It was a Pentecost Monday a bank holiday I knew very little about, however it is shortly described as “The day commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames to the Apostles, as recorded in the New Testament”.
I could thank to the Holy Spirit for giving me the opportunity to wake up in Gent and to start packing for a trip to Bruges. Whoever has read the previous article will know that I have been traveling with my family. So, we had breakfast, packed up our stuff and left the apartment we have rented for the night. I started the car and started driving which very soon appeared to be like I am stuck in a twilight zone or Gent really didn’t want to see us leave. Even though I had my navigation turned on, somehow and for the three times we have been brought to the same crossroad we started from. Just about when I thought I was loosing my mind as for the fourth time I noticed that the Google maps guide is bringing me all the way around to end up in the same place, my wife turned her Google maps which said left on the first crossroad where mine was saying right. Strange as it may be, I was happy that we were out.
As it was a rainy morning we made a decissiion to surprise kids and to take them to Boudewijn Seapark close to Bruges as we were sure that the kids would be delighted and all the “girls” needed a less walking day after a “marathon” in Gent.
I always had a strong feelings about capturing animals and keeping them imprisoned for the amusement of humans, but this park really had some positive effects on me, even though just a couple of weeks before I have seen the documentary Blackfish, which brings a tragic story about Orcas the killer whales and conditions they are facing. However it made me thinking about why I am so against it, that was almost on the age of hatred? Given a thought I figured it out. Some of us humans completely disagree of doing the same things to other beings as we humans did to our self, to lock ourselves out from nature and to use it only if convenient. When you think of it that way, it is no wonder that people are in desperate need of bringing that nature to our denaturalized world.
Hate it or love it, when you are there you see some positive effects from it. Thousands and thousands of children will get in contact with this beautiful beings of nature and hopefully will develop love and interest for it and as I saw the people that are working with them are very kind and nice persons. The show itself presents of what beauties we are capable of and how we can work with nature, cooperate with it and being again a part of it. Even if you find it in a monetary amusement system such as this place. Aren’t we all trapped by it? Being a big kid as I am, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say hello to this beautiful animals and even though I see them almost every other day during summer I went with my daughter and all the other kids to say hi.
The friendliness and softness of that creature sparked the sensation of true happiness in me, something that for years I thought is possible only by drinking loads of any kind of alcohol or any other substances that will twist my reality.
A bit of play, my daughter’s and mine first roller-coaster and we were back on track of Bruges.
I was looking forward to see Bruges since the “In Bruges” movie was released staring Collin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson and must comment that all the depression that the movie carries was immediately gone as soon as we entered Bruges. The “good” navigation brought us close to the town’s center, but at one point it told us to go right, where for some reason police has blocked the road. We decided to take our chances and turn right on our own and it was a good call, because we have reached the parking that was just close to the center. The first impression that I had was like I am in Belfast suburbs and even though I have never been there probably movies and scenes with narrow alleys with brick houses triggered that thought.
There was quite a lot of commotion on the narrow streets and a lot of noise coming from the direction of Belfry Tower.
A short tale of rich and poverty! Around 13th century Bruges started to flourish, local artisans got more and more influence as it came with riches from commerce and they have formed guilds that patricians did not really like, because they did not want to share or to give up their privileges. So the patricians called for the military aid of the French King Philipe IV “the Fair”. The conflict culminated in the battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302. This occasion went down in history as the Matins of Bruges as almost all French occupants were murdered. In the 14th century Bruges have become the most important money market of Norther Europe thanks to trade and clothing industry, but by the end of 15th century, a deadly blow to the wool industry, the world has forgot all about Bruges and the era of poverty begun.
Anyway, for the times being! Today, Bruges is flourishing again.
As we were getting closer to the Belfry Tower it became obvious that there is some festivity going on and I was already thinking if it’s so alive for the Christian holiday in Bruges that it must be a great place to live in.
We came to the Market Square going past police blockades and at the moment we thought that it is some popular Flemish rock band playing (if there are any), as sounds of rock were spreading and a very happy crowd did follow with singing.
A couple of looks and I could feel the little rodent spinning the wheel in my brain and I realized. The end of May, blue flags, rock and people. FC Bruges must have won their Premiership. And it did, just by 3 points. Without even knowing we found ourselves of being a part of the town’s sport history, the brilliant season of 2018.
As all the ladies were hungry and wanted an easier day, I left them at the restaurant for an hour and me, as I was fasting (don’t even ask why I do it on Mondays), I had the town to myself.
I just loved it! There is nothing better when you are able to walk alone, not following anybody and no one follows you. A complete freedom of movement and of choice!
I had some really small guide map, but I have decided to go where my feet takes me, as I did not read or look anything about Bruges and it’s “must see” interest points. With my 30 pictures idea on my mind, I walked around and waited for certain moments that would have me clicking that camera button.
I was surprised when I got to the canal, as I did not know or remembered from the movie that Bruges would have any and I found out later that there is a story of great importance behind it. The sea connection was always been of vital importance to Bruges and the Vikings have established a fortified place or “brygghia” there, back in 9th century. Due to the regression of the sea, the connection was lost and could not be maintained by the river Reie, but one day the 1134 storm surge waves struck a breach inland, when the river branch called Zwin became the ideal link with the sea.
Plethora of many small, traditional and somewhat romantic restaurants on the way made me happy that I was fasting as I wouldn’t be able to visit them all and it would certainly be a hard choice to choose one. Some of them were adorable.
I have decided to stay next to the water and to see where it will take me. And it did take me to a little special open air market, where I bought a couple of gifts. One for my brother, a cow bell, which I hope he wont acknowledge before I come back to Zagreb, because he has a fever and the doctor said that the only prescription for his fever is more cow bell. And the second gift is a little old fashioned toy which will find it’s new home in my favorite Zagreb’s bar and meeting point.
I stayed on the water and was surprised to find an old lady, as I was just speaking about it a couple of day before, gathering money to survive in this harsh monetary world by showing some of her expertise.
I said one day to my “ghost” editor, that I do give money to the poor on the street, while knowing I can not save everyone, but it wont stop me from trying at least to help if I can. And by allowing them to work some craft without being punished or chased by police, people will maybe start to notice them a bit more and find the idea about humanity again as money has become a dangerous element in human life, almost as important as air that we breath or water that we drink, you just can not live without it in the modern world any more and it is a great shame, as some people even 30 years ago could live on some farm without even seeing it. Well, good old times!
I was already enjoying my privilege of being alone and as leaving your spouse with their mother in law is rarely a good idea, I was starting to get the feeling that I should make it a round trip and start heading back.
I bought a chocolate as a sign of gesture, but also a bribe for my time of solitude. And I will tell you that they do not lie about Belgium and chocolate, they are proud of it.
As I was heading back, I was looking around and just thinking about what a special place Bruges is. Every corner that I took the scenery was just amazing.
I was thinking how my brother told me that he preferred Gent more than Bruges and being an identical twin brother of mine, I thought that the opinion probably wont dissent, however and for the psychological studies, the identical twins do not think alike. gent was the place I would love to return some day, but Bruges on the other hand is the place where I could live.
Would not mind if it would be on the top floor of this Gruuthuse Hof and I would have my favourit new bar.
As I was a passionate beer drinker, not even a year ago and as some life force brought me to the bare edge of existence, I do have a glass of a good beer every now and then, but seeing a display of something that would be my life path for a couple of days, does bring some nostalgic feelings, but also a great respect and admiration for myself to be keen of getting better and alive.
Funny fact, which I did not know before, is that alcohol falls into a group of depressants. This information did mean a lot to me, because before I thought that alcohol is something completely opposite. It isn’t. We are something that is completely opposite and all the moments of fun, laughter, even stupidity are the moments of being ourselves and it is funny how the society brought us to believe that the best fun comes with enjoying any kind of depressants, stimulants, or whatever. The only thing alcohol is good for, is a headache, hangover, we wont forget the emptiness in the eyes of an alcoholic and the depression of thoughts and not even to mention all lives ruined because of worry and sorrow. However it may be, I did not see it in Bruges and Bruges is where I am at the moment and in my thoughts and not in the rehab clinic.
I must say that I love drawing and have become a huge fan of photography, not only to make the clicks, but waiting for the moments and scenes and when I find something, the moment, to try and get it, sometimes without even knowing why and later I notice spectacular things, like in the photo above. Not only the lantern, the brick wall and the church, but also the people, the old and the young. It is life!
Some origami that took my attention.
Always amazing rooftops!
And the champions!
Being it as a maybe, no sweat was shed in Bruges and as everyone did very politely and culturally celebrated with their champions it was time to go home, as I have found my glory with my family.
Just a quick one for the end, a great thank you to all the cities that have placed public “pisoars” and toilets around. I think it should be available in every town. You avoid having angry residents in a smelly towns and frustrated or nervous tourists.
Thank you Bruges!