We started Wednesday morning with a boat ride. Actually that was after loading our luggage and getting mapping details. Don and I enjoyed our 4 nights in Ghent, nice room, nice hotel, nice town.
The 60 minute boat ride was along the canals of Ghent: we learned that Guild Halls sponsored their own churches, thus huge competing churches in the city ; that children’s urine was used to treat leather, hence the statues of peeing children; that the Belfort (belfry) was built to proclaim the wealth of the city, as well as to provide security over the city.
We didn’t get on the road to Brugge until shortly after noon. The departure route took us across 2 sets of tram tracks. We successfully crossed the first set, then took a tumble when one of our wheels caught in the second set. Don skinned his knee and elbow, I sustained a bruise on my left hip, but the bike was not damaged. After a few minutes to get our wits back, we continued, though I confess I was a bit shaken during the remainder of the ride.
At mile 16, we stopped at the Canada Poland War Museum outside Maldegem. This museum was created by the family of a man who was a Belgian resistance member. We have never seen such an extensive display of WWII uniforms, rifles, guns, and radio equipment with a chronology of the war. We spent well over an hour there.
Already 5 pm when we arrived in Damme, we needed to stop for some apple cake and coffee, just to make the last 5 miles in Brugge. Though only a 32 mile day, we were exhausted.
After showers, we ended up having dinner with Steve and Karen, our tour leaders, at an Italian restaurant near to the hotel. Both are now fans for Rugby 7s with annual trips to Las Vegas tournament.
Today, Thursday, the route called for a 42 mile loop from Brugge to the North Sea coast, and into the Netherlands. We had no overwhelming need/desire to see the North Sea or return to Holland again, so we shortened the route and did our own 22 mile loop with Mike and Candy from Maryland.
Our lunch stop in Brugge was #1 on Yelp, Soup, a perfect light repast. We walked to the Church of Our Lady (Onze-Lieve Vrouwekerk) to see Michelangelo’s “Madonna and child”, sculpted in 1505. A wealthy Brugge resident purchased the statute and had it brought to the church as part of a family altar. It is one of few Michelangelo statues outside of Italy.
While Don took a nap, I wandered the city, doing a little shopping, and just enjoying the blue skies and bright sunshine. We joined several of the tour members for “sharing time”, aka happy hour, with everyone bringing some food and drink to share, before heading off for pizza and salad for dinner. Planning for an early bedtime tonight.