Last weekend we took a short city-break to get away from London for a bit and managed to find somewhere even colder to go in late November: Belgium. We spent a positively brassic 3 days and 4 nights in Bruges, Ghent and Brussels. I must say that due to the weather I never really felt like I got into my photographic groove – when it wasn't (below) freezing and overcast with dull winter half-light, it was heaving down with snow or gale-force winds. But I managed to get a few shots anyway, and a couple of them turned out to be decent.
Ahh, Bruges, the chocolate-box, over-touristed town of a thousand clichés and contradictions, at once beautiful and twee, mentioned in breathy tones by most people of a certain age until they actually go and remember that every other shop either sells chocolate or lace, and that the 300-beer tavern you remember from that backpacking trip when you were 20 is still, well, full of 20 year old backpackers with braying, twangy voices, comparing the chocolate and lace they have only just then purchased. Oof. Still, we drank well and ate very well, we managed to crack off a few shots and I even managed a panorama on the 2nd night before the weather set in and I was forced to abandon the night's shooting due to a sudden blizzard. I revisited some shots I'd first taken as far back as 1994, but with an added digital element this time round.
I was happy to get the following panoramic shot of the classic Bruges canal / belfry shot. This was achieved by shooting 4 vertically-oriented shots using my Canon 17-40mm F4L at around 35mm and then stitching them together with Photoshop when I got home. The result is almost pin sharp, and I have a feeling this one may end up on my wall…
Eventually the ever-increasing hordes of tourists combined with a Belgian-beer-inspired hangover drove us out of Bruges and we fled east to Ghent through the snow-shrouded Flemish landscape…
After the madness of Bruges the calm streets and canals of Ghent seemed almost deserted in comparison. But we really liked this slower pace and felt that it was a more "authentic" place, whatever that means.
In Ghent we came across an alleyway almost entirely given over to graffiti: tagging mostly but a bit of street art in the mix.
For the final night we repaired to Brussels so we could be in place for the Monday morning Eurostar. We had fun in the Christmas Market in Place St Katherine, including going up on the massive Ferris wheel….
All in all a fun little weekend outing.