We started our trip with an afternoon at the Place Royale in Brussels where we went to a church designed to resemble a Roman temple and had a good look around the Musee d'Art Ancien (but only after our first Belgian beer, two bottles of cherry Belle Vue). They had hidden the Rubens 'because of the continued negative conditions' which explained precisely nothing to K. In Gent we heard marvellous live music in the two cathedrals and went on a boat ride in the rain. We didn't mind as we were quite dry under colourful umbrellas. Our guide was very informative but made no comment about the fact that one resident en route had suspended a banner describing tourist boat tours as 'noise terrorism'. We loved the Design Museum especially Dirk Wynants' outdoor furniture.
Next day K needed to make a pilgrimage to the new Herge museum - the man who wrote and drew the Tintin children's graphic novels. This was extensive and, for K, enthralling. We walked in the gardens at Freyr, had beer and cheese at Maredsuis Abbey and the 'Market Menu' at a great little roadside tavern.
On Sunday we crossed the border into The Netherlands to look at the tulips at Keukenhof. These were more beautiful than it is possible to believe even as you gaze upon them in rapt wonder. We spent the evening in Haarlem where the inhabitants marked Queen Beatrix's birthday at the funfair and in the bars whilst we celebrated in our own way at the magnificent De Lachende Javaan restaurant (highly recommended).
The next day the weather had cheered up so we headed up to the to Zwin nature reserve where amorous storks were much in evidence.
We then enjoyed Pater Van Damme beer brewed in the charming town of Damme. Dinner back at Gent with chef Phil Sicker demonstrating his skill at making the city's classic stew waterzooi. Yum, yum.
We would advise everyone to visit Belgium and glut themselves into a happy stupor of art, of food, of friendship.