RTW to no-where in particular

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RooFlyer

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Fantastic views from the top, as you can imagine. The wind was fair whistling up there though! The Markt:

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That would be the Cathedral:

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Don't know what that church is - obviously warrants investigation.

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Part of the carillon - still played:

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I got back out to the street and got the impression that chocolate was a big thing here. Boy, is it ever!! Every second or third shop.

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EestiTiger

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I am enjoying your trip report very much. I have had to add Malta onto my list. Not somewhere I have ever really thought about but your photos and commentary have convinced me! :)
 

craven morehead

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Next morning, I got a brighter-than necessary start to the day when the taxi arrived early to take me to the airport for my flight to Brussels, via Munich, Plus on a Sunday morning, the trip was only abt 15 mins, rather than the 30 mins planned, so I arrived 3.5 hrs before departure. When I looked at this flight (outside of my DONE4 of course), the flight on LH via MUC was so much cheaper than the Air Malta flight direct that i though I must have gotten a mistake fare. It wasn't but good on you LH, you get the business!! In Business :)

The terminal was quiet ...


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Then:

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The 'Valletta' Lounge at MLA is bloody good. Spacious, light, reasonable food & bev and an outside terrace:

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Boarded 15 mins early and left 10 mins early :eek: Only 3 in Business, but the rest of the A320 seemed pretty full. Bloody Euro-business, of course. Middle seats not even blocked off, just unoccupied (as was most of the cabin)

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How good is that terrace !
 

VPS

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Great TR and loving it. Bruges is beautiful and it's a shame that you had a bad experience in Brussels because they have some great little restaurants. When I was catching the train back to Brussels from Bruges I was trying to work out what platform the train left from and I asked someone and she told me. I was waiting there and had about 15 minutes and then she came looking for me to tell me that the platform had changed but of course I didn't understand the announcements. She was such a sweet young girl she got a little koala key ring.

How long did you actually spend in Malta - it does look pretty spectacular.
 

trevella

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Nice timing

 

RooFlyer

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Back to the hotel and my room was ready. Entrance to the hotel:

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the room is small but very comfy.

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This chap on the bed - for 25 euros I can take him with me ...

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I thought for a moment that these bottles had gin - wouldn't that be a lovely touch! Nah ... just plain water. :(

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But the mini bar had the good stuff - I like the class of this joint ...

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Popped into the beer museum over the road -

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... and then a beer-heavy bottle shop a few doors up:

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I bought some mead and some gin for Christmas presents.
 

RooFlyer

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OK, so I discovered that Bruges was the type of place where if you walk around you are basically taking photos of the quaint scenes, almost continuously. It is really nice, even though the weather was only average. I imagine in summer the place would be packed.

That's my hotel on the left.

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That big church tower seems to be drawing me in ...

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RooFlyer

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The big tower belongs to the Church of Our Lady, which in Wikipedia's words:

dates mainly from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. This church is essentially "...a monument to the wealth, sophistication, taste, and devotion of this most Catholic city, whose history and faith stand today celebrated in this wonderful building."

Its 115m high and is the second tallest brick tower in the world, after St. Martin's Church in Landshut, Germany.

I had a quick look inside and intended to come back and look at the museum, maybe climb the tower and view Michelangelo's 'Madonna and Child' Unfortunately I didn't get around to it ... so I now have a reason to go back. The Madonna was taken by the retreating Germans in WW2 and later discovered in a salt mine, and returned, as depicted in the film The Monuments Men.

Its a fanging big tower, isn't it? Reminds me of the Empire State Building a bit.

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Great trip report RooFlyer, really enjoying it.
We are booked into the same hotel in six months time (fingers crossed our trip is still on) after yours and a couple of other peoples recommendation, it looks just as good "in real life" as online.
 

RooFlyer

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We are booked into the same hotel in six months time (fingers crossed our trip is still on) after yours and a couple of other peoples recommendation, it looks just as good "in real life" as online.

Yes, it was pretty nice. I was after a 'quiet room', so didn't get a canal facing one. In summer, the canal cruise boats are right below the rooms on the canal, so it would get noisy. They give you a discount card on check-in - for a number of shops ... I didn't use it, but I wasn't there for long.

At the moment they are doing major road works between the rail station and the hotel, so it was a long way around in a taxi -12 euros. Going back was shorter (on way streets) - 10 euro.
 

RooFlyer

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Another pass through Markt:

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and a further walk to no where in particular found me at De Burg - another central square, with the town hall and an important church.

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The 'Gothic Hall", dating from the 14th century, with progressive modifications later

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Next to that is the 'Stadhuis', in all its gilt glory. Built 1420.
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Pity about the weather.
 

RooFlyer

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Then I noticed some people going in some doors at the corner of the Burg (RH end of the 2nd pic above).. Like I said, I hadn't done any research, so I had to investigate.

The Basilica of the Holy Blood :)

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Downstairs, an austere 12th century chapel:

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RooFlyer

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Upstairs, a wonderful church. The rectangular shape is a screen hiding some scaffolding/restoration.

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Off to one side, the relic of the church, a vial of blood, supposedly Christ's, was being displayed (no pics).

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A terrific timber-barreled ceiling
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RooFlyer

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And then the moment had arrived. Readers of my TRs would gather that I don't do much fancy food on these trips. Usually as a single its no worth spending up as you rarely get the same experience as a couple, or a group. A coughpy table in the corner or by the toilets etc.

But I had a personal recommendation for mussels and I was on a mission. De Koeste


A little family place and it was quiet when I got there at 7:15, but by 8 it was packed. Basically I ordered garlic mussels for appetiser and mussels steamed in their own juices for main.

I stuck with a dark Trappist beer throughout:

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Bread was really fresh and the prosciutto was very more-ish

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Appetiser: bliss!

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Then this appeared and things looked promising.

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Bingo.

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Done! I think they might have improved with some white wine steamed through them, but no complaints.
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Always room for ice cream.

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RooFlyer

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I haven't said much about the bloody virus. So far, I've kept ahead of it - or rather, kept ahead of strong government reaction to it, like closing borders. Where I had gone, and in particular when I had gone, the virus hadn't taken hold strongly. But it was catching up to me!

My next stop was Paris for 3 days and then I was going to rail across to Strasbourg, hire a car and drive down the east of the country, to south of Geneva where I was going to visit some rellies for the first time. Unfortunately, I'd know for some time that the east of France was becoming a virus hot-spot, including the region of my rellies, Haute Savoie (it borders Italy). I'd been in touch with them and they kept pretty positive - it was in the east of their region, not the west where they were. Yes, but by the time I reached Paris, the door clanged shut on Italy, Malta followed and the writing was on the wall.

As soon as I reached Paris I made the difficult decision to go home after Paris. I'd visit the rellies a different time. They took it graciously - I think my that time it was obvious that there would be lock-downs if not regionally, then nationally.

I took the local train to Brussels-Midi and then a high-speed Thayles train to Paris, which took about 90 minutes.

Brussels Midi is a busy place!!

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Waiting, waiting.

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My chariot. 2nd class :(

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The train was pretty packed. We arrived at Gare du Nord in Paris on time and I had a really weird deja-vu moment. The last time I was here was probably 20 years ago.

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Ages ago I booked one of the Ibis hotels near the station - a big come-down from Hotel Orangerie, I can tell you! But the price was right and it was pretty well located and you knew what you would get with an Ibis.

To be honest, it was one of the more 'basic' Ibis, but it was OK.

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First thing i did was to set about cancelling all my forward bookings. Only 1 night was non-refundable so I didn't do too bad. Madrooster set about getting me home towards the end of the week, getting a fee waiver again, so another good result. With the damage done to my super funds, I'll need all the cash I can save!
 

RooFlyer

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I've been to Paris maybe 6 times - once when I was a young bloke, as a tourist, and I had a horrible restaurant experience - waiter, language & all that. About 5 visits when I was working for the investment bank Societe Generale. They were short, business visits but we managed to have some fun - one time we took clients to the Lido, a dinner cruise on the Seine etc.

So I was happy enough for this trip just to be cruisy - no imperative to see the tourist sights, although I did have Versailles on the list, as I have never been there.

Because of my early return, I decided to do that straight away. Both Versailles and the Louvre were limiting numbers and only accepting entry of people who had on-line tickets. That wasn't a problem. I chose a noon entry as the weather wasn't great, but improving. So a walk down to the Seine from Gare du Nord ... about 35 mins.

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Notre Dame .. so sad, but they are cracking along with the repairs & restoration.

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