Flandering

Looks like my time in Belgium is coming to a close. It’s been a really enjoyable leg of the trip — the ‘family’ portion, you might say. My cousin and his family have been enormously gracious and generous during my time in Brussels. He is a gourmet cook and has been serving up oysters, venison, some great cheeses and sausages, and good beer and wine.

Yesterday was of course Christmas, so we all went to a nice chateau in Groot Bijgaarden. It’s an impressive castle with a nice layout of green gardens and stone buildings.

You can walk around inside, where various rooms are decorated in various Christmas themes.

Today we went to Brugge, about an hour’s drive west of Brussels. It’s one of those great old cobble-stone towns with fantastic architecture and a nice series of stone bridges.

The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwkerk church houses a Michelangelo sculpture of the Virgin Mary. It’s one of the very few Michelangelo works that exists outside of Italy.

I had a great lunch of roast hare in beer sauce. I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten rabbit before, but it was damned tasty.

We were lucky that we arrived fairly early and saw everything we wanted to see right away. The crowds were light — and the sun was out! — but around 3pm the clutter of people got quite stifling. We left soon after that.

Tomorrow I’m heading out of Belgium, to a little finger of the Netherlands and a city called Maastricht. I’ll stay overnight and then it’s back to Brussels just in time to catch my flight to Slovenia.

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