Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Brugge...Land of Canals

On the train early in the morning, heading for Brugge. We had a steady drizzle all the way down, making us feel like we're right at home. Never poured, never rained, just stayed gray and misty all day. Fortunately, we were on the train so it made no difference.

Honestly...the canals are wider
than most of the roads! The view is
from our window
We arrived in the drizzle, standing outside, sans umbrellas, trying to snag a cab or figure out the bus system. Not easy when they insist on writing everything in Dutch...doing lots of guessing. Got the cab and was SO glad that we did. The roads are crazy narrow - Japan has wide roads in comparison! We wove through the town, totally lost - and so was the driver! She mistook where we were going and when she realized it; we had to wind back through the narrow lanes to find our apartment. I think we could navigate the bus now but glad we didn't try first thing.

OMG The place we have here is fantastic! Jeff has been reserving small apartments through a new website and boy has he found some wonderful places. This one has two great rooms downstairs along with a wonderful a great sitting room/kitchen upstairs. We have a view of the canal and houses across the way - old brick houses bedecked with ivy, ferns, and window boxes filled with flowers. The room is rustic modern - a great blend of old style wood and furniture with a modern twist.

One of many canals
Roaming through the rain-soaked streets we found history oozing at us. Brugge is a canal-based city and is sometimes called the "Venice of the North" because so much of the city is build around the many canals meandering through the area. Historically it was the chief commercial city of the world because of its location on trade routes. Like other cities, it has gone up and down but now tourism has taken over with millions coming to check out historic monuments and churches. Well, we're here to vouch for thousands roaming the streets! It's interesting staying in a home instead of a hotel. This side of town (the area is a whole 1.5 miles or so across) is relatively quiet; a few restaurants nestled in the houses, a small bar here or there. Across the market area, things change, with many more pubs and bars with outside seating and lots of music surrounding the various hotels.

An evening ramble took us through some of the gorgeous churches in the area. The Church of Our Lady has one of the tallest brick towers in the world. It dominates the city skyscape. The church was built over the period of 200 years - apparent in the various styles and structures found around the building. It follows one of the many canals, giving picturesque vistas of the building and surrounding water at sunset.

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