Disappointed, Delighted and so Proud
Jul 26, 2012
|July 25/26 2012
Disappointment. Delight and Canadian Pride
July 25 was a full day event though we only biked about 45 KMs (1500 calories). We modified our ride today to try and bike only in shade—which meant biking on the shady side of canals and through a huge national park. The reason we took this approach is that the temp was creeping over 30 and with a good level of humidity—it was very hot.
During our biking, we found 2 castles—pictures above
Besides biking, we spent a few hours in Bruges—we bought supplies in the AM at the Wednesday Market and later in the day, we found another market and bought supplies for a train ride to Oosterbeek. Bruges is a wonderful City and we will have to try and spend more time here next year. We found a few more beautiful squares and great areas to eat and drink.
We had our final lunch on one of the canals (mussels and frites) and watched the tour boats on the canals.
Last night, we finished our night at the main square and listened to another carillon concert. The Bell Tower has 42 bells that weigh about 47,000 lbs. If the bells are not being played by a person then they can be played mechically by a drum (think of an old 78 rpm record) but only larger—it weighs 8 tons. This Bell Tower (Belfry) is amazing when you think it was built in the 13th century and the bells and drum are at the top of this 290 ft. tower.
We took an evening tour of Flanders Fields and attended the Last Post that has been performed every night at 8 PM at the Menin Gate in Ypres since 1928 to honor the Dead. There were 4 Buglers—the oldest was 84 and he had been doing the Last Post for 50 years. It was interesting –there were a few dignitaries laying wreathes at the monument—one was Eddie Merckel (maybe the greatest cyclist of modern times). The Menin Gate marks a bridge that all of the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis crossed before they went to battle. There are 54,896 names in this Archway representing troops that perished but never were found,
We attended the Tyne Cot Cemetery- (11,986 with 954 being Canadians)
The Guide spoke so passionately about WW I and the role that Canadians played in the various battles—made us proud to be a Canadian.
In the tour, we saw craters that remain in the Fields and shells by the edge of the roads—the bomb squad is called out weekly to the Fields because of the unexploded shells that are rising to the surface in the Fields.
We also went by Vancouver Corner—there is a Canadian Monument relating to 6,000 Canadians that were gassed in one of the Battles. It was a beautiful Monument.
After writing about WW I and the millions of soldiers that perished, my next comments are relatively shallow.
Our greatest disappointment in Bruges were the French Fries—everyone raves about the double deep frying and we went to a stand recommended by Rick Steves (Sue is a RS disciple)—we had fries and mayonnaise---they were very underwhelming.
Our greatest delight in Bruges was the Belgium Chocolates—again, we followed Rick Steves recommendation to find a Chocolate Shop that is owned by the Dumon Family—Rick did not let us down—exquisite chocolates.
The last thing that we did was to attend at the Basilica of the Holy Blood---according to legend, in 1150, the blood of Christ was brought to Bruges after the 2nd Crusade. Supposedly, the dried blood began to turn to liquid every Friday from 1150 to 1325. Every Ascension Day there is parade of the Vial through the Streets of Bruges. You could stand in front of the Vial (like the veneration of the Cross)—it was quite moving.
We will return to Bruges.
Al & Sue