Saturday 12th May – Cruising up the Lokanaal to Veurne was absolutely beautiful – lovely sunny day, no other boat traffic and very attentive lock keepers to open the 2 locks and 5 lifting bridges. Its not a big canal, reminiscent of the Canal des Vosges in France. Just lovely!
Entrance to the moorings at Veurne is interesting as the lock is at 180 degrees to the direction in which we were travelling – interesting U- turns for both boats – and the lock just about long enough for the two of us. We got round and through and moored on a long pontoon together. We don’t seem to have had any problems mooring the 2 boats even though we are about 40 metres long altogether!
Veurne is a small town with a pretty central square surrounded by typical Belgian buildings with gabled roofs. We ate out on Saturday evening in the square. Busy place, very good food but, for once, a snotty waitress! So unusual in Belgium as we have always had friendly service before. On Sunday Adrian and I decided to play tourists, visiting the Cathedral, Town Hall and museum. Unlike so many places we have visited in the Westhoek area Veurne was not totally destroyed during the First World War so that the buildings not only look old, they are old!
The Stadhuis (Town Hall), built in the Flemish renaissance style, dates back to the 15th century. The walls in the wedding room are lined with tooled leather (18th century) & the Blue room is lined with blue ‘camelotte’ relief velvet.
The Cathedral has impressive stained glass windows – Just love stained glass windows!
The Vrij Vaderland (Free Fatherland) museum, housed in the former Town & Viscounty Hall, does not focus on the battlefields but on the last remaining section of Belgium that was not occupied by the Germans – the Belgium sector. Veurne was the only unoccupied Belgian city. From here King Albert I, former king of the Belgians and head of the army, succeeded in withstanding the German occupying forces. He was clearly a ‘hands on’ monarch and visited and led the Belgian forces himself. His wife, Queen Elizabeth, was also very involved in the war effort supporting hospitals and schools in the area. Marie Curie and her daughter also came to the hospitals here, helping the patients and staff and bringing an early x-ray machine (La Petite Curie).
After a hard afternoon’s touristing we rewarded ourselves with a really delicious gauffre in one of the cafes on the square!