Belgium ~ A long anticipated return to Brugge

Thursday, July 16th ~ Brugge, Belgium

Along one of several canals in Brugge, Belgium ~ Morning sun and reflections in the water

Along one of several canals in Brugge, Belgium ~ Morning sun and reflections in the water

Thirty plus years ago I took one of those “Tuesday it must be Belgium”, fly through a dozen countries in as many days, kind of tours. London, plus a few days in Ireland, a stopover in Copenhagen and a very short two days in Athens had been my only previous European experiences prior to that trip, and I was anxious to crowd in as much as I could. 

I was managing a travel agency in Palm Desert at the time, while completing my education to become a Certified Hypnotherapist. I had already been bitten by the travel bug, when working for the now long defunct Western Airlines in the 1970’s. WA got absorbed via merger into the larger Delta Airlines.

I have memories here and there from that trip, but the one place that I had fallen in love with and ached to return some day was Brugge. My hubby had never been to Belgium before, so I was especially excited to have this opportunity to share it with him

I was also a little worried that my long held onto recollections may have become blown out of proportion. In addition, I questioned if now that we have traveled more, that Brugge may have lost it’s luster in comparison. Or even worse, that the town itself had changed and progressed, losing the special charm that had won my heart over all those years ago.

I should not have been concerned! 

A tiny bit of history. The first documented fortification dates back to 851 as part of a defense zone against the Normans. From 1200 to 1400 Brugge was the economic capital of Europe north of the Alps.

The Golden Age of Brugge was from 1384 to 1500 under the Dukes of Burgundy. It became a center for court life, literature, art, miniature paintings, and printing. Building continued with prestigious palaces and churches in what is described as brick Gothic style.

“Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam and Stockholm, it is sometimes referred to as “The Venice of the North”. Bruges has a significant economic importance thanks to its port. At one time, it was considered the “chief commercial city” of the world. ~ Wikipedia

In 2000, the historical section of Brugge was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list and is now protected.

We arrived Wednesday late afternoon, and checked into the Novotel Hotel. The location was excellent, an easy walking distance to the main square. We had an opportunity to get out and explore both the evening we arrived as well as several hours the following morning.

Our guide, Derek, took the group for a short walk to give us an over view of Brugge, and then later accompanied us to the main square where we had an included dinner.  Here are a few places/things we covered on those two walks:

The canals and bridges are among my favorite places from which to take pictures. There is just something magical when you combine striking architecture with reflections on the water that I can’t help but try to capture.

Along one of several canals that pass through Brugge

Along one of several canals that pass through Brugge

Church of our Lady houses the sculpture “Madonna and Child”, which is the only Michelangelo sculpture to have left Italy during his lifetime.

Madonna and Child by Michelangelo

Madonna and Child by Michelangelo

The Grote Markt (Big or Market Square) is dominated by the 12th century belfry and the Provincial Court. The square was completely renovated in 1995, removing parking and most of the traffic making it ideal now to wander about and admire the architecture, take a trip to the top of the belfry, or grab a drink and sit a spell to relax and simply take it all in.

Belfry

Belfry

Provincial Court

Provincial Court

The Begijnhof of Brugge was founded in 1245 by Margaretha, Countess of Flanders. It was intended for single women from monied families who wished to live a pious life, but outside the confines of a typical monastery.

The Béguinage

The Béguinage

Near the convent

Near the convent

After a relatively good nights sleep, we managed to get up early, grab a quick breakfast and head out by 7:30 to walk around the old city on our own. The following are simply random shots we took before our tour bus departed for Paris.

"The Kiss" (Can you see our shadow?)

“The Kiss” (Can you see our shadow?)

We brought Gus along with us this morning to make sure we had a picture of him in Belgium

We brought Gus along with us this morning to make sure we had a picture of him in Belgium

Artwork

Artwork

Rooftops

Rooftops

x

Artwork at the main square – clouds reflecting in the glass

x

Colorful homes trimmed with colorful flowers

Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful that after so many years of telling people that Brugge is one of my favorite cities, that I was not only able to return, but to share it with my husband.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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30 Responses to Belgium ~ A long anticipated return to Brugge

  1. Great post and pictures. One question. Did you find bats in the Belfry?
    Shine On

    Like

  2. Mike Alesko says:

    Joanne, just from your photos it’s easy to see how Brugge would totally enchant you. I’ve been all over Europe, but for some reason I never got to Belgium. My loss…Love your canal reflection shots. Hey, have you ever considered trying to sell some of your travel photography to photo aggregators/agencies, travel magazines and sites, etc., and/or individually to individuals who may want a particular shot or shots. You could do the latter via your travel site or separate internet sites. I could also see you framing some of your work for sale in gift shops, home decor shops, etc. Some of today’s work in Brugge would fit that bill, for example. I see a real market for you, as you specialize in capturing the “real” essences of places, as opposed to typical tourist shots. This all sounds both fun and exciting to me…

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    • Mike, I’m sorry that you missed Belgium as it remains amongst my favorites for its architectural charm. No, I have never given any thought to selling my photography as it has really only been a hobby. I’m certainly flattered that you consider them good enough. Perhaps after we return home I’ll try to pick your brain a bit. Thanks!

      Like

  3. carrie miller says:

    GREAT SUGGESTION MIKE!!! love your pics…we could put ourselves in “the kiss” 🙂

    Like

  4. more59 says:

    Your photos are amazing. Thank you for sharing. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laura says:

    I visited Bruges last year and felt the same – such a charming city! And your kiss photo is adorable; what a cute idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. RuthsArc says:

    Such a beautiful place. Glad you weren’t disappointed.

    Like

  7. Fiona R says:

    We count ourselves very fortunate to have lived in Brussels for two years. Absolutely love Belgium! If you are still in the area on Sunday, I would highly recommend that you check out the flea/antique market in Waterloo, you never know what you’re going to see there, it’s fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fiona, how fortunate you were to have lived in Brussels for two years. Sadly for us, our time there was so short. We are already now in Paris. I think it would be fabulous to do a road trip through Belgium and France on a future trip so that we could set our own pace. Thank you for the recommendation for the flea market.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. John Love says:

    I don’t comment often, but I have been on several trips with you now. I am just a retired mechanic, so I live comfortable but there are no world travels in my future. Luckily, as I was an avionics tech in Marine Corps, I did get to visit about a ten countries, however some of those were only a fleeting glimpse as I had been flown in to repair an aircraft forced to make an unscheduled stop. So absolutely love your blog. Your pictures are wonderful, the prose descriptive and well thought out. So for me, this is my best chance to see the the parts of the world I long to see, and you are very, very, good at supplying a great and enhanced experience. Thank you very much!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Meagan: A Friend Afar says:

    The architecture is gorgeous. I think Brugge just made it to the top of my list! Oh, and thanks for the history. It really puts everything into context, and learning this history of places that I visit has always been important to me. I really love your sunrise pictures, too!
    So you’re headed to Paris next? That’s where I’m headed tomorrow! Enjoy!

    Like

  10. goannasnake says:

    Brugge is definitely one of my favourite places too. We’re lucky enough to have a friend living there so may even get back there one of these days. Thanks for taking me back there in pictures and words in the meantime.

    Like

  11. This place is certainly on my bucket list. I have always been drawn to it. Thanks for bringing me there in photos. I love the way the town looks and can’t wait to visit some day.

    Like

  12. Clara says:

    This is a great post about Bruges! If you love Brugge, you should visit Gent too! It’s my hometown and is really as amazing as Brugge!

    Like

  13. brugesvegan says:

    Beautiful pictures of Bruges!

    Like

  14. retrostuart says:

    Beautiful photos. As I will be visiting Brugge later this year, you’ve made me even keener about the prospect.

    Like

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