It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Belgium? You're Fabulous!

My favourite new cow?  The Belgian Blue.  What?  Doesn’t everyone have a favourite cow?

 Belgian Blue Cow - CUTE!

My old favourite was the Belted Galloway, but the Belgian Blue is a much better looking cow.  By far.

My favourite new horse?  The Belgian Draft.

Belgian Draft Horse - WANT! 

I know, now you’ll tell me that you don’t have a favourite horse either, but the Belgian Draft has kicked my old favourite, the Schwarzwalder Fuchs, into a cocked hat.

Anyway, the reason that I’ve got these favourite new things is because I’m in Belgium, and Belgium is my favourite new place.  I absolutely adore Belgium!  We’re staying in Brugge, which is seriously glorious, and have also visited Veurne and Ypres.

Brugge now edges out Copenhagen from my top 3 European cities list.  It now reads London, Amsterdam and Brugge.

Brugge - GLORIOUS!

 Veurne is an old Roman staging post by the water and was rebuilt by the Spanish in the 1500s, it’s fabulous.  Our visit to Veurne is a long story, involving a missing WW2 pilot, the Hahndorf (South Australia) Town Band and some local Veurne historians.  Anyway, we ended up having drinkies with Jose the Police Chief, and Francis, a local soldier and war historian, before being escorted to the town cemetery to lay a poppy on the grave of James MacFadyen.  Everyone was so incredibly friendly and helpful, and we also scored a tour of the Police Station.

We then whizzed over to Ypres for the 8pm Remembrance Service at the Menin Gates.  It was very moving as a brass band played on approach to the Gates, then the traffic was stopped, and the Last Post played.  An acapella choir then sang “Fields of Gold” and “Danny Boy” before the band played another song.  There were various salutes and the crowd stayed totally silent throughout – very respectful.  At the end, the band marched back to the centre of town playing “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, and we headed back to the car with tears in our eyes.

Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

We’re staying at the Brugge Novotel in the middle of the old town, surrounded by narrow streets of beautiful old houses and astonishing churches.  There are also quite a few shops with loads of lace work (for which Brugge is famous) and brocade.

There are lots of boat tours and also horse and carriage tours are zooming past all the time.  They’ve managed to get those horses trotting up and forward in a way that leaves my mouth agape when I think of Jeany and her “head down and mooch” style - typical reining horse.  She’s just not an “up and forward” kind of horse unless we’re in a flat gallop, or maybe I’m just not using the right encouraging German words?  Surely “Schneller, schneller, stinky schwein!” is the way forward?

 Dad has had his first Belgian beers and is a total convert, buying beers and beer glasses as souvenirs.  I overheard him having a deep conversation with the Police Chief about the merits of Trappist beer and how it’s best drunk in Belgium, because it doesn’t travel well – who knew? 

Another thing that Brugge kicks spectacularly into goal is that it doesn’t have many cyclists, unlike Amsterdam.  Which comes as a huge surprise, because Belgium is essentially as flat as a crepe.  If there was ever a country to ride your bike around, it would be Belgium.  If you came to a hill, you’d know to consult your map because you’d obviously taken a wrong turn and crossed into another country.  This place is bike riding heaven.  Except if you’re cycling down the middle of the road in front of my car …

Oh, and breakfast in Brugge?  Hot Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries, honey and a jug of melted Belgian chocolate on the side, to pour over the lot.  It was fabulous to sit and watch the world go by, and also to be watched by three of the carriage horses a few metres away who eyed my strawberries with interest.  The bonus was that there was enough chocolate in the jug for me to pour into my coffee – oh, yum!

1 comment:

  1. Belgian waffles. Belgian chocolate. And Belgian beer....oh my!! But you won my HEART over when you said the magic word.....LACE!!! aaahhhhhh lace!! Pop over to Dressology, I've awarded you an Award and linked to you.


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