Bruges, Belgium: Chocolates, the Queen, Jordan’s King and Canals


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Europe » Belgium » West Flanders » Bruges
May 19th 2016
Published: May 24th 2016
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Bruges, Belgium: Chocolates, the Queen, Jordan’s King and Canals

This stop was totally unplanned. It seems there is a port strike in La Havre, France so we were not able to go to see the beaches of Normandy, made famous during WWII. Instead, we came to Bruges, Belgium!

We got off the ship in Zeebrugge, Belgium. It is very busy industrial port. This port handles much of the freight traffic for Belgium along with Antwerp and Ghent…lots of cranes everywhere.

Bruges is known in Europe as the “Venice of the North” (but we have heard this before in many cities including Shanghai (Venice of the East)-LOL. However Brugge does have lots of canals. We trekked into the medieval town over cobblestone streets that are not easy to walk on…we have to pay attention to where we step. We pass through a beautiful park, over bridges and come upon our first canal with lovely white swans floating, intermingled with ducks. We continue on through an archway in the city wall and immediately smell…. chocolate! …all kinds, shapes, flavors, and colors….all tempting but overwhelming with all of the choices.

Belgium is renowned for its chocolates and since Sharon and Dave, having been here before, are the experts and keep us posted what kinds of choices will be the best. Cope feels a diabetic attack coming on just looking at all the tempting delights, but he does find some lovely sugar free chocolates with nuts.

The streets are generally very narrow so when delivery trucks were out, along with the few passenger cars, it was quite crowded. Horses were going by as people were taking carriage rides around Old Town. Well, guess what, King Abdullah of Jordan andQueen Rania are here to meet with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium. As we pass through the main market square we come upon Jordan’s official ceremonial band getting out of a bus. They are putting on all their headgear and band uniform regalia. Quite a sight.

As we continue to wander the maze of small streets off the square and our guide tells us that we are at The Chocolate Line, a chocolate shop that has been providing the Queen with exceptional chocolates for 30 years. Dominique Personne is the owner and just as we walk by he comes to the door. Our group leader asks him if he is excited about the queens coming to visit and naturally he says he is. His is smiling and happy. (http://www.thechocolateline.be/en/)

As we walked around the town we saw beautiful ornate old buildings. Bruges is a major tourist attraction and, as the day went on, quickly filled up with lots tourists. So everywhere we went it seemed crowded with lots of people shopping. Jean stopped in a shop to buy some pillow covers with the bright red poppies on them, like we have seen all over Europe. She mentioned to the salesperson that it must be busy for her as there were so many people in town. The salesperson looked a little perplexed and said that “No, it is not crowded today, nor busy. People are staying away because of the Queen’s visit as they know there were be streets closed and hard to get around Brugge”. So much for what we know about crowds ;-)

Now it’s time for a canal boat ride. Talk about pretty! We see homes and former palaces. People are walking along the canal banks and across the bridges and waving to us ;-). We are so lucky, the day is sunny and beautiful.

Now with time on our own we head for the Church of Our Lady to see the Madonna of Bruges which is a marble sculpture by Michelangelo of Mary with the Child Jesus. The work is also notable in that was the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime. We sit and just look at her for a while….very peaceful and serene.

We have lunch at a café on the square and just relax and do some people-watching while we eat amazing Belgium Waffles with strawberries and cream ;-). Refreshed we are off for a little more souvenir shopping. Finally we are pooped and sit on a bench in a busy little square to wait for our ride “home”.





This stop was totally unplanned. It seems there is a port strike in La Havre, France so we were not able to go to see the beaches of Normandy, made famous during WWII. Instead, we came to Bruges, Belgium!

We got off the ship in Zeebrugge, Belgium. It is very busy industrial port. This port handles much of the freight traffic for Belgium along with Antwerp and Ghent…lots of cranes everywhere.

Bruges is known in Europe as the “Venice of the North” (but we have heard this before in many cities including Shanghai (Venice of the East)-LOL. However Brugge does have lots of canals. We trekked into the medieval town over cobblestone streets that are not easy to walk on…we have to pay attention to where we step. We pass through a beautiful park, over bridges and come upon our first canal with lovely white swans floating, intermingled with ducks. We continue on through an archway in the city wall and immediately smell…. chocolate! …all kinds, shapes, flavors, and colors….all tempting but overwhelming with all of the choices.

Belgium is renowned for its chocolates and since Sharon and Dave, having been here before, are the experts and keep us posted what kinds of choices will be the best. Cope feels a diabetic attack coming on just looking at all the tempting delights, but he does find some lovely sugar free chocolates with nuts.

The streets are generally very narrow so when delivery trucks were out, along with the few passenger cars, it was quite crowded. Horses were going by as people were taking carriage rides around Old Town. Well, guess what, King Abdullah of Jordan andQueen Rania are here to meet with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium. As we pass through the main market square we come upon Jordan’s official ceremonial band getting out of a bus. They are putting on all their headgear and band uniform regalia. Quite a sight.

As we continue to wander the maze of small streets off the square and our guide tells us that we are at The Chocolate Line, a chocolate shop that has been providing the Queen with exceptional chocolates for 30 years. Dominique Personne is the owner and just as we walk by he comes to the door. Our group leader asks him if he is excited about the queens coming to visit and naturally he says he is. His is smiling and happy. (http://www.thechocolateline.be/en/)

As we walked around the town we saw beautiful ornate old buildings. Bruges is a major tourist attraction and, as the day went on, quickly filled up with lots tourists. So everywhere we went it seemed crowded with lots of people shopping. Jean stopped in a shop to buy some pillow covers with the bright red poppies on them, like we have seen all over Europe. She mentioned to the salesperson that it must be busy for her as there were so many people in town. The salesperson looked a little perplexed and said that “No, it is not crowded today, nor busy. People are staying away because of the Queen’s visit as they know there were be streets closed and hard to get around Brugge”. So much for what we know about crowds ;-)

Now it’s time for a canal boat ride. Talk about pretty! We see homes and former palaces. People are walking along the canal banks and across the bridges and waving to us ;-). We are so lucky, the day is sunny and beautiful.

Now with time on our own we head for the Church of Our Lady to see the Madonna of Bruges which is a marble sculpture by Michelangelo of Mary with the Child Jesus. The work is also notable in that was the only sculpture by Michelangelo to leave Italy during his lifetime. We sit and just look at her for a while….very peaceful and serene.

We have lunch at a café on the square and just relax and do some people-watching while we eat amazing Belgium Waffles with strawberries and cream ;-). Refreshed we are off for a little more souvenir shopping. Finally we are pooped and sit on a bench in a busy little square to wait for our ride “home”.


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