Thursday, December 08, 2005

If it's Wednesay, it must be Belgium

Day 3:
We arriived in Brussels at 10 am wednesday morning, picked up the car which I drove. If we were going to go in the wrong direction from now on, it was going to be me that took us there. I tend to admit I'm lost and try to correct far faster than you know who. Besides, I'm the only one in the family that drives standard transmission --which i just love, I might add. Two hours later we pulled into Bruge. Bruge was everything I expected --and love -- At half the price of Paris. To say the city has heritage is an understatement. It makes NY look like it was built last night. The charm is real, the people genuine, the food good and, if you are into chocolate, you are in heaven. I have never seen so many chocolate shops in one place - each trying to outdo the other in terms of creativity,reasonable prices and quality.

We lasted about 4 hours --and had a meal-- before we fell into our wonderful hotel which Richard, performing reparations via the internet, found for us. We got to the serious business of repairing jet lag with a nap that turned into about l5 hours of sleep. Next morning, I was ready to explore --the only reason I ever travel. Bruge is an explorer's heaven and is right next to Ghent. All I knew about Ghent was that there had been some big treaty signed there, but the name intrigued me and and it was home to one of the most wonderful pieces of art known to the religious world: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. I'm a knitter - big time --so anything that has the word Lamb in it is for me - as long as it's not a recipe. If you are art-intrigued and religiously curious, this work of patronage is well worth the few hours spent studying it. At 2 Euros (including the audio tour) it sheds a lot of light on old beliefs and values.

After a day, in Belgium, Richard was ready to move on to France. Remember, we had lost one week in Venice, and the last time I looked, one day in Belgium was no real recompense so i said I preferred to stay put. The way I looked at it, I hadn't gone this far in the wrong direction only to turn my back on a jewel of a city so I prevailed and said I thought we should spend another night. In no mood (either of us) for further fuming, we did exactly that - not entirely with charm I might say. Nonetheless, I highly recommend an extended few days in this part of Europe. You'll never meet nicer people, see more beautiful buildings and connect with more chocolate than you will in this part of heaven. Bruge --and Ghent -- are simply divine. The people, by an large, are charming and kind and Flemish is an interesting language to hear spoken. There's also a wealth of good shopping at prices that later on seemed like unbelievable bargains.

The only drawback I can think of is that Bruge is a medieval city and laid out accordingly. If one is not careful, one can drive in a circle for about a week. However, the scenery along the way, with canals and ancient buildings is so intriguing and beautiful that it might take 3 days before you noticed or cared. You will always see something different and well worth studying --if you have the time. I, for one, am going back as soon as I can figure out how to do it intentionally and not as a back up plan because that didn't do it enough justice.

I'll be back tomorrow, with the story of the "Ride In Hell" - or "How I learned to Drive on a Cow path in backwoods France in a blizzard in the middle of the night."


Anonymous Joanne said...

I cannot wait for the next installment... probably would be curious even I didn't know the two of you. what a story!

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

I cannot wait for the next installment... probably would be curious even I didn't know the two of you. what a story!

2:02 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

So glad you liked it here! Though I did not have a great experience of Bruges, i hope to go again soon with some time to spare (i live 1 hour and a half from there). I went not so long ago to Ghent, and i must say i loved the adoration of the mystic lamb so much, i must have stayed in the cathedral at least 2 hours. I was there with a friend specialist of the flemmish primitives, and i had the revelation back there. Did you downstairs and see the Hieronymus Bosch as well?...

5:03 AM  
Anonymous Becca said...

marvelous story! enjoying each installment. Friends of ours adore visiting Belgium ... Belgium and Spain are their favorite destinations (after traveling all around the world).

11:27 PM  

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