with people walking to or from the many restaurants or just strolling around .
The canals, too, were beautifully lit up at night  especially near our hotel. This one, the Dijver  also shows one of the main landmarks in the old town, the 16th century church of Our Lady. It has 115.5 metre-high brick tower, the second tallest in the world, and includes a museum. We loved walking beside the canals at night  not least because of the wonderful lighting effects on some of them .
But they were also enchanting during the daytime, too  where we found little cafes to have hot chocolate and some houses from the Hanseatic merchants  near a statue of Jan van Eyck, the painter, and a chocolate factory (Choco-Story).
Walking through the narrow streets of the town gave us interesting views of monuments such as the museum of the church of Our Lady  and this little plaque which shows how important a port Bruges was from very early on . A stroll we enjoyed took us past St John’s Hospital   to a delightful square full of small restaurants for lunch – tried two, won two – where the swans and ducks gathered on an arm of the canal near the Begijnhof, originally a hospice for single women [16a], at the head of Minnewater park, an old harbour that was romanticised in the later 19th century into the ‘lake of love’.
Another of our meanders crossed the canal by our hotel twice then led us up a narrow alley to the City Hall . At night it had a huge Christmas tree lit outside it . But in daytime it was the interior splendours  that caught our imaginations. The old City council chamber was fabulously decorated  with terrific detail in the murals. Alongside this building in the same square was the Basilica of the Holy Blood , the decoration of which, too, was worth a visit.
Just down the road from our hotel , along a side street a new brewery [22a] had been opened to brew again the Bourgogne des Flandres in the city, a most delicious and refreshing lambic beer. Almost next to our hotel, apart from a wonderful cheese shop was a waterside bar  showcasing Belgium beers, with a statue of Tintin  in its entrance celebrating Herge’s wonderful adventures.