I’m just back from Bruges, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It’s full of canals, bridges, restaurants and is famous for high quality chocolates.

Bruges’ two central squares are the Market and the Burg which is older and grander. Pride of place is the City Hall and in the south corner is the Heilig Bloedbasiliek - the Basilica of the Holy Blood. It’s two chapels, one on top the other, built in honour of a sacred relic, a phial alleged to contain Christ’s blood, brought back from the Holy Land in the 12th Century. I had the privilege of seeing the relic when I was there. On Ascension Day every year the relic is carried through the streets of Bruges.

Another church to see Onze-Leive-Vrouwekerk, The Church of Our Lady, which is filled with treasures. Among them is the marble Madonna and Child by Michaelangelo from 1504. I also visited the Begijnhof, maybe the best surviving example of a Beguinage, a cluster of small homes for religious women dating from medieval times. I had a wander through the lovely peaceful walled gardens.

A boat tour is an excellent way to view the city’s fine architecture. Bruges has some great restaurants and my recommendation for that special evening is Le Mystique at Hotel Heritage, which is family owned. The chef Koenraad Steenkiste is highly experienced and has worked at Michelin starred restaurants. This is cuisine at its best. I had a superb evening, great presentation and I met Koenraad at the end of my evening. A lovely guy. Another fine restaurant, completely different, very rustic, is Pomperlut. It was very good food with great atmosphere.

I also went to the Groeninge museum. The gallery is small but is the one to see. There’s a gruesome painting by Gerard David called the Judgement of Cambyses, 1498. You can see it in my photos, in the travel section on Bruges.

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