Week Thirty

We did quite a bit of things this week so a fair warning, this post contains a lot of pictures.

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We visited several parks and it further convinced me that parks are done right here. When I eventually come back to the US, I think I want to be a children’s park designer. I have seen the best.

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The weather finally made a turn for the sunny this past week so we took full advantage.

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Something also different here is that for premium great looking parks, you gotta pay to play. The money helps keep the park in good shape and it also keeps riffraff out (like bored teenagers).

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After looking at the forecast for such a great weekend, we decided to head north to Bruges (Brugge [Bru-gah] if you want to be politically correct).
Bruges is known as “The Venice of the North” thanks to the winding canals and gorgeous architecture. Most people who have visited Belgium have visited Bruges and not Brussels due to Bruges being predominately a tourist town. It is located close to the North Sea and serves as a great stop over when traveling from the Netherlands to Paris.

Bruges during the day was exactly as I expected. Touristy. Packed with people, vendors everywhere and lines galore.

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We first visited the Basilica of the Holy Blood. So far we have visited a piece of the Holy Cross and now the Holy Blood. Next stop is the Shroud of Turin I suppose.
‘Legend has it that after the Crucifixion, Joseph of Arimathea wiped blood from the body of Christ and preserved the cloth. The relic remained in the Holy Land until the Second Crusade, when the King of Jerusalem Baldwin III gave it to his brother-in-law, Count of Flanders Diederik van de Elzas. The count arrived with it in Bruges on April 7, 1150 and placed it in a chapel he had built on Burg Square.’
Pictures are not allowed inside, hence this secret shot I took with the camera in my lap. Shhhh.

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After our visit we headed to the canals for a boat tour. I took this picture because it is all Belgian. Beautiful flowers, pretty windows, cigarettes and umbrellas.

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The kids really enjoyed the boat tour and ducking as we passed under each bridge.

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After our boat tour we stopped for some lunch, where both kids picked up a touch of food poisoning from their pastas.

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If we had known that, we would not have given them these apple juices.

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In an effort to push them through naptime, we sugared up the kids. Zane took the biggest bite of his strawberry ice cream next to the smallest bridge in Bruges.

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And Lily enjoyed her strawberry lollipop.

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After the treats, we waited in line, short of forever, to take a horsey ride around the town. We learned a fair bit about the town as we rode around, and also learned that tour guides need to take smoke breaks, 10 minutes into the ride.

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These faces were put on to houses to the bad spirits away.

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Personally, I would just hang these creepy things instead.

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As evening was approaching the kids were burning the last of their energy.

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And those storm clouds were rolling in. A foreshadowing of things to come.

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We started off our meal all smiles. Then…let’s just say mom earned her stripes this night. Lily had things come up and Zane had things come out. I’m glad we had a change of clothes and hand sanitizer. We ran back to the hotel in the rain and fully washed everyone down and thank goodness that was the last we saw of the poisoned pasta.

After this stressful debacle Jason let me run around town and snap some photos to calm my nerves. For this, I was grateful.

Bruges is a completely different place after the tourists have left. It is peaceful, serene and oh-so beautiful. If you plan on visiting Bruges, I recommend doing it at the end of the day. Here, I present, Bruges at dusk.

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Yes those are three swans that just glided by in the background.

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The smallest street in Bruges.

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Do you see the little square holes at the top of the houses? You will find these on a lot of houses here. They were used for pigeons who were carrying messages during the war. They would fly in and out of these little ports.

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These are alms houses. The rich people of the town built these houses for the poor. In exchange for living there, the poor people would pray for the rich people so that when they got to Heaven, they would be able to get in (since biblically, the rich knew they weren’t getting in)

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Our hotel room is at the top there, those two tiny windows.

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This was our hotel room from the inside. Pretty cool. What wasn’t cool was those two tiny windows faced a square where a huge concert was going on all night. Three of the family members were able to sleep through it, guess which one couldn’t.

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The next morning, I was barely able to function from lack of sleep but the good strong coffee helped. I pondered how kids can be so perky and show no signs of exhaustion.

Maybe it was because they knew we were headed to the beach. We drove 20 minutes north to Blankenbergse. And that is what I love about this country. Hour and a half south, rich forest and beautiful rolling hills. Hour and a half north, the beach.

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The beach was amazing, the weather perfect, and the sea, FREEZING.

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What I loved about this beach was how big it was. Plenty of space for the kids to run around without fear of them getting swallowed into the sea.

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And the shallow tidal beach means the kids don’t have to worry (or rather mom doesn’t have to worry) about steep drop offs when splashing through the waves.

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Thanks Flanders!

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7 Responses to Week Thirty

  1. tjebran35 says:

    Wonderful pictures … you do have such a good eye (and a great camera). Looks as if a good time was had by all. Sorry about the tummy upset and the loud concert. My observation: children always recover from exhaustion quicker than their parents. Pay to play … what a good idea!

  2. tjebran35 says:

    We’ve been seeing a beer ad, supposedly from Belgium, “Stella Artois.” Any such thing over there?

  3. Aunt Nana says:

    How wonderful that you are there and what a great experience for the babies. Wow. I love your pictures and blogs! love you all

  4. kdcarver says:

    Great pictures Val. I want to be a kids park designer too.

    “Personally, I would just hang these creepy things instead.” ha!

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