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!
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.