when we arrived at our hotel in Bruges which was formally a 15th century mansion overlooking one of the canals and is now a stunningly beautiful place to stay. When we saw the room rates we had an anxious moment along the lines of "Are you sure when you paid the room was included?" What was immediately clear was that the Guardian travel offer I had picked up was very very good value indeed.
And it included breakfast.
Breakfast included champagne. As much champagne as one could drink.
The first morning we spent a long time looking at the champagne and wondering if we had the nerve to go and help ourselves - watching other guests like hawks to see if any of them had champagne, and if so, how much, and were we SURE the champagne was included? Then when I finally grasped the bullet and went to get some I came back - with drinks - to tell Reidski it wasn't real champagne, it was that pommery stuff...which only goes to show how little I know about champagne. It was real all right. And it was amazing how quickly we got used to - indeed positively expected - champagne for breakfast. Clearly no day should start without at least three glasses of the stuff. Oh yes - and the food was very nice too :-)
Belgium is a small country about which I knew next to nothing before we arrived, but what I do now know is that from the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, it was a prosperous centre of commerce and culture, and present day Bruges still has a centre with buildings that have survived since those days. And very lovely it is too.
We were there for three nights and did loads of walking, had a canal trip - although not, I am happy to say, in the same conditions as the poor sods in the last photo did......
and caught some culture too including Hieronymus Bosch's The Last Judgement which reflects on the nature of Purgatory and was described in the film In Bruges as 'It's when you're not really bad and not really good - like Tottenham.'
We nearly had to kill a couple in the art gallery which could have put a bit of a dampener on our break though. They stood right in front of every painting they looked at, blissfully oblivious to the other people wanting to catch so much as a glimpse of the same painting rather than their backsides.
Rather than go on all day (I am very busy - it is amazing how much one finds to do when one is on strike)I will cut this short now.
People were really friendly; it was easy to get to by train; the bars sold up to 440 Belgian beers; and the chips were every bit as good as I remembered. What with that and the scenery, and being there with someone special, what more could one ask for from a city break?
Blinded - *The Blind Girl in Hiroshima* (1963) Photograph by *Christer Strömholm*
2 hours ago