DAY 3 and DAY 4

10-11 September 2018 – Belgium
Dunkirk to Bruges to Brussels

HANGRY: When one is hungry and angry. This is how Day 3 started. We arrived in Bruges at 3pm with only one black coffee in our bellies since the entirety of Dunkirk appeared closed, despite it being a work day.

The drive to Bruges was uneventful, flat, and the only landmark showing we’d crossed into Belgium was a Leonidas chocolate shop. We’ll move on…

Bruges is like a biscuit box of beautiful gingerbread houses, unspoiled by all the tourism and only one-way cobbled streets, which means navigating our way through it was challenging to say the least. Our hosts were Annalie and Michel Vanhoonacker who had read our story in the Cheltenham Ladies’ College alumni newsletter and offered us accommodation despite never having met us. Such kindness meant we had a safe place to park the tuk tuk (only after waiting for the Turkish workmen to slowly move the diggers and pose for a photo with the tuk tuk that was going to their homeland) and a comfortable bed for the night.

The day in Bruges was as one might imagine: beer tasting, waffle tasting, chip tasting, chocolate tasting. We were impressed by the blue whale made out of discarded plastic leaping out of the canal.

The evening in Bruges saw us adorn Sumo with fairy lights and set off on a night safari. It seems we can do quite a lot unchallenged in a tuk tuk, as we managed to whizz past the Belfry in the main Markt Square, only open to horse and carriage, without anyone batting an eyelid. After realising we were not good night-time photographers we called it quits and headed home.


The cross-country journey from Bruges to Ghent was very windy and very smelly – none of us appreciated just how many cows there are in Belgium! Rachel managed to lose herself in a maize field (don’t ask us how!), but what she lacked in direction she made up for in eating after discovering the local Ghent specialty, Cuberdon or Gentse Neus (little nose in Dutch), which were raspberry flavoured, oversized jelly babies. Ghent is very different to Bruges with gothic architecture, open squares and cathedrals aplenty – let’s put it this way…we were not expecting to eat lunch in an Alice in Wonderland themed café.

The drive from Ghent to Brussels was miserable and tiring – straight, ugly, lots of traffic and absolute mayhem when we arrived in the capital at rush hour. Wrong turn after wrong turn was about to put strain on the, so far, quite good family relations, until we managed to (wrongly) turn onto the road with the Palais de Bruxelles and take this picture: 




Day 4 and we are in the comfort of another Vanhoonaker’s home, whether Annanlie and Michelle strong-armed their family or not, we will never know, but the lovely Isabelle and Gilles welcomed us into their home despite us arriving on their doorstep a day earlier than they expected (who is to blame is TBD!).

Sponsor for Belgium: Nyama Mama KE – award winning restaurant group in Nairobi, Kenya serving modern African fusion cuisine. Here we all are sporting their t-shirts. 

Tuk Tuk Trivia:

 Number of people James has spoken to in French: 1 (surprising given how keen he was to show off previously!)
 Number of times Rachel left the tuk tuk indicator on: 73
 Number of times Rachel drove on the wrong side of the road: 2
 Number of fritjes eaten: Too many

National Drink: Beer – 10/10 for the Bruges Blonde beer, but the cherry and coconut beers left a lot to be desired (0/10)

Low Point of the Day: Bharat decided to give Amy 2,000 more grey hairs by leading her onto the (forbidden) motorway and then take 10 years off everyone’s lives by taking the tuk tuk through the disgustingly polluted, endless, tunnels that run under Brussels. Amy’s still complaining about her wheezing…

Dunce of the Days:
Day 3: Bharat – left the tuk tuk keys dangling in the petrol cap, left the passports and money in the car overnight and thought Belgians spoke “Flanders”.
Day 4: Bharat (we sense a pattern…) – see “Low Point of the Day”, outfoxed by his own route planning (started going back the way we came), and took almost every opportunity to show off to our hosts about his friend’s “wulture” research (turns out his pronunciation of “vulture” left everyone confused).