And so it was the weekend of the Brugge MEGA event, “Brugse Beer III” which unfortunately has nothing to do with “beer” and much more to do with “bears” but nevermind, that didn’t stop us! I joined the massive 19-person Team Essex (Andy750x, Hollyncharlie, Helennbrian, Foxscout, BEASTMARSTA, Original Red Hen, Doggywalker, Tazzy1234, BigBadJohn, Yorkie63, MummaD, Riskt4ker, Natlie92, and lemontom) and headed to Brugge for some great caching and great
Day One – Four countries in a day
We met up at the Euro Tunnel at 5am in the morning (!) and thankfully all made it there with time to spare to pick up our first cache of the day: End of the Wall which started off our mission for the day to find caches in 4 countries. We then boarded the Euro Tunnel for a smooth ride across to Calais.
Jen of Hollyncharlie had planned a nice little itinerary for our journey through France to Brugge where we were able to stop off for a few nice caches. One of the first took us to the Ghyvelde Fossil Dunes where we had the chance to stretch our legs and grab an earthcache and a traditional on the last remaining fossil dunes in Europe.
This was an interesting spot to stop at because at the beginning of the path was the Belgium and France border. After grabbing our French caches it was then time to head off to Belgium for our 3rd country.
One of the chosen caches was in a particularly interesting location: Part of the film set for ‘In Vlaamse Velden’ (‘In Flanders Fields’) where a battlefield had been constructed. We could spot this in the distance whilst searching for the cache.
As rain clouds closed in on us we headed to a cache hidden at a very nice monument which was constructed to remember the Battle in 1914 to recapture the village of “Ramskapelle” from the Germans.
Our morning Belgium caching was cut short as the rain decided to pour down on us. So we headed to The Netherlands for our 4th and final country for the day. We headed into town for an hour or so to grab a couple of caches before stopping at a lovely little cafe for lunch. Mission Accomplished! 😀
We headed back to Belgium and to our hotel in Brugge. After a quick check in and spruce up it was time to hit the town and hunt down the
Our stroll into Brugge was along the lovely canal. We were able to pick up a few caches as we walked to the centre. Geheimzinnige rustplaats was a particularly nice cache as it was placed in a secret garden in the city which we wouldn’t have known about had it not been for the cache.
Now, at this point I should probably mention that as well as following an arrow we were also following a Brugge beer guide of the best bars in the city (hehe). Our first stop was Snuffel backpacker hostel. Now, I must admit on first impressions I wasn’t keen on the place, but after I spotted how cheap the beer was there really wasn’t much to complain about! 😉 This gave me my first opportunity to sample cherry beer and raspberry beer. Wow! It was amazing!
We carried on to another cache before heading to another bar, ‘t Poatersgat (“Monks hole”). As soon as I saw the entrance I knew we just had to go inside and have a look! It was like heading into a secret underground lair. 🙂
Here we sampled banana beer and forest fruit beer. Both very nice. Now, we were of course in Brugge for the caching, but we’re only mere mortals and were also there to eat and drink as well! 😉 However, our little bar trip was soon over and we were back to caching as we headed to the BB3: Meet ‘n Greet event. At least here we were able to combine the caching with the beer as there was a little bar in the corner.
Day Two – Wherigo’s? Yeah they’re easy, I wrote the
Overnight some of the bright members of Team Essex had decided we should attempt to hire out bikes and cycle around the city for the caches. It turned out to be a brilliant idea and we headed to the hire place to borrow 15 bikes!!! After a bit of haggling the chap at the hire place agreed to allow us to have the bikes for an extra hour, so we were sorted until 4pm. We all lined up ready for the Team Essex bicycle race!!!
We weren’t completely au fait with the Brugge road laws, but nobody died so I guess we did alright. The general idea was to try and stick to the red paths (Which went well) and not cross the road when you’re not meant to (Which didn’t go quite so well! Lol!) and stop every now and then for a cache. Zoete Inval was a particularly nice one to find as it was a ‘large’ cache in a very urban location.
Next we headed to attempt The City Gates Bike Race wherigo. There was a nice family version of this or a harder athletic version. These were particularly interesting wherigos as they had a time limit. Both were 9km routes, but the family version allowed 60 minutes to complete it, and the athletic version allowed 30 minutes. Easy, eh? We started off with the family version which took us along a lovely track past many of Brugge’s windmills along the canal. Soon after we started foxscout, tazzy1234 and Riskt4ker decided they had what it takes to try the athletic version and headed back to the start to give it a go!
We made it to zone 22 of 26 when our family version of the cartridge timed out on all our GPS. Oh dear. Our detours for other caches, and some stalling at road junctions meant that we hadn’t done enough to get the Wherigo to release the coordinates. In the meantime the rest of Team Essex had also been timed out from doing the Athletic version. 😦 We decided to spread out and have a hunt for the cache in some likely locations, as all good cachers do. Unfortunately we didn’t find the cache we were looking for, but instead found a mysterious container with a handwritten note inside which was signed by one other group of cachers before us! I wonder what it was!
We headed to a nearby bar on route whilst the valiant foxscout, tazzy1234, and riskt4ker had another bash at getting the coordinates out of the wherigos. Sadly it didn’t end well. The GPS they were trying to do the family version on had crashed and lost everything, and the athletic version had timed out when they were only 400ft from the last zone. What a disaster. Eventually we all ended up at the bar, we were all particularly impressed with Riskt4ker’s 16 mile bike ride 😉 Whilst at the bar I decided to ask a “local” if he could translate our mysterious cache note. In a broad Northern accent he replied “It says, ‘Deirdre get your knickers down'” and chuckled away. The bloody English get everywhere! 😉
Yorkie63 and Simon of Hollyncharlie didn’t want to give up on the wherigo and with some encouragement from the team tried again to get the wherigo coordinates to appear. It was third time lucky and with the coordinates for the family version, Team Essex were all able to find the actual cache after a long day of trying. Hooray!!!!!!
After resting our saddle-sore bodies for a bit we headed back into Brugge for the evening. There was one cache that we just had to try to find as it had 183 favourite points. It was Stairway to…. So off we all went to GZ, surprised that Riskt4ker could make it after the 20 mile bike ride earlier. This took us to a lovely little spot along the river.
The next stop was another earthcache, Stad gebouwd met Crinoiden where we found a water pump covered in fossils.
The rest of our evening included plenty of beer and a trip to The Druids Cellar before heading back to the hotel for our well deserved rest. Riskt4ker deserving it most after his 50 mile bike ride earlier… 😉
Day Three – MEGA!
In the morning we headed to the MEGA event. It was very busy and we entered the main hall where we handed in our registration forms and then queued to get our GPS loaded up with all of the new caches that had been released.
The next building was where all of the trackables were being held. In here was a giant trackable ammo can and giant trackable chair. Suffice to say we didn’t pick these up to take home!!!!!
Because when you’re caching in a big group you have to look the part, we all had Team Essex T-shirts which we were wearing for the MEGA event. We all lined up and a nice lady took our mug shot to mark the occasion.
We also all had personalised TB’s ready for a TB race from Brugge to Essex. One slight problem was that myself and Andy750x slightly… erm… forgot to bring our. Whoops! I guess we’re not going to win now then. Lol!
Many new caches were released for the event and as the nice Brugge MEGA people had loaded up our GPS with them we were ready to go and headed off to do some of the nearby series combining some walking with driving to the new GZ locations. You definitely couldn’t miss Team Essex hunting for the caches though in our distinct bright red T-Shirts!!!
The area that the new caches were hidden around seemed very religious. There were little shelters along the cache routes which had religious statues and paraphernalia inside of them. One even had a bed inside. I think if we had this sort of thing back at home it’d get vandalised in an instant!
One of the series took us around Ruddervoorde and Waardamme where the street were lined with very well decorated cows. The caches weren’t hidden on the cows but were near them.
BB3 – Jachtkoe was a particularly tricky hide and we were all there for a good 10 minutes trying to find it. Clever foxscout did get it in the end, but we attracted some muggle attention during the search!!!
After completing a few more series our trip in Brugge was over and we headed back to Calais to catch the Euro Tunnel home. I had an absolutely brilliant weekend Geocaching with Team Essex and we had great fun. The highlight for me was probably our frantic biking around Brugge as even through we had a few failures with the Wherigo we had such fun attempting it. I’m just glad that I didn’t bike the 100 miles that Riskt4ker did. 😉
Happy caching!!! 😀