Monday 14th,. Having decided that Amsterdam to Bruges by train with four transfers (two with 7 minute and 9 minute transfer connection windows) was too fraught with 'issues' (even free with Eurorail Pass) we decided to go by bus so we booked on Eurolines. It meant a two hour earlier start (8am) but the prospect of lugging our bags around railway stations we knew nothing about trying to get to connections meant we were prepared to trade that for one mode of transport - even if it took two hours longer. As it was Belgium roads are horrendously busy (or inadequate) and it seemed every city we went through had 'peak hour' issues even in late morning/early afternoon! Accordingly we were 30 minutes late into Bruges, arriving at 14:15, but unfrazzled - which was the point! The drop off was the central station and we got a minvan to the hotel. The driver was Iraqi who said he had carried plenty of Kiwis and Aussies in Bruges. We needed to find a laundry so that was the first order of business. We found one not too far away and having got that sorted we went to look at central Bruges. Seems it has been discovered by the tourists! Thousands of them - mainly Poms from what we could ascertain. The town is old and has fantastic old buildings and a canal system that unfortunately doesn't seem to have any flow - you certainly would not want to fall into it! However the charm of an old city with such history and charm can't be denied! We had a cappuccino at a chocolate store and then went to put the clothes in the dryer before another walk around town. This took us into some quieter parts but gave us a better idea of the layout and residential varieties. We collected our clothes (John found some red wine at a local store whilst we waited) and went back to the Hotel. John then went to find a supermarket to see if he could get some wine glasses but only came back with plastic cups but had bought a bottle of Martini Rosso and some Sprite for Julie. We then adjourned to the garden and John & Patrick proceeded to deal to the wine and Julie put a dent in the Martini! After a freshen up we went out for dinner. There is no shortage of eateries here, particularly around the main square. We chose a Lebanese called Amon close to our hotel. The food was great and reasonably priced. We strolled around Bruges central afterwards and admired the beautifully-lit old buildings.
Tuesday 14th. Awoke to thunder & lightning and heavy rain on and off. A late arising, as we had no imperative to get up early. Pat had got up somewhat earlier and gone for a walk. We ventured out around 10:30 and we were luckily in McDonalds having breakfast when what proved to be last downpour occurred. It was coolish but not uncomfortable. We went to the main museum and took in a very creative and enjoyable recreation of life in Bruges in the 1400s. We then had another wander through and around the town for a couple of hours enjoying the various buildings and canals and architectural features of the old city, before having a late lunch at 3:30. Then back to the hotel for a siesta (Pat) whilst John caught up with work and Julie, social media. We went for another walk around 3pm taking in more parts of the city we had missed and decided to share a bottle of Cote de Rhone at a sunny cafe as the sun poked its head out late in the day. We returned to the Square for a quick meal before retiring as we have another early start to Lille and Le Quesnoy tomorrow. One major disappointment in Belgium was not being able to find a Belgian biscuit!