When a friend kindly invited us to a summer party at her mum's house in France, Howard and I accepted with delight and immediately started planning a road trip. Our journey would take us through Belgium, into Germany's Mosel Valley, and back out into cider country.
We took the Dover to Dunkirk ferry and made our way to the first stop, Bruges, via a supermarket to buy sausage rolls (all they had left) for a late lunch.
The centre of Bruges is car-free and the surrounding streets are narrow, cobbled, and mostly one-way. When I asked our AirBnB host about motorcycle parking, he said we'd have to use the public car park ten minutes' walk away. We parked outside the AirBnB and climbed the steep stairs with our luggage before riding off in search of parking.
When we found the car park, it didn't allow motorcycles. We asked a moped rider delivering pizza, but he didn't know the parking rules either. After going round the one-way system a couple of times we found the only official motorcycle bay we saw in the whole of Bruges, outside the chip museum. (I suspect we could have parked anywhere and got away with it, to be honest.)
We'd booked a small room at the top of a house, but the location couldn't have been better: right beside one of the canals, a few minutes' walk from the city centre. By coincidence, it was also close to a supervised swimming area with decking and lifeguards.
It was a cool evening with a threat of rain, but I wasn't going to pass up a chance like this. I got changed and swam up and down a short stretch of bright green water, watched with interest by my fellow-tourists.
Once I'd dried and showered, we headed into Bruges. Although the city was crowded, it felt very quiet and relaxed, perhaps because there were few cars. We had beers outside a bar, watching horse-drawn carriages trot past and listening to the bells of the clock tower, then repaired to a restaurant recommended by the AirBnB host for the best shrimp croquettes I have ever had (and I consider myself an expert in these matters).