Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2014 (for Monday, July 15, 2014)
Time: 5:22 pm European Time/11:22 am EST
Place: Over Newfoundland, heading toward Boston. 2960 miles from Brussels, 1468 miles from home. Longitude 60 degrees 59' 17" West. Latitude 44 degrees 48' 36" North. Remaining time in flight, 3 hours 13 minutes.
We ate breakfast at 8 o'clock on Monday morning, which was the latest we've gotten to eat. We left the hotel a few minutes before 9 o'clock so that we could meet up with our walking tour guide, Ann.
Ann is a very happy woman, about 5' tall, and not quite as wide, but fairly close. Her personality and style of dress reminded me of Becky, which gave us a very fun and lively tour.
Ann led us through the same part of town we had explored the day before, but we got to hear all of the stories this time (there was no motor getting in our way.
We crossed a bridge and walked into a gated community from the 13th or 14th century. This is where the original Women's Lib ladies lived. They didn't want to have to be married. They wanted their independence, so they basically lived like nuns and dressed like nuns. Instead of praying like nuns, however, they went out and worked. The gate to their community was locked from 6:30 in the evening until 6:30 in the morning. I think I could handle living there, at least for the most part.
The next highlight we got to see was the Wall of Beer. In the country of Belgium there are 1,132 locally produced beers, and there is one bottle of each on this wall. There are fewer lectures I've been given that were more awkward than having someone lecture a group of 26 Adventists (most of whom have never drunk a drop in their lives) about beer.
Our next stop was the town square, but to get there we walked through several of the shopping streets. I saw several lace shops, and even saw a lace loom (I'm not quite sure that's the right word, but I don't have a better one at this point). I would have liked to see it done, but we do what we can...
We were released by about noon, after giving a special book to Dr. Wohlers and Rita that we had all signed. At this point we also bid a fond farewell to the Laughlins (who left at noon to fly to Spain for the rest of this week).
By noon we were on our own, though I stayed with Kathy. We went into a couple of shops, including a shop where they make and sell chocolate. I didn't see how they made it, but I got to buy some for the family.
Kathy, Chris, Anastasia, and I all decided that we wanted to go to Gent in the afternoon. Gent is a city about an hour away by train. In it is a beautiful Cathedral (with a an absolutely gorgeous altarpiece) and a 12th century castle. It was a lot of fun.
We got to Gent by about 2 or 2:30 and took a short bus ride over to St. Nicholas' Church. Unfortunately the altarpiece isn't in St. Nicholas, but is instead in (another) St. Baavo's church.
As we walked in we were greeted with choral music performed by a middle school choir from somewhere in the United Kingdom. Their music added a wonderful effect to the church--these old churches were made for music--but it was very hard not to analyze them to death. I thought that they were a very poor choir, but it was wonderful to have them there.
After we had enjoyed their music we each paid our E4 for a ticket into the museum to see the altarpiece that had been painted by the van Eyck brothers around 1425. Even though this was so early in art history, this shows some of the very first attempts at realism. The altarpiece is in 12 different panels, all showing various aspects of worshiping the Lamb (as described in Revelation).
On the right side on the top of the altarpiece is Adam, and on the left top is Eve, showing the importance of Original Sin. I had never realized, but Catholics believe (at least they did at the time of van Eyck) that before the Fall we were in need of Salvation, but we weren't eligible for it until Adam and Eve sinned. It was very complicated, and I don't want to try too hard to explain it, because I probably would mess it up. Suffice it to say, it was full of hooey.
After viewing the Altarpiece and enjoying the audio guide that went with it, the four of us left the church and headed to the 12th century castle which was only a few blocks away. It was built around 1180, but wasn't intended for a king and queen, but (I believe) a count and countess.
Included in our ticket was a movie guide (not an audio guide), but I kind of wish that I hadn't gotten it. The movie really wan't especially factual, or well done. I could have gone through the castle in 20 minutes, but we spent over an hour because we were trying to watch the movie as we went.
Highlights from the castle included a sword that was over 6 feet tall (I took a selfie and it's just as tall as I am), a chapel, a tower where we got to take pictures of the scenery, and a surviving two-seater outhouse which was open at the bottom over the lawn below. I also saw remnants of several other outhouses, too.
We got home from Gent after trying about four train platforms, and I went to the grocery one more time (I was sick of peanut butter sandwiches, so I wanted some cold fettucine alfredo). Then it was back to the room to eat, watch Hogan's Heroes, and go to bed. We had to be up and out by 5:55, so I set my alarm for 4:45 am.
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.