A weekend in Bruges – a paid collaboration with P&O Ferries
My childhood summers usually began the same way – I’d get home from school on the last day of term and my Dad would have hitched up the caravan and parked it outside the house. My parents would be busy filling it with bikes, tents, bedding, food and all the things we would need to spend a few weeks travelling on mainland Europe.
When P&O ferries initially approached me to see whether I would like to take my boys away for a weekend and take an overnight ferry crossing, it was an immediate yes! I was thrilled to think that I could share this experience with my own kids. There are many reasons why people may not be able to or wish to travel by plane, and being able to take your car abroad solves many of these problems. You have no luggage restrictions for starters, so you can take camping equipment, your own food if you have dietary requirements, you can even take your dog. When you’re travelling with children the little things like being able to pack their pillow or their night light can make your time away so much easier. My parents used to put the whole box of Lego in the car, and we would spend the rest of the holiday building ship yards and ferries.
The next day we would take an overnight ferry crossing from Hull, and the adventure would begin! My brother and I loved this part of the holiday so much. Everything from waiting to board the ferry and watching the people working on the dock in their high-vis jackets, to trying to guess which line of cars would move first. We’d be so excited. We loved spotting which boat we were on and remembering whether we’d been on it before, and we would cheer as my Dad would drive the car and caravan up the ramp onto the car deck. Once on board the fun really began! We would watch from the deck as the ferry set sail, and then spend our evening deliberating as to how to spend our pocket money in the duty free shop. Not to forget the buffet to end all buffets, and being allowed to eat three desserts if we wanted to! I would dance with my Mum to the live music and stay up way past our usual bedtimes. This was how summer began, and we loved it!
My kids and I took the overnight crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge, setting sail into the most glorious sunset on the Friday evening. We were very quickly handed our cabin key, and after leaving our bags in our cabin we headed out on deck to wave goodbye to the port of Hull. We had a delicious dinner in the Brasserie restaurant, which also offers a great children’s menu, and then the kids played in the children’s zone. We had a drink and listened to the music in the lounge before bed. When we arrived the following morning, we had enough time for a leisurely breakfast before heading down to the car deck.
And just like that we were in Belgium! So much of Belgium, France and Holland is accessible within a few hours drive from the port of Zeebrugge, but having never been to Bruges before I decided we’d spend our weekend there. It’s only a half hour drive from the port and I found parking in the city to be really straightforward. It was so nice to have everything we needed in the car too. I had plasters and spare shoes for blistered feet, snacks for rumbly tummies, and changes of clothes after one too many sticky fingers has been wiped down their shorts.
Bruges is a stunningly beautiful city, and easily walkable with young children. My kids loved running across all the bridges and watching the boats go by on the canals. We also took a 35 minute boat tour of the city which was well worth doing and cost 22 euros for the three of us. I found that away from the main tourist areas the city was very peaceful, with endless little cobble stoned streets to wander through.
We spend the Saturday night in an airbnb 20 minutes drive outside of Bruges – again a great advantage to having the car and avoiding expensive hotel costs within the city itself. We stayed in the peaceful, rural area of Jabbeke. We found a great supermarket and were able to buy exactly what we fancied and spent a cosy evening watching Netflix and recharging our batteries. I think this is so important when you’re travelling with children, and that little bit of time to decompress and let everyone relax really helped set us up for another day of exploring on the Sunday. Without having the car this would have been much harder, and we would have undoubtedly needed to stay in a hotel in the city instead.
My kids now want to live on board a ferry when they grow up – no kidding. I love that I got to share this little piece of my childhood with them, and this is without a doubt something we’ll be doing again.
This is a paid collaboration with P&O Ferries, who provided us with our ferry crossings and food on board. All opinions are completely my own!