Tr avel re­port BRUGES

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

ferry Pride of York, which turned out to be eas­ily big enough to take the North Sea in its stride and dou­ble up as a cruise liner, with two restau­rants, and a choice of bars and en­ter­tain­ment.

And, first and fore­most, I need to praise the food on board - which was ev­ery bit as good as we had en­joyed on Bri­tan­nia a year be­fore.

There is a busy, all-you-can-eat buf­fet ser­vice in the ship’s Kitchen restau­rant or a more re­laxed Bistro to en­joy. Both served up de­li­cious and plentiful meals, even win­ning praise from my wife, who is not a woman to be eas­ily im­pressed.

De­spite her hav­ing been at sea for three decades, the Pride of York was spot­less in­side, hav­ing ob­vi­ously been re­fit­ted not too long ago and, while our two-bunk stan­dard cabin was cosy and func­tional, the rest of the ship was spa­cious, com­fort­able and well-ap­pointed.

Af­ter a great meal in the Bistro we en­joyed live mu­sic in the piano bar be­fore re­tir­ing... and I vol­un­teered to take the top bunk, which in it­self was an ad­ven­ture.

The last time I had slept in a bunk bed the world was still in black and white.

Nev­er­the­less, the gen­tle mo­tion of the ship as we crossed a millpond flat North Sea en­sured a good night’s sleep - as well as a few glasses of good wine - and when we awoke we were dock­ing at the gi­ant port of Zee­brugge.

It re­ally is the best way to travel some­one else takes the strain while you en­joy a comfy bed.

Af­ter a su­perb full English break­fast, the coach was wait­ing dock­side to take us on the 25 minute drive to his­toric Bruges where we would have all day to ex­plore. And what a lot there is to ex­plore. If you are into any of the fol­low­ing - his­tory, cul­ture, mu­se­ums, gal­leries, canals, beer or choco­late - then this is the place for you.

Lo­cated in north­west Bel­gium, it is a must see city. Walk­ing through the streets you dis­cover an abun­dance of me­dieval cul­ture to ap­pre­ci­ate and a warm, friendly at­mos­phere to soak up.

Along with the sight­see­ing that Bruges has to of­fer, the city also boasts a num­ber of restau­rants, cof­fee bars and count­less con­fec­tion­ers, mak­ing end­less sup­plies of their famed choco­late ‘Brugsch Swaen­tje’ (Bruges Swan).

The wealth of mu­se­ums is a strik­ing im­age of Bruges’s stir­ring his­tory. The city is also home to con­tem­po­rary cul­ture such as the new Con­cert Hall, which is one of the most prom­i­nent mu­sic com­plexes in Flan­ders.

With only one day we had to pri­ori­tise so started with the cen­tral His­to­rium, which is billed as ‘vir­tual time travel.’

Guests are taken back to a day in 1435 and can ex­plore what Bruges was like in its Me­dieval hey­day through mod­ern tech­nol­ogy in­clud­ing a VR ex­pe­ri­ence.

Choos­ing to by­pass the tor­ture at­trac­tion, we then headed to the choco­late mu­seum and a few free sam­ples plus a choco­late mak­ing demon­stra­tion be­fore en­joy­ing a de­li­cious lunch at the cen­tral Restau­rant Le Chef at Moi, which faces the reg­u­lar week­end bric-abrac mar­ket.

It was just the spot to then hop onto one of the many wa­ter buses which ply the canals of Bruges for a 40-minute cruise with his­tor­i­cal, and oc­ca­sion­ally hys­ter­i­cal, com­men­tary.

Sadly, we ran out of time be­fore vis­it­ing the brew­ery mu­seum and all too soon were on the coach head­ing back to the Pride of York - but there was an­other great meal to look for­ward to and a night of drinks and en­ter­tain­ment. This time we ate at the more bud­get Kitchen restau­rant which was busy and buzzing.

Again the food was ex­cel­lent and the staff ef­fi­cient, help­ful and pleas­ant.

A visit to the the­atre for some on board en­ter­tain­ment, and it was time to tackle those bunk bed lad­ders again be­fore a good night’s sleep.

We awoke the next morn­ing sail­ing down the Hum­ber es­tu­ary with just time to get yet an­other fill­ing break­fast be­fore dis­em­bark­ing and head­ing back down the M62.

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