Monday, May 8, 2017

Barge Date: 5-5-2017

A visit to Bruges
Click on photos for larger size.

We arrived in Bruges and tied up at a small dock that Silk Purse knows. It is located immediately in front of the famous cantilevered bridge over the canal. I have been able to see the bridge in operation and it is interesting not only in design but in how it works.

I walked to the center of the medieval city and began to explore street by street. I had little interest in going inside anything so I kept up a good pace. There were many tourists and the commerce along the streets and squares was dedicated to them. If you have done any traveling, I think you know what it must look like. I had some satisfaction in thinking that I live here. Not a permanent resident but someone that has his floating home tied up on a canal.

I shopped in a FNAC store to purchase two books and a longer cable for the iPhone. This store is something that gets Marianne excited for the large selection of books available. And as a tired walker I had to take refuge in a café on a square. And what does one have? I selected a coffee and a waffle. One can look at old building façades all day long and be interested, but it is also interesting to watch the people walking by. You hear all languages and see individuals to large groups of tourists being led by someone holding a sign in the air. I sat and enjoyed my snack, read a book and watched over the square. A native.

In the evening, I took my bike and began to circumnavigate the city by following the various waterways. Certainly at one time the town of Bruges was surrounded by canals. There are even canals through the downtown area which are used by small tourist boats. But many of the waterways are now just inland lakes, long and narrow and well suited for swans.

There are two boat marinas in town and I was able to discover both of them. Always amazed by the number of people on bicycles. On some stretch of roads you will see lane markings for autos, buses, bikes, and pedestrians. Everyone gets their own lane in Bruges.

I passed by three large windmills built several hundred years previously. This is one of the attractions of the city. I had mentioned earlier that Marianne's great-great-grandfather, François Stroobant, was a well known painter and many of the sites in the city are the objects of interest for painters today. With this post you can see two of Stroobant's paintings; one found on the Internet and one that we have at home. Both show Bruges.

The next day I set out with Carole and Barrie to explore the town. No real destination in mind but Carole wanted to find a lace bookmark. By necessity, we also needed to refresh ourselves with some drinks late in the morning. And by lunch time we needed to eat and selected a table along a smaller street. I had an omelette and it was perfectly prepared.

Back on the boat I addressed the swabbing of the deck. There is still dirt from over wintering. I wanted to go out on the bike one more time but that did not happen. Today the weather was the best I have experienced since arriving in March.

On the following day, Sunday, the weather was not great and we proceeded to pass along the city and head further east. In this city there are a good number of bridges to deal with and we proceeded to queue up and make the pass. Turn on the bells, lower the barriers along the road then raise up the bridge or rotate it, as the case may be, to let us pass. We did have to negotiate one large oval shaped lock and, without going into details, let me just say that my performance was not good. Always something to go wrong but I guess that is why I am still learning.

We passed by the tower painted long ago by Stroobant (following photos courtesy of Carole), and the three windmills that I wrote about earlier, and the view from the wheelhouse was very nice. You can understand why people want to visit the city.


We traveled approximately 13 km on the canal and tied up along a large commercial barge that is under restoration by the owner. The Silk Purse knows this person and he welcomes them to tie up here.

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