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Got back yesterday from a very enjoyable short break to Bruges. Now that the Eurostar leaves from St Pancras it's easy to get there from St Albans. The weather was great, didn't need the coat or umbrella packed just in case. Bruges is big enough to have interesting sights and museums but small enough that every thing is in walking distance. The cities architecture is interesting and charming. We went on a boat on the canal that encircles the city (Venice of the North). It takes half an hour and worth the €5. We visited the Groeninge museum, the Jan van Eyck painting Madonna with Canon van der Paele, painted in 1436 was very impressive so too was the Hieronymus Bosch painting The Last Judgment. We were tempted by the museum of Chocolate and newly opened Frietmuseum (museum of the chip!) but resisted their obvious charms. I would highly recommend Bruges for a short break.
After being to towns like Bruges, York and Brighton recently it occurs to me St Albans could do more with its tourism. I think we are missing a trick here. We have the history, Roman museum, the Roman Theatre of Verulamium, Roman Hypocaust, cathedral, Verulamium Park, markets, restaurants and cafes but during the week St Albans is very quiet. It feels like a dormitory town and the shops suffer. It's only in the evenings and weekends that it seems busy. Cities like York seem vibrant with more of a cafe culture, small shops and specialist shops thrive from tourism. You might think being close to London we could attract more visitors, or is it because we are close to London there is too much to see there? I am sure with the right approach and research the council could learn from these other cities as both locals and visitors gain. St Albans is a very nice place to live but it could do better.