On the road: Brugge & Ghent

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Last week was Crocus Vacation here in Nijmegen. We had a week of lovely weather and a great four days in Belgium, two in Ghent followed by two in Brugge (Bruges). It was my first trip to both cities and one of our most balanced family trips in the sense that everyone got to do something they really wanted to do, we found lovely places to stay, we ate out, we ate in, and no one got pushed past their limits. The result – a lot of fun!


In Ghent, we stayed at the Bel Etage, which was a great location with a great hostess. We spent a morning visiting the Gravensteen castle. Peanut is immersed in fairy tales and obsessed with knights and castles, so he loved the castle! The tour was marked with numbered signs, so he was able to lead us around the castle. There wasn’t a lot of history about the castle, but the littles had a blast exploring rooms, towers, and twisting staircases. One of my highlights was spying this little gem of a back porch from the top of the castle.

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In the afternoon, I got to spend a couple hours on my own to visit the Stoffenkamer. When I arrived, there was a sign posted that they were closed due to illness, but I only saw it after ringing the bell. Liesbet (I think) opened the door and explained that they were closed, but when I mentioned I’d come from Nijmegen, welcomed me in and let me look around while she packed up on-line orders. What a treat – what a treat! The Stoffenkamer has a great collection of quilting cottons, but also plenty of knits (tricot), corduroy prints, canvas, and notions. There were dozens and dozens of colors of piping, it was breathtaking. I left with a wonderful selection of fabric and feelings of gratitude.

Our visit to Brugge was also lovely. We stayed at Apartment Bruno and it was fantastic. Ilse is a lovely hostess with fantastic taste. Brugge was a wandering around kind of place as opposed to a go do things kind of place. The city is impeccably maintained and restored. I found a gem of a building facade during our wanders.

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Each room was labeled and the lines trace an individual’s movements through the rooms over the course of a day. It’s a really unusual concept that reminds us that these beautiful buildings were primarily built for people to live and work in. It humanizes them. It was interesting for me because as pretty as Brugge was, I couldn’t help noticing that I didn’t see many grocery stores or pharmacies. In other words, it didn’t feel like a place made to live in despite the fact that it has been for many centuries. I wonder if by preserving these cities too much, we take some of the life out of them. That sounds a bit harsh – perhaps we just move the every day life outside of the UNESCO Heritage city wall boundaries.

Ahem, I guess that Cultural Analysis degree did stick with me!

We’ve been back home for a week now and life has been hectic. We’ve had a birthday (Pumpkin is 3!), lots of sickness, and massive amounts of sewing to get ready for my stall at the FeelGoodMarket in Eindhoven on Sunday – SUNDAY! I’m so grateful for the sudden sun and warm weather to help me through these days. That and a whole lot of coffee.

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