Day 5 had us docked in Ghent, Belguim, but we were not going to see this city. We hopped on the tour bus to travel to Bruges, Belgium. Bruges is considered one of the best preserved medieval cities. A walking tour (on cobblestones, of course – ouch!) took us through the back streets of this old city. The guide pointing out various buildings of importance. It’s a little tricky to navigate because there are many canals that run through the city. We ended in the city center to be released on our own for several hours.
It was near 11 o’clock, so we were hungry and ready for lunch. Just one problem, restaurants don’t open until noon. We solved the hunger problem by sharing a basket of frites (french fries) from a street vendor. When in Belgium, one eats them the Belgian way, with mayonnaise instead of ketchup. Don’t say “eww:, unless you’ve tried it. I am not a fan of mayo, but this is one time mayo wins out. The other condition I require is that the fries be piping hot. You cannot eat fries with mayo that have been sitting under a heat lamp.
We wandered the streets popping in and out of chocolate shops before we had to meet the guide. On the return to the bus lot, we walked past the Beguinage, where single and widowed woman lived together and prayed, but now is a monastery for Benedictine sisters. The field in front of the building is filled with daffodils and jonquils.
As we continued our journey towards the bus, the guide offered three stories related to the lake and bridge we were to cross. Only one story was true. I will share the “true” story. The lake is called Minnewaterpark or the Lake of Love. It is a tale of a tragic romance of Minna and her warrior love, Stromberg. Minna ran away when her father arranged her marriage to another, she loved Stromberg. Stromberg found her in the forest where she died of exhaustion in his arms. So when you walk over the bridge with your loved one, it will become eternal love.
It was a long day with lots of walking, but this is a city not to miss, if you should find yourself in Belgium.
During the night we left Belgium and found ourselves back in the Netherlands, the province of Zeeland. Here in 1953, there was a devastating flood which killed 1,836 people. The Delta Water Works was developed to prevent another disaster from ever occurring. It is amazing how this was developed.
Veere was a small, quaint town where we had time to wander about before returning to our boat so we could sail into Rotterdam. Rotterdam was not a place for touring, but just a stop for dinner with a Shanty Choir of men to board and deliver a fun concert of sailing songs. They sang their hearts out for a glass of beer at the end. Hopefully they received more than that glass of beer. It was an entertaining evening.
Stay tuned for the continuation of this ten day cruise.