There is a P & O Ferry terminal in Hull England which provides overnight ‘cruises’ to Amsterdam or Brugge and more often then not it has been the best way for us to get from England to Europe and allows us to spend time with the family around Hull along the way. Skye and I have done it four times now, including a trip across to Amsterdam with Ari in 2009 when we had Dad’s motorhome. This time, we caught it to Brugge to spend some time in this lovely little town before heading to Paris. The ferry’s are quite large, with multiple restaurants, bars, some entertainment and even cinemas, and the timing of the ships is very convenient, leaving at 6:30pm and arriving at 9:30am. We had a family club cabin which provided plenty of space and there was a little kids play area right nearby where Ari and Tess made some friends.
Brugge is such a great place, despite how blatantly touristic it is, and having been there before it was nice not to feel like we had to run around seeing as many sights as possible in the couple of days we had. We simply spent time wandering through streets, in and out of old churches, museums and gardens, and then generally back in to the cafe’s and chocolatier’s, because espresso’s and hand made chocolates are only very small I am sure for the purpose of regular consumption, little and often I think is the way to go.
We did re-visit the garden of an old convent which Skye is particularly fond of.
Some new discoveries this time around included:
A Delorean! Imagine if you jumped in the Delorean (Back to the Future, the time machine, for anyone not keeping up) in 1985 to jump forward in time 30 years (as Michael J Fox did as Marty) and landed in the middle of Brugge! You’d be sending it back to the Doc for repairs for sure cause you’d swear you’d jumped backwards 150 years. Anyway, I was excited to see one in the middle of the street, stopped by a pedestrian wanting a glimpse inside, and when the stainless steel gull-wing door opened, out came a blaring rendition of the movie theme song, fantastic. So you can imagine then how cool it was to walk into the main square an hour later to find a Delorean convention, with over twenty of them! One had the full Back to the Future makeover complete with pulsing flux capacitor…
One of the lolly shops we went in, for coffee, had a viewing area to watch the candy makers at work. It was pretty amazing, I had no idea what effort went into making those tiny little boiled lollies, or candy canes. Two guys poured a vat of boiling sugar water on a thick room temperature steel topped table then worked-in flavours and colours with brushes at various points of cooling, they then cut it in to sections which were worked and re-worked to varying consistency, the colored portions then rolled and cut and rolled and cut again, the white portions stretched and pulled over a wall mounted hook to a silky pasta type look, they were eventually worked back together to set as striated candy canes and cut to size.
The markets. Ari has become a big fan of the movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ on this trip, because it is on the IPad for the long flights or train rides, so he was ecstatic to be fitted out with full Viking garb at the Brugge markets, and what better place for it. He proudly wears his studded helmet, shield and sword, usually unsheathed, as often as possible, all around Brugge and subsequently around most of Paris, complete with scowl. He eagerly offered it up to be scanned at the airport security check on the way out too, because it had to be worn on the plane. I particularly like seeing it all hung alongside our jackets on the coat hooks in restaurants etc. the only problem is that Tess has since taken a great liking to the helmet and we have long since left Brugge, so we’ll have to find her an alternative, perhaps we’ll find her a winged helmet now that we’re in Greece.
A canal boat tour. For no particular reason Skye and I had never done the boat cruise of the canals in Brugge. Judging by how many boats there are and the queues for them it seems we have been the only ones never to have done it. So this time, after much nagging, and patience to his credit, from Ari, we jumped on one the morning we left, before the boats from UK had brought the day trippers in their masses. Both the kids loved it, cruising through the canals alongside the ducks and swans and seeing all the little ducklings and egrets that are hidden from street view under the overhangs of the banks. It was also nice to see Brugge from that different perspective and to take in some of the history from the drivers commentary, although both kids were most excited about trying to touch the underside of the very low centuries old bridges as we passed.
I know there is a risk of a special place losing its charm if you visit it too often, but that hasn’t happened to Brugge for us yet. It has been quite different for us each time, as a couple we stayed in the Bauerhause Hostel, then with Ari we were in a motorhome 3km out of town, and now with Tess we’re in a nice hotel right in the old town. I wouldn’t be at all unhappy about coming back again.
From Brugge, it’s aboard a couple of short trains to spend a full week in Paris in a little apartment near the Opera House and at the time we had planned nothing solid beyond that.