Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 (for Sunday, July 13, 2014)
Time: 4:42 pm European time/10:42 am EST
Place: 35,988 feet above the Atlantic ocean, at the very beginning of being over North America. 2,661 miles from Brussels, 1,775 miles from home. Longitude: 54 degrees 48' 11" W. Latitude 45 degrees 56' 17" north.
We left Leiden by about 9 in the morning, walking down to the train station from our hotel. The weather was iffy at best. We were forced to take a total of three trains, finally arriving in Brugge by about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I spent most of the day dozing, so nothing particularly wonderful happened.
When we arrived in town we were given a few minutes to check into our hotel which was a boat called "De Barge." Joel and I shared a double room. There wasn't a lot of space, but there was plenty to be comfortable. We were told to be back downstairs in about 10 minutes so that we could continue our adventures.
The whole group assembled, and then we walked about 15 minutes to the church of Our Lady (it had a really long Flemish name that I couldn't even hope to pronounce, so I don't remember it). In it is Michelangelo's statue of the Virgin and Child (or some very similar name). It was the only one of Michelangelo's statues to leave Italy during his lifetime.
It was confiscated by Hitler's men during World War II (along with the Gent Altarpiece, which we'll talk about in tomorrow's post) and plays an important role in Monument Men which is a fairly recent movie I haven't been able to finish yet. Suffice it to say, it's beautiful and the church got it back when the war was over.
We really didn't spend that much time in the church since there was really only that one piece of art to see. There were others, but we were very quickly able to see them on the way to the statue.
We left the church and walked across the street to St. John's Hospital which dates from the High Middle Ages. For centuries it was an actual hospital, but in the last hundred years (or maybe even less) it has been turned into a very nice museum.
It contains an altarpiece, dedicated to various St. Johns. I don't remember who is in the middle panel, but St. John the Baptist was shown (decapitated) in the left panel, and St. John the Revelator was shown (in vision) on the right panel. It was really quite remarkable.
Also in the church was a reliquary that (at least at one point) was supposed to hold the relics of St. Ursula. I don't think anyone told me the actual story of St. Ursula, but I like my story better anyway. I think she was a Christian octopus that was killed for her beliefs. But probably not...
Museums close about 5 o'clock in Europe, and the gift shops close even earlier, so I didn't get a postcard of the altarpiece. Too bad.
After finishing up at the hospital we headed over to a place where you get on a tourist boat. As we were trying to all get on the boat we came very close to capsizing, but luckily we managed to not do that. The man driving the boat gave us all sorts of factoids, but I was sitting in the back (as some sort of a ballast, I suppose) so I couldn't hear anything.
After the boat ride (which was quite a lot of fun) we were given free time. It was around 7 by this point, so I went to the grocery story to get some more bread, then went back to the hotel and ate. Over this trip I've managed to introduce Joel to Hogan's Heroes, so we watched four or five episodes. It was a fun way to kill some time before we were ready for bed.
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.