My Travel Blog

To Brugge, To Market!

Rabelo is starting to come together.  We even hung a picture that our friend Lovita painted for us.  It is a reproduction of a famous painting done by Van Gogh of boats on the sand. As a child it was my favorite painting.  My Grandmother had a print displayed prominently in her home.

Upon arrival in Brugge our first task was to find a market.  We no longer have a car on Rabelo, and don’t plan on buying one until we get to France because of the licensing issues. Lisa had a shopping list a mile, or should I say a kilometer long, so we needed a market within walking distance.  Julian jumped on a bike to find the closest one.  It wasn’t the supermarket we had hoped for, but at least it was a good-sized community market.  After the three of us ran around for almost two hours chasing down all the things Lisa needed it was time to go to the checkout counter.  I’m not sure the young woman at the counter had ever seen baskets as full as ours.  She even threw in two free plants.  Getting all those supplies back to Rabelo was no easy task, but we survived.  Without a car I’m going to lose some weight, but where’s the fun in that?

A typical canal lined with medieval homes.

A statue of the Flemish artist Jan Van Eyck.

Brugge is a memorable, delightful, beautiful city with its canals, medieval architecture, many museums and churches.  Unfortunately everybody knows how special it is, and consequently the place is packed with tourists. After visiting so many incredible medieval villages, where there are never any tourists, I suppose one becomes a bit jaded.

A magnificent pipe organ we got to hear.

Playing the pipe organ.

One of the reasons we decided to go back to Brugge was because of a movie we recently saw. No, it wasn’t the one starring Colin Farrell. If you haven’t seen the movie Monuments Men starring George Clooney it’s worth renting.  It takes place in Europe towards the end of WWII, and is a true story about a group of American soldiers that were tasked with finding and saving all the artwork the Nazis had stolen.  In the movie one of the most important pieces they were looking for was Michelangelo’s Madona and Child that was taken from the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk cathedral in Brugge.  Lisa and I had visited the cathedral twelve years ago to see the famous sculpture, and were duly impressed.  In fact we walked away saying that it was obvious why Michelangelo was considered a master. After seeing the movie and understanding what the famous carving had been through it had so much more meaning for us.  If you are headed to Brugge rent the movie, and go see the Madonna and Child.

Lisa standing in front of the Madonna and Child.

A typical canal in Brugge.

We even played tourist and went for a boat ride.

There are plenty of things to see and do in Brugge, but we were so tired from getting Rabelo ready for the summer, and the weather was kind of crappy that we only spent two nights there.  I have to say the free harp concert that Luc Vanlaere does Tuesday through Saturday at 3pm, 5pm and 6:30pm was a real highlight.  I can highly recommend it.

Luc Vanlaere playing one of his many harps.

We left Brugge and headed back to Gent, but first we had to fill up with water at the lock.  It’s always fun to meet strangers in a foreign country. Neils, the lock keeper was one of those delightful people that we are constantly running into.  He held the lock open for almost an hour while we filled our tanks.  During our wait, Neils and I talked the entire time.  It is those sorts of chance meetings that make barging so special.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels

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About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.