August 12th to 14th Belgium

 

August 12th, 2015

I have really been looking forward to this part of my trip!  It took about 2.5 hrs and €5.00 to get from Luxembourg to Brussels where I was picked up by a distant family member Mie (Me).  My Great Grandparents Peter and Sidonia on my Mom’s side immigrated to Canada and Mie’s Grandmother was Peter’s Sister.   There were 12 children, so there are MANY relatives left here, Peter was the only one to move to Canada.  When you think about how HUGE that choice was and the impact it had on future generations,  imagine if he hadn’t I may not exist, or maybe when I my Dad came to Europe he would have met my Mom in Belgium instead of Saskatchewan.   I came in late so we had a Tea and went to Bed.  Mie has a great townhouse, and her daughter Janna was out of town, so I had an amazing REAL bed to sleep in for the first time in a while!   The hostel beds are really sad, not that I’m complaining!

 

August 13th, 2015

Mie works from home for a corporate travel company and had to work in the morning, so I had a much anticipated sleep in!   Amazing what sleep can do!   We then went to have lunch with her Brother and his wife: Geert & Gonda.   They have a lovely home with a huge yard near some farms.  They drove me around to see some beautiful spot and even to a town called Oppurs, where the home that my Great grandfather was raised in is.  The property is still owned by one of his sister’s children.  The home has been updated since, but was still very neat to pass by! In the evening Mie took me along to meet her friends at a terrace on the river in her town of Mechelen, we quickly moved inside, just minutes ahead of a major down pour! I spoke for quite a while with Mie’s friend Ruth who has been to Congo to volunteer with a chimp and gorilla orphanage.  Certainly had me thinking about going, but they have a 2 month minimum for volunteering there. How amazing would that be!?

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L-R Mie, Me, Geert, Gonda. Enjoying my first Belgian Beer, Krieke. Though I was told after that it doesn’t count! It was more like fruit juice then beer!
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Where my Great Grandpa was raised in the town of Oppurs, Belgium.
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Beautiful Lake we had our Beer next to.
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Out with Mie’s friends!

August 14th, 2015

We were met in the morning by Mie’s sister Veerla and drove to the city of Bruges.  Bruges has some very old buildings and was like a museum itself!   So many canals!  I had my first real chips and I’m told that they are not in fact French fries but Belgian fries: cooked twice is the right way!   They were fantastic!   I also tried a Belgian Waffle but was not as fortunate, as it was not done properly, seems it may have been of the frozen variety. ;-(.   We also went to a town called Ghent for Dinner and walked a bit, but I have to say Bruges was the star of the day.

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This guy has it right! As seen on one of the canals in Bruges.
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Bruges town Centre is a UNESCO protected site, so the facades of the homes must stay the same, indeed in this case it is all they are keeping…little more then any of the flips I have done!
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Over 300 years old!! I’m in love with the architecture here!
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One of the ancient city ‘gates’ that was used to protect the city.
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I thought these were only in Holland!
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This was a collection of tiny homes called ‘Godhuis’ or Gods House. They are now used for seniors housing in this particular area, but they still exist around the city as privately owned homes. Originally they were purchased for a poor person, by a rich person, assumedly to help with entry to heaven.
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This is a ‘Begijnhof’ a small community lived in by widows and unmarried women who committed their lives to God, but did not want to become a nun. Surprisingly they often came from very wealthy families. These particular homes date back to the 18th century.
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Part of the Begijnhof community.
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Beautiful bridges and canals all over Bruges, with gorgeous swans.
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So pretty here!

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Presentation of the relic, for people to go up and observe and worship.
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Said to contain the blood of Christ. The story goes that this relic belonged to a whole series of relics connected with the suffering of Christ. In 1203 Constantinople fell into the hands of the crusaders. The imperial city was sacked during the 4th crusade (1204). Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders, (Belgium) was chosen as the new emperor. Presumably he sent looted relics to Flanders and particularly to Bruges. His daughters Johanna and Margaretha were in charge of the county. It is likely that this is the way Bruges came into possession of the relic of the Holy Blood. Also the manner in which the rock-crystal flask is cut indicates an origin in Constantinople.
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Great dinner in Ghent.
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Must be some boat tour in the rain!
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We went to a show that was interactive through 7 rooms to show you a day in the life of Medieval times.
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The buildings in the centres of every city are stunning!
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Sisters! Mie & Veerla!
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Just beautiful old buildings! I would love to see inside every one of them!

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It was a fantastic day, and I am so truly grateful to Mie for treating me all day, and all the wisdom she had of this great city.

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