What little French stuck in my mind from my own misspent youth is basically demi pamplemousse (half a grapefruit) and bateau mouche (insect boats.) In today’s post from our travelers, one of these finally shows up.
“Last Day in Belgium”
Posted by Favorite Daughter under Belgium, Bruges
Took a day trip out to Bruges today with Kiki’s cousins Mathias and Marie-Laure, and Mathias’ fiancée, Gaetana (we just referred to her as “Mathias’ Fiancée” in our heads).
I have to say, Bruges is absolutely lovely, except for the fact that it is in Flanders, and therefore its street signs are marred by Flemish, the preposterous, bastard child of German and Pig Latin. I’m sorry if we have any Flemish fans out there, but jeez. It’s like you guys had a spasm on the keyboard, looked at it, and said, “that word means ‘green’.”
No, Bruges is an adorable city. We started the day by walking up all 366 stairs (spiral staircases, built for people of a much smaller generation, mind you) to the top of the Belfry, Bruges’ most recognizable landmark. The view is absolutely spectacular.
Then we took a trip down one of Bruges’ canals in a bateau mouche, with a tour guide who waxed rhapsodic about the beauty of Bruges’ aged architecture and decried the modern era, all while pretending to have an English accent. We never did figure out exactly where he was from.
Then to La Basilic du Sacré Sange (the Basilica of the Holy Blood). This is an absolutely breathtaking church, whose claim to fame has long been that they possess a sample of Jesus’ actual blood, which they politely display in a gold, jewel-encrusted box, safely encased behind glass. “Trust us, Jesus’ blood is definitely in there,” is the message.
But really, the Catholics know how to do awe like nobody else. While in Edinburgh, we visited St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile, and we had to pinch ourselves to make sure we were really in a protestant country. It was definitely the most impressive non-Catholic church we’ve ever seen. But the Basilica in Bruges brought us back to standard equilibrium with its grandeur. As Stephen Colbert once said of Catholicism and Catholic churches, “For that dollar I put in the collection plate, I want some production value.”
All in all, Bruges is a charming little city, and a nice one in which to wrap up the Belgian leg of the trip.
Tomorrow: Amsterdam! And remember, it’s a travel day, so if you don’t hear from us promptly or at all tomorrow, DO NOT ASSUME WE ARE DEAD. If a train had squashed us, it would be on the news.
Unschooling Europe tag