My friend, Dave, was given a Harley for a weekend as a leaving present. He wanted to go someplace exotic that was still a comfortable ride from home, so he chose Brugge, Belgium. His friend, Grove, also hired a Harley for the trip. They decided to let me come along, anyway, on the FJR. Our partners made six.
We (they) prayed for good weather as none of them had waterproofs. The weather in the run up to the trip had been dazzling for two weeks! The morning we left to catch the train through the Channel Tunnel, it was cold, cloudy and threatening rain. Sod’s Law.
75 miles from London, a rest while the train did its thing, then a 75-mile run to Brugge made for a pretty leisurely ride. The weather cooperated and we arrived in “the most well-preserved medieval city in Europe”. This is according to “In Bruges”, the film starring Colin Farrell. Jo and I went to see it out of curiosity when we found out we’d be staying there. What a hoot! I haven’t laughed out loud so much in a film in a very long time. Go see it.
Not the only reason to visit Brugge, but a pretty good one.
Arrival. We parked opposite our hotel. Not strictly legal, but no one bothered us for three nights.
On Friday night, we went into the centre to try to spot the scenes from the film. They made the main square look pretty cosy, when in fact it is pretty spacious. The architecture is beautiful. It’s amazing what you can do with a few bricks.
The walk into town down Langestraat. We didn’t have to tackle Flemish. Everybody spoke English. The only time we had to resort to anything else was in the Shuttle terminal in Calais.
Not all the buidings were brick.
The town is criss-crossed with canals.
We woke Saturday to the sound of pouring rain. The amateur tourers had to buy umbrellas on the walk into town. It didn’t stop until well after lunch and even with umbrellas we got wet. It was a day for indoor pursuits. Guess what the girls chose? A visit to the chip museum – Belgian fries (do not say French fries). We paid five Euros each for admission and still had to pay for fries at the end of the trip. They had pictures of oddly shaped potatoes and lots of really interesting “did you know?” facts about spuds. Oh, did I moan.
But, I have to admit: the Belgian fries we ate in the museum were excellent. And, it had stopped raining when we finally got out.
Sunday, the sun was shining. We saddled up and went for a day trip:
We stuck to the B-roads. Once you get off the motorway in Belgium, the speed limits are slow and largely radar-controlled. It was slow going, perfect for Harleys. South of Zomergem, we spotted this estate through the woods:
It was real Disneyland stuff, but private and clearly posted as such. There were also plenty of honking geese to alert the owners to trespassers. We took some photos from the gates until the grounds keepers showed up to feed the geese.
We stopped in Sluis, because the working windmill and busy thoroughfare made the town look interesting. The windmill was a restaurant and the town was busy because (I am guessing here) it is the only town in the region that allows Sunday shopping. We all remarked that there seemed to be a disproportionate number of sex shops on the high street.
Alison, Lisa, Grove, Dave and Joanna in Sluis.
Monday, we made the trip back home. It was uneventful and the weather held. However, I was glad I’d decided to wear my waterproofs as it was pretty cold. I was grateful for the FJR’s warm grips. I’ve never had the thermostat off the lowest setting, but the grips were nicely warmed. What a luxury.
The Harley riders were unanimous. They might own Harleys if they could have more than one bike. (But, they couldn't decide what the second bike would be.) You can’t deny the Harley's charisma/character. But, the boys were not comfortable going faster than 70 mph, they were unimpressed with the power and the girls were cold and very uncomfortable after less than 50 miles.