9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!

Mussels for Everyone!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium?

Last week I told you that The Tall Young Gentleman and I went to Bruges.

And.

Horror of horrors.

We flew with Ryanair.

But it was pretty alright!

Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of  West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!

The Golden Statue of Saint Michel – at the Cathedral of St. Michael & St. Gudula in Brussels – Belgium

Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!

It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.

It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!

Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!

The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!

Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.

So let’s have a look at Belgian food shall we?

9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Now because of this marvellous mix of cultures and languages, Belgian food is an eclectic mix of Flemish, French & German cuisine. However, outside of the country itself, Belgium is famously known for its mussels, chocolate, waffles, chips or fries.

And beer!

“Belgian food,” otherwise known as dishes of Belgian origin, or thought of as “typically Belgian,” uses items such as potatoes, leeks, white asparagus, Belgian endives, otherwise known as witloof or witlof (Dutch) or chicory!

And of course, staples such as meat, cheese, butter, and beer!

1.  MUSSELS:

In my opinion, the biggest traditional dish that you can ever have in Belgium is Moules-frites, moules et frites or mosselen-friet (Dutch), but known to you and me, as mussels and chips (fries)!

You can practically see the ingredients jumping out of the pot of mussels!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Fresh mussels caught from the sea.

OMG!

Not only are mussels a most popular traditional dish, but they’re also considered to be the national dish of Belgium!

Mussels or moules are usually cooked or steamed as:

  • Moules natures: Mussels, celery, leeks and butter, steamed in a pot
  • Moules marinière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of white wine
  • Moules à la crème: Mussels in a pot of white wine stock, thickened with flour and cream
  • Moules parquées: Raw mussels on half a shell, served with a lemon-mustard sauce (very common in Brussels)
  • Moules à la bière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of beer!
  • Moules à l’ail: Mussels in a pot of sliced or minced garlic
  • Mosselsaus: Mussels in a pot of mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar!
  • Mussels in a pot of espelette pepper, Pernod liquor, or tomato sauce
Mussels served with a huge bowl of frites, chips or fries!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

and served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!

As well as Belgium, mussels can be found in Northern France and in Jersey (one of the Channels Islands) linking the UK to France.

In fact, the last time I went to Brittany, I took the ferry on a day trip to Jersey where the locals speak both French and English, and you can use either pounds or Euros.

It’s a very nice island!

But I digress.

Did you know that mussels and chips were invented in Belgium?

We went to this nice restaurant on the riverside next to the fish market called Old Bruges.

I was actually looking for the number eight (8) best seafood restaurant in Bruges called De Gouden Karpel, Vismarkt, but because it was low season, it was closed!

On looking around, I found this one!

Mussels for Everyone!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Old Bruges looked pretty alright to me, and most importantly, it was the only restaurant at the fishmarket that was actually opened!

I don’t tend to use TripAdvisor for food recommendations as taste vary, but if you do, keep an open mind as the reviews are terrible. Having said that, we went there and the food and service was pretty alright!

We had the Moules natures and the Moules marinière served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!

We were so stuffed that we couldn’t order dessert or another glass of something else!

Yum!

Cost: €24.00

2.  BOTERHAMMEN / TARTINES:

Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a butterbröt snack!

This Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a snack. It’s a type of butterbröt and a meal that you would find in many European countries.

Traditionally, it’s a slice of rustic bread served on a wooden board, with a dollop of some sort of ingredient spread all over it such as butter, jam, peanut butter, cream cheese, smoked salmon, anchovies, cold cuts with radishes, pickles, tomatoes, and mustard or mayonnaise, as well as slices of boiled egg topped with caviar, and of course, pâté!

Some people think that a boterhammen is equivalent to a sandwich, but it isn’t!

A sandwich has two pieces of bread and something in the middle put together. A boterhammen is a single slice of open bread often served with a glass of Gueuze – a fermented Belgian champagne beer – usually found in Brussels!

We had decided not to include breakfast at our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal, ‘cos the breakfast buffet cost a whopping €22.00, and this wasn’t that type of holiday!

Boterhammen or tartine with pâté served with pickles & a dollop of mayonnaise!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

As such, we were pretty famished by lunch-time and saw Der Vier Winden just off the Market Square!

From the outside, the restaurant looked really touristy, and it was. So we ordered the lunch menu!

Our starter was the boterhammen or tartine with pâté.

Our pâté was served with pickles, and a side salad with a dollop of mayonnaise!

Yum!

3.  EEL IN THE GREEN:

Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert, otherwise known as Eel in the Green!
© Takeaway Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0
Raw eels at the fishmongers. Just add your herbs & you’ve got Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert!

Paling in ‘t groen or Anguilles au vert is a traditional Flemish seafood dish, otherwise known as Eel in the Green!

It’s what it says on the tin – freshwater eel made in a green herb sauce of chervil, parsley, sage, ginger mint, oregano, thyme, watercress, tarragon, chives, basil, and stinging nettles.

The eels are made into a type of stew and served with bread or a bowl of frites, and a cold glass of beer!

You can usually find this dish at fishmongers, in market stalls, or even ready-made!

 

4. FRITES:

You can’t get better chips than fries from the Frites Museum in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

There’s no point beating about the bush here, everyone loves chips, otherwise known as fries!

Of course, in Belgium it’s called frites!

I’m not a fan of frites covered with sauces especially mayo and tartare, unless I can dip it in myself...

However, at the Friet Museum / Fries Museum, we learnt all about the history of the Belgian chip. As well as sampling it too!

Frites or friets plays an important role in Belgian culture and cuisine.

The secret of the Belgian chip is :

Who doesn’t like fish n’ chips in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018
  • The type of potato used – Preferably a bintje potato
  • The fat or oil used – Unrefined beef tallow or blanc de boeuf
  • Freshly cooked potatoes, rather than raw
  • High temperatures – 190 °C  or 374 °F
  • And the importance of double-frying!

None of your low-fat-low-starch content here!

Cost: €1.40

Sauces: €0.60

5.  WATERZOOI:

Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi!

Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi, is a dish of stew that was invented in the Belgian town of Ghent!

Waterzooi is traditionally a stew made from freshwater fish, otherwise known as Viszooitje.

However, due to the scarcity of burbot and over-fishing, waterzooi or Kippenwaterzooi, is commonly made from a combination of boiled chicken, vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, swede, leeks, cream and eggs, instead!

6.  WAFFLES:

Traditional Bergische waffles or Belgian waffles!
9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!

A waffle is a dish made from leavened batter or dough that is cooked between two plates, and patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and surface impression.

Waffles are eaten all over the world, but one of the most important types of waffle is known as the Belgian waffle or Brussels waffles, which was actually invented in Ghent (1839)!

It became world-famous when the restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, sold his Brussels waffles in America under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” in 1964, and thus, the American Belgian waffle was born!

Waffle is derived from the Dutch word wafel, or wafele, but was first heard as the French word walfre, as far back as 1185, meaning honeycomb or cake!

There are a variety of waffles such as:

Liège Waffles – The most popular waffle in Belgium!
9 traditional things to eat & drink in Belgium. With mussels!
  • Traditional Bergische waffles
  • Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande
  • Liège waffles
  • Brussels waffles
  • Stroopwafel
  • Galettes campinoises
  • Belgian waffles
  • American waffles

In Belgium, waffles are street food and can be eaten plain, with powdered sugar, whipped cream, strawberries, cherries, soft berries, syrup, or chocolate (American style)!

7.  RABBIT STEW:

If you’re a vegetarian, turn away now ‘cos in our in our household, a fluffy rabbit is called pork!

Being that it’s a Belgian dish, the traditional name of rabbit stew is Konijn in geuze or Lapin à la gueuze, which basically means rabbit stewed in Gueuze, a fermented Belgian champagne beer, usually found in Brussels!

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m very reluctant to eat fluffy animals, so in our household, we call rabbit – “pork!”

8.  CHOCOLATE:

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Don’t get me started.

You all know how I detest chocolate...

However, for the integrity of this article, chocolate had to be added.

Belgian chocolate, otherwise known as chocolat belge or Belgische chocolade is chocolate produced in the country of Belgium!

Belgian chocolate goes as far back as 1635! In fact, by the mid-18th century, chocolate had become so popular among the aristocracy, that hot chocolate became de rigueur as to who could actually drink it!

Chocolate plays an important part in the Belgian economy, and there are over 2,000 chocolatiers in the country, with 172,000 tonnes produced each year, exported all over the world and shaped like sea shells, fish, diamonds and artistic creations that can be bought at town centres, market stands, and pretty much every village shop in Belgium!

When in Belgium, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles!

If you’re a fan, you know what to do, so don’t let me stop you from visiting the Choco-Story / Chocolate Museum, and of course, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles.

I bought a packet of organic milk chocolate Belgian thins. With almonds and toasted coconut chips (Yuk!) for my husband. Cost: €5.90

That’s all I have to say!

9.  BELGIAN BEER:

Belgian beer isn’t taken seriously, but it’s alright!

OK. Belgian beer!

I live in Germany, so Belgian beer isn’t taken seriously!

Belgian beer spans from a variety of pale lagers to lambic beers and Flanders or Flemish red-brown ales! There are about 180  breweries in Belgium, and microbeers are a pretty big scene!

As in most parts of Northern, Eastern and Central Europe, beer culture isn’t just downing the cheap stuff as quickly as possible, and getting pissed, it’s a way of life!

Belgians drink up to 84 litres of beer a year, and are bought or served in bottles, and uniquely shaped beer glasses!

Belgian beer in Bruges – Brugse Zot!

While we were at the Old Bruges restaurant, I ordered a Belgian beer called Brugse Zot! Belgium isn’t Croatia or Slovenia, so things cost a little more. In this case, €6.00!

On the other hand, when we went to Der Vier Winden, my Stella beer cost a mere €3.50!

Son had an iced-tea. Cost: €3.75

He also had a Canada Dry. Cost €:4.00!

WHERE DID WE STAY?

Our 4 star hotel – Martin’s Relais – Oud Huis Amsterdam in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

We stayed at the beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal.

In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!

Without the seedy bits!

I booked the Comfort Twin Room for character, as it featured high ceilings, a garden, a walk-in closet, river views, lots of space and free WiFi!

I thought it was a brilliant choice.

Cost: €97.62 per night. For two people, easily €48.81 a pop!

You can book Martin’s Relais here or in the banner link below!

Laters!

9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!

Bacon Pie in Bruges – Belgium!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful mussels and frites we devoured, are my very own!

I’ve got fantastic news. Find out more, next week!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!

Last week, I travelled to my 65th country and a new destination.

Can you guess where it was?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re craaaazy!

Spring’s finally here!

That’s it for now.

We had a great time in Belgium.

See you next week!

Victoria in Bruges by the waterside – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Have you ever had Belgian food? Do you like mussels and chips, or would you prefer waffles? Can you guess which new country I went to? Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Have a hot chocolate on me!
Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

It’s April!

Omigosh!

Now just because it’s April, doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to snow!

In Europe, we’re getting all kinds of weather.

One minute it’s a sunny Spring morning.

The next, it’s freezing!

In fact, as I write this piece, it’s snowing.

Again!

Winter in Berlin. Again!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – March 2018

Where have you been?

Ah well!

If you’re just joining, here’s really what you missed:

JANUARY:

Don’t even think of asking me!

FEBRUARY:

Hamburg: An Introduction to a Port City!

MARCH:

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

Wow!

How to get German citizenship if you’re British – How to be a German via Double Nationality!

What an exciting first quarter of the year I’ve had!

As you know, The British Berliner is not only a British – German in name, but on paper too.

Yep! Victoria now has Dual Nationality.

Yay!

I’ve written a fantastic post (even if I say so myself) on what you need to do if you’re British, and looking to obtain EU nationality too.

I’m still British of course, but I’m German too.

And isn’t that something!

The Tall Young Gentleman and the Boy Scouts of America – Troop 46 – Berlin. Having German, British, American & French dual citizenships / double nationalities, works just fine!

One of the merits of living in Germany, is the ease in which one can travel through the Continent.

My favourite mode of travel is by train, and sometimes even by coach-bus.

And one of those ways is by flying!

Myself looking glum at the airport. Leaving Vienna!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

Every January, The Tall Young Gentleman and I, spend some quality time together either visiting some dubious destination, or skiing!

This time around, I decided to take him to Bruges.

In Belgium.

But did I tell you that I flew there.

Via a budget airline.

And not just any airline mind you.

But Ryanair!

Gulp!

BELGIUM!

At the Atomium in Brussels – Belgium

Right!

Where to start?

Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!

It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.

It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!

Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!

The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!

Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.

The European Union – otherwise known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving now, twenty-seven (27) European countries!

Belgium is a most important nation as it’s one of the six (6) founding countries of the European Union (EU), hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country’s capital, Brussels.

Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area.

Belgium has had trouble with terrorism in the last few years, as have many other European countries, but it’s a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy, very high standards of living, friendly locals, interesting food, and is relatively safe and peaceful!

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY…

The Gravensteen medieval castle in Ghent – Belgium

Belgium was a Roman province known as Gallia Belgica and was a prosperous centre of business, commerce, trade and culture from the Middle Ages, right up to the 17th century. During this period, Belgium became prosperous, and participated in the colonization of the African continent.

During the Belgian Revolution in 1830, Belgium spilt away from Holland, and became independent in its own right. However, Belgium also became the “Battlefield of Europe, ” was occupied by Germany in WWI and WWII, as well as 20th century tensions between the Dutch and French-speaking parts of Belgium, leading to a sort of federal state, controversial language laws, and a distinct type of separatism around the Flemish region.

Having said that, Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had great influence on European art and culture, with architecture and paintings being especially astounding, and historically relevant.

One of those places is Bruges.

BRUGES

Sunday morning in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of  West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!

Bruges has a mass of roughly 13,840 hectares and 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge, otherwise known as Brugge aan zee or “Bruges by the Sea.”

It has a population of 117,073, of which about 20,000 people live in the city centre.

The beautiful historic city centre is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and is roughly 430 hectares in size.

Bruges was first mentioned as Bruggas, Brvggas, and Brvccia (in 840–875), then as Bruciam, Bruociam (in 892), Brutgis uico (at the end of the 9th century), Bruggensi (1010), Bruggis (1012), Bricge (1037, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), Brugensis (1046), Brycge (1049–1052), Brugias (1072), Bruges (1080–1085), Bruggas (1084), Brugis (1089), and Brugge (1116)!

Bruges is derived from the Old Dutch word for bridge – brugga. But some experts say it could also be from Middle Dutch – brucge, brugge, brugghe, brigghe, bregghe, brogghe, Southern Dutch –  brugghe. Perhaps even from the Anglo-Saxon word –  brugjō – which later became known as the word bridge!

One of the many bridges that you can find in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner

WHY BRUGES?

Bruges is a city that has a river running through it!
Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Because I love to spend all my time rambling!

You know how much I love strolling along cobbled stones of yore, and poking my nose into every nook and cranny.

Belgium does that for you.

Bruges is also a city that has a river running through it ‘cos my love for waterside destinations, and rivers, brooks and lakes, is well known!

Our 4-star hotel – Martin_s Relais – Oud Huis Amsterdam in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, Bruges is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North.

Our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais was right next to the canal. In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!

Without the seedy bits!

Outside the Groeningemusem Brugge in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

I take visiting museums quite seriously, and was delighted to be able to work in partnership with Musea Brugge, who very kindly gave us complimentary museum passes.

Thank you so much!

So without further ado, here are the museums and galleries that I recommend:

  • The Groeningemuseum: We both absolutely loved this museum of 16th century Flemish paintings. In fact, it was one of our favourites!
  • The Arenthuis: We only had time to sprint through the collections of prints and drawings, but if you have a ticket for the Groeningemuseum, you can visit the Arenthuis for free!
  • The Friet Museum / Fries Museum: We very much enjoyed discovering and learning all about the history of the Belgian chip. As well as sampling it too!
  • The Belfort: The Belfry Tower is over 83 metres tall and will give you fantastic views over the city
  • The Hisotrium Brugge: An interactive virtual reality tour of medieval Bruges. We didn’t have enough time to do this. It’s a bit pricey, but kids will love it!
  • The Choco-Story / Chocolate Museum : I don’t like chocolate, but I was almost tempted to go on a Choco-Story tour of Bruges. Almost, but not quite! However, if you’re a fan of chocolate, don’t let me stop you!
  • The Stadhuis / City Hall: The Bruges’ City Hall is one of the oldest in the country and has been around for more than 600 years!
  • The Volkskundemuseum / Museum of Folk Life: This museum has a collection of eight (8) 17th century buildings depicting the way Flemish people used to live, as well as a collection of puppets. I really wanted to visit this museum as I love museums of ethnology, but I forgot!
  • The Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Ter-Potterie (O.L.V.-Ter-Potterie) / Our Lady of the Pottery: This museum is a baroque church as well as a historical hospital dating back from the 13th – 17th century! If you’re into exquisite silver collections, tapestries and stained-glass windows, then this is the place for you!

OTHER MUSEUMS & GALLERIES:

Sint-Janshospitaal / Saint John’s Hospital in Bruges – Belgium

Having said that, most of the Bruges museum collection is interesting, historical, and at the same time, perfectly contemporary!

Bruges is a city of history and culture, and since I like Old Art and architectural treasures very much my type of city.

I know!

Laters!

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO BRUGES. IN BELGIUM!

Victoria in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

This article isn’t sponsored, and even though we received complimentary museum passes from Musea Brugge, absolutely all opinions, and the great time that we had, are my very own!

I went to Belgium. Find out more, next week!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!

In a few weeks, I’ll be on the road again to my 65th country and a new destination.

Can you guess which one it’ll be?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re going to miss all the fun!

April is going to be blooming!

See you next week!

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Have you ever been to Belgium? Would you go to Bruges? Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

I’m sure that I told you that I went to Belgium.

But did I tell you that I flew there.

Via a budget airline.

And not just any airline mind you.

But Ryanair!

Gulp!

Feeling very sorry for myself flying with Norwegian.

A few years ago, I had a horrible experience flying with Norwegian and Vueling.

For the very first time too!

I don’t know how I get myself into these weird situations.

And they always seem to follow me around.

I usually take them in my stride and laugh them off, but this time I wasn’t really laughing.

In fact, I made a vow never to fly a budget airline ever again.

Myself looking glum at the airport. Leaving Vienna!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

Except for easyJet!

And by all accounts, I kept my word.

Until now!

Myself with ski leaders in Rokytnice nad Jizerou – Czech Republic

Every January, The Tall Young Gentleman and I, spend some quality time together either visiting some dubious destination, or skiing!

This time around, I decided to take him to Belgium, and I’ll tell you all about it next week!

Right now, I want to tell you about Ryanair.

RYANAIR!

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

Aha!

You only have to google it, and you’ll come up with thousands and thousands of reports.

Some of them very good.

Most of them awful!

So…!

So what?

I hear you thunder.

I was having a fine time flying all over Europe, thank you very much!

It hasn’t been the same for me.

Whaaaat?!!%$!%$!!

I’m not an expert or anything!

?!!%$!%$!!

But I’ve flown with Ryanair a few times.

Admittedly, it was when I was much younger, and waaaaay before I ever became the British girl-about-town, and successful blogger that I am today!

And I’ve never had a problem with the airline.

Yet.

The Bullring and Grand Central Birmingham, in the UK!

The first time I flew with Ryanair was a €4.99 return flight Berlin – Birmingham – Berlin.

And that was it.

‘Mind you, the tax was about 20 quid!

So a grand total of €24.99!

I was perfectly fine with that!

Victoria in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

I admit.

I was a little nervous.

But on my last flight on Ryanair in January 2018, The Tall Young Gentleman and I went to Bruges!

We flew Berlin-Brussels-Berlin and paid altogether, just €102,37.

And that included one suitcase (both ways) and paid-for alllocated seating, so that we were sure to be sitting together!

Not only that, but there was even an early booking discount too!

€50.00 each for a return flight to Brussels, surely wasn’t too bad!

We flew Berlin-Brussels-Berlin and paid altogether, just €102,37!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

For our forth-coming family trip, we paid €456.94 for three (3) people.

The flights themselves cost us a mere €32.63 each from Berlin.

And €69.36 each from Bucharest.

Altogether costing €305.94, or a little over €102 per person, which I thought was pretty fair.

The killer was the luggage fee.

A very harsh €130.00 for 2 bags. That’s €65.00 per person, or €30/€35 each way!

If you’re flying Ryanair, THIS is not a good idea!

We could have actually paid less, but we were still undecided as to how many suitcases we wanted to take, so I didn’t add them to our initial booking.

On reflection, that was a mistake.

If  I remember correctly, the luggage charge would have been €18.00 each way. Per person. By the time, we actually decided, and I logged on the next day, it had increased to €30.00 – €35.00 per person!

So we booked two suitcases instead.

And well, it wasn’t too bad as we only ended up paying €22.00 more.

We also opted to pay €21.00 (€3.50 per person each way) – for reserved seating, as my husband didn’t fancy sitting next to a drunk neighbour!

One hears stories!

WHAT IS A BUDGET AIRLINE?

Poor ol’ Air Berlin! It aspired to the heights of a market-acclaimed scheduled airline. And failed!

A budget airline, otherwise known as a low-cost carrier, low-cost airline, or discount carrier, is an airline without most of the traditional services provided in the fare, resulting in very low fares and less comfort!

The airline would thus operate with fewer “luxuries” such as checking-in your own luggage at “BagDrop,” printing out your Boarding Card from home, weighing and putting the airport labels on your luggage, removing the seat-back video screen, not offering complimentary food, drink or in-flight entertainment, or if they do, then a snack rather than a meal, or drinks served in cups, rather than the (mini) bottle.

Think poor ol’ Air Berlin.

Air Berlin was really a budget airline that tried to aspire to the heights of a market-acclaimed scheduled airline.

And failed!

In the olden days, they were called “economy” airlines, but not any more!

WHAT IS A NO-FRILLS BUDGET AIRLINE?

Funny bird or Angry bird at Nok Air!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Thailand – 2014

A no-frills budget airline is an airline in which non-essential features have been utterly removed to keep the price low.

To make up for the revenue lost in decreased ticket prices, the airline operates a lower cost structure arising from removing services such as complimentary food, in-flight entertainment, business-class seating, reclining seats, window blinds, and in-flight magazines.

They can also reduce operation cost by “sharing” on the ground airline staff, reducing the size of seats, using less popular airports, flying in the wee or early hours of the night or day, only operating during mid or high season, using a single type of aircraft, a faster turnaround, selling scratch cards and advertising, and charging for “extras” such as food, basic beverages, priority boarding, seat allocation, upgrades, luggage, and using the airport check-in desk!

In short, they’re not going to make you bring your own seat, but it’s pretty close!

WHAT IS RYANAIR?

At the airport in Brussels via Ryanair! ©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Brussels – 2018

Ryanair is an Irish no-frills budget airline founded in 1984, with it’s HQ Head in Dublin.

Ryanair operates more than 400 Boeing 737-800 aircrafts, serves 34 countries in Europe, Africa (Morocco), and the Middle East (Israel and Jordan) and is often in the press because of it’s rapid expansion, it’s controversial features, and the success of its low-cost business model.

HOW TO MAKE FLYING WITH RYANAIR MORE PLEASANT!

The Tall Young Gentleman looking unhappy, waiting for the last Ryanair flight – Berlin Schönefeld Airport!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner
  1.  CHECK-IN ONLINE:
  • It’s easy to do. You can either go to the Ryanair website or check-in by downloading and using the Ryanair App via your smartphone, ipad, or laptop. Just follow the step-by-step guide, with your reservation number and email address used to make the booking, at hand. If you’re non-EU, other rules might apply. Liz Carlson – Young Adventuress – was shocked to discover that as an American, she couldn’t check-in online and ended up having to pay an extra €200 for one flight, and not being allowed to go on the plane altogether! If you’re non-EU, please confirm with the airline!
  • DON’T FORGET! If you’re an EU Citizen, you MUST check-in BEFORE you get to the airport counter. If you don’t, you could be liable to pay a minimum airport check-in fee of €55/£55 per person!

2.  PRINT OUT BOARDING PASS:

  • THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: If you don’t, or can’t access your boarding pass,  you might be forced to buy another ticket! My friend KemKem & her husband – Next Bite of Life – had a horrendous time when she couldn’t log on at the airport, and show her mobile boarding pass
  • You have been warned!

3.  READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS:

Read ALL the instructions!

But did you read it?

Did you ‘eck?

4.  LEAVE PLENTY OF TIME:

  • All UK / Irish airlines, are strict about closing the check-in counter 40 minutes before the flight, so if you haven’t checked in, aren’t at the airport, sent in your luggage, etc, you won’t be taking that flight
  • That counts for easyJet, British Airways, Virgin Airlines, or any other UK / Ireland -based airline

5.  BE AWARE OF AIRPORT LOCATIONS:

It’s a constant annoyance. This beautiful building isn’t in Berlin. It’s in Potsdam. In Brandenburg!
  • Budget airlines are cheap for a reason. Most airports used are in the middle of no-where, or certainly, out-of-town. For example, Berlin Schönefeld Airport isn’t even in Berlin. It’s in Brandenburg! Stansted Airport is 40 minutes away from London, and costs between £5 – £20 extra to get there. Frankfurt Hahn is no where near Frankfurt am Main, or even Frankfurt Oder!
  • Don’t be caught out. Check which airport you’ll actually be flying to!

6.  CHECK BOOKING DETAILS:

  • A flight change starts from €35/£35 per person each way, but a spelling mistake will cost you dearly, as it would be considered a name change
  • And the cost? A whopping €115/£115 – €160/£160 per passenger!

7.  HAND-LUGGAGE:

Hand Luggage only is preferred!

As of 15.01.18, you can only bring one (1) small bag on board, unless you purchase Priority & 2 Cabin Bags!

If you paid for Priority & 2 cabin bags or a Plus/Flexi ticket you can take:

  • One (1) small bag e.g. handbag, laptop bag etc. not exceeding 35cm x 20cm x 20cm
  • One (1) cabin bag, not exceeding 55cm x 40cm x 20cm in size and 10kg in weight
This small handbag can stay with you on the plane.
Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?
If you have a bag like this, you won’t be allowed to take it on board, but will be put in the aircraft hold!
Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

If you have NOT paid for Priority & 2 cabin bags or a Plus/Flexi ticket, you can only carry the following on-board:

  • One (1) small bag on board (35cm x 20cm x 20cm)
  • If you have a second cabin bag (55cm x 40cm x 20cm) with you, you won’t be allowed to take it on board, but will be put in the aircraft hold free of charge. Make sure your valuables are in the first bag, and you are able to lock up the second one!
Ryanair is strict. Oversized cabin baggage will be refused at the gate, so if you’re not sure, cough up, and check it in!
  • NOTE: Oversized cabin baggage will be refused at the boarding gate. And if you’re lucky / unlucky, they might put it in the aircraft hold for a small matter of €50/£50!
  • If you’re not sure if your bag is “small enough,” cough up, and check it in!
  • You can take duty-free bags into the cabin, along with your hand luggage

8.  BOOK LUGGAGE AT INITIAL STAGE:

As I told you above. I did really well in January, and then messed up, when I made a booking two months later!

  • The main thing to remember is that you can actually purchase up to 3 checked bags of 20 kilos each, either at the initial booking or right up to two hours (2) hours before the scheduled flight departure time
  • A higher baggage fee of €40/£40 per person, per one way flight applies, when checked bags are purchased after initial booking via My Booking, a Ryanair call centre, or at the airport ticket desk, which is why everybody moans!
  • During peak travel periods, such as Christmas, Easter, the Summer Holidays, and on popular selected routes, the fee for a checked bag will be €35/£35 per person, per one way flight, as I found out to my chagrin…!
  • You can of course, pool or share bought checked baggage allowances with the rest of the people in your party, if they’re included on the same flight reservation, and you’re all checked in together!

9.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO GO OVERWEIGHT WITH LUGGAGE:

You’ll be fine with this bag. Probably!
  • You won’t like it, and could be charged an excess baggage fee at €11/£11 per kilo!

Gulp!

10.  RESERVE SEATING:

  • If you’re flying solo, then ignore this
  • If you’re flying with your family or your mates, and you want to sit together, then buy reserved seating. Our teen is almost sixteen (16), and isn’t really bothered about where he sits. But I am!
  • Think of it this way. If you were on a inter-city train, would you reserve your seat, or leave it to chance? I usually pay €9.00 for a reserved seat on Deutsche Bahn, so €3.00 – €4.00 is perfectly fine!
  • Having said that, the cheaper the airline, the crazier people seem to get. And who wants a psycho sitting next to their child?

11.  FLY WITH KIDS:

Give your kids the gift of travel, and take them with you!
  • If you’re flying with children between the ages of 2-12 years old, you can get reser´ved seating free of charge, for up to four (4) children, with every adult booked with a reserved seat!
  • This way, parents won’t need to worry, and the whole family can sit together for under €10.00/£10!

Nifty eh!

12.  BRING YOUR OWN REFRESHMENTS:

  • Every budget airline, makes their income / commission by selling items on board. Ryanair is no different. However, snacks aren’t going to be cheap
  • A couple  of years ago, there was a riot when it was said that Ryanair might actually charge for water or for using the bathroom! Personally, I thought it was a publicity stunt. And I was right!
  • But just to be on the safe side. Bring your own

Snack that is

Not toilet!

13.  ERASMUS:

If you’re an Erasmus student, you can travel even cheaper!

I bet, most of you didn’t know that!

14.  GET THE APP:

  • It’s free, and it doesn’t cost a single thing!

15.  BOOK A TAXI AT THE AIRPORT / RESERVE AIRPORT BUS / TRAIN:

Is Lisbon the next top European place to be?

16.  DON’T GET DRUNK!

17.  FLY ANYWAY!

  • If Richard Quest a reknown British Business Traveller from CNN, can do it. So can you!

By the way, if you’re looking to book a hotel for your next Ryanair destination. See what I did there! I have a 15% discount off your next booking with Booking.com. Just click right here to redeem it!

Note: You must book between March 5th –  April 8th, and the travel dates must be between March 23rd – April 8th.

‘Need I say more.

SO IS RYANAIR WORTH THE PLUNGE?

Wait! Is that my plane?
Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

Well, it depends.

  • If you’ve got a corporate meeting to go to. I wouldn’t
  • If you’ve got a business anything at all. I wouldn’t
  • If you’re transferring onto another flight. I wouldn’t
  • If you’re on a tight schedule. I wouldn’t
  • If you’re on the holiday of a life-time. I certainly wouldn’t!
  • Image is what working in a corporate firm is all about. If your organisation, can’t afford to send you on a reliable schedule-flight costing between €150 – €200, change your job!
  • If, on the other hand, it’s a private thing, you’re flexible, and you’re looking to save some pennies, or in my case, it’s the quickest way to get from A to B, then go for it
  • If you keep in mind that a no-frills airline means exactly what it says on the box, then absolutely
  • If you can lower your expectations, assume nothing, and prepare for the unexpected, you’ll come out on top
  • If you cut down on luggage, or drastically take none at all, you won’t have any nasty surprises
  • If you can give yourself plenty of time, wear all your coats and jumpers, keep calm and meditate, you’ll do fine
  • If you follow the airline rules, understand that you get what you pay for, and you’re ready to pay for all the benefits that you want – ‘cos a 20-ish Victoria who was happy to pay $3 for a hostel in Prague, is utterly different from the Victoria of today who might even go as far as paying €225 per night for a luxury premium villa, overlooking the valley at an exclusive Resort in Udaipur – India! You’d pay for the extras if they’re important to you.

If all you want is to get from A to B, quickly and safely within (mostly) Europe, then Ryanair is as good as any other airline in the sky, and you’ll probably have a pretty good time!

RYANAIR – A NO-FRILLS BUDGET AIRLINE. IS IT WORTH THE PLUNGE?

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

This article isn’t sponsored by Ryanair, or any other airline! And the merry time that I’m bound to have on my next Ryanair flight, is my very own!

I went to Belgium. Yay! Find out more, next week!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!

I’ll be at the Deutschland Premiere of the hilariously funny, very minimal dialogue, dry, slightly dark, refined humour, and the comedy of the banal – Mad Office, otherwise known as Büro Absurd! The successful duo – Trygve Wakenshaw & Barnie Duncan – will be doing their act, for the very first time in Germany!

I’ll be there on 29.03.18 taking place at BAR JEDER VERNUNFT, and the show will go on until 11.04.18.

And by the way, they were the biggest hit of the season at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017! No German, or any other language will be necessary. I’m guessing that tickets will sell out fast!

In March / April, I’ll be on the road again to my 65th country and a new destination.

Can you guess which one it’ll be?

Save the Date!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in March, I really can’t help you!

March / April is going to be fresh!

See you next week!

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

What do you think of Ryanair? Have you ever flown it? What has been your experience on a no-frills budget airline? Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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