Daughter in law, Granddaughter and I have just returned from a visit to the Christmas market in Bruges. It was my fifth visit to Bruges, though never so late in the year so the Christmas market was a first. This pretty medieval city of around a quarter of a million inhabitants is the capital of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium.
Leaving home at around 8am, we drove towards Southampton, stopping later for breakfast. At least, that was the idea. The reality was thick hot chocolate with whipped cream and golden chocolate nuggets – lovely to start with but too sickly for me to finish. Nevertheless it was a nice way to break the journey before we drove the last twenty miles or so.
In the departure lounge we waited for only around a quarter of an hour (so much less tedious than flying) before we were called to the desk to have our tickets checked and id cards issued. Ten minutes later we were through customs and boarding P&O’s Ventura ship where we had an early lunch in the self service restaurant – somewhere that Husband and I tend to avoid, but it was only fair that the others experienced as much as was possible.
Our spacious cabin (it impressed Granddaughter by having two televisions!) would be home for the next two nights. To welcome our arrival was a bottle of champagne and a box of Belgian chocolates. The cabin steward turned the sofa-bed in the sitting area into Granddaughter’s bed whilst we were at dinner each evening and she was further impressed by the chocolate that appeared on the pillow each evening. The photo of the cabin is actually one taken some time ago as it better captures the space than the ones I took of the now refurbished cabin. I felt that the new decor was a bit bland compared to the previous jewel colours. The weather was mild enough to stand out on the balcony for a while and watch the comings and goings in port. It was dark by the time we left Southampton. We were so lucky that the sea was calm – so much so that only once during the entire weekend, and then momentarily, did we feel any movement on the ship. Granddaughter said that she couldn’t believe that she was on a boat!
I’d thought that on this cruise we’d have been a little too early to see the ship decorated for Christmas but we were so pleased to see that it was. The magnificent Christmas trees and decorations really made it really special. This P&O photo from last Christmas shows how magnificent the atrium looks when decorated, and is much better than any of the pictures I took myself.
Since I have been on Ventura a number of times, it was exciting to show the others all my favourite spots. Granddaughter especially liked the Moroccan-themed Tamarind Bar with its enormous chandelier.
In the evenings, after dinner in the serviced restaurant, we experienced a variety of entertainment including a scaled down west-end type show, and a Bruno Mars tribute act. Daughter in law is a big fan of Mars and proclaimed him ‘very good’. I didn’t know a lot about him but have since discovered that he’s released 27 successful singles and sold over 100 million records worldwide.
Here is one of several dining rooms and the 770 seater theatre (larger than the one in my home town). In a day or two, I’ll post about some pictures of Bruges.