This years ‘Tourists on tour’ trip took us to the stunning city of Bruges, travelling on P&O’s The Pride of York from Hull to Zeebrugge on a two night vintage cruise!
Well what a fabulous time we had. We travelled all the way from the south east of England to the port of Hull leaving our car at the convenient dockside car park (parking is just £16 for the two nights) and immediately saw lots of fellow vintage travellers hauling their cases over to the terminal. (You always need choices). Everyone looked fantastic in their 40s and 50s attire. The range of outfits was just as you’d find at any vintage festival. Men in smart suits and hats, ladies in tweeds and furs, or swing dresses and petticoats. It was an eclectic mix of styles.
Slight hiccup when we confessed to having some alcohol in our case, which we duly had to take back to the car – (rookie error) but after a short wait in the departure terminal listening to The Swing Commanders to get us in the mood, we were heading to our fabulous cabin to unpack. We were pleasantly surprised with the layout, with a great shower and traditional wooden dressing table and of course a porthole!
We could have happily wiled away some hours in there but we needed to find some much needed gin at the bar!! And what a surprise that was too! Despite having a ‘captive’ audience, the bar prices were really cheap! Hoorah!
After a lovely dinner in a peaceful restaurant decorated with pictures of P&O cruise liners of the past we got changed into our finery and decided to take a few vintage inspired snaps around the ship.
The decor is of course very modern but there are glimpses of a bygone era, around the staircases in particular and the art work hanging on the walls. There were definite moments when you felt you could really have gone back in time – an Art Deco feel.
Then to complete our evening we headed back to the bar to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the evenings entertainment of fabulous music from the 40s and 50s by The Swing Commanders, Maggie Hush and DJ Murray Rose.
So many people were up dancing they were moving out into the adjacent cafe! Everyone looked splendid, but we retired to our cabin around 10pm so we could get a good nights sleep and feel refreshed for a full day in Bruges.
We had a lovely calm overnight crossing and were up bright and early to hop onto the pre-arranged coach into Bruges, where we breakfasted in one of the many cafes and deposited a Vintage Tourists business card under the glass table top alongside cards and photos that other people had left from around the globe. They did a fab light breakfast for just €5 and that set us up for a morning of walking around the historical city centre, where we enjoyed a sunny but chilly day wandering around the beautiful cobbled streets, admiring the Flemish architecture and sampling delicious local dishes (more of that in a moment).
The Dijver flea market runs along one of many picturesque canal banks, where local traders sell all sorts of fascinating treasures from the past and some locally made crafts. It’s not a huge market but we picked up some lovely old postcards from the early 20th century which made perfect souvenirs of our trip.
We did consider a tandem tour of the city but in the end we opted for one of the many boat trips that take you through the canals, ducking under one or two extremely low bridges to take in the history of Bruges. It was a great way to see some of the parts of the city that you might miss on foot and our ‘captain’ was very entertaining in his dialogue. €10 well spent!
Next it was time for a Belgian beer and a coffee before more exploring.
Belgium is famous for its beer and there are several breweries in the city, alongside traditional lace makers and of course the amazing chocolate shops. We lunched at the Mozarthuys Brasserie having a traditional Flemish dish of beef stew and apple sauce (not forgetting the famous Belgian chips) It was delicious. We’d highly recommend eating here. The staff were extremely helpful and pleasant and if you can get a seat outside it is the perfect sun trap on a sunny day.
After some more exploring and shopping (for chocolate) we stumbled along an amazing little shop on a side street that was filled with pictures, postcards, photographs, letters and memorabilia from the past. It was a little treasure trove of social history. And the lovely chap gave us a beautiful little snap of two ladies from the past who could quite easily have been enjoying a tour just like ours.
Then it was back on the coach for 5pm ready to set sail and enjoy more evening entertainment for our overnight crossing back to Hull.
We spent a really pleasant evening chatting to a wonderful couple who have been on the vintage circuit for years, and they gave us lots of tips for future events to attend and a couple of places to buy some great vintage pieces.
Then after a somewhat rocky overnight trip back to Hull we were soon saying our goodbyes to our fellow travellers and driving back home.
We really would recommend the cruise to anyone who enjoys a bit of vintage fun, particularly if you enjoy the music and a dance. Oh and we forgot to mention that a pop up hair salon with hair and make up by Julia Jeckell and Michaela at Edelweiss hair and make up was onboard too!
The cruise is an annual event and the destination for next year may change, but it’s worth giving their Facebook page a follow for updates and more information.
Until next time…..
The VT’s xx