Brugge: Day 4

Brugge has always been a city rich in culture. Knowing this I investigated the many museums available and decided to visit the Groeninges Museum and the Sint-Jans Hospitaalmuseum.

Steeple of Church of Our Lady

The Onze- Lieve Vrouwekerk or Church of Our Lady is on the way to the Groeninges. It currently is hosting the Michelangelo sculpture of Madonna with Child. Stop and see the church as while it is undergoing renovation it remains a beautiful work of art despite scaffolding.

Canal Ride – A Must Do..

As you leave the church journey over the Groeninges Bridge to the museum. This is the oldest bridge in Brugge. Boats filled with tourists pass under the bridge as you cross. Take a moment to observe the outcropping of flowers growing from the brick structures. Gardens abound everywhere in Brugge, even in the bricks. Taking the canal ride is priceless, but, remember to bring cash as for this magic moment charge cards are not accepted.

Once over the bridge there is another garden with sculptures. Here I had a picnic lunch with a visit from a friendly Brugge dog wishing I had a hot dog rather than lettuce. With the sun was warm, citizens and tourists friendly it made for a pleasant lunch. Sorry I couldn’t get my Brugge friend to sit still long enough for a shot. He sure was cute.

Sculpture Garden

Beyond the garden is the archway to the Groeninges Museum. This collection is mainly Flemish art with religious based pieces, expressionism, some modern art and many portraitures.

Sculpture leading to the Groeninges Museum

Patrons are also able to visit the nearby Arenshuis Museum with their Groeninges admission. Displayed here are the works of Sir Frank Brangywn, a native of Brugge. This proliferative artist traveled the world as he created etchings, lithographs, paintings and even furniture. His work is seen globally from New York City to New Zealand. As an avid museum buff I was impressed with his range and work.

Outside the museum a market selling antiques which spanned the length of the street along the canal was being held. Brugge market days are listed as Wednesday and Saturday, however, when I passed this area on Sunday it was once again open.

My next visit was the Sint-Jans Hospitaalmuseum. This museum is housed in one of the oldest hospitals in the world. Admission is priced on the number of venues selected and there are coupons in the museum flyer. I chose the special exhibits of Warhol, Picasso and the Egyptian Mummies, however, their permanent collection showcases Hans Memling and other European legends. Medieval hospital wards are also displayed with artifacts of the era.

The special exhibits were fascinating and well worth the price of the visit. There is a europass to cover the cost for some of the museums. A 3 day pass is 20E and available via the internet or at the train station.

The Warhol exhibit contained an extensive Campbell soup painting collection as well as Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor and Ingrid Bergman pictures. There was a concise and interesting biography of Warhol on the placards in the exhibit.

The Picasso exhibit was immense. His talents spanned painting to ceramics as well as stage design, poetry and sculpture. He is known to have created 50,000 works of art with 25,000 of them ceramic. He was also a communist and created the peace symbol of the dove.

With just a few strokes this was created. The exhibit also played a movie showing the artist create his work.

In the mummy exhibit ornate cartonnage on the sarcophagus was seen. The mummy wrappings were totally intact. What a treasure.

Outside the Sint-Jans was a garden area to sit and relax away from the hussle and bustle of the city. Plots of herbs and other greenery make this a lovely retreat and respite after visiting the museum.

Tomorrow: Time for prayer at the beautiful churches of Brugge.

Brugge: Day 3

Today began another sunny, cold, yet, rain less day in Brugge. It seems with global warming one can never predict how to dress or pack for touring. Grateful for the clothing store in the train station I purchased a heavy sweatshirt for over my fleece. To my chagrin the only sweatshirt available stated “New York City Original.” While it doesn’t say Brugge it is warm and I am a New Yorker.

Architectural Beauty

I started my day by exploring the city architecture. Each home is more unique than the next and one can easily get lost in the small streets. The visitor center has the best map, pick up several while there. The elder Belgians are helpful and even approach you as you stand holding a map with a puzzled look on your face. Never before did I have people stop me and say, “Are you lost? May I help you?” Look for those seniors and don’t forget to thank them.

Shoes are another concern for Brugge. Pack sneakers or any shoe with thick soles as the cobblestones are ghastly on your feet and you are going to want to walk, walk, walk, as there is so much to see.

Today I ventured the biking/ walking path surrounding the City. Here they had a runner’s marathon going on. While exploring windmills, walled city bridges and canals with ships making transport to the sea, tag teams of men ran by as bagpipes played.

Bagpipe playing on the day of a runner’s marathon

Once I returned to city center from my architectural tour another lively event was underway. Locals play in drum and orchestra groups throughout the season. Check for dates and times on this fun and free event. They performed several American songs and sounded quite well.

Concert in the square

In the square there are also many shops and historic places to see. It was here I found the Church of Saint Donaas, with The Basilic of the Holy Blood nearby as is City Hall and the Historium with a great balcony which serves beer and overlooks the square. Speaking of beer, don’t forget the great food – french fries, mussels, Flemish stew and of course to top it off Belgian chocolate.

Brugge is an important European city. It is the capital of the province of Flanders and a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It’s port has significant economic importance and the city is home to the College of Europe.

On to tomorrow where we will explore several museums.

Bruge: Day 1 yet 2*

Today I arrived after an idyllic flight into Brussels Airport. Equally idyllic was the train ride to Brugge with its comfortable seating and pleasant views of the countryside. Belgium has many cows, horses, and groomed fields ready for planting. As I gazed out the railroad window it amazed me how many bikes are used and even more, how do folks ever find them in these train parking lots?

Look at all those bikes!

Upon arriving in Brugge I quickly hustled to my hotel and then to the Half Moon Brewery Tour. While pricey at 12 Euro it was interesting and the beer tasty. I even ran into 2 gals from St. Augustine as I explored the restaurant area with pictures of Brugge through the last 6 generations of family that ran the brewery.

Begijnof Houses

After this I leaped over to the Begijnof. This began in 1245 as homes for widows and spinsters known as Beguines. These gals wished to live a pious and celibate life, however, since 1972 the Benedictine sisters have resided here along with women who wish to follow this way of life. Visitors freely walk the gated grounds in silence between allotted times and may visit the Catholic church on the property.

Outside of the Begijnof is the Minnewater Park or Lake of Love. Here swans swim and tourists eagerly snap pictures of the area. This is the welcoming spot to Brugge as tourists enter the city. Not far from the lake is a walking/biking path which surrounds the City. There are many bike rentals in Brugge and once you accommodate to the stone streets this is a viable means of transport.

See you tomorrow.

*You always loose a day when you travel to Europe from the US.

Brugge

View from the Top of the Half Moon Brewery

On my 2 previous trips to Brugge I have always yearned for more than the several hour visit. In my quest I Expedia’ed a 5 day stay for peanuts 6 months prior and planned my journey.

Actual walls of St. Donaas

Brugge is a place with roots originating as early as the 9th century. In fact the basement of the Brugge Crowne Plaza Hotel holds the original walls of the St. Donaas Church from that period. It is a must see, however, I am getting ahead of myself and let’s return to the origins of this fascinating city.

Frescos from church.

Brugge was founded by Vikings as a settlement from the North Sea in the 9th century. By the 12th century traders worldwide flocked here to sell their wares. In the 15th and 16th century Brugge saw decline and by the 1800’s it became Belgium’s poorest city.

The 20th century brought a resurgence with international travel flourishing. And flourish here it certainly does. Stayed tuned and I’ll update you on what to do during your stay.

Post Office Chats

One of the bright lights in my Florida world is Diane who works at the post office. She is a Southern woman with a steel magnolia personality and while our chats are brief they are always uplifting, insightful and to the point. And though she may not know it, she is my link to the Southern way.

I stumbled across her acquaintance in an unusual way. I needed a postal box as my condo mailbox was wet. Interesting how the twists and turns of life brings people to help. Who knew it would come from wet mail?

Noguchi Museum: JFK Layover

Have a long lay over at JFK and don’t feel like the hussle and bussle of Manhattan? Give a look at the Noguchi Museum, a Queens based sculpture museum of works by the Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi.

Address 9-01 33rd Road Astoria, phone 718-204-7088.

It’s a jewel hidden in a manufacturing district and while I had the address no one seemed to know it’s existence. Finally, after enlisting the support of NY’s finest, an NYPD street cop, I located it. From JFK take the Air Tran to Terminal 4 to the E train Sutphin Blvd to Queens Plaza, then a bus Jackson Ave to 21st Ave, but google or Waze it for more complete info. Takes about an hour to get there and I walked it from the train station which revealed an interesting neighborhood. It was a good way to stretch those legs after a long flight.

Besides the indoor and outdoor sculptures there is also an informative movie about the artist’s life. The tour with movie takes about 90 minutes if you do it right. Cost is reasonable and across the street is another great place to visit, The Socrates Sculpture Garden with impeccable views of NYC. A few cute restaurants are also nearby.

Take the time. Enjoy and get out of JFK. You’ll be glad you did.

Picking My Own News

After having the computer pick my news for decades I decided to opt out. Since my computer skills are limited I pondered how to do this then decided to ask Auntie Google. While there were many words I could have used on this topic I chose several kind, non-profane words and viola I had the recipe for success.

For the phone I went to settings and selected accounts I receive news from. Then to opt out I merely switched the icon from the yes position to no. What a simple process. If only everything in life that creates havoc could be resolved so easily. Maybe it can be? I think I’ll begin asking Auntie Google more often.

Squirrel Update

Squirrel eating a daisy

As promised here is an update on the squirrel situation. After spending $8. on moth balls, (and they don’t come colored), these herbivores continue to eat the plant stems. The smell of the moth balls have not detered them! However, I now have a new problem. Since the garden is outside my sliding glass door the smell of the moth balls permeates my condo and it will take a month for the smell to dissipate.

Henceforth, flowering bushes will be my only purchase. The squirrels have won.

VICTORY

Russian Trolling: Elections and now Measles

Our “Friend” the Russian Troll

The Russians have been busy messing with the world. They started with our elections, then messed with Britain, and now are back focusing on the US again. Apparently, the Russian trolls are responsible for flooding the internet with misinformation about the measles vaccine which is turn swayed folks not to vaccinate their children.

Putin’s fear of democracy is justified. If his people got a taste of democracy that would be the end of him. They surely would question how he got his $70 billion. He doesn’t allow internet access to his peeps, (except for the trolls), and whenever he travels in his country he closes down all the GPS of the area for his protection. The ultimate spy lives in terror and he needs to.

Bottom line: Vaccinate your children. Measles is a horrific illness and the loss of a child is devastating. Don’t let Putin and his trolls win.

Here’s what measles looks like and the skin stuff is the easy part.

Tattoos

I hate tattoos. My daughter has a dozen of them and I always tell her to find and marry the guy who comes up with an easy way to eradicate these beasts as she will be marrying a multi-billionaire.

As a child I recall seeing a man who had an armful of these. On the top of his one arm was a picture of a leggy, scantily dressed woman then something about this gal being the love of his life. Further down his arm were the names of 4 women, 3 of which had “x’s” through them. It was quite a site for a girl of 10.

But what left an even greater impact was seeing a man in his 90’s in a wheelchair in the NYC garment district. The tattooed numbers on his arm were associated with his concentration camp time.

Something to think about.