After a fast and comfortable journey on the Eurostar, we arrived at Brussels train station, then caught a local train to Brugge. By early afternoon we checked into a small hotel right in the centre of this old, very picturesque town. Just around the corner was a small market square crowded with people enjoying the sunshine and the shady trees beneath which were set out tables and chairs for the various restaurants and bars nearby. By dinner time these were extremely popular for dining outdoors and the most popular dish seemed to be a traditional one for this area - a large pot of mussels accompanied by a glass of Belgium beer. Peter thoroughly enjoyed his meal of mussels. By the time we had finished our meal it was just on dark and after a gentle stroll around the square returned to our hotel for the night.
Next morning we continued our walk through the old cobbled streets to the large market square not so far away at all. Beautiful old buildings and an excellent place to find a cafe for a cool drink and just people-watch.
At this stage we still hadn't got around to getting some Euro cash expecting to be able to pay with our Travel Money cards. Not so at this particular cafe - they required cash.
"Oh, I'll have to go to the bank ATM" said Peter. "But don't worry - I'll leave my wife here as hostage".
"I'll look after her" said the smiling waiter. I was happy to continue to wait and watch, but Peter was soon back and I overheard this exchange:
"Did you look after my wife?" said Peter paying the bill.
"I did, I did! Why did you come back?"
My 'loving' husband: "Just for my camera!"
Much loud laughter, then from the waiter: "Careful - She's watching!"
Nearby was the beautiful building which housed the Brugge Historium - an innovative way of telling of some of the history of Brugge. In effect you walk in small groups through a series of interactive displays of almost movie-like presentations of a story set in the 15th century in the time of the painter Van Eyck. It was very well done - one of the best we've experienced. No photos were allowed as you'd expect but this diorama with chair was set up for a photo opportunity.
On such a warm, sunny day the canal boat rides were very popular and an excellent way to see more so in the afternoon we took a canal boat ride through the old waterways that weave in and around Brugge.
It was quite interesting to learn that in the fifteenth century Brugge was the 'New York Wall Street' of Europe and a very rich and powerful place. The city's very beautiful buildings were continually
maintained and repaired once the place fell on hard times with the then poorer inhabitants unable to afford to build new. As a result Belgium now has within the centre of Bruge a rare and stunning example of very old architecture.
At the end of the 'cruise' we strolled around a small, arts and craft market, browsed the gorgeous lace shops and window gazed at the stunning array of chocolate displays in the many chocolate shops.
You can see we're already loving Belgium! After another very nice dinner we were all finished for the day, so back to the hotel to pack up ready for our morning train to Poperinge and our two weeks of duty as honorary wardens at Talbot House.