Meebridge Bruges off Steenhouwersdijk

TVR Tour Visits Bruges

September 2022

We rolled off the Chunnel in the TVRs without a glitch. It was easier crossing to another country than getting a local train to Liverpool. All along we’d been saying “remember it’s driving on the right, remember it’s driving on the right”. Though you would have been hard-pushed to get it wrong, there were also signs everywhere reminding you what you were meant to be doing.

We headed North, someone had the bright idea of going off-piste and visiting one of Ben’s other suggestions the “Atlantic Wall”. I’d not been all that keen on going there, it wasn’t going to be thrilling or particularly photogenic, but for once I kept my opinions to myself and we followed D and M.

After about half an hour we pitched up at the end of a road leading onto a path next to a caravan park. This wasn’t looking good.

Firstly I don’t think anyone on the path would have thanked us for taking the TVRs along it, and secondly, we needed to try and do a three-point turn in a tiny foreign road.

We managed the turn and continued to follow J who was meant to take us to the main car park. They missed this too and the trip to the Atlantic Wall was abandoned and a new route set to Bruges.

We were getting hungry and I was badly in need of some caffeine, having not had any before getting on the Chunnel.

Ben had suggested an underground car park in Bruges right near the centre. It was ideal as the weather looked like it was threatening to rain, and I didn’t fancy carrying all the camera equipment unnecessarily. We programmed this into the nav and set off.

The traffic got heavier and the roads smaller as we neared Bruge. At a roundabout, J peeled off on the second exit rather than the third and we wondered what was wrong.

We were about 15 minutes away from our destination. Had the car had an issue? Did the satnav say there was a problem ahead? D and I started to flap.

J headed into a barrier car park which was full. Turns out he’d “had enough” of driving about, but hadn’t really considered the consequences of going to a car park further out of town on him or us. I wasn’t impressed with the lack of thought at all.

We now had a 30-minute walk into Bruges, it was about to rain and we were all hungry. He just looked confused when I pointed this out, and it was at that moment when Jason M. Satterfield’s opening gambit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Techniques for Retraining Your Brain came into focus in my Mind’s eye, “You must first accept that people are irrational”.

We drove around the car park for a bit and eventually found a grassy place to dump the TVRs unceremoniously.

I grabbed my camera gear, D got on the sat nav and we bimbled off in the rough direction of Bruges, with me grumbling all the way.

The route took us under a highly stylised modern underpass (Fietsertunnel Station Brugge) and then over a pleasant pedestrian bridge (Passantenfietsbrug) in what looked like a wildlife area which included a river and pond.

We headed up Boeveriestraat and here the architecture started to markedly change, with much older buildings than we’d seen on the way. This led North West into a very large square with restaurants and bars, and by the looks of it the car park we wanted underneath.

I got my camera out and attached it to the tripod ready to take some shots as we wandered down Zuidzandstraat. The shops here were fairly westernised, but the buildings there were in were quite old. The road was busy with pedestrians and cyclists with the occasional car trying to come down, only to find the road was actually closed.

It started to rain. I put the camera away and we carried on. I was past hungry now, really needed a pee and in a proper mood. D sensing the mutiny about to occur deftly found a cafe on the main square and got us a table as the heavens opened. 2 minutes later we’d have been soaked and tableless, as about 2 million tourists had the same thought moments after us.

We settled ourselves in, nipped to the toilet down the world’s steepest steps and had a look at the menu. I’d not really considered what kind of food they had in Belgium and I did start to wonder what kind of disaster this might turn out to be. My mind conjured up the slop I ordered in a Polish cafe on a stag do with a hang over several years before and I prayed to whatever Saint who looked after lunch that I’d not have a similar experience.

I was delighted to see my prayers answered, this particular cafe sold cheese and ham toasties. I re-read to make sure I’d not dreamt it. Cheese and ham toasties! Yes! I was in luck. I ordered one with a coffee and sat back, content that my food couldn’t be better, I was dry and about to get caffiene.

Sure enough, the food arrived and it was perfect – just like the ones we have in Cornwall. This was awesome. The rest of the gang ordered waffles in a variety of different flavours and I sat back and watched the soggy world go by.

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