Thursday, October 04, 2007

On Sunday night a brochure on the check-in desk at the hotel caught our eye. Thumbing through it we were intrigued by the description of a day trip to Bruges, Belgium. So we signed up and the hotel clerk called to make the reservation. The van would pick us up at 0700 in the morning.

Mon. 17 Sept. over slept! Cripes; how can you over sleep? You're on vacation for crying out loud! Woke up at 0630...supposed to be in lobby at 0700 for tour van pick up. Hurray, hurray, scurry scurry..."this is much for the wake up time for a shower... ya? sorry pal, I'm taking a we have time to eat? no... yes... take it with you. Oh crap, who's idea was this anyway?"

"Are you ready? Good! You go wait in the lobby and I'll be right along...:)))"
"Ok, here I am. Sorry to be late. Where's the Van?"
"It's not here yet."
"What time is it?"

"Oh great."

0740 Marianne shows up with the van. "Sorry to be a little late, got behind a garbage truck."
"All set? Ok, good. Just two more to pick up over by the Moulin Rouge and we'll be on our way."

Don't look at me...I wasn't late.
<<<<<<<<<< >>>>>>>>>>>
There were two ladies in front with our guide/driver: a mother in her eighties going on 60 and her daughter. D. and I in the middle seat and a couple who looked to be our age from Spain in the rear seat. They spoke Spanish and Spanish only. Our guide speaks fluent French, English, And Spanish. Well let me tell you we had one heck of a good time trying to communicate with each other.

Bruges, Belgium is 300 Km NE from Paris and took all of three hours to get there. When we got as far a Lille, Fr. It started to rain and that was the weather for the rest of the day. Speaking of passing through Lille, I thought of Elisabeth of the blog "As My World Turns." Elisabeth is originally from Lille, it's where she grew up.

Our trip to Bruge, the "northern Venice" included a guided tour, a cruise on it's canals, lunch on our own and then.... but of course; shopping for lace and Belgian Chocolate. And maybe, if were lucky, a hammered copper coffee pot.

An overcast day, a gentle and steady rain predestined our fist shop would be one that sold rain gear and bumpershoots. And then we were off to explore this magnificent, spentabulously glistening clean medieval city.

Bruges is called : 'the Venice of the North'. This splendid medieval city is one of Belgium's crown jewels. In no other European city the feel and the look of medieval times are so present as here in this city close to the North Sea.
This is what it looks like on a sunny day.

This is how it looks on a rainy over cast day.

Bruges is unique, in the sense that here the town authorities have done the utmost to preserve the medieval-looking image of the city. Of course, not every stone in Bruges has come to us straight from the Middle-Ages. The 19th century neo-gothic style is more present than one should think. Because of these 19th century renovations, some critics have put Bruges down as a 'fake' medieval city. Nevertheless, the combination of old, not so old and new fascinates everyone who first sets foot in Bruges.

Marianne and D. out side of the church.
of the holy blood.

In 1488, Maximilian of Austria was imprisoned by the citizens of Bruges, and his advisor was beheaded. When Maximilian was freed, he ordered Bruges to keep swans in its canals in perpetuity as a punishment for the crime of imprisoning him.

The Church of Our Lady (Dutch: Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk) in Bruges, Belgium, dates mainly from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. Its tower, at 122,3 meters in height, remains the tallest structure in the city and one of the tallest brickwork towers in the world. In the choir space behind the high altar are the tombs of Charles the Bold, last Valois Duke of Burgundy, and his daughter, the duchess Mary. The gilded bronze effigies of both father and daughter repose at full length on polished slabs of black stone. Both are crowned, and Charles is represented in full armor and wearing the decoration of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

The altarpiece of the large chapel in the southern aisle enshrines the most celebrated art treasure of the church—a white marble sculpture of the Madonna and Child created by Michelangelo around 1504. Probably meant originally for the Siena Cathedral, it was purchased in Italy by two Brugean merchants, the brothers Jan and Alexander Mouscron, and in 1514 donated to its present home. The sculpture was twice recovered after being looted by foreign occupiers—French revolutionaries circa 1794 and Nazi Germans in 1944.

Ok kids, that's enough for this morning. Come back after lunch and I'll tell you some more stories; about Chocolates, bicycles, horse drawn carriages, lunch conversations, and of course...don't let me forget the story of the hammered copper coffee pot. Be sure to remind me to tell about the trip back to Paris. ;) Shhhhhh! Corey and Tara, don't tell.


Blogger Flossy said...

I am loving the trip and the photos. Don't forget to tell abot the coffee pot - I'm intrigued!

And thank you for your very kind comment about the wedding pics :)

5:02 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

How fascinating! Wonderfully interesting post, Rel. Thank you. :)

Glad you had a shower! ;)

7:07 PM  
Anonymous tongue in cheek said...

The Bruges tourist office should offer you a free ticket with this post! It is as dreamy as you talked about, the photos are inviting, even in the rain! That first photo is awesome.
The bus trip must have been a scream!
Did I hear something about a coffee pot???

1:40 AM  
Blogger PEA said...

Oh Rel, isn't the architecture is absolutely awesome?!! Raining or sunny, one could never ignore how beautiful Bruges is. I love the thought that they've kept it looking so medieval. You realize you're really making me want to go over there now, don't you?!! lol xox

10:40 AM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Absolutely love LOVE the pics and the stories.

That sculpture was recovered twice?
Wouldn't those be fascinating tales to hear.

Now I'll have to put this city on my list! Didn't know it was there before!

Thank you for sharing it.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

5:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home