Thursday, June 3, 2010

To Brugge

After a couple of days in Delft, it was time to move on to Brugge (or Bruges, if you are a Frankophone - they speak both French and Flemish in that part of Belgium. I am going with Flemish today.) Here is one of the many trains we rode. Some were more comfortable, some were older, but all in all, I heartily approve of train travel as a way to get between cities. Much better than driving, for certain. If only we had good train service from Little Rock to Conway, with a stop in Maumelle, and then to Texas and Memphis and New Orleans...Sigh.

Anyway, we journeyed to Brugge by train.  Brugge is a medieval city that sort of got forgotten when its harbor silted up, in the 16th century. As a result, most of the buildings got left alone, and despite being a rather big city (around 117,000 overall), it doesn't feel that large;  more like a bustling town.  It was "rediscovered" by tourists at the end of the 18th century, and let me tell you, they haven't left. The place was jammed with tourists of all stripes and nationalities.

I can see why. It has canals, it has medieval buildings, it has a Michaelangelo sculpture (more on that tomorrow, or the next day) and a great art museum. It has chocolate and beer (again, later). The first afternoon we mostly just walked around, absorbing the town. This corner of the canal is possibly the most photographed spot in Brugge.

The thing about walking around Brugge, and later Amsterdam, is that you have to watch out or you might just get run over. In Brugge, it was mostly for the horse carriages that took their loads of tourists around the city. Here you can see Benjamin about to get run over (not really, but it certainly looks that way, doesn't it?) And you have to look out for the other tourists who are all wandering around, like you, with their eyes on the sights, with chocolate or a cone of crispy frites (Flemish Fries - they are not French - they were invented in Flanders, so they are Flemish) in one hand and a camera in the other.

Here, in the central square of Brugge, you also had to look out for the cars and buses that zipped around, because there really wasn't a clearly defined street - to my eye, they just drove wherever would get them to their destination quickest. Well, maybe not right down the center, but you get my meaning.

Coming up next, bicycling to Damme and (not) to the sea, and a Madonna.

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