From Brussels, we took a local train to Bruges where we intended to spend the afternoon seeing the cute canals, squares, and shops, but it turned out that everything was closed because it was a national holiday. On the plus side, there was a huge stage in the main plaza with music/entertainment, so we picked out a nearby patio and had dinner while watching the show.
Bruges To Ghent
We cycled about 50 km from Bruges to Ghent along another super flat, scenic path, away from the main roads.
We spent the first day wandering the city’s parks, huge square, and eating yummy food!
After slight hesitating, we decided to pay the admission and enjoyed a lovely chill afternoon lounging in the warm sun sipping rum and watching bartender competitions in Polish. They gave out free cigars and poured samples of many different rums from around the world. The 2 we enjoyed the most were:
1) "A. H. Riise" from Denmark
2) "PuntaCana" from the Dominican Republic
When we arrived outside the “secret” location, we snapped a few pictures before sealing our phones and proceeding through security. We were transported to Montmartre, Paris, 1899, where the elaborate sets and actors allowed us to actually experience the characters and atmosphere of the Moulin Rouge.
We spent about 2 hours eating/drinking and wandering through the interactive world that was filled with actors playing out their characters and performing acts on various stages. Eventually they gathered everyone into a big parade through the "streets" and transported us into the Moulin Rouge viewing area to watched the actual movie. During the movie, the interactive actors continued to re-enact various scenes and performances in parallel. After the film, most people stuck around to continue drinking and dancing.
It’s a pretty pricey event, but the unique experience made it worthwhile.
We wandered the old town and stopped for dinner at “Tanjga Family Restaurant” since our Airbnb host said they had really good BBQ. We weren’t sure it was the right place as felt more like a butcher shop, but the guys behind the counter helped us pick out some the different meats and salads, and sent us to sit in the garden at the back. It totally felt like the perfect backyard BBQ - they brought out a huge sharing platter of chicken breast/leg, ribeye, sausages, bacon, burger, salads, sauces, bread. What a feast! The fun friendly staff, atmosphere, and delicious food were just perfect!
We took an early morning train and had a delicous breakfast at "Rosarios" in Bath. Then rode the cycle path to Bristol encountering long dark tunnels, pretty views of the country side, and an old heritage steam-powered locomotive along the way.
We dropped our bikes off at the hostel in Bristol and explored around town. A lot of Bristol was destroyed during the second world war, so it's generally a city with a more modern feel, but there are still some older surviving areas and markets that that were worth visiting including the really nice walkway along the river.
Besides taking Dom’s mom and aunt to Ireland, Cambridge, and Canterbury, we also showed them some of our favourite areas in London.
Less than 50 meters from our place is the Marylebone Farmers Market, which occurs every Sunday from 10:00 to 14:00. It’s fairly small, but we often go there for our weekly vegetable, bread, milk, and butter supplies. Charlotte and Celine bought some delicious quiches and chilli sauce.
The only thing we knew about Cambridge was that it’s one of the 2 major university towns in the UK. Luckily, we found a really interesting free walking tour where they told us many interesting facts:
Our guide was quite opinionated about the difficult history for women at Cambridge. We were pretty surprised to later find out that Cambridge actually still has 3 colleges that only admit women. Apparently they're now re-assessing their stance on admissions for transgender students who identify with the female gender.