Thursday, July 16th ~ Brugge, Belgium
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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