Monday, May 19, 2008

Trip Blog 12

Letter NO. 12

Bonjour !

This is day two in Bruges, Sunday. We met, as planned, at 10 a.m. at the Groeninge Museum that houses mostly Flemish paintings. We knew from a conversation with a campground owner in Arles a while ago that the bus schedule on Sundays is “not very interesting”, by which he meant that they don’t come along very often. We were annoyed when we got to the bus stop at 8:45 for what the campground had told us was the only bus of the hour at 9 a.m. Having walked there, we stayed until the only bus of the hour really came, which was at 9:22 as it specified on the bus stop sign!

Sunday had dawned with that most elusive element – the sun. It was shining and there was no rain for the first time in five days. So when Peter and Valori turned up at 10 a.m. and encountered us waiting, they suggested we change our plans and go on a canal boat ride first. Good idea! At 10, there was no line, the sun was shining and all was right with the world of Bruges.

The man who ran the boat was able to give his spiel in Flemish, French, Spanish and English, throwing in a few words for the benefit of the Japanese aboard, without skipping a beat. By the time we were out on the canals, we saw lots of boats full of tourists on the water, and long lines waiting to get into boats. There are a lot of tourists in Bruges! It was a very entertaining boat tour. We went past beautiful old brick houses, with the tour guide pointing out the interesting and rare sights, among which was a dog, nicknamed Romeo looking out of a second story building, and a Japanese man in the boat with us who did not have a camera!

Then it was into the museum – which had only about ten rooms, at least one of which was closed. Frankly, we were a little disappointed. Not only that they wouldn’t allow picture taking (that goes for all Bruges museums), but that they had no Memlings, and only a few Van Eycks. They did have a very dandy Hironymous Bosch which you could get very, very close to, and which was very nice. That is to say, gruesome, but nice. But the rest were not very interesting Flemish “primitives”—which in Belgium means 14th and 15th century painters, not paintings from unschooled painters. But we marched our way through and when we left it was time for lunch.

Being sensible types, we returned to the scene of yesterday’s light lunch. Some of us ate waffles again but some of us opted for a sandwich. After lunch and a suitable period of rest, we were off again to yet another museum – one that was supposed to have things that people used through the ages, but which was mostly an exhibit of Bruges in Paintings. Quite interesting, because a lot of the paintings were done long ago – and Bruges still looks pretty much the same!

Now we were off to see the Cathedral. Lovely building, mostly “new” stained glass (which translates to 18th and 19th century), beautiful tapestries, etc. Right under the pulpit there was a statue in marble looking upward and holding something up to show someone, presumably God. Upon closer inspection, that something was the plans for the Cathedral. The architect was showing God what he planned to build for him. But not in an arrogant, see what I can do for you kind of way. More like he was hoping against hope that God would approve. It is a very beautiful statue. We include a photo.

Now some of us were getting tired, so we walked to a sidewalk cafĂ© for a cuppa (tea for those of us of the English persuasion, coffee for others). Now what? Peter wanted to climb the tower and see the town from on high. Valori and Ron opted to join him – on the walk to the tower, but not up its stairs. Adelle knew she wouldn’t want to climb any towers, and she went to rest in the Menneer’s hotel room.

When the others finally showed up, they had walked for ages after finding the tower closed and they were suitably tired. So we finished the bottle of wine, and talked and laughed until it was time to leave for dinner. Dinner was absolutely spectacular – and we enjoyed it all. Then Peter and Valori walked us to the bus (which came promptly on time) and we said good-bye.

During dinner, Peter had asked about the next day. When would we decide where and when to go? What were our plans now? We had none. But we knew that we had to go grocery shopping. This is our last chance to shop at a huge Carrefour supermarket, which is one of our favorite places. And that’s what we did on our last day in Bruges. We took advantage of the WI FI to get out our letters, went shopping and lazed about. We’ll be off in the morning to spend a day or so in Antwerp – and then return to The Netherlands.

Although we do have two more weeks to go, we’ve got some things that need to be done. We’d had a great weekend. The company was wonderful, the city beautiful, the food excellent. Now it is time to get back to traveling and tend to the disagreeable chore of finding someone who will trade a little money for the privilege of owning this motorhome that has been so good to us.

Adelle & Ron

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