|All photos courtesy of Biscuit. She had a new camera and more free time than I, so she was designated official trip photographer. This is part of the view from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.|
About an hour northwest of Brussels by train, Bruges is the capital of the Belgian province of West Flanders, which you may know from the WW I poem about its fields.
|Bruges rose to prominence as a seaport. A half hour canal tour is one of the ''must do" tourist activities.|
Bruges was a city of some significance during the Middle Ages, with its heyday in the first half of the last millennium. Much of the medieval architecture remains, and every stretch of the city center holds some new marvel. It is a perfect spot for a fantasy stroll, at least until around 9:00 AM when the buses start delivering day-trippers. By mid-afternoon the squares look like Disney World. Most of the gawkers are gone by 7:00 or so, which makes for nice evening strolls, too.
|A courtyard below the church, and one of the city's ubiquitous horse drawn carriages. The horses seem to enjoy the tours quite a bit more than the drivers.|
|In the evenings and early mornings, it is hard to imagine a better place to sit and relax than beside one of Bruges' canals.|
|During the fat part of the day the canals are more loudspeakers and motorboats than oases of quiet contemplation.|
One should also be ready to pay tourist prices for everything. It hurts a little less counting out Euros, but the € is not what it used to be, and it stings to pay eight or ten of them for a few bits of chocolate. I did, of course, because Belgian chocolate is delicious. I just didn't buy any for anyone else.
|The Belfry of Bruges is the city's most famous landmark, and dominates the center of town. It also figures prominently in the movie. It has burned several times, though not while we were there.|
|This was the seaport during the middle ages. With yet another bell tower. You can't swing a German tourist in this town without hitting a cathedral or medieval church.|
As usual, Biscuit did a wonderful job finding a hotel. The Grand Hotel Casselbergh is only a couple of blocks from the Provincial Court, but far enough off the square to lose most of the crowds. It wasn't cheap, but our room was huge by European standards, breakfast was free, and the service seemed first rate.
|The view from our hotel window. Luckily, most of the noisy stuff was the other direction, so it was surprisingly quiet where we were. Not counting the tour boats on the canal, of course.|
|The view of our hotel window from the canal. Ours is the top window on the right, I think.|
|Le Buhne had seats for about a dozen people. The proprietor was a wonderful mature French lady, and everything we ate was wonderful.|
|This may be the most famous dog in Europe, or at least the most photographed. He apparently spends most of his time hanging out in this window, and every tour boat pauses for people to take pictures. He left for a few minutes around checkout time -- apparently he has duties at the front desk -- but returned promptly.|
I doubt we will ever feel the need to go back, but we both had a wonderful time. It was a nice counterpoint to the week in London. And we got to ride the EuroStar through the Chunnel, so that's one I can check off the list.
I don't really have much else to say, but I promised Daisyfae I would post pictures.
|If we ever go back, it will probably be so Biscuit can visit the swans and baby ducks. Biscuit likes animals.|
* Think Grosse Point Blank with better scenery.
** The Belgians spell it "Brugge" but the movie uses the English spelling, so I'm sticking with it.