Tag Archive | canals

Taking the Slow Road

When travelling in Europe it’s possible to get from one place to the next in a very short time. There are planes, ICE trains and fast ferries. But once we’ve arrived at our destination we like to enjoy our surroundings at a much slower pace.

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The canal system around Bruges is perfect for slow travelling. When trading was in its heyday in the 16th century the canals were filled with barges and merchant ships. Now they’ve been replaced by boats full of admiring tourists; and during the day it seems as busy as ever. So we plan our escape to a more peaceful destination.

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The tiny village of Damme is a mere six kilometres from Bruges but it may as well be a world away. To get from Bruges to Damme there is a perfectly good road and also a cycle and walking path that follows the canal bank. We decide to take the most relaxing way and buy €10.50 round trip tickets for the paddle boat Lamme Goedzak.

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The 35 minute journey gives us the time to appreciate the beautiful scenery on either side of the canal as we sail along. Lush farmland and pretty cottages are interspersed with woodlands and windmills.

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There’s the occasional waterbird and plenty of contented farm animals in the fields.

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As we pass by, we wave to those on the path who are more energetic than we are.

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When the boat arrives at Damme and ties up at the tiny wharf, we will stroll into the Markt along a cobbled street past ancient buildings.

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At the end of the day we’ll return to bustling Bruges … and we’ll sit back, relax and let the boat captain do all the work.

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The Venice of the North

It’s easy to travel around when visiting Bruges. You can drive a car on all but the narrowest of cobblestone streets in the centre of town.

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Bicycles can go anywhere, and parking is never a problem.

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For an old world feel take a slow carriage ride along the bustling thoroughfares and quieter back streets.

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However, for a completely different perspective on this beautifully preserved city, you must go on a canal boat ride.

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At first glance it seems a little ‘touristy” but at €7.60, a half hour cruise along the canals of Bruges is not just great value. It’s also great fun.

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The boats sail come rain or shine and there are dozens of them on the canals every day.

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Their captains tell the stories of the medieval buildings and the people who lived in them in centuries past, the ancient bridges and the canals themselves. Bruges is sometimes known as “The Venice of the North” and when the little boats filled with people gazing upwards in wonder sail up and down the waterways it’s not hard to see why.

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At the end of the day, when the boat rides finish, the water stills and the canals become restful.

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Then the best way to see Bruges is on foot!

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