We awoke around 9AM to the sound of our neighbours leaving. We were gone ourselves by 11AM to walk into the city center. Took some time to figure out how to use what we would refer to as zebra crossings - just leg it!
Bruges is everything that is envisiged in the stereo-type of an old English town - rows of houses lined with cobbled streets, horses and carriages as transport and beautiful canal walks.
We eventually got off the main street that we'd been strolling down for 15 minutes and wandered out into the giant market square, which lead us to our first attraction: The Belfry Climb.
Had to queue for a little while (45 minutes) behind to some Americans who would not stop talking about tennis for the entire wait... and then it was finally our turn to climb (they only allow 70 people in at a time for safety reasons - reassuring when you are scared of heights!)
The stairs got more narrow the higher you went up, so meeting people coming down whilst you were going up was a tad challenging sometimes.
The mechanism that played the bell's tune was on-show and pretty cool. It was like a giant musical box cylinder connected to hammers to hit bells.
And then there was the view from the top - you could see the tiny ants (people) scurrying below and miles beyond. Safe to say Beth didn't appriciate it enough for what it was. Not bad for €6!
After all that climbing, we were quite peckish and soon stumbled upon a student bar by accident. It was on the outskirts of the main square called Café Pick. It had a good feel to the place and the food was good, filling and most importantly, cheap! Ben had the lasange, whilst Bethy had a tomato, pesto and mozarella pannini, with a coke. Ben of course had a Belgian beer, Jupiler.
Next, we once again wandered the streets and fell across the second planned attraction of the day: The tour boat. Bruges is without doubt living up to its nickname, Venice of the north. The small canals meander through the entire city, leading you to some of its oldest buildings like the brewery. At this point the tour was the highlight of our day and we recommend it to anyone who is over this part of the world (it was only €7 and the boat driver spoke all languages which was handy).
We found ourselves, and the Foskett clan a postcard and mailed theirs off. We are sending ourselves one from each place as a cheap and cheerful souvenir of the trip.
We walked back to the camp as sadly we couldn't find the bike rental place so we could bike down the canals to the beautiful village of Damme, but to Ben's happiness we walked past a Lidl, which sold his favourite passion fruit and peach yoghurt drink.
After lounging around the camp for a few hours, we decided to drive to Damme instead, and go to Knokke-Heist beach afterwards (Ben had been there once on a primary school trip) to watch the sunset. Thank God we chose to go: Damme, you're gorgeous!!
The canal was lined with trees and on the horizon you could just make out the Belfry tower. The cobbled stones and totally cute cottages just made me feel like it was a foreign Beeston/Peckforton. The windmill and the sun setting in the background made for some rather nice photography as you'd imagine. Beth was hungry, so she treated herself to a vanilla/wafer/meringue thing from a local bakery which wasn't a bad snack.
We drove on to Knokke-Heist- a place Ben had visited as a child and found a parking space next to the most awesome pug statue with the words "I wove you" written on it (photo opportunity= TAKEN).
We got to the beach just as the sun was starting to set. Beth started to attempt a romantic gesture (I know, crazy) with heart-sand drawing - Ben tried his best, but it has been proven that he is a rookie at sand-heart drawing! We got our sunset pictures and conducted a small search for shells before heading back to camp. Our early rise to explore Brussels awaited us!