Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Our European Journey 2014 - Bruges, Oct. 4th

Bruges - Oct. 4th
            Last night we arrived in Bruges.  Our trusty GPS, Geraldine, brought us through the maze of twelfth century streets directly to the door of our hotel.  Then the problems started.  The young woman at the desk told us we would have to “back the car up one block” to get to the hotel parking lot, where we had booked a parking space.  (It’s as important in places like Bruges to book a parking space as it is to book a room).  Now to get the full picture, you have to understand we’re talking about a one-lane curvy cobblestone street with two way traffic, not counting the bicycles and pedestrians.  I, with my cane and white hair got to stand in the middle of the road trying to ban incoming traffic while J backed the car up.  It was not a pretty sight.
Bruges Street Scene

Finally we got our small car parked in the miniscule cubbyhole assigned to it, and found our way out of the basement, loaded down with our bags, to make our way on our own to our room.  There was at no point any offer of help.  This hotel seems greatly understaffed, overpriced and overrated.  We were given an “upgraded room” with a toilet designed for midgets in a closet and a separate room with a wash basin and a tub with sides so high I’d have needed mountain climbing gear to use it.
Bruges Market Square
Bruges Market Square
However, in spite of the above, I do not regret that we chose to spend two nights in Bruges.  Market Square in the twelfth century town looks like the set for a fairy tale.  A UNESCO world heritage site, the buildings in the old walled center are each unique, each incredible in the imagination of its architecture.  Even though most display similar stepped rooflines it seems none is exactly the same height as its neighbors.  And the range of colours is dizzying.  The churches and public buildings vie with one another in their splendor.  Every inch of the inside of the Basilica is covered in art, and the stained glass windows rather than showing religious subjects, tell the history of the nobles in Bruges beginning in the eleven hundreds.   
Michelangelo's Madonna & Child sculpture
Michelangelo's Madonna & Child sculpture
The only Michelangelo sculpture to be found outside of Italy, a gorgeous Madonna and Child, resides in another church in Bruges.

Belgium is divided into two political units, with two distinct languages, French and Flemish.  Bruges is the capitol of Flanders and the language of Bruges is Flemish, which sounds a bit to my uneducated ears like Dutch.  The cuisine in the two parts of Belgium is as different as the languages.  Beer is big, and we had a delicious beef stew made with the local beer for our dinner tonight, sitting outside in an unpretentious little sidewalk cafĂ©.  
Bruges, Belgium

The town, close to the sea and laced through with canals, is called “the Venice of the north”.   Like its namesake it is a tourist mecca.  It is best to see it early in the morning before the tour buses arrive or in the late afternoon after they leave.  

Following are my own published novels. Go to my Goodreads page, to find more details about my books, and all the reviews of books that I have read.  
To purchase one of my books, just click on the book cover below and select the vendor of your choice.

COMING SOON!  Romantic Road, is a romantic thriller set in Europe.  It is due for release in late 2014 by Wild Rose Press!  Stay tuned.

Romantic Road ~ Takes you on a chase across Europe with our heroine who finds herself in a series of precarious situations.  She encounters a handsome stranger, but is he helping her, or is he dangerous?  This story has hair raising suspense, romance and a sprinkling of humour


The Memory of Roses, Blair McDowell
 • The Memory of Roses ~ The story of a secret and how it impacts two generations of the McQuaid family.  It unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu and is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

"The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.”  --  Marlene, Reading Reality

Delighting In Your Company, Blair McDowell
 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

"Delighting In Your Company is a unique paranormal romance that brings together island folklore, history, and mystery with an unlikely romance between the past and present that had me going through a torrent of emotions and made it impossible to put down." -- The Romance Reviews

Sonata, Blair McDowell
 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find that a robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame.  She also has a new stepmother with a charming brother who is intent on bedding and wedding the rich and beautiful Sayuri. It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

“I found Sonata to be a charming novel that left me laughing out loud in parts and gnawing nails in others. It was a delight to read.” – Night Owl Reviews


Abigail's Christmas, Blair McDowell
 • Abigail's Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
"Abigail’s Christmas is a sweet and special story that honors both love and the holidays."  -- Sizzling Hot Books  

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Blair McDowell