On the second full day of our weekend in Belgium, we took a train to Bruges. Travel tip for if you are staying in Brussels: the train station there is big, confusing, and it’s hard to know where to go even to do something simple like buy train tickets. Allow plenty of time! Luckily for us we got our tickets and found our way to the platform in time, and it was very crowded. Bruges is incredibly popular with tourists, and the train was packed.
At first we didn’t get seats, and I was worried: my mother looks well but has big problems with her knees. I wanted to find her a seat but was struggling to work out how to ask the other people on the train if they’d be willing to let her have their place – my French is very rusty, and I don’t speak Flemish at all. Happily, a nice man (who was also standing) noticed she had a walking stick, and he asked the nearest young people to us to move to that she could sit down. Phew. I stood for most of the journey, but didn’t mind that.
When we arrived in Bruges we took a taxi from the station to the city centre, which turned out to be a good move as the taxi driver was very friendly and happy to play the role of tour guide as well as taxi driver, pointing out the sights and the best chocolate shops en route.
Bruges is pretty, really pretty. Lots of lovely old buildings have been beautifully preserved so that now, while they may be major shops, they still look like they always have. As we passed a clothes shop with nice things in the window, we were drawn inside and buying tops almost before we realised that it was in fact a branch of H&M. Not the most genuine of souvenirs to be buying, but never mind. (This photo I took shows H&M, and the old building it occupies.)
There seemed to be even more chocolate shops in Bruges than in Brussels, and again we tried out a few of them. The sheer numbers of shops made it a bit overwhelming in terms of choosing which one to go in, and then which chocolates to buy. Such were the tough decisions we struggled with that afternoon!
Before heading back to the station, we stopped in a cafe for a cup of tea. It was a welcome surprise when the tea arrived with a little pot of some sort of custardy pudding – a very vanilla-scented pot of goodness. I’m all in favout of cafes over here importing that idea and serving free custard.
And that was it: we returned to Brussels by train, and then the next day took two more trains to get back to Nottingham. It all went by rather quickly, but it was nice to be abroad for a few days.