Elizabeths Hen Weekend in Bruge (by )

The adventure for me begain on Thursday night when due to the victoria line being shut me and Alaric where late to Euston to find Becca. Fortunatly Becca was also late becuase the Victoria line was closed but we did not realise this and thought we where leaving her lurking in the station around midnight!

My bag had gone missing two days previously and a cheque hadn't yet cleared in our bank in the morning so I thought I was going away with about £30 fortunatloy the cheque had cleared and Al extracted me some money. The other issue was that I had been supping drinks all everning and really needed the loo - we found a loo before the cash machine and as a result left getting back to highgate periously close.

But we made it and I had enough money to at least eat whilst away :)

Me a Becca got about 3 hours sleep before we had to be up and trekking to the tube station to get to St Pancreas. To our suprise it all went smoothly right up until we got to our seats on the Eurostar and there was a young Ammerican man sitting in one with his crutches proped agaisnt the other. The cry round the carrage was - they've double booked the whole carrage. Some people where decidedly huffy and used far more colourful language than this.

The poor guy in the seat started trying to explain he couldnt go and sort things out, we reassured him and then Becca headed off to find someone whilst I stood on the plateform once more with all our lugage. Then suddenly I was the only person on the plateform and it was getting a bit stressful as it basically was departure time.

In the end we ended up sitting between the carrages on little fold down chairs until they could find us some seats. Sigh.

But then things went mostly smoothly and we arrived in Brussels and I saw a double decker train and being me got uber excited!

Double Decker Train

Unfortunatly becuase I am me and have a humungous bad luck field I currently dont have a working camera and therefore only had my pooey phone camera - so apologies now for the rubbishness of the shots!

The first thing that struck us about Bruge was the fantastically intracate buildings - they are all gothic archetecture, some of the buildings date back to the middle ages and some where build in like the last two hundred years as part of the gothic revivial. They remind me of Cheltenham and the London Natural History Museum.

wonky building Pretty tower and bridge ginger bread house? Moon

Once we had settled in at the hotel we headed out to explore some of the sites in more detial which included climbing up the belfry. This had lots of steps 200 odd and they ranged from stone to metal to wood and where in places narrow, slippery and congested but it was an adventure finding little nooks and crannies to slip into as a group squeezed pass. Some places really where one at a time though!

the belfry

There where lots of rooms off the staircase contianing bits and peices of history about the place.

Clock bits

bells

We where fortunate enough to be in the room with the clock workings at two o'clock - we where glade of this for two reasons - firstly the gears wearlling and doing their different things was a buetiful machanic dance and secondly if we had stopped at the next level we would have been next to the bells which would have been quiet deafening!

clock work

tick tock

From the top of the Belfry there was the most fantastic veiw spanning before us unfortunatly I couldnt really catch it.

city veiw

We then explored the Town Hall which had a highly decorated meeting chamber at the top with frescos around the walls and time lines, and arcetraves and an apparent calendar repressented by symbolism in the little rosette things around where the wooden arches reached the top of the wall. There where lots of little freaky faces hidden in carvings and stuff about.

We also made our way over to the Aldermans chamber which is where the people who make decissions about the city meet - again the room was very heavy on the symbolism and double meaning with carvings around the fire place of little cherub things and pictures of people being flayed alive etc...

We also went to see the relic of Christs blood that is supposed to lerk in a tabinacle and was brought back by a crusader after the second crusades. It is brought out for a procession on Assention day (the day that marks Christs ascent into heaven again after he rose from the dead). This was interesting as it was sitting there infront of one of the preists as they bring it out every friday afternoon so that the faithful can touch it.

The chapel itself was heavily decorated with everything raning from boldly and contrastly painted arcytrave boarders to steciled fler de lees (I have no idea how any of this is spelt I'm running on phonetics). The stain glass windows cast little rainbows all over the chairs, even the pull pit was somehting to behold as it looked like a giant fungus growing on the side of the room. There was also a little museum attatched the place which had some stonkingly large jewels in it. Again not really my taste but very ostentatious though there was a gold crown grafted onto a silver box which to me looked at bit odd - they hadn't polised the silver so it had gone that sort of dull yellowish colour in an effort to disguisse this. The box had a lamb on it whilst the crown was from a queen and was a series of leaves and was actually quiet pretty and the sort of thing I would consider wearing for certian events.

We then samples flemish food and drink which was erm... pretty much like my nans cooking to be honest - they even do beef in beer! (called flemish stew).

Exhorsted we went back to the hotel where I wrote up a couple of story ideas the place had inspired in me - one of which just sort of crystalised out from the setting and everything that I subsequently found out about the place just sort of fitted.

Bruge is also the home of the most buetiful lace, they sort of make pictures and patterns out of it which I have never seen before so the Saturday morning me and Becca headed down to the various little markets one of which was antiques and craft. There I got a lace bobbing which is actually a different shape to those my dad used to make though I think it is more of a stylistic than functional difference.

Becca collects pictures from places she's been, ones that have actually been painted by local artists. We found a very nice couple and spent far too long umming and ahing about which picture to get. In the end the others arrived at the hotel before she had made up her mind and she took the picture that had initially attracted her over to the stall!

We all met up and hunted out a pub to have lunch in.

pub lunch

We all then wandered about doing our own thing - I went off to the Groening Museum with one of the other girls mainly becuase I really really wanted to see the Hieronymus Bosch triptych though there where lots of other interesting pictures in there and I learnt quiet abit about art history in general as I had an audio guide and listerned to all the extras about the Flemish Primitives, and Renaissence artists and surrealism. I have to say I mostly interested in the older medieval pictures which went back to the 15th century.

It was interesting to see the evolution of the pictures as they learnt more about anatomy and used different perspectives. On one specific set of pictures I noted that the flowers and detials where fantatically and too detially rendured whilst the people looked a bit odd to me. This turns out to be becuase the artist werent allowed to draw real people as religous subjects and the same with places and there where certian restrictions on what people could be doing and look like.

Double meaning and symbolism seemed to permeat most of the pictures and then hidden in even the most apparently beniegn of pictures there were disfigured creatures or people or just eyes hoveringin the dark. The subject matter of most of the older pictures was really actually quiet grisly full stop. They seemed obsessed with how certian saints died and things.

The triplit was a suprise it was alot smaller that I had expected and then I erm... got told off for getting a) too close and b) taking to long to look at it and to be fair when I turned around there was a bit of a que of people waiting for me to finish looking at it - I didnt even really examine the two outer panels :/

I found the art gallery far to big to do in one go and we started to run out of time so alot of the later stuff had to be skipped unfortunatly.

I met back up with Becca and we went off to met the others for a Bewery tour! This was fantastic! As I'm into home brewing I found it really interesting though am a bit sad that I now can't remeber alot of what our guide said about the different grains and what flavours they produce. She was halarious, there where however a few stair cases that where so steep you have to go down them backwards there is therefore a plethora of photos taken by the first few of us down of every body elses back sides - not good!

Brewery vent

brewery copper heat sink

The Bewery was one of the places where I really missed having a camera as there was a lot of copper around and alot of old industrial stuff (unsurprisingly).

Saturday night we all went to a nice resturant where I found a cherry beer a liked :) Though every body else reconed it was too sweet and they prefered all the other types!

We then went in search of the fabled bar with 400 different beers in it - we found what was possibly it and I consumed about a 1/4 of the best beer yet (bar my beloved honey beers) strawberry beer before we where off to sample Bruges nightlife. One of the others had to finish the drink off for me.

To my utter amazement there was a bar club and then to my bemusement a peirced youth tried flirting with me - only me being me I was just perplexed as to why he was acting so strange and not going away!

We rolled back to the hotel at about 5 am!

The next morning we did some last minute gift buying and to my delight I found diabetic chocolate that is sugar free though they seemed very reluctant to sell me it and kept informing me it wasnt for diet and only for diabetics - I pointed out that it was my diabetic perants!

We also went to the diamond museum which was cool:)

Other photos I just had to take!

minni waffle buscuit

funky red chair

I will attempt to find some better photographs from the other girls that went on the trip.

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