I spent a couple of days in Bruges this week.
As ever one of the most attractive places on my list of places I like visiting a lot and I was lucky enough in November to choose some cold but bright and sunny days. I always stay at the very well organised spot at the coach park next to the marina which is barely a five minute walk through a small park on the edge of the town and before you know it, you are in amongst it all.
The startling element of this visit however was just how quiet it was – all due to the terrorism threat. One of the restaurants I used said the telephone was ringing non-stop with cancellations and just walking around the streets revealed a semi-empty almost eerie atmosphere. A football match between Bruges and Napoli was on during my visit. Normally it would generate 1500 travelling Italian supporters – not one this year.
I am sure over time things will recover and of course governments rightly have to protect their citizens and warn people to stay away from public transport and large shopping areas as was the warning from the Belgian Prime Minister while I was there. But if we need any reminding, it reminds us of the far reaching effect the fear of terrorism has on us all.
The usually open border between France and Belgium on the main road between Dunkirk and Bruges was far from open. Traffic was taken off via a roundabout in either direction with heavily armed police and soldiers in evidence resulting in an hour’s delay in one direction but fortunately very little returning from Belgium back into France.
Personally I am not going to allow this to reduce my love of travel – but of course I will exercise caution and be on my guard.
Why should I give in to the terrorists?