Belgium for Thanksgiving 2012, Part 5.

Bruges! A cute little city of adorableness that I covered in the previous entry. The first thing The Moomins and I saw when we got off the train was a map of Bruges and the surrounding area. Here’s the name of one of the suburbs.

I immediately turned to The Moomins and said, “That’s where poor people live, because they asses be broke!” She did not find that funny. I stand by my joke.

As we sauntered through the streets of Bruges (which is pronounced “Brooj”, in case you were wondering) we saw signs for this all over.

And I think there’s a design school there, because groups of college-age kids were setting up interesting interpretations of Christmas trees in various buildings. Very creative, those kids.

In a different building they had some kind of contest involving making things shaped like cakes out of flowers. Any plant life, really. My favorite was the one where the crafter pinned individual raisins onto a base one by one.

Some people were setting up a Christmas market and I found it interesting that aside from the usual ornaments like shiny glass balls and pine cones and fluffy birds, they sold what looked like wool roving to wrap around the trees. Makes ’em look all felt-y.

The Moomins and I then headed over to the former hospital where they now have art. Really good art, if you like 15th-Century Flemish painters, like Peter Memling.

In the corner was a bishop who I can only assume was the bishop of pretzels (I’m going to hell, I know that).

They had a phenomenal collection of reliquaries. In case you’re not familiar, if you were a famous or important saint and you died, sometimes they put a small part of you in an ornate gold and silver and jeweled container, often with a small window so people could view the parts. In this photo, the reliquary in front appears to have a finger bone and a tooth.

I visited this museum as a child, and then I proceeded to make a horrible decision when I got home based on seeing these religious elements. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s day, so if you don’t know the tale and you meet me in person, I will be more than happy to tell you all about it face-to-face so I can appreciate your expressions. The Moomins is still upset about the experience, and it’s been twenty-something years.

After viewing the Memling triptych you see above (in a future blog entry I will delve into Early Flemish painting a bit more) I was amused to see this Mediterranean food joint in a nearby street.

After chortling about food slash old masters puns, we went to the Bruges Cathedral. It had some tombs of Dukes with a million crests on the side.

Underneath they had some really old tombs from, if I recall correctly, about 1000 A.D.

They also have the only Michelangelo piece of art taken out of Italy during his life. That man knew how to carve a piece of rock, I can tell you that. Look at the Madonna’s face. So evocative.

And there was a wall of marble plaques thanking the Madonna for various prayers that had been answered. I had never seen that before in a church.

One last pic of Bruges, as we were leaving (and the wind was blowing like crazy in an attempt to blow The Moomins and me into a canal) I saw a sweet old building called “God’s House”. I don’t know if it was a meeting house for the nuns (there was a big convent in the middle of town), but I thought it was charming.

Some more Brussels goodness: One day we went to the palace on the top of the hill. Because they totally have a king and a queen, still. Really.

Underneath the palace, though, is another palace. There was a palace from the 1100s that partially burned in 1731. Then, a bunch of years later, the remaining palace-bits were demolished to make room for the palace that’s there now. They’ve just started excavating the old palace under there and you can go down there and walk around in the what-used-to-be cellars and fireplaces and kitchens.

But the best thing was outside the entrance was a kitty! A friendly random kitty who meowed at us and wanted some pettings and snuggles. I wanted to take Kitty with me, but I couldn’t think of a way to smuggle it onto a plane. It was a talker. So sadly, I did not take it home with me.

Here is a picture taken at night near the palaces. Misty and spooky and beautiful.

Tomorrow we delve into Ghent.

One Response to “Belgium for Thanksgiving 2012, Part 5.”

  1. snorth says:

    That kitty could have quite easily fit in the shopping bag. I think he was hinting at that.

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