No sooner had we hopped off the train at St Pancras after a wonderful weekend in Derbyshire, than we were there the next day checking in to Eurostar for our trip to Bruges. Laden with less luggage, thanks to my brother Mark and his flat, we cruised through checkin and security, also thanks to the helpful Eurostar staff. This was a big help as an unfortunate accident with my alarm on my phone had us waking inadvertently at 5.30 instead of 7am, and some of us were a tad tired and grumpy (not looking at the redhead of course).
The trip was uneventful (a big plus) save for the fact my phone would chirp as it roamed to another country, which was the only way we knew we had arrived in Belgium that and the fact that the announcements went from being in English, French and Flemish to Flemish, followed by French then English.
At Brussels, the Eurostar star were on hand to direct us to the correct platform for our train to Bruges, and after an hour on the local train we had arrived! We wisely spent €9 on a taxi to our hotel and were rewarded with another friendly, helpful taxi driver who gave us some local tips- avoid drinking at the cafes surrounding the Market as they are over priced and showed us a street where a pub had over 300 beers available.
Mr BG had done well with the choice of hotel, the Bourgensch Hof overlooking the canal and a pretty bridge. Apparently we were next door to the hotel which had been used for the movie In Bruges! *
Heading out for a walk we also discovered we were right next to a sex shop, about which the kids were totally agog, next to which was a toy shop, followed by a beer shop showcasing over 1000 Belgian beers. Combined with the mass of chocolate shops on the other side of the hotel entrance, there truly was something for everyone in Bruges .
Apart from the chocolate, beer, waffles, mussels and fries, Bruges is a really pretty town. My mum had always said it would put Paris to shame, but it’s impossible to compare the two as they are so different. However if you traded the quiant medieval Continental architecture for quaint Tudor architecture, you would come pretty close to York. Both have retained their medieval charm, with the Industrial Revolution having largely bypassed them. Both are a similar size, have chocolate museums and shops, heaps of churches, cafes and tearooms, and both love their beers. Where York have the geese, Bruges has swans. I think Bruges would definitely outdo York in terms of cyclists and horse drawn carriages, but York has the edge on walking tours of every subject and flavour.
And both speak English really, really well . English was a preferred second language over French in Bruges for shop owners, and in York, well it was just a dream hearing the Northern accent punctuated by the phrase ‘luv’.
*Would you believe I had never heard there was a movie In Bruges? I really should get out more…