Travels in Belgium: Brugge (June 4-5, 2014)

Brugge Main Square

Attractions:

  • Historical Market Square
  • Lace Jewel shop
  • Basilica of the Holy Blood
  • Belfry overlooking the market square
  • Canal boat cruise
  • Church of Our Lady with Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child
  • Memling Museum at St. John’s Hospital and Apothecary (Sint-Janshospitaal and Apotheek)
  • Groeingemuseum and Arentshuis

The sounds of hooves pounding echo on the cobbled stones. From our sheltered carriage, we watch the passersby and the medieval buildings along the canals zip by. Our carriage rounds the bend and stops at Lover’s Lake. Swans and ducks mill around the area, herding their young and gliding along the canal’s murky waters. It is a romantic haven for those who enjoy watching people and nature in harmony.

Lake of Love

During our tour, we stayed two nights in Brugge (Flemish) or Bruges (French and English)—a picturesque town that once was an important cloth market in the 14th century until the economy went downhill in the 16th century. Today, it is a thriving historical center. During our first night, we went on a galloping ride through the town in a horse-drawn carriage towards Lover’s Lake, where we stopped for pictures. Continue reading

Travels in Holland: Haarlem (May 29, 2014)

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Attractions:

  • Grote Markt
  • Frans Hals Museum
  • Molen de Adriaan
  • Kathedrale Basiliek St. Bavo [St. Bavo’s Cathedral]
The brave maid and her companion, Haarlem, Holland

The brave maid and her companion, Haarlem, Holland

In the early morning, the town of Haarlem awaits us. We arrive in the quaint town passing by a memorial commemorating the brave maid and her proud companion. Following the lazily, winding cobbled stone paths, we watch as store vendors clean their shop and creative restaurant artists doodle caricatures on the store windows. Then, we enter the heart of Haarlem—the Grote Markt (Big Market). From there, we take in the sights and sounds before choosing our next destination.

Haarlem is a short journey by train from Amsterdam (about 20 minutes) and is easily navigated by foot. Following the main street from the train station, several shops and small restaurants line both sides of the street as one goes toward the town center—the Grote Markt.

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The Grote Markt is the main square with the most important buildings of the town, including the town hall (see below), Grote Kerk (leftmost building in above image), and many restaurants for a savvy adventurer to try. On certain days, there are market days selling clothing and other goods. Unfortunately, the church was closed the day we visited so we could not explore the interior.
DSC05930 Continue reading