The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Monday, April 27, 2009

High Times in the Low Countries, Part 2: Bruges

Bruges (or Brugge, depending on whether you use the French or Flemish spelling) has garnered a reputation for being a well-preserved Medieval city, with additional recent fame due to the film In Bruges. It’s an easy day trip from Brussels (about an hour by train) so that’s what Janét and I did.

After alighting from the train, we strolled toward the center of town through the grounds of the Begijnhof, a convent (as always, click any photo to enlarge and enhance):

And just in case you thought it wasn’t a “real” convent, here’s a nun (I think she was trying to go fast enough to get airborne):

Our route continued through a small but charming square called the Simon Stevinplein:

And finally we arrived at the Grote Markt. This is the main square, the heart of Bruges, and it is vast. Much like the Grand Place in Brussels it is surrounded by many beautiful and historic buildings. They even share the same name: Grote Markt is the Flemish equivalent of the French Grand Place:

This famous landmark on the square is the Belfort (belfry), built around 1240:

This is the more recent (1887—recent by Bruges standards!) Provincial Court building:

Here’s a close up of the statue in the center of the Grote Markt. I don’t know what it commemorates but the guy on the right sure looks suspicious:

There’s an ancient passageway between two of the buildings called “Blind Donkey Alley” (no idea why) which takes you to another square directly adjacent to the Grote Markt, called Burg. It is of a much smaller scale but quite charming, with a few beautifully ornate buildings:

Black and white statue photograph!!:

Belgium in general—and Bruges in particular—is famous for its lace, hand-tatted by little old ladies. Here’s Janét inspecting some wares:

Belgium is also famous for their frites, often served in a cone with mayonnaise. We stopped at a frites place so I could get some…but they gave them to me in a plastic container. I was very disappointed but was too embarrassed to ask for a cone…but Janét, being the wonderful friend she is, demanded that the salesman put the frites in one for me. And he did!:

Bruges is a city of canals; at one time that was the only mode of transportation:

Toward the end of the day we took a boat ride along the canals as the sun began to set. It was beautiful, but the most entertaining part of the ride was our captain/guide. First of all, Bruges is in the Flemish region of Belgium, and it does have a slightly different “flavor” than the more Franco-centric Brussels. And I guess it has something to do with the language but our tour guide rolled his r’s for about 3 minutes each, as in: “Zees buildink is verrrrrrrrrrry old, zee oldest vun in Brrrrrrrrrrruges.” At one point we passed a brewery and he went off on a small tirade about why Belgian beer is the best. “Beerrrrrrrrrrr should be bitterrrrrrrrrrr. German beerrrrrrrrrrrs, French beerrrrrrrrrrrs…zey are not bitterrrrrrrrrrr the way a beerrrrrrrrrrr should be bitterrrrrrrrrrr. Belgian beerrrrrrrrrrrs re goot because zey are bitterrrrrrrrrrr!”:

After we alighted the boat (that seems to be my S.A.T. word of the day), we wandered back past some of the sights we’d already seen in the golden glow of the setting sun and then the night lights:

Before returning to Brussels we had dinner on the Grote Markt, where I enjoyed a giant—and, yes, bitterrrrrrrrrrr—Belgian beer:

Then it was back to Brussels to pack our bags and prepare to leave for our final adventure…Amsterdam!


The inimitable and indomitable Bea Arthur passed away on April 25, 2009 at the age of 86. Whether as Dorothy Zbornak…

…or Maude Findlay…

…or on Broadway in the original casts of Fiddler on the Roof, The Threepenny Opera, and her breakthrough role as the inebriated Vera Charles in Mame

…she brought generations 5-feet-9.5-inches of gravel-voiced pleasure (click to play):

See you in Amsterdam!!


  • How could you not mention Bea Arthur's seminal role in Futurama as Femputer?

    "Have you any idea how it feels to be a fembot living in a manbot's manputer's world?"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 AM  

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