In Bruges (or is it in Brugge?)

By Alistair Richardson

I ask the taxi driver on the way to the hotel as to the correct spelling and pronunciation of Bruges. In faultless English he says, “Well, some people call the city Brugge, which is an anagram of bugger.” I reflect that the average  taxi-driver in our home town thinks that an anagram is something to do with heart surgery.
Our hotel is about ten minutes walk from the city centre, unless its us doing the walking and then its half an hour because we keep getting lost.
The hotel receptionist is gorgeous, multi-lingual, charming, helpful and did I mention she was gorgeous? I immediately resolve to return to this city of beautiful women when I’m 30 years younger and equipped with a spare set of genitals. I’m cruelly pulled out of this blissful revere by my significant other who thoughtfully forces my gaping mouth shut, wipes the drool off my chin and threatens to tell the receptionist about the efficacy of restraining orders.
Top tourist tip: While everyone in Bruges, including the cats and dogs, speak perfect English, it’s as well to try out a few phrases like, “Here’s all my money, just take it.” You’ll find that the locals appreciate the effort. Be prepared to spend most of your time looking at the price tags on consumables and crying: “How xxxxxx’ much?” as the prospect of personal bankruptcy looms.
Famous for beer Bruges is. In terms of strength it starts off at about 5% by volume, which, according to the locals, means that you can safely use it as a substitute for formula milk if required. More serious beer drinkers are advised to consider “Duvel”, which the locals pronounce “Duffel.” Highly appropriate that, since after a few of these , your head feels exactly like someone’s slapped the hood of a duffel coat on it and tied it really tight. Alcohol by volume: a million, squillion, gazillion.
A city of churches. We happened upon one cathedral that appeared to boast a Caravaggio just, like, hanging there. My plans to return equipped with a ladder and a clever plan involving my SO creating a suitable diversion were scrubbed on being tactfully told that the painting was only “after Caravaggio”. A cheap bloody copy in other words.
A city of canals. We took a boat trip on the watery arteries of this perfectly preserved medieval city. Apparently, the reason Bruges looks the way it does is that the city went into decline sometime in the past (sorry, I’m not good at dates) and there was no money to build anything new.
Eventually, someone thoughtfully invented tourism, and now there’s so much money that the locals have taken to demolishing perfectly good medieval buildings and putting up exact copies just for something to do.
A city of lace. Mainly doily things that your Granny would love and shop windows full of really creepy looking dolls. Weird.
A city of chocolate. Be prepared to endure battalions of the uterinely-advantaged looking in chocolate shop windows and emitting a low groaning sound. That’s shops that sell chocolate by the way, not shops made of chocolate. Shops made of chocolate would melt in the sun or be eaten by women, I mean, it just wouldn’t work would it?
We stayed at the Hotel Jacobs, Bailiestrat1, Bruges. Bookings are per room, from Euro70.