We were a few days from coming home. There were only two countries between us and home. A few miles of tarmac and the English Channel. Suzy was still hanging on in there. She did pick up a stone chip on the ride today. Hopefully we will get this done free as it looks like the sort of chip that can be filled in. We had to make a decision. Should we call it a day and ring Eurotunnel and try to get home early? Didn't feel like doing that. So what else was there to do. What is there local? The smell of chocolate was wafting over . Being chocoholics and Sion wanted to get his snout in the trough we had found what we could do today. Been before but who cares . Last time we visited Bruges it was October, it was freezing and there were not a lot of people about.
We left our campsite and hit the road. Hit being the operative word . Let's just say der dum, der dum, der dum. Where in the world is Suzy? Well Suzy is driving down Belgium tarmac. What is it that the Belgians put in tarmac
that makes it go der dum, der dum and der dum. Suzy rattled and rolled along, the cutlery rattled in the drawers, the crockery rattled in the cupboard. Der Dum, Der Dum , Der Dum . Boy were we glad to get to our stopover for the night. A huge sosta/stellplatz/aire in the heart of the city. Not easy to find even with Sally Sat Nav. This was not her fault really . Why do the Belgians s mark their roads in a strange way. Sometimes it is hard to work out who has right of way so you take your life in your own hands and just make a break for it avoiding running the cyclists over.
The stopover was packed but we negotiated the barrier and picked a spot. There was hardly the space for a cigarette paper between us and the hedge. Then there was the cost . 19 euros in the winter - that is up to the end of March. AFter March it goes up to 25 euros. Expensive for what was there but hardly surprising when you think we were within walking distance of the city centre. Once on the plot we realised
that there was more space much quieter across the road. Sadly there is no-one about to ask if we could move so had we decided to swop the sides we would have had to pay to get out and pay to leave the second park tomorrow. At 50 euros it was not an option.
We walked along the river and on the way lost the signs to the centre and had to follow our noses. Eventually we got there and found the main square which was buzzing. The sun was shining unlike our last visit and there were more people walking about. We sat and watched them as we drank in a cafe. This place is a chocoholics dream. Walking in to one of the many shops I was greeted by the shop assistant who was dressed beautifully in clean and tidy apron. Quite old fashioned service as she held a silver tray and on it was a selection of pieces of chocolate . It was hard to just pick one piece up. I wanted to gobble the lot down. She then took me to the displays of chocolate . These are all dark she said. These milk chocolate
. A little further on boxes and boxes of white chocolate. She then offered me a truffle. These boxes are full of truffles, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. She pointed to the nut varieties. Then to the biscuits covered in chocolate and marzipan animals, marzipan fruit. The choice was immense and I walked round in awe at how many varieties of chocolate there were in this shop. Oh dear what to buy. A box of marzipan. Pink and white mice, a strawberry, a banana , a fruit with a hole in it where the worms had eaten in, To finish off a box of truffles some with nuts and some plain. EXpensive chocolate 28 euros but boy would they taste good. Sorry Thorntons you will never taste the same again.
The canals looked wonderful as always and the square full of people. We people watched for a while, declined the offer to climb the belltower enjoying instead the bells which rang out over the square . As always Bruges impressed and there is still much to see but we needed to move on. The machine on the parking lot swallowed up our euros. All 25 of them
even thought we had only stayed three hours. We didn't feel we could stay the night . We had spent too much time on our own to fancy a night on a really busy car park.
Had we known we probably would have driven to our next stop Jabekke where the campsite for the night was going to be Klein Strand. It was only 19 minutes from Bruges and the bus ran from outside the campsite . Another ACSI site. We thought it closed until we found the second reception across the road together with a Chinese Restaurant. It looked as if there had been two campsites , one had gone out of business and had been bought up by the second site. It was a big site but at this time of year was relatively empty. As an overnight stop it was perfect . Had we wanted we could have walked over to the Strand but decided to hole up drink our last wine and decide what to do tomorrow. We cannot keep putting off going home.
In the morning we waited for the reception to open to give them back the door key for which we
Yes we know you have a rod up your leg and through your arm and a seat to sit on
had paid a deposit of 25 euros. Then the dreaded phone call to Eurotunnel. Could they get us on a train sometime after 11. We were one and a half hours away from Coquelles so 11 was the earliest time we could hope to get there. The young lady on the other end of the phone said it was not a problem. We could go home at 11.20 or 11.40 and I needed to pay £30 surcharge to change our booking . So far, so good . Book me on the 11.20, by the time I had said this she told me the £30 ticket had gone. I should have started to worry that things were not going to go well. I will have the 11.40 - oh that one has gone as well . You can go at 12 or anytime after for £130. A huge intake of breath. Surely not we had already paid £70 so why the £130? I got no real answer so put the phone down and thought we would just have to drive to Guines and spend the day doing nothing until tomorrow. As always though I tried again. This time I was offered
the 11.20 train at a surcharge of £30. Paid it, packed up Suzy and hit the der dum der dum der dum road again. What was that all about then? Me thinks the staff need a training session.
The journey to Coquelles went fairly quickly. As we approached the station we saw the lorries all parked up and we joined the back of the queue. There was no way we were going to catch our train. On the side of the road was a large police presence with guns. Illegal immigrants sat on the bollards, hid in the hedges and stood by the roadside. They tried to open car and lorry doors and gain entrance. We realised that we could move so overtook the lorries and finally got to the passport control. The french waved us through. The British checked passports and made sure we had not left Suzy on her own overnight. They asked if we had stayed in her and if we knew that we were free of immigrants. A frightening experience.
Arriving back in the UK the sun had hidden, it was cold and raining. It was not much fun to be home. The traffic on the M2 and the M25 reminded us of why we love Europe. Stop , stop move on a bit. Lorries everywhere. How sad as we hit the M1 again . Not far now and the holiday will be over. So what did we do in terms of mileage? 4000 miles in the end. I have an appointment tomorrow to sort out hissing Sid in my hearing aid. My feet are killing me. But what a holiday. Yet again Suzy delivered as she always does . She is booked in for her windscreen chip to be sorted out and to go on diagnostics. She needs a little TLC. And me well back to work again.
Still on the brighter side. Only 119 days to go. Iberia here we come.
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