Ok alright, you got me. My planned trip to Bruges may or may not have stemmed from my slight obsession with Colin Farrell and the 2008 movie, In Bruges. Unlike the rather simple rookie hit-man of Farrell’s character Ray (“I didn’t even know where Bruges fucking was.”), I had some inkling that the fairy-tale city was located in Belgium, the land of chocolate. Satisfied with my background research and without hesitation, I rallied up a handful of friends, acted out several of my most favourite (and highly politically incorrect) scenes from the movie, and successfully lured them into forking out £36 for return flights from Edinburgh. My Irish accent combined with Colin-esque eyebrow acrobatics were obviously impressive enough to seal the deal.
Bruges in January is supposedly spectacular: off-season leaves the old town feeling quaint, with no queues of portly Americans holding up the queue to climb the tower – I just can’t resist a nod towards my most favourite scene of the movie…- and canals peacefully free from the boat traffic that overwhelms the summer months. There has even been a rumour that the old market square may still be frozen over and open for ice skating. Oh boy. As our travelling party consists of one and a half art historians – Annie is a fully-fledged art major, whereas I put a few modules under my belt in first year- , we will absolutely spend an afternoon in the Groeningemuseum, admiring the plentiful works of Flemish and Belgian art on display.
Because we are ravenous students (when aren’t we hungry?), the lure of beer and chocolate quite possibly sold the trip more than my most-rehearsed character impersonations. Not quite the post-Christmas detox, we fully intend to pack in several brewery tours and continue the holiday hangover by sampling as many of the 300-odd beer concoctions as physically possible. And because every dedicated drinker knows to line one’s stomach, ample chocolate – some may say, enough to sink a small ship – will likewise be consumed with great fervour.
Packing a bag small enough to qualify under the hand-luggage allowance guidelines, yet with enough goodies to keep me fuelled for five whole days is going to be a challenge. Although tragically now too late, I had the sudden urge to make myself a ‘When in Bruges’ t-shirt (embezzled with an image of the partly-dazed Ray), and pack no other luggage. Take that low-budget airline. In my dreams I would be walking through the historic cobbled streets, warmed by the several beers over dinner, and by chance stumble upon the modest film crew of ‘Back in Bruges’. Wearing my epic fan t-shirt, how would Colin ever resist?