Awoke to another beautiful day in Amsterdam and walked a mile to the Sixt rental car office. We were a little concerned about driving amongst all the bicycles as they seem to not watch out for anyone! We picked up our car, a Mercedes Klasse C and drove very carefully back to our hotel to retrieve our luggage. We had been given a few lessons on the navigation system but still have not figured out how to get her to speak to us. Oh well, I will Google it tonight.
We departed The Parkview Hotel and drove out of Amsterdam with no problems taking the motorway (interstate) with a reservation in Bruges for tonight. It was about a 2.5 hour trip through beautiful farmland and dairy farms. Arriving in Bruges was similar to being in Lexington after spending time in New York. We have a lovely room overlooking a canal at the Martin’s Relais Brugge. We first ate pizza at Trattoria Trium, a family owned Italian restaurant that had wonderful pizza and Belgium beer. We did a tour about town and saw many of the historical sites.
Including The Main Market Square - "Markt" in Flemish spelling, also known as the Gross Markt or Old Market. The Markt is the very heart of Bruges and brings together many people, lots of overpriced and not so good restaurants, and the Belfry of Bruges arguably the most famous part of The Markt square. Taller and more impressive than any of the other building it was built in 1240 as a wooden tower on a stone building. While the rest of the square was mostly commercial with wool and fabric traders and warehouses the building housing the Belfry was the home of city officials who performed the important financial functions for the city.
From there we went to Burg Square. This place was already inhabited in the 2nd century AD, and in the 9th century it became the base of operations of the Count of Flanders. The Palace of the Liberty of Bruges was the place from which the surrounding countryside was governed from the Late Middle Ages until 1795. To the left of the 14th-century city hall you will find the old Court of Justice, a rare example of Renaissance architecture in Bruges, and to the right you will find the Basilica of the Holy Blood, where the relic of the Holy Blood is kept. The double church, dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Basil in the 12th century and a basilica since 1923, consists of a lower church that has maintained its Romanesque character and a neo-Gothic upper church, in which the relic of the Holy Blood is kept. As we walked over to the display area, a priest rung a bell and the container made of rock crystal glass and ienclosed in a gold cylinder, was removed, put into a lock box and carried to a safe. Click here to read more — https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_the_Holy_Blood
From one church to the next, we visited the 115.5 meters high brick tower of the Church of Our Lady which is a perfect illustration of the craftsmanship of Bruges’ artisans. The tower dominates the Brugian skyline making it the second highest brick building in the world. Building work on the current church began in 1225 and took 2 centuries to build. Popular here is a beautiful Carrara marble Madonna and Child sculpture by Michelangelo.
This statue, made in 1504, was the only one of Michelangelo's works to leave Italy in his lifetime and is today one of the few that can be seen outside Italy. It was bought by a Bruges merchant, Jan van Mouskroen, and donated to the church in 1506.
We returned to our room for a rest and then walked to dinner at Restaurant Pieter Pourbus. It is named after the painter 'Pieter Pourbus', who lived in this house during the period of the'Flemish Primitives'. Many of his original paintings hang in the house today. The cozy restaurant is part of a historic house, built in 1561. Ben and I both had Steak Pieter Pourbus with a cream sauce, frites and salad. Delicious food! We returned to the hotel for an early night.
As this Sunday comes to a close, I miss my church in Lexington but celebrate the opportunity to travel and see the Belgium area Grandmother Compton migrated from in the early 1900’s. As we traveled, I felt a closeness to this remarkable woman, Ben’s grandmother, Suzanne Corvette Compton.