Sunday 26 February 2023

Bruges wanderings, Part 1

Hello, and welcome to Part 2 of my latest travelogue!

As forecasted, all traces of the gorgeous Springlike weather we'd been blessed with earlier that week seemed to have disappeared when we woke up on Thursday morning. The world outside our B&B room's window was painted a dull uniform grey and, if the weathermen were to be believed, the temperature was about to revert to single digits once more. It's a good thing we brought a choice of caps and berets, as we would most definitely need them!



In spite of the combined relaxing effects of our night-time whirlpool bath, the absurdly comfortable bed and our blissfully quiet surroundings, I hadn't slept all that well that night. That is, I'd slept like the proverbial log until about 4 am when, after a visit to the loo, I had a sneezing fit which resulted in a - thankfully short-lived - nosebleed, after which I was wide awake and couldn't get back to sleep. I kept  tossing and turning for well over an hour during which, excited by next day's prospects, I mentally planned a full itinerary taking in Bruges' most picturesque sights. Needless to say, I was still very much in the land of dreams when the alarm on Jos's phone went off.



Taking our time to get ready, it was about an hour later that we left our room in the annex and - under the watchful gaze of our neighing neighbour in the stables opposite - made our way to the breakfast room.

Only one table was set, and in fact we'd have the place to ourselves for two mornings running, which meant that all Veronique's attention was lavished on us. After an appetizer of fruit and yoghurt and a glass of refreshing homemade apple juice, we attacked the basket of rolls, crusty bread and croissants.




To accompany these, there was a choice of cheeses and meats, as well as slices of delicious, melt-in-the-mouth smoked salmon.

Additionally, Jos accepted Veronique's offer of eggs, choosing a soft-boiled one, which came dressed in its own knitted cosy. Being supplied by the B&B's own chickens, the egg couldn't have been fresher.



We lingered over breakfast, which meant that it was well past 10 am before we stepped into our car for the 20-minute or so drive to Bruges, taking care to avoid the motorway which might have gotten us there faster but which wouldn't have been as much fun.

Our Satnav effortlessly took us to the big multi-storey car park situated below the concert building on the 't Zand square, which is within spitting distance from the city centre. Our ultimate destination was the Markt (Market Square) but as we had all the time in the world we decided to wander towards it in a roundabout way, making use of some quieter back streets instead of taking the main shopping thoroughfares.



We soon passed the magnificent Prinsenhof (Princes' Court, above, top left and right), which used to be one of the favourite residences of the Dukes of Burgundy.  In the 15th century, it was expanded into a large estate comprising, in addition to living quarters and guest rooms, a library, a donjon, pleasure gardens with a zoo and a huge bath house. I'm sure it won't surprise you that it is now a luxury hotel!

Then we walked under the Muntpoort (Mint Gate) leading to the quiet Muntplein (Mint Square), which is reigned by the striking statue Flandria Nostra designed by sculptor Jules Lagae in 1901. The horse-riding lady is said to represent Mary of Burgundy.




A short stroll along a narrow cobbled street devoid of any other tourists took us in the direction of the Leeuwbrug (Lion's Bridge), which crosses the Speelmansrei, a romantic tree-lined canal. The bridge is guarded by two placid, almost pussycat-like lions, their 17th-century front paws resting proudly on a shield bearing the gothic B of Bruges. Their gaze is directed towards the belfry, which on this particular morning was shrouded in a hazy veil.


On the canal's right we spotted the tower of the St. Jacobskerk (St. James's church) so we retraced our steps and took a side street leading towards it, then continued walking along the eponymous St. Jacobsstraat. Incidentally, Bruges' tiny Think Twice shop is in this street but, believe it or not, I decided to ignore it and pass through the cobblestoned Boterhuis lane (below, bottom left), the site of a former dairy market whose origins date back to 1580.


We emerged onto the Naaldenstraat (Needle Street) where we soon spotted Hof Bladelin (Bladelin Court, see detail top right), a city palace built around 1440 by Pieter Bladelin, treasurer of the order of the Golden Fleece. Only open on Friday afternoons, we have yet to visit this little know gem with its many treasures and atmospheric inner courtyard. 


Before making our way to the Markt for lunch, we made a little detour to Jan van Eyckplein (Jan van Eyck Square), where we had our respective portraits taken perched on the stone parapet of the Koningsbrug (King’s Bridge) which backs the majestic Spiegelrei.

Having arrived at the Markt, we made a beeline for our favourite of the row of restaurants catering for the constant stream of tourists, Le Pannier d'Or. One of the waiters even recognized us from last time we were here, in March 2022. They are doing an excellent Witloof in de oven, a Belgian classic featuring chicory rolled in ham, baked in the oven with mashed potatoes and a cheesy BĂ©chamel sauce. Yummy!



But, wait a minute, I can hear you thinking. What about that special treat you mentioned in your previous post? It's past lunch time and so far I haven't noticed anything particularly special about your day, apart from the obvious fact that you're spending it in Bruges ... Well, bear with me, and all will be revealed in a minute.

Our lunch finished, we strolled across the square to the Belfry, where we'd agreed to meet ... my  lovely blogging friend Kezzie and her husband! I'd had the honour of meeting them in my hometown Antwerp last February so, when Kezzie mentioned they'd be spending their half-term break in Bruges, we wasted no time in planning another meet-up.

After a quick catch-up, we started walking to our chosen destination, with Kezzie's husband and me leading the way, and Kezzie being taught some basic Flemish by Jos along the way. No photos were taken during our walk, as obviously as we were far too busy chatting. Not to mention circumnavigating the endless roadworks - apparently, my night time itinerary planning hadn't bargained for the latter!



Jos and I had already visited the Adornes Estate and its magnificent Jerusalem Chapel back in February 2020, when we celebrated our Silver Wedding Anniversary. Located in a quiet neighbourhood well away from Bruges' so-called Golden Triangle, it was an oasis of calm empty of any tourists apart from the four of us. I'm sure the guy at the ticket office couldn't believe his luck when we turned up.



After watching a film in the almshouses in which the unique story of the estate was unfolded, and a not entirely unsuccessful attempt at trying one of the interactive quizzes in the museum, it was time for ... outfit photos!


In spite of the cold, Kezzie and I swiftly removed our coats to show you what we were wearing that day.

Kezzie wore a gorgeous pair of turquoise culottes she'd found at Think Twice, combined with a fabulous Seasalt jumper she'd snaffled off eBay at a steeply reduced price. 

Apart from our height difference - look at how small vertically challenged me is compared to her - we were actually matching, as I was wearing turquoise as well. It was my dress's first outing since finding it at Think Twice back in January. Kezzie later said its pattern made her think of Tardises!



Donning our coats again to keep ourselves from freezing - no sunshine, no warmth - we then entered the Jerusalem Chapel where, for once, we didn't have to photograph around our fellow tourists. Well, apart from the one with the red plastic bag who seemed to be following us around. The bag, by the way, contained our umbrellas as well as a present for Kezzie.

The Adornes family originates from the Italian city of Genoa, but came to Flanders in the 13th Century. 
Its best-known descendant is Anselm Adornes, who became an influential businessman, diplomat and knight in the 15th Century, when the estate was built. The chapel was consecrated in 1429




Anselm Adornes and his wife, Margareta van der Banck, are buried in the black marble tomb in the chapel, although in the case of Anselm Adornes, it is supposedly only his heart which is enshrined here, as these are the only remains that were able to be returned to Bruges after he was murdered in Scotland in 1483.



The architecture and layout of the chapel and its extraordinary relics are illustrations of the great reverence of the Adornes family for Jerusalem.  It is, in fact, quite a macabre monument, with a gruesome altarpiece covered in skull motifs.

By then, we were all feeling the cold and were gasping for a sit-down and a nice hot beverage. 

How lovely then that the estate's current owners have created a cosy room, dubbed the Scottish Lounge, with comfortable chairs, board games, books and refreshments for visitors. The latter are paid for by way of a "honesty box" in the form of the biggest piggy bank Kezzie had ever seen.




We continued having the lounge to ourselves, which couldn't have been more perfect, especially on this day with its less than perfect weather. I think we stayed in there, reclining in those wonderful Chesterfields and chatting non-stop, for well over an hour. If we'd had stayed any longer, they would have had to turf us out at the museum's closing time.

It had started raining lightly when we left to make our way back to the city centre, the precipitation gradually increasing in heaviness until we decided to seek out another place for a drink and some food including a giant bowl of fries for Kezzie and CBC since they had skipped lunch. 



And so endeth a wonderful and memorable day!

I won't mention the fact that, as we were concentrating on finding the correct car park exit, we'd forgotten to enter our destination in our Satnav so that yet again we got a tiny bit lost, but we eventually made it back to the B&B in one piece.

After eating the rest of yesterday's tapas board - which Veronique had kindly clingfoiled for us - and another soak in a far too hot whirlpool bath, we were ready for bed.

But not before showing you Kezzie's presents. She gave me two of her books (I'm currently reading the Ladies' Choir one), a packet of lavender shortbread, and a fabulous orange flower brooch.

I'll be back with the third and final part of my travelogue shortly!




32 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a great day.

    We're back in Canada. Our trip to Brussels was a bit shorter than we'd planned due to airlines changing our tickets. Didn't make it to Waterloo but husband found the Royal War Museum and off we went. Taxi driver seemed confused as to why we'd want to go there but husband spent 40 odd years in the Forces, so off we went. Walked back in the rain BUT there is no better way to see a city.

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    1. What a shame about the airline changing your tickets and making your trip even shorter :-) I'm glad you enjoyed Brussels in spite of the rain! xxx

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  2. It was so nice to accompany you on this great day. A meeting with blog friends is always an experience. I will never forget meeting Traude in Bangkok.
    Great that you had so much peace and this church is really very unusual and I would have liked the Scottish Louge too. 😊
    hughest of hugs Tina

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    1. Thank you Tina, aren't blogger meet-ups exciting? xxx

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  3. sounds like a glorious day indeed!!
    brĂŒgge is such a beautiful and picturesque town - love that you catched all the intersting details..... how cool to meet kezzie again and find a cosy lounge to hang around in.
    i recognize the chapel from a dokumentary about the big merchants of ancient europe!
    xxxx

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    1. It definitely was a most glorious day, made infinitely better by meeting Kezzie again! xxx

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  4. What a lovely day you had and that's a gorgeous brooch from Kezzie!
    It's testament to how beautiful Bruges is that you decided to skip the Think Twice shop!
    I enjoyed the Jerusalem chapel with its black marble tomb. What gruesome times they were. I wonder if his heart really is in there? xxx

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    1. Thank you Claire! Having no less than 5 Think Twice shops at my disposal in Antwerp, it was no hardship to skip the Bruges one ... I've been wondering about the heart as well ... xxx

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  5. Such a shame that the temperatures dropped and the weather was grey! Oh no. I'm sorry that you didn't sleep well and had a nosebleed. No wonder you couldn't fall back asleep after all of that. I'm glad you were able to take your time getting ready in the morning at least. The food looks like it was wonderful! So glad you were able to see lots of beautiful sights during the day. I always love seeing your pictures. You find the most beautiful and unique locations. I just love the picture of you in front of the water. Wow!

    the creation of beauty is art.

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    1. Thank you so much Shannon! For some reason we always take photos in that very same spot! xxx

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  6. Great - thank you very much and I had to smile at the photos of you both on the bridge on the canal...just wonderful.

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  7. Aw, you got to meet up with Kezzie! I'm so envious of the meet-ups you folks in the UK/Europe get to do!

    Wonderful pics, Ann, and didn't my jaw drop when you passed by a Think Twice!! I love seeing all the pics of you and Jos, plus the visit with Kezzie!

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    1. Haha, yes, isn't it shocking I skipped that Think Twice shop? xxx

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  8. Beautiful photos, I can see that it was a successful trip :)
    Great very inspiring post!
    Greetings from Poland!

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  9. What a perfect day! What better for breakfast then salmon and fresh eggs! I want to visit Bruges too, ben there once, such amazing buildings and atmosphere. And so lovely to spend the day with Kenzie and her husband. The weather doesn't even mind when you are in good company!

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    1. Oh yes, it's smoked salmon and eggs for breakfast for me every time! xxx

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  10. Such a happy time!!!
    It was a lovely day and I only wish we could do it again!!! Xx

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    1. It was a gold framed day, Kezzie, and I too wish we could do it again! xxx

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  11. Hello Ann, I thought I'd better read in the proper order, but have somehow squiffed that up. How lovely to meet up with Kezzie. I see what she means, your dress is very Tardis like! I too was surprised to hear you walked past Think Twice. I'm off to see your other posts for some more gorgeous Bruges architecture... xXx

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    1. I absolutely LOVED meeting up with Kezzie again. I might have walked past Think Twice, but apparently she didn't :-) xxx

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  12. You walked past a Think Twice shop? Well, I never...

    Bruges looks absolutely amazing. I fell in love with it after watching the film with the same name and you are showing far more in your travelogue. Thank you.

    How lovely you got to meet up with Kezzie and her partner. I like the sound of lavender shortbread!
    xxx

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    1. I know ... but I can go to a Think Twice shop in Antwerp any time! xxx

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  13. Thank you for your second instalment of Bruges wanderings. So enjoyable. I have only been to Bruges once, but will return before too long I hope. I stayed at The Prinsenhof, known to me as The Duke's Palace. I must remember to re-visit your Bruges posts when planning my next trip there.

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    1. The Duke's Palace, of course! Was it very swanky? xxx

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  14. So lovely to visit Bruges, it's such a fabulous place (I visited it some years ago and would like to go back!, but it's difficult!)
    And even more fabulous because you met Kezzie and could chat and enjoy a fab time!. Both of you look lovely and your tardises print made me laugh!.
    Lovely photos, dear Anne, your posts really cheer my day up!
    besos

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    1. Aww, you're most welcome, Monica! If you ever do make it to Bruges, let me know! xxx

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  15. What a fantastic second day, the Bruges architecture is stunning!
    How exciting, Ann and Kezzie in one post! I bet meeting up with she and CBC more than made up for the dreary weather and your unfortunate start to the day.
    Veronique's hosting and culinary skills are splendid, no wonder you and Jos keep returning. xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix! I don't think any of us minded the weather very much! xxx

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  16. Thank you for the tour. You two had a wonderful get-together it seems. :-)

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