A fun morning in Bruges circling the canals and being reintroduced to the history. Bruges is a remarkably preserved town. We were happy to leave on Saturday because the number of people quadrupled!
some of what I learned…
Bruges, the capital of West Flanders in northwest Belgium, is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. Its port, Zeebrugge, is an important center for fishing and European trade. In the city center’s Burg square, the 14th-century Stadhuis (City Hall) has an ornate carved ceiling. Nearby, Market square features a 13th-century belfry with a 47-bell carillon and 83m tower with panoramic views. If you want to walk the 366 steps!
it is often called the Venice of the North!
Spent the day wandering and wondering the sites of Brugge. I got lost a couple times…but then the bell tower chimed and my direction was innately righted.
Found myself in the beer museum and brewery. I know, it’s counterintuitive for me… I did not enjoy the brew but loved the wall of beer and their respective glass ware! Ed Thompson you’d love this place.
Found 3 different amusement parks set up for “liberation day”… a celebration of the end of WWII. I watched with glee the families delighting in the festivities… no photos … being family respectful. However, I took many family photos on their family phone… probably 10 families didn’t struggle with selfies today!
Chocolate is the fragrance and the passion of this sweet (pun intended) town. NO I AM NOT BRINGING ANY HOME… Don’t get your hopes up!
A good day in a beautiful city! I ordered a martini at the hotel bar…
Listening to French, danish and Flemish around me….understanding Nothing….but feeling less like a voyeur none the less !
my husband wrote a great piece about rediscovering a family sport…
IT’S HOW I ROLL
We rolled up to a Mom & Pop cafe in Flanders (Bellem). Tom, the Dutch tour guide told the group of peddlers that he had a special treat for us, mostly due to Mr. Cool.
You see - I had been touting all week that I was the only person of 30 on the bike & barge tour that had heritage from Flanders. I showed Tom pictures of Ghent MN, Kortemark Belgium, showed the FB page of Belgium American Days, told him about Ghent’s (MN) love for Rolle Bolle.
On our last day’s ride through the farms and fields of Flanders, Tom (unknown to me) made special arrangements to appease a guest. We visited Bernard’s and Edna’s cafe (Cafe De Hert) for a coffee break on a 30 mile ride.
I ordered an out-out-region beer, Edna corrected me and insisted I try a local brew. I surrendered and had two of whatever she suggested! In-between the 1st and 2nd, Tom and Bernard coaxed me to the back courtyard. To my grateful surprise we walked into a small separate building and onto a small covered Rolle Bolle court.
Through translation, Bernard asked “thick or thin”? referring to the width of the bolle. He presented what he had and I signified with two fingers another two inches to the width of his bolle. He uttered something and Tom translated… “big court player”.
I rather reverently, given my history, the place and the circumstance, entered the court. Bernard bent, rolled and we all watched as the bolle curled toward the peg and came to rest two feet from target. Shyly, I took a more pronounce angle, bent, and then rolled, ever so much more gently with a wider curl and the bolle circled round then back, hitting the peg, falling 2 inches from the peg.
I looked at Tom, his mouth a little drawn, and said “lucky turn I guess”. Bernard said (eventually translated by Tom) “How long did he say it’s been since he threw a bolle?”
We threw some more. The rest of the folks from New England and Florida gathered and I gave up my “”moment””. They all took turns, rolling the bolle, lauding and languishing their throws. All enjoyed their new experience, their new cultural exposure, their new source of fun.
For me… The sounds, the laughter and jestures, the experience, was a fond reconnect to Ghent, to family, to tradition, to heritage and a connection to new friends.
LIFE doesn't get much better ! Blessed.
PS. Thank You Edna and Bernard
A quiet farming road. The smell on earth and manure. The 40 bikes single file and the call being passed down is “stopping”. We all park our bikes dutifully.
it’s a strawberry stop. These strawberries were fresh from a vending machine for 3.50 euros. They were fantastic. While we were there several cars pulled in to get their fresh strawberries.
what a treat! I’m the middle of our 30 miles to have fresh strawberries from a vending machine!