You could literally set your watch by the Eurostar – when it says it leaves at 12:58pm then it leaves at exactly that time and it arrives when it is scheduled to.
We cleared French immigration before getting on the train and apart from the fact that my passport photo neither has me with glasses nor a beard did not cause any problems to the lovely immigration officer who had to check me through – she just had a bit of a giggle and a smile.
At a little over 1½ hours to Lille the trip went surprisingly quickly; our tour director introduced himself to us on the train and we met as planned once off the train – Gard du Lille is not one of your classic train stations – a bit cold in temperature and in style.
The bus was there and it was a matter of 17 minutes after the train pulled into the station and we were all on the bus; luggage safely stored; and we were away - could not believe it.
The only problem that we had was a car accident on the motorway we were on – in amongst the area where roadworks were taking place – this held us up for about an hour, but not any fault of the tour company.
The hotel was excellent and the room that we had was really quite large – bigger than we have in a great many years – very clean and given that they had to cope with 38 English tourists and us 2 Australians, the staff were exceptionally good – we didn’t need to fill out any forms – this had already been done for us by the tour company so we just had to say our surname and a set of keys appeared in our hands and some simple instructions about where our room was and how to get there – excellent.
We had some time to get outside and have a bit of a walk around to start to orientate ourselves – we made it to the main square (only about 10 minutes away); found an ATM for some cash; Diane managed to check the frits and mayo off her list of things to do; and then a stroll back to the hotel for a quiet beer in the lounge.
|The city square at night - some tourist in the foreground|
A second tour group from the same company had just arrived as we came back and the same level of expertise for them as for us was present.
An excellent breakfast setup and the food was pretty good as well gave us a great start for the day.
|I included this only because we saw it as an example of |
common sense in that this man who was cleaning the awning,
did so with a minimal amount of "red-tape" - OHS was sufficient
for the job at hand.
|Part of the view from our room|
First up was a walking tour of Brugge and what better way to get a quickfire introduction to this city – a very small part of which we had been able to see.
|The famed "Fountain of the three nags" - others apparently|
could only see the two horses
It was quite comprehensive and quite easy on the feet; gave us a good idea about some of the history of the city and some of the more memorable landmarks.
About an hour after that finished we could then do a tour of the one and only brewery in town – couldn’t miss a chance to see the local product being made; to get some great views from the roof; and more importantly to sample the finished product.
|One of the many pieces of art around the city - this one shows|
Zeus leading Prometheus away with Pegasus
|Apparently 1960 was a good year|
|View of part of Brugge from the roof of the brewery - a fine|
day and a view - where was the beer
We have been on tours of other breweries in other places so we were familiar with a lot of what happened but the lady in charge was quite comedic in her spiel and in was most enjoyable and the beer was good too.
The timing allowed us to be able to have the remainder of the day to ourselves and we took advantage of this by exploring further parts of this most beautiful city – part of its immediate charm is the buildings and for us the canals add the dimension that we always enjoy.
|What's a canal without a barge - it this one big enough my lovely?|
|a working boat in action - on the mai canal around the city|
We were a bit tired by the end of the day as it had all caught up and so we had a fairly early night.