We left home at 8.30am - a very civilised hour! The drive to Folkestone was uneventful and good. We managed to get an earlier train and were soon in France. Richard had said that he was happy to drive to and from Folkestone but didn't want to drive in Europe so I drove off the shuttle and we headed to Ghent. The roads were good though the speed limits were a bit complicated as they kept changing for no apparent reason - thank goodness for the satnav.
As we arrived in Ghent things got a bit more complicated - the sat nav did her bit but the road I wanted to take was pedestrianised so I drove on while Penny desperately tried to find the actual address of the Marriott. (Penny had done all the bookings and had left the paperwork in Devon!). We went back and drove down the pedestrianised street and asked for directions. The hotel has a door onto the canal which is their address but the main door is round the back - typical. We checked in and found lovely rooms (€60 per room extra for a canal view which we didn't take up!) but didn't linger choosing to have a beer or two outside. It was really lovely and busy - we must have sat there for a good hour before going off to find dinner. At this point I should add that Jim broke his ankle back in April and has only been out of plaster for just over two weeks and he found the cobbled streets very hard going. We wandered around trying to find the right place and somehow ended up in a Thai restaurant - it wasn't like the Thais in the UK as we normally choose a set menu but it didn't seem to work like that but what we had was very good. We walked the long way round back to the hotel where P & J went to bed while Richard and I sat outside the hotel having a nightcap.
Saturday 7th June
We packed up our bags and left them in the luggage store while we went in search of breakfast. We had spotted a likely place last night so went there and had a wonderful breakfast. The men had a set breakfast whereas Penny and I had yogurt, granola and fresh fruit salad between us followed by blueberry pancakes - scruuumy!
Next was a canal boat trip - yup we can't keep away from the water! It was very interesting and we learnt a lot but I loved the fact that the Marriott had been a brewery and then a tavern which had not only sold beer but ladies of disrepute too - how did we know this? There were two swans over the door whereas one swan indicated just a tavern! The architecture of the houses is beautiful - it reminded me very much of Amsterdam with individual terraced tall houses with lovely windows. We split up after the boat trip. Richard and I wandered around eventually making it to the Cathedral after stopping to listen to some excellent buskers. I was rather disappointed with the Cathedral but was blown away by Van Eyck's The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb which he painted in 1432 - that was well worth the €4 we had to pay. R and I then walked over to the port and found all the leisure boats - no narrow boats there though NB Matilda Rose and WB Avalon had been there a few weeks ago. We met up again with P & J and unfortunately Penny had tripped over and was very shaken but other than bruises she was OK. We had a light lunch, and while packing the car Jim managed to have an accident by trying to sit on the luggage trolley and it rolled away from under him so he landed on his bottom and has hurt his hip. Eventually we bundled the invalids into the car and set off for Germany. Getting out of Ghent was interesting as the sat nav, of course, took us the shortest way down little narrow cobbled streets but we were soon out of the city and zooming down the motorway. I used cruise control for the first time and towards the end of the motorway I was finding it hard to keep my eyes open. Our apartment is in the Eifel National Park and some of the last part of the journey was through the park - the poor sat nav was really struggling and had us off road for a good part of the time!
Our apartment is lovely with two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a balcony with a wonderful view. However it was so hot when we arrived - over 30 degrees the receptionist said. We unpacked and opened a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate our arrival. We weren't too sure where we would eat but went down into Germunder and found a restaurant where we could sit outside - their speciality is pork and the plateful was huge and extremely good. Penny and I then went and did some food shopping - it is a bank holiday tomorrow and Monday and the food shops will be closed. It was then back to the apartment for an earlyish night.