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On the first full day of the cruise we were at Zeebrugge. We decided we’d just take the shuttle bus to Blankenberge and wander around. We had a more enjoyable time than we expected, although quantities of Belgian beer (and wine) may have helped a bit.

At  Blankenberge we walked along to the pier and out to its end. This was a more permanent-seeming structure than most English piers I’ve been on. That said, there was little of excitement about it, although we did a good bird’s eye view of the surfers catching waves. Then we walked all the way along the promenade from the pier to the harbour entrance – well over a mile, I think. All along it are a series of holiday apartment blocks, each one about 10 floors high. They’re all the same height, so the effect is of a solid wall of buildings backing the sea. Unfortunately Blankenberge faces north or north west, so in the mornings at least the faces of these buildings are in shadow which tends to make them appear very fortress-like. There were a large number of ‘Te Koop’ signs which we eventually realized meant ‘For Sale’. Indeed, by the end of the morning Val mused that half the town seemed to be Te Koop. But before that we walked into the town along the yacht harbour and found an area with a number of bars and bistros. By now it was noon, the sun had come out, we were tired after the walking, so what could be better than a beer (and glass of wine) in an open air bar? A second one, it turned out. Then we decided that we didn’t want to return to the ship just yet so we found a bistro and had some lunch, and another glass of wine. We eventually got back at about 3:30, and made our way to the Lido deck where we had cups of tea in the Belvedere and bottles of sparkling water around the Aquarius pool. At 5 o’clock we abandoned the Lido deck for the Promenade and enjoyed a quiet departure from Zeebrugge in the sun. All in all it was an excellent day. On a practical point, P&O were running the usual free shuttle bus to Blankenberge. The last shuttle back was at 4:30, which meant that the last suitable train from Bruges was the 3:30. P&O made a point of saying this.

Tonight is formal night, so we’re getting ready to put our best togs on.

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