We caught the overnight ferry to Rotterdam, which was 10 1/2 hours, which we slept through, then it was off through the Netherlands to Bruges in Belgium.
We meant to come to Bruges last time we had the car over, but ran out of time, and we're so glad we finally made it, as this has to be one of the most lovely cities we've visited. The centre of town is really well preserved from medieval times, with narrow winding streets, gothic cathedrals, and lots of beautiful old buildings.
The highlight of the first day will have to be the Friet Museum... yes, an entire museum dedicated to fries/chips. To be honest we only went for a bit of a laugh, as we didn't think there would be much to see, and fries does seem like a ridiculous subject for a museum. My, were we wrong. As it turns out, fries are a national dish in Belgium, apparently they originated here, and they've been perfecting them ever since. There is even a medal system to recognise those who have owned or worked in the chippy industry for over 15 years... brilliant. It was really rather good, and the sample at the end beats English chips hands down - although they do cook them in beef tallow and horse fat. Ick.
Bruges is relatively small, so it's quite easy to get around almost all of the sights on foot, so we spent the rest of the afternoon doing a bit of a circuit around the outskirts of the centre, looking at the old windmills and canals etc.
The next day we walked up the Belfry, which is kind of the main landmark in the city, as it's so damn tall. There are quite a few steps up, but the view from the top is worth it, as is the sound of the bells (although they could warn you when they're about to go off, as I nearly leapt out the window when they started clanging away!) and the room where they control them from.
Still on foot, we went over to the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which houses some actual drops of Jesus' blood... which obviously were dried by the time they got them into the church but apparently they turn back into liquid during times of trouble. Riiiight. The Basilica itself was tiny but gorgeous, and worth the visit, blood or no blood.
There are a ridiculous number of museums, so we had to choose just a couple (Fries was clearly non-negotiable) and Kent snuck the Chocolate museum in to our itinerary... it was great, but a bit unfair for those of us who are allergic to chocolate, as it smelt amazing, and there were samples. It did mean he got my portions though, so I was able to negotiate a proper museum into the plan next - SintJan Hospital museum, which was home to a few gruesome looking medieval medical tools, and a whole host of amazing art from the church part of the hospital. Across the street is the Church of Our Lady, home of one of the only Michaelangelo sculpures outside Italy, Madonna and Child - it is just sitting there, in the church, for anyone to see... I'm constantly amazed by how open the access is to so many beautiful and famous things. The best part was that there was virtually no one else there, so there were no pesky bloody tourists obscuring our view and getting in the way of photos! Speaking of which, here they are (the photos, not the tourists. Obviously:
K & E xx