Three Nights in Beautiful Bruges

May 30

Freshly arrived from America, Charlotte, Diane and Dennis prepare to enjoy their first lunch in Bruges on May 27

There are few better ways to begin a European Adventure than three nights in one of the prettiest small cities in Europe. Bruges, or Brugge, or Brugges, or however you want to spell it (there are several variations, all correct) is a fairyland of gorgeous squares, little lanes, canals, carriages led by clopping horses, chocolate shops and fine restaurants and more beer than you could consume in a million lifetimes. Well, we might be going overboard on the last one, because we can consume a lot of beer!

The Flemish Style was created in Bruges. This is a style of architecture with stepped gables.

Back in the 15th and 16 centuries Bruges was the biggest and most powerful wool trading town in the world, with an active port full of tall ships carrying its products around the world. Then the river silted up, London and Antwerp got aggressive in luring business to their own expanding ports and Bruges just sort of went to sleep. It’s a common story in these perfectly-preserved old towns. They had to experience centuries when nothing happened in order to be so old and picturesque today. Two hundred years ago, before the camera and certainly before tourism, no one cared about an old town slowly rotting away. Then came the tourists, the postcards, the paintings and the sketch artists and Bruges, as is the case with our own European home base of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, came alive and is once again wealthy and world-famous.

An artist captures part of the convent, where 19 nuns still practice lacemaking

The massive brick Church of Our Lady holds the bones of St. Bonaface plus a Madonna and Child by Michelangelo, purchased in 1504 by a wealthy businessman who brought it to the church on the condition that it always be visible by the common person. The statue is the only work by Michelangelo north of the Alps.

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