18 March 2017 (Saturday) - Bruges
We were up rather early today. The dogs seemed rather over-excited. Perhaps they somehow knew that "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" and "Stormageddon - Bringer of Destruction TM" were coming round with Sid and Pogo for a doggy adventure.
We left the dogs to it, and set off on an adventure of our own.
We drove down to Folkestone where we met “team Fernandez” and I wasn’t long before we were on the coach. I’ve not been abroad for years… checking the archive of this blog I think my last trip outside the UK was January 2008 (when I took the cub scouts to EuroDisney) but today we were off to Bruges.
It was only five minutes from the coach pick-up point to the Channel Tunnel terminal, and only five more minutes for our passports to get checked. But it was rather longer to get the coach onto Le Shuttle, and even longer to get under the channel. I’m not sure how long; I slept through that bit.
I quite liked the driving to Bruges; there are those who say the French countryside looks just like ours; it doesn’t. There are subtle differences. The pylons are the wrong shape (and the wrong colour), fence posts are different, and the houses have roofs that are at different angles to those in the UK.
After about three hours from when we started the coach pulled up and the driver gave instructions for when he’d pick us up. I wasn’t really listening; I was too excited. It was as well that Maria was paying attention.
We set off toward the town centre; I was rather concerned when we immediately met a sign warning us that the bridge nearby was slippery when wet and there was a danger of wedgies. Jose wasn’t convinced, but I told him that when it comes to languages he can do the Spanish and he should leave the Dutch to me. He went along with that (I suspect out of a curiosity about what might happen next).
What with a long drive and the time change (they have different time abroad you know) it was lunch time. There was no shortages of places to eat. We found somewhere that did waffles. I had a panini, and ordered a “slag room”. It was at this point that the shortcomings of my language skills became apparent. I suppose that what I had in mind for a “slag room” would have cost more than one Euro. In Bruges a slag room is a pot of whipped cream. One lives and learns.
We carried on walking round. We found saucy underwear shops, and I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to find Bruges had a Subway sandwich shop or a Pizza Hut. We found endless chocolate shops. I was seriously tempted to get some Belgian chocolate but the stuff is *so* expensive. I could make myself sick on a bar of Cadbury’s for a fraction of the price.
We stopped for a spot of lunch. Some of the locals were drinking beer from some kind of mini yard-of-ale (a two-feet of lager) so I had one of those with my dinner. I asked one of the chaps what the beer was called. He replied “Quack”, and I smiled sweetly wondering what he meant. But he was right – the beer was indeed called “Kwak” and at eight per cent proof it wasn’t to be messed about.
Lunch was excellent, but as always you can’t beat McDonalds for dessert. And you seriously can’t beat a Belgian McDonalds. I’ve never had anything quite like their “Parfait Chocolad”.
We had a minor episode on the way back to the coach. We’d planned to pop into a certain shop on the way back. It was right by where we ate first – where I had the panini and the disappointment. Jose and I walked up and down that street three times. The shop had gone. It had totally vanished. How can an entire shop disappear in only four hours?
I dozed off and on as the coach took us back. As I dozed I couldn’t help but listen to the vociferous twit who was sitting a few seats behind us. He’d apparently recently had a bust up with his girlfriend but wasn’t bothered. As he loudly announced, there’s “plenty more birds in the sea”.
"er indoors TM" went hysterical over this one.
Pausing only briefly at the Channel Tunnel terminal for some duty free we were soon home. I took loads of photos whilst we were out; I popped them on-line whilst the dogs quietly munched their bones. Both dogs were pleased to see us, but were both strangely subdued. Perhaps their adventure today had been as tiring as ours. I could do with an early night.
Mind you I can’t help but wonder when the next trip to Bruges is…