Three days in Bruges

J and I are just back from a three-day short break in Bruges.  Our Bruges pictures are on Flickr at —  If that doesn’t load, click instead.

To view the pictures in a decent size, click ‘Slideshow‘ (near the top right of the screen), and when the first picture appears, quickly click the pause button ( || ) at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.  Then click “Show info” at the top right to see the captions of those pictures that have them (the more interesting ones do).  Now click the small square with arrows in the middle pointing out to the four corners, at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, to get the picture in full screen view.  Finally, click ‘next‘ (top centre) to see the next picture, and repeat when ready.

It’s much simpler than it looks.

By all means write comments under any pictures that amuse or annoy you.

BrugesIt was a pleasure to see something of Bruges, a fantastically well preserved and beautiful little city, although hard on ageing feet.  We went with Riviera Travel, a small English travel company, whose guide was admirably informative, unobtrusive, friendly and above all remarkably calm.  The Academie hotel where we were all accommodated (only 27 of us, a manageable sized group) was nicely situated and perfectly adequate for a three-night stay, although not deserving  its four star status (you really do need to take your own coffee, milk and mugs to make any use of the kettle in your room, and the hot food and orange juice for breakfast were terrible).  The staff though are helpful and friendly.  There are dozens of restaurants nearby for lunches and dinners, ranging from excellent to OK.  Don’t miss out on the splendid Belgian moules frites and the high quality steaks.  Luckily hardly anyone from outside Flanders speaks Flemish so all the locals who need to talk to foreign visitors (aka tourists) speak very good English (and French, German, etc.).  The weather was changeable — we all got drenched in a sudden downpour when retrieving our bags from the coach on arrival from the appalling Lille Europe railway station — but mostly very good.  It was mid-May.

And don’t on any account miss the tour of the First World War battlefields, including a visit to the war museum and the Menin Gate in Ypres, about an hour away by coach from Bruges.  The Zot brewery in Bruges also merits a visit, including the accompanying glass of Zot Blond, if and when you get tired of half-litre glasses of delectable Leffe Brune.  Michaelangelo’s exquisite Madonna and Child in the Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) is a must-see: our pictures on Flickr include two photographs of it.  We couldn’t see the collection of Van Eycks in the Groeninge Museum because only a temporary exhibition of something else was open. The chocolate factory and shop that we visited was remarkable mainly for its lack of elementary hygiene: staff hands, ungloved, wiped noses and then scooped up dainty chocolates.  UK Health & Safety would have fainted.  Be sure to watch the splendid film In Bruges on DVD before you go.

However, most readers of this doubtless know Bruges intimately already and will be in no need of these recommendations.  If such Bruges aficionados find that this account is full of misleading information and shows that we missed out on all the best things in Bruges, please don’t tell us:  we don’t wish to know that.