Thursday, 19 July 2012

Beautiful Brugge

Brugge (in Flemish it's Brugge, in French it's Bruges, but we're in Flanders so Brugge it is!) lies in the heart of west Flanders, and it really is an amazingly beautiful medieval town. It's also the perfect size for walking, at least when it wasn't pouring rain! For cycling fans, Brugge is of course the start point of the Ronde van Vlaanderan (Tour of Flanders) classic the first Sunday every April. That's the belfry there on the left at Grote Markt (Big Market), the main central square where the race begins. The family climbed the belfry Saturday morning and saw/heard the carillons playing - I'm guessing they charge extra for earplugs!
Brugge's central town is crisscrossed by canals, some leading all the way to Gent and other major towns. The numerous canals and cobbled streets are a great way to spend some time logging up your pedometer.
Brugge is just loaded with beautiful buildings. My ECSS conference venue was the Oud Sint-Jan hospital (see previous post). The shot on the left is from the central courtyard terrace, with Notre Dame rising up in the background. It's one of the tallest brick churches in Europe. On the right is Stadhuis (town hall), where we had an "exclusive" reception Thursday night by the mayor before the terrific meal within the ancient stone walls I wrote about earlier.
It was quite a surprise to bump into Phil Sullivan, my colleague at Brock and also my department Chair, at ECSS. I was afraid that he was sent as a bounty hunter to end my sabbatical and haul me back to Brock in handcuffs or frozen in carbonate like Han Solo!
We never did get around to a canal tour in Amsterdam, but we did get lucky with the weather (constantly switching from warm bright sun to rain and back) during our Brugge boat tour. I saw my Aussie friend Aaron Coutts in line for a boat tour in his shorts and flip-flops as it started to pour rain, and joked later with him whether he got a discount for doing bailing duty!
More gratuitous canal scenery on the left. On the right we're outside the basilica where the "Relic of the Holy Blood" is kept. It's located right next to the Stadhuis.