From Brussels to Ghent to Bruges to Delft to Amsterdam

Linda and Bob Lang

September 2011

We began our trip in Brussels where we stayed at a hotel in the heart of the city right near the Grand Place. While here we sampled lots of Belgium beer, delicious mussels, and lots of Belgium chocolate, We had a local tour guide who was excellent and showed us the city and visited the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. We ate at small local restaurants and little pubs that were off the beaten track. From there we were on our bus which took us past the Royal Palace and government buildings and then we were on our way to Bruges.
We stopped in medieval Ghent for lunch and had a boat ride on the canals through the city.
We spent three nights in Bruges in a very nice small hotel where our room overlooked a canal. While in Bruges we visited a local brewery, walked through the town and the Market Square, and visited the Membling Museum and medieval hospital. We had a delightful bike ride with our group along the river passing windmills and small farms where sheep were grazing.
Of course, no trip to Europe would be complete for Rob unless we visited some World War I or II battleground. The next day we went by bus to the World War I battlegrounds around Ypres and had a guided tour of Flanders Fields monuments and cemetery where many unknown American soldiers are buried. We had lunch at an old farm house that had been in the same family for generations and had been destroyed during the war and rebuilt in the early 1920's.
Rob and I also discovered from our local guide that Jacques Brel was from Bruges and a monument had been erected of Marieke in his honor. Well, that's all we needed to hear and off he and I went on bicycles to find that statue because Rob's sailboat had been named Marieke after that song. It took some time and a few wrong turns, asking for directions, but we finally found her.
Leaving Bruges we traveled to Delft and stayed there for two nights. Delft is a charming traditional Dutch town with canals winding through it and lovely old buildings. Delft is well known for its Delft Blue porcelain and Johannes Vermeer the Dutch painter spent much of his life here and painted "The Girl With the Pearl Earring." So, we visited both the factory famous for Delft Blue and saw how it is made and saw some beautiful pieces, and the Vermeer Center where we saw some of Vermeer's paintings and learned about his life.

I, of course, couldn't complete my trip without stopping at a yarn shop where I saw a beautiful knitted poncho in the window. Of course I couldn't resist buying the yarn, however, the pattern is in Dutch, so I need some help in the translation to complete this project.
Our trip ended in Amsterdam where we stayed three nights, and although the weather got cool and rainy after we arrived, we still enjoyed it very much.
We visited the Zuiderzee Open Air Museum, which is a small old Dutch village by the North Sea, showing life as it was a few hundred years ago.
We also visited the Aalsmeer Flower Auction, where buyers come and bid on flowers that are bought and shipped all over the world the same day. That was very fascinating.
No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without visting the Anne Frank House.
Or stopping at a "coffeeshop" to learn about Holland's drug policy and a guided tour of the Red Light District.
It was a wonderful trip.
Now we are enjoying Fall in New England and spending time with our families before we get ready to head south to Pebble Beach Villas.


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