Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 9 - Brugge, Belgium (2011)

Today we got to explore Brugge, the capital and largest city of West Flanders, located in the northwest of the region. The city is also called Venice of the North so we expected canals and probably a cruise if we have time.

It's around 100kms from the place where we were staying in Brussels, roughly an hour drive.

What best place to start exploring this city but its historic city center. But before that we needed to find a good parking spot, not far from the attractions and not too expensive.

on our way to the MARKT ("Market Square")

i just needed to have a photo op when I saw these lovely flowers displayed on the windows of these stretch of houses

we knew we were getting closer as the number of people (tourists) walking in the same direction as we were heading increased

Finally, we arrived at the Markt
On the left is the Provinciaal Hof (a neogothic building). On the right is the Belfort (a medieval bell tower), one of the city's most prominent land marks.

bikes in the middle of the Markt

the City hall which dominates the square

The Belfry is around 83 meters high and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. It's not obvious in this photo, and I had really no idea until I read more about it, but the tower leans about a meter to the east. That's Brugge's version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

we were wondering why a lot of visitors were queuing in front of the Provinciaal Hof 

we found out there were lining up to get a chance to have a romantic ride on this carriage

tourists get to see the the old city of Brugge aboard this horse-drawn carriage 
(for a fee, of course!)

take 1

take 2

The Grand Palace

Basilica of the Holy Blood
- best known for it's possession of the phial believed to contain a cloth with the blood of Jesus 

Blinde Ezelstraat (blind donkey street)
 - the cradle of Flanders where the former fortified building was

one of the canals of Brugge

tourists queuing up for a canal cruise ride

We didn't venture into the canals since we had limited time to explore the city. It was nice to reminisce our day trip in Amsterdam though.

While walking around, we passed by a flea market and stopped to rest while the kids and ladies looked around for good buys.

the flea market which was then a fish market

Ira ogling at some of the wooden toy cars while the other adults were checking out products like bead jewelry, home-made soaps, hand-painted plates, etc.

a vintage car driving around the streets of Brugge. I remember a scene like this when we visited Disneyland in USA years ago.

We also passed by a place which had rides for the kids. The youngest in the group wasn't able to resist.
first to ride

the older kids followed

Before the ride ended, the ride operator dangled this mop-looking thing. Whoever caught it will get another ride FOR FREE. Guess who got the free ride?

Church of Our Lady

at the entrance of Begijnhof (Baguinage)

The Beguinage is a group of houses around a little garden covered with large poplar trees. It became a monastery for the Benedictine sisters in the 1937 who still live there until now.

we were informed by one of the ladies residing in the Benguinage that the main gate will be closed soon. We were advised to take the other gate when we exit.

family photo at the lovely gardens which looked like a forest

we got into the Beguinage late in the afternoon, so we just followed the walking path around the gardens and looked for the exit door, as advised earlier. 

approaching the exit door, where we saw one group of tourist talking to someone from the building on the right. It took a long time before the gate was opened. We were worried that we were going to be stuck in the place for the night! Good thing the kind lady they talked to was able to open the gate somehow.

the buildings in the Beguinage from the outside

ladies only photo, but Ira jumped in :)

Minnewater - a canalized lake mostly referred to as the "lake of love" because of the idyllic surroundings

lovers at the lake of love

making our way back to the parking lot

a little bit tired from the walk

Driving back we passed by a few windmills. Who would have thought there were windmills in Belgium? (well, we did!). Since we didn't get to see the windmills in Amsterdam up close, we decided to stop over and let the kids play in the field. And also to have photo op with the windmill.

here it is! Traditional windmill.

we walked up the hill to get a close look at the windmill and have a photo taken with it.

we stayed for a while and played around with the kids

that's me sitting out of the game, 
while the kids were so psyched and were in their competitive mode.

When we've all gotten tired of the running and no one wanted to give up the champion title, we knew we were ready to head home.

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