Published: April 15th 2008April 15th 2008
When most people think of Belgium, the city to visit that comes to mind is usually Brussels. I originally thought this, too, but from speaking to Europeans as well as searching for information we decided the city of Brugge to be our Belgium adventure. It proved to be a good choice!
When we arrived at night, Brugge's quiet cobblestone streets paved our way to the hostel. Along these old yet manicured passages were shops, restaurants, apartments and hotels were lined up like a box of weather-worn pastel chalks. While the city was quiet at night, it didn't feel dead. Bars and restaurants in nooks of the squares lit up with candles, fancy lights and good conversation. So after checking into our very comfortable hostel (less than a 10 minute walk from the train station), we watched a little of the place's many English-speaking sitcoms on TV, while making plans to go out.
After a meander around the streets and squares we settled on a bar with few inhabitants for a relaxing drink before getting sleep for our self-guided tour of Brugges the next day. I got a hot decaf coffee with lots of sugar and cream and a small
cookie as temperatures had dropped with nightfall.
In the morning, we ate a slow breakfast at 9, though the temperatures weren't very extensive. Then we exited into the crisp yet comfortable air. The perfect weather for a bike ride...so that's just what we did. We rented bikes and tried to explore the city streets this way. It was a little complicated as the constantly shifting/curving cobblestone streets were narrow and full of people searching for the perfect chocolate, waffle delights, or Belgium handmade lace doilies. Belgium is also known for fries and beer (there are over 700 varieties made here!) We began by sampling melt in your mouth chocolates, watching lollipops being made and browsing shops.
Also Brugges houses one of Michaelangelo's only sculptures found outside of Ital--the Madonna and Child. The intricacy and expressions captured were moving...the whole church was. pews were lined with shrubs and rows if yellow, lime stemmed daffodils, which emanated life and spring time feelings...like celebrating the Lord in a secret garden. Another element of the church that I enjoyed was the focus on missions/evangelism. In the back was a wooden table surrounded by stools, which was scattered with colorful pictures and pencils
for children to display their talents. On the table was a poster telling the Belgian children about the kids in Haiti, whom the church was supporting, whose Spring practice was to create "colorful planes" on kites. The children were encouraged to hang their drawings on the string of a kite hovering over the table. On the drawings they were to write a few words about a talent, like making kites, that God had given them. It was awesome. and inspired me even more to ministering to children---Jesus says, "Let the little children come to me...do not hinder them for such of the kingdom are these." I remember back in first grade we had a large production on St. John's gymnasium stage, shouting praises to the Lord, filling every corner of the rafted ceiling. "Kids of the kingdom, that's what we are; kids of the kingdom that's what we are. Weeee love Jee-sus! We love the Lord!" Even though the thick cement walls of the church kept our bodies a little chilled, the warmth of Christ was present.
When we left our stay in the church it was sunny outside. As the group went on a beer museum tour, I
explored the streets a bit on my own; my favorite views were from the bridges over the many canals weaving through the city. Brugge is known as "Venice of the North", which made me very happy after having missed it on my spring break tour of Italy.
After they were done with the beer tour, we headed on the long bike paths into the countryside. It was everything I'd hoped for in seeing Dutch-lands...plush green fields, thick coated sheep, white horses, cottages and windmills. These were all seen along a manicured path which followed a canal lined with leaning trees. Wonderful.
As I sat on a train to Amsterdam, I looked out over misty vibrant green fields dotted with sheep and farm houses. It reminded me of the Midwest. As I neared Amsterdam, though, I have a feeling it will be nothing like the Midwest.
There are more photos below