European Travel

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hanging out in Bruges

Bruges, Belgium 
September 2009

Hanging out in Bruges, Belgium is one fine time.  The city boasts the "worlds best French Fries" and is decidedly the best chocolate, not to mention the tremendously enjoyable beer!!  You can see why we felt right at home.   We stayed right in the heart of the city near Market Square.  Here we enjoyed a nice cold Belgium beer - Leffe - with some of those WBFF!
To ensure that we could repeat the meal again at supper time, we decided to climb 1300 AD Belfry Tower.  The octagonal lantern at the top was added in 1486, making the tower 88 meters high. You can climb the 366 steps if you are touring Bruges on your own (and have the legs for it).
The views from the Belfry are breathtaking....     Here you see the Church of Our Lady where a Michelangelo awaits our visit. 

This a magically little area with street musicians and artist surrounding the church's lovely garden courtyard.  It is here you'll find the "lovers bridge" with all it's significance.  This is a great place to picnic and let the kiddos run around a bit before touring the Memling Museum and peeking in at the Michelangelo.  The statue of the Virgin and Child is one of the few outside of Italy. It is an early work of Michelangelo, who sold it to a rich Bruges merchant when the original client failed to pay. It is the only Michelangelo sculpture to leave Italy during his lifetime. The statue has been taken from Bruges several times, but has always seemed to make its way back to the city.

The Memling Museum, once Saint Jans Hospital, holds six paintings by the primivtive Flemish artist, Hans Memling.   This is a great site to check out if you're interested in Memling's art
This is where we discovered Colin's love of art -- well, not really, he just loves pushing the buttons on the audio tour headset.  But it sure kept him busy :0)! 

 And for lunch, we recommend, MUSSELS in white wine sauce!!

And a cool Belgium beer and the afore mentioned WBFF!  This is a nice little cafe' across from the De Halve Maan brewery.  We did the tour of the brewery (oldest in the city) next.  Belgians are Europe's beer experts, and this country boasts more than 350 beers.  Joe and I sample a few back at the Hotel.  We both like Westmall, he enjoys Trappist (these are very potent! depending on the number-- the higher the number, the higher the alcohol percetage).  My favorite is the one in front of me -- LOL!  Here's some pictures of the tour -- note well -- keep small children close at hand when you tour, it's easy to get divided from you kiddos, and at one point you emerge on a roof top with pretty much no railing--YIKES!   Here's the drums they store the beer in as it ages.  And of course, I had to take a picture of the Pennsylvania Beer

Joe covets this array. 
I even have him going to yard sales with me in search of beer glasses for his collection.  Each Belgium brew "requires" its said glass -- no drinking from the bottle guys! 

Enjoy Bruge by horse and carriage or through their canal system.  Both complete the Old World charm!

 The driver of our horse and buggy, Finn, was the eldest daughter of the proprietor of our hotel.  How funny is that?  The boys got a kick outta feeding "Blackie" and helping water him down.  The horses are stabled outside the city and trailered in each day. 

The Church of the Holy Blood is only one of the interesting buildings surrounding the Burg Square. The Burg is a grand square, with six centuries of differing architecture surrounding it. The square is still the civic center of the city, with the Gothic city hall flanked by this Romanesque church which sits in one corner of the square.  This outwardly unremarkable church has a curious effect on you as you ascend the stairs to a wonderfully ornate church.  If you also descend to the lower chapel/crypt you are surrounded by moving religious stauary which can be a bit alarming to the unwarned visitor.
Bruges, Belgium captures our stomachs with their love of good food and great beer.  Our family enjoyed a walk through the begijnhof-- a nunery established in the medieval times for widowed or often single woman providing them with a dignigied place to live and work.  This was my favorite spot in Bruges due to its proximity to the Lake of Love and its beautiful cottage gardes.


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