Casa’s Blog

A Life Abroad

You’re like a child. All the while I need you a lot. And these photographs keep me alive.

One thing you notice about Bruges is all the little things that I suppose if you rushed through the city you might miss.  The archetypal example of this is that most of the street corners have, about 3 quarters of the way up the building, little statues built into them.  I am sure there is some sort of significance that I am missing and odds are they are religious in tone.  However, I do find myself just ending up standing there, looking up and being amazed at the street art.

My first stop of today was to the Holy Blood Chapel.  As you can imagine, the name suggest why this is a famous part of Bruges- It supposedly houses a vial of the blood of Jesus Christ.  Besides the amazingly designed, vibrant interior, this is also the home of a relic described as the blood of christ.  It is an ancient, intricate  and powerful chapel regardless of the relic though.  I am not the biggest believer in relics as they have generally not sustained any scrutiny and seem more likely to be the work of the world’s first marketing students.  However,  it is obvious that they have a moving effect on people.  I went back to the chapel at 2pm to actually get a chance to see the relic up close, I couldn’t partake fully as I thought that would be more disrespectful than just observing, but whatever is in that vial is held to be extremely important to a vast group of people.  It didn’t look like blood or 2000 year old blood to me though…

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After my first visit to the Holy Blood Chapel I moved on the old palace of Gruuthuse, which holds a collection of amazing art, items and furniture from the 15th through 19th centuries.  It was particular to see both secular and religous artwork being displayed of equal quality because one tends to assume that all the great artwork of those times was religious in nature.    There was some amazing workmanship into these items though.  I couldn’t imagine where to start in designing or making any of them.  However, when I looked at the jaw dropping lacework and needlework  I could imagine people being able to make these kinds of things as I have witnessed my grandmother able to produce similarly cool stuff…a talent obviously that won’t be passed on to me.  Best of all with all these museums and exhibits is that most of the places in Bruges either have discounted prices for people who get a “Bruges Card” from their hostel or many are even reduced to just 1 Euro for people under 26 years of age – BARGAIN!

I then found myself in the Church of Our Lady.  Although a more imposing building than the Holy Blood Chapel, it was not as impressive to un-religious me.  I am sure the outside of the building would be truly inspiring though if it wasn’t being restored and covered by white plastic.  Although what old buildings in europe aren’t being restored right?  The main reason I went to this church though is that there is a statue of Madonna and Child that was made by Michelangelo in the very early 1500s.  It is one of the few works of his that left Italy and was a very impressive piece of work. I do find it strange though, reading over this paragraph, that I would rate this church as okay but not brilliant.  Before coming to Europe this church would’ve been AMAZING…but I suppose after you have experienced what Europe has in the way of churches (although I am yet to see most of the most famous ones), you get a more discerning eye.

Okay, well then I ended up at the De Halve Maan (Half Moon) Brewery which is the last operating brewery in Bruges.  Once again I found myself on a different and still interesting brewery tour.  Our humorous, yet matronly guide took us through the newage brewery as well as helping us nagivate through the tiny rooms, corridors and staircases that were the old brewery.  The finer points of how hard brewing in the old times (this one has operated for over 200 years) were made very clear to us and how we are blessed with beer brewed with the assistance of science.  We even ended up on the rooftop of the brewery at one point which gave another breathtaking view over the city of Bruges.  The view and the complimentary beer at the end were made even better as you could smell the hops, malt, wort and general yummy brewery smells throughout.  Now I smell like a brewery, although in the good way.  If they make a hops/malt cologne…I am buying it!

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My last tourist stop of the day before I headed back to see the relic of Christ’s blood up close was at the St John’s hospital Museum.  The insight in to the operation of the Hospital as both medical care building and housing for the homeless was interesting.  The exhibits throughout juxtaposed the suffering of those who lived there with the somewhat extravagant art that adorned the walls and corridors of this over 900 year old hospital.  Art and Charity seem to have been at the heart of this hospital.  Even religion was only a later addition to the functioning of the hospital as it started without formal ties to the church.

I am just off to sit in the pub, drink some Belgian beer and read more of my book.  However, before I go and strain my tired legs with more cobblestone walking, I have a few points to make about Bruges.  Bruges is amazing, although I supposed 2 1/2 days would be close to the maximum of time you can tourist here.  If you were going to have more time here you would need to ensure to sit and relax more, eat more waffles/chocolate and drink more beer (What a chore that would be haha).  In the end, Bruges, although brill can be done in a weekend.  If I was to come back though, I think it would be the perfect setting for a romantic weekend.  It has the beauty of the city itself and I am sure any future partner of mine would love waffles, beer, lace, artwork, architecture, chocolate or beautiful parks, if not a combination of those.  Actually scrap the lace and my perfect partner would probably love all of those haha

May 29, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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