Zeebrugge, Belgium

No overnight stop here, just a quick visit to an awesome attraction.  Toby put B-143, a Russian submarine on the map ages ago so even though we actually need to go inland from Bruges, we nipped to the coast for the afternoon to visit the submarine. We don’t normally post lots of photos on the blog, suffice to say that T has hundreds of photos of submarine interiors, so you have a lucky escape here!

This is a 100 meter long foxtrot class submarine.  Foxtrot subs were developed between 1954 and 1981 and were based largely on German technology which the USSR inherited after the war.  75 seaman would have served on the sub, and it is bloody cramped! They were also sold to nations such as Cuba, Libya, India and Poland.  Foxtrots even played a part in the Cuban missile crisis.

What is interesting is that the sub is almost untouched – it was decommissioned in June 1991 and not too much has been stripped out and even things like the torpedo computer is still intact.  Time has taken its toll on the sub, and although it looks shabby on the outside, it was great spending an hour or so clambering around inside, flicking switches and generally developing a great big grin. We only learned after leaving Zebrugge and checking up the Wikipedia page for the foxtrot class, that the sub is due to be scrapped in 2019 as it’s condition is degrading too much to leave it in the water.  So visit it while you can!

The same seafront museum also has a lightship, so we explored that, then back to Mothership for the trip to Ghent.

Milan, Italy

We arrived at the Agrotourismo site mid-afternoon.  Too late to go into town so instead we stocked up the food and drink mine and then enjoyed an evening of British TV – We are far enough north now for the ‘tight’ UK only satellite footprint to spread to us. It was great to watch some ‘prime time’ BBC TV – paid for by the 1977 TV licence fee.  Does anyone know what they have done with the rest of the money?

On Sunday we spent the day in Milano.  We had lots of things on the list but we managed to be pretty unsuccessful at the planned things – damn those queues.

We wanted to see ‘The Last Supper’ but it’s sold out for the next three weeks – fail!  Instead, we went to see the church where it resides. We wanted to see inside the Duomo, but the queue was hours long, so we satisfied ourselves with a view of the outside – still pretty impressive!

We walked around the Sforzesco Castle and then the Sempione Park behind it – a great walk around an urban garden.  Then we went up the Torre “Branca” – a 100-meter tower built in 1933.

Our last visit for the day was to the Science museum – Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia. T really wanted to see their Enigma machine – but guess what – it was not on display!  

Instead, they have a good collection of Theo Jansen Strandebeesten – including a running demo – so that was awesome.  They also had the Carabinieri demonstrating a bomb disposal robot so we spent some time watching that too! The museum is a great visit although it has a pretty eccentric layout and we got lost many times!

Back to the mothership early evening. On the way back we spotted what looked like an enormous rat down by a small stream.  We had already spotted rats there earlier in the day, but as the glance was of a massive beast we hung around and got some great views of the massive buggers.  We later found out that the big ‘rats’ are Coypu – originally from South America and accidentally released in other parts of the world after being farmed for fur.  

Then to the van for a homemade pizza and a Bond film.  Early start the next day. We both bemoaned that we have not seen the sea for many weeks.  It will be a couple more weeks yet but we’ll try and fit in a lake!