Our short Scenic Villages And Chocolates excursion moved on from the very attractive town of Damme to the somewhat less interesting outskirts of Bruges to pay a visit to Roose’s Chocolate World. The shop itself was a very good size, very well-stocked (although they didn’t have the gin we were after), provided lots of free samples along with a demonstration of chocolate-making, and allowed plenty of time to buy some of the goodies that Belgium is famous for. We did, in case you’re wondering, though nowhere near as much as some people who must have spent a small fortune there. It was good chocolate, though. In the area where our coach was parked I snapped a couple of photos but there wasn’t much to capture in all honesty.

We then proceeded around the ring road of Bruges passing several reproduction windmills and made for Loppem Castle, only open for tour groups by appointment at this time of year so we would have the place to ourselves. The castle was built in the mid-19th century of brick and in the Gothic Revival style. On our approach we passed a maze that looked quite interesting but our trip was too early in the season for it to be open.

We gathered outside the castle for a few moments to hear a little about the building’s history. The condition of Loppem Castle is impressive with it being more-or-less in its original state inside and out.

Inside we were given a very short tour of the ground floor rooms starting with the entrance hallway. There were many nods to hunting and religion in the decoration but I think the most interesting aspect from my perspective was that the many impressive-looking fireplaces were mostly for show as the castle had been built with underfloor heating installed. I also liked the bannisters on the stairs; these were individually carved with scenes of hunting so that one of the inhabitants of the castle who had developed cataracts at an early age could feel what had taken place.

We were then given a short amount of time to explore on our own which meant we could take a quick look upstairs. There were many rooms there with many interesting museum pieces (tribal masks, paintings, knives, etc.) but we just didn’t have the time to look at anything closely and taking photographs with high reflections from the glass cabinets didn’t appeal on this occasion. I grabbed a few shots from the balcony overlooking the entrance hall but that was it.

We then headed out via the small gift shop (naturally) where we picked up a bookmark (my wife collects them) and took one last look at the grounds of Loppem Castle before making our way back onto the coach.

For more information on Loppem Castle, including its opening times and prices, visit the official website: Loppem Castle.

Our time at Loppem Castle was pretty limited and we were too early in the season to visit the building and its grounds, including the maze. I think it would be a pleasant place to explore at a lot more leisure in the summer but we accepted that taking a cheap cruise at this time of year would reduce our options somewhat and had no real complaints about our excursion as a result. If P&O offer this same excursion in the middle of the year it would be interesting to see how much time is allowed at this stop because it really would benefit from more.

Departing the castle we made our way back to Oriana for an afternoon of drinking, an evening of formal dining, and a night of cruising back to England.


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