Our barge trip in Holland is preceded and followed by a week in France. Which means we travel through Belgium, twice.
Northbound from Reims we make an overnight stop to break the journey, staying in a very pleasant hotel east of Liege.
Southbound we make a longer stop in Bruges, which has been on my bucket list ever since I did a school project on the city. I'm pleased to find it as captivating as I hoped, very mediaeval, lovely vistas down the canals, splendidly ornate buildings. Our hotel is genuinely old, exposed beams in the bedroom, some just above the bed on which past occupants have carved initials. As usual we do much walking, giving our feet a break by catching a tourist bus which provides an overview of the city and an amazing demonstration of driving skills in the narrow streets and tight corners, not to mention dodging horse and carriage combos, another popular means of tourist transport. Food is good, if rather more expensive than in Holland, but that could be just because Bruges is a top tourist destination. We get good advice about restaurants from the concierge at the hotel, who gets full marks for helpfulness, Despite the crowds in the main square and tourist souvenir streets, we find quiet places to walk and a couple of museums that aren't full of people. We see a very interesting Picasso exhibition at St John Hospital, and Flemish Primitives at the Groenigen. For once we don't feel impelled to get on the water, partly because the tourist boats all seem very crowded, and partly because we've just had our fill of canals in Holland. After two evenings and one full day we are happy to move on to France.
More pictures here.