Wednesday, June 29, 2022
From Bruges to Brussels to London
I woke up early yesterday morning in Bruges and went for another walk, this time to the Bonifacius Bridge, which I'd seen on the previous day's walking tour. For some reason this bridge is considered a particularly scenic spot, and it is perpetually mobbed with people. I got there early enough to catch it without any crowds, which made for some nice pictures -- although I preferred the one above of surrounding buildings taken while standing on the bridge itself.
Then I went back to the hotel, got cleaned up, had breakfast and checked out. I left my bag at reception and walked to the Groeninge Museum, to see its remarkable collection of Flemish art.
The collection spans a wide range of time, from the Middle Ages to the modern era, and includes artists such as Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Pieter Bruegel I, Hieronymus Bosch and others. Here's one of my favorite paintings -- "The River Lys at Astene (The Thistles)," by Emile Claus, from around 1885.
And check out this woman, who was in a huge crowd depicted in Bruegel's "The Sermon of St. John the Baptist," from the early 1600's:
She was way ahead of her time! (Though, as Dave said when I showed him this picture, "She's wearing it below her nose.") She was the only one in the entire painting in a mask. I wonder if she's a baker or miller or someone who worked around a lot of dust. Maybe that's a sack of flour on her back?
Anyway, I was happy I had a chance to see the museum. I walked back to the main square for a final cup of coffee, and then made my way to the train station.
Let's call this "Self-portrait with Swans." There was no way to take the picture and stay invisible, so why not embrace the reflection?
I got on the train and headed back to Brussels, where I still had several hours to kill before catching the Eurostar back to London. I walked into the old part of town for some quick sightseeing. Brussels is undergoing several huge construction projects, particularly along the Avenue de Stalingrad, and there were huge bleachers either being set up or dismantled for some event in the Grand Place -- so there was a lot of chaos. But at least this time I didn't get assaulted.
I said hello to the Manneken Pis, the fountain of the pissing cherub that is the Mona Lisa of Brussels. (In other words, the city's must-see attraction.)
I spotted Tintin and his dog Snowy (or Milou in French) overlooking the city from this high rooftop. The author of the Tintin comics, Hergé, was from Brussels.
By this time I had about an hour before my train left, so I hoofed it back to the station, went through passport control and security and spent my last Euros on a bottle of Belgian beer for Dave. The trip was uneventful and I was back in our garden with Dave and Olga by about 5:30 p.m.
A bit of Brussels sidewalk philosophy! I'm awake now, but I sure slept like a log last night.