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Published: March 29th 2012
After two hours of sitting in London traffic on a Friday afternoon I turn to the passenger in the back of the car and jokingly ask if she has her passport. Al and I both laugh at the crazy thought that someone would have forgotten to bring their passport on a trip over the channel, but alas, Belinda didn't have hers. We turned around and collected it and after our third trip through the infamous Catford Giratory we were actually on our way to Bruges.
The drive to Bruges (when you ignore our detour) was simple, with the worst part being the heavy traffic in London. We took the ferry from Dover to Calais and eventually arrive in Bruges at 1am having driven through the UK, France and Belgium.
We spent the next few days wandering the streets of the very pretty town of Bruges. We started the trip with waffles and a canal cruise, familiarising ourselves with the layout of the town and getting our first glimpse of the famous tower which we would later climb. It is an incredibly lovely little city, the photos I have seen don't do it justice; around every corner is a lovely
canal, a quaint cobbled lane or an ivy-covered tower.
After a few days in Bruges we decided to travel to Ypres, hoping we might be able to get a last-minute tour around the Western Front. We managed to book ourselves an afternoon tour so we had time in the morning to walk around Ypres, visiting the war memorial, walking around the old city walls and visiting the excellent In Flanders Fields Musuem
located in the town centre.
Our Canadian tour driver took an immediate dislike to Belinda; which Al and I found hilarious but which neither he or Belinda seemed to be able to overcome. It didn't help that she pronounced it 'Yi-pers' rather than Ee-pa'. He drove the three of us all over the countryside around Ypres stopping in historical sites such as Hill 60, showing us craters and battlefields but all we could see were rolling farmland and pretty barns. It was hard to imagine that the picturesque fields and farm houses were not always there, but this was quickly proved when we stopped by a nondescript field and found a lot of shrapnel on the surface. Belinda did nothing to ingratiate herself to our guide
at this stage when she refused to look for shrapnel at all. Our visit concluded with cemeteries, churches and the solvent. On arriving back in Ypres our tour guide stole someone else's park and then swore at them, which was a fitting end to a rather strange tour.
Our final day was spent having a last look at Bruges, Belinda decided that actually she would like to take some photos despite not having bothered so far, and then visiting the neighbouring city of Ghent. Ghent is larger and has more recent development on its outskirts than Bruges does but its centre is just as sweet and full of tourists. It has canals and bridges and cute stone houses. After a lunch of chips and mayonnaise sitting on the side of a canal it was time to make our way back to London.
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