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Report 121: Three Months in Holland
By Marta (Moderator) from Washington State, Spring 1996
Page 8 of 8: Brugge
June 3, 1996 It is our last week in the Netherlands. We have been busy with visiting a few more places before we leave.
We went to Brugge over the Pinkersdag Holiday. This is Whit Monday holiday in most of Europe. The weather was very much like Seattle, wet and windy. We decided to do a one-day trip to Brugge in Belgium.
Brugge is about 3 hours by train from Leiden. The train trip was non-eventful as usual and we arrived to find it crowded and overcast in Brugge. Brugge is a city that has been fortunate to retain many of buildings from the middle ages to the 1700's and it has a wonderful ambience. Brugge was once the trading capital of the Low Countries. It was very important in the 1500's and 1600's for textiles that were important commodities in the middle ages. Eventually the river became impassable and Brugge was no longer an important trading city.
It is also a city with many canals so there are many of bridges and boat trips. The food is also wonderful using dishes that use fresh ingredients. We walked from the train station to the city center that has a large clock tower. It was time for lunch so we choose a nice French restaurant on a street off the main square for a lunch of fish (for George) and lamb.
After lunch, we wanted to take a boat trip of the canals. Unfortunately it started to rain, we instead we went into the Basilica of the Holy Blood. The Basilica of the Holy Blood contains a religious relic from the middle ages. A knight returning from a Crusade rewarded a sponsor with a vial of blood that had been sponged off Christ after he had died on the cross. This blood would liquefy every Friday for many years. Once a year, on Ascension Day, there is a parade through the city with the relic carried in a large ornate silver container.
The rain stopped and we were able to take canal trip without the crowds. It is definitely worth it. After the canal trip, it was time for a beer. We found a wonderful bar that specialized in beers, 't Brugs Beertje at Kemelstraat 5. It has over 250 beers on the menu listed by area of Belgium. It was crowded and we invited a British couple to join us at our table. We had a good discussion about beer since he, too, was a beer fan.
Sunday was sunny. We went to the train station and rented a bike for our last opportunity for a bike ride in Holland. We took a loop trip to Katwijk and through the dunes to Wassenaar and return to Leiden. I love to ride in Holland. Everything is flat, but you do have to watch out for which way the wind is blowing.
We have really enjoyed our stay but it is time to leave. We hope to return soon.
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