Europe, part deux!

After the wonderful time spent in France seeing friends, eating great food and touring museums and cathedrals, it was time to head north to Belgium. After spending the day in Bastogne visiting World War II sites, we headed to Bruges, Belgium. I had been there once before after teaching in France and I so loved it that I wanted to make sure we stopped there for a few days. It is one of the most picturesque places in all of Europe and built on a waterway of canals, it is often referred to as the “Venice of the North”.IMG_7023IMG_2050

I was lucky enough to be there on a Saturday for the flea market and despite the rain, there were a few vendors. Always such fun!IMG_7028

Bruges is also home to one of my all time favorite artists, Jan Van Eyck, who created the Ghent Altarpiece. Love.  Anyway, Bruges honors all of its artists, writers and composers with statues like this:IMG_2044

Hans Memling is another favorite Flemish artist and we so enjoyed the museums here.IMG_2015

Here are a few other shots from around town.IMG_1977IMG_2003

And for anyone who has seen the film, En Bruges, you will remember “The Church of the Holy Blood”. It is just gorgeous and we stopped in on Sunday to hear a friend sing in the choir.IMG_1957

Love the milagros!

Love the milagros!

And one cannot leave Belgium without eating a delicious Belgian waffle….there goes another pound! (truly gained almost 10 pounds while gone!!!)

IMG_7071During our time in Belgium we also visited Ostende on the North Sea coast to see the James Ensor Museum….which used to be the family home of this very expressive painter when he was young.

DSCN5754These are a few of the masks that Ensor made as studies for his paintings which often include subjects like carnivals, puppetry and masks. IMG_2061

IMG_2067It was a lot of fun visiting this museum even though there were very few original paintings left in the house. But being a collector of all things fantastic, Ensor’s home itself was like a cabinet of curiosities with crazy monkey skeletons, brightly colored masks and all sorts of oddities. Loved it. Down the street on the boardwalk in Ostend was an artful installation…..loved the orange color against the sky and sea…..DSCN5789

After Ostende we drove to Flanders Field and spent the day visiting World War I battlefield sites of trench warfare. This area was known as the Western Front and the town of Ypres was the site of many battles. They have an incredible museum there.

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Traveling with my husband who is a former European history and art history teacher is fantastic. He is a wealth of knowledge……and because of this we made a detour to see a German cemetery because of the famous sculpture there by German female artist, Kathe Kollwitz whose work often touches on the tragedies of war. This particular cemetery features one of her most famous pieces called Grieving ParentsIMG_2091She and her husband lost a son in the war and instead of comforting one another in their loss, they are depicted as isolated and grieving in their own way….the headstone of their son is in front of them….it is a very emotional and heartfelt rendering of the human condition.

After our visit to Belgium where we drank way too much Belgian beer (another 2 pounds gained!) we headed to The Netherlands. First stop there was in The Hague. We met up with one of my husband’s former students who works at the International Court of Justice and we were allowed to sit in on a trial the next day……needless to say, it was an incredible experience.IMG_2075We also saw the Peace Palace in The Hague:DSCN6201 On a lighter note, we went to go see the tulips which were in season. Wow, I couldn’t believe my eyes! This first shot was taken of tulip fields…..DSCN6162DSCN6106Then we visited the famous Keukenhof Gardens, the Disneyland of flower lovers! It is one of the world’s largest gardens and it did not disappoint!IMG_2048DSCN6097

After our cultural visit to The Hague, we moved on to Haarlem, a small town outside of Amsterdam and we were so glad we decided to stay here because it was so quaint and charming and was home to painter, Franz Hals, one of David’s favorite Dutch painters. IMG_2382IMG_1186The Franz Hals Museum was one of the best museums we visited. It had a beautiful collection and they had a tulip show running concurrently so that in each room, artwork was paired with flower arrangements! Awesome!IMG_2057IMG_2325DSCN6301DSCN6321

an incredible doll house!

an incredible doll house!

One of my favorite paintings...a Land Yacht/Ship of Fools

One of my favorite paintings…a Land Yacht/Ship of Fools

On our last day in Haarlem, we took the train to Amsterdam which was only a 15 minute ride. IMG_2428We spent the day going to museums to see The Late Rembrandt show at the Rijksmuseum,IMG_1183IMG_2387DSCN6415

 

and then heading to the Van Gogh museum the second half of the day…..IMG_2430IMG_2435IMG_2446

This was a very busy day seeing lots of art but well worth fighting the crowds because:IMG_2474And we did……..

And this is where Part 2 ends…..because the next day we boarded our ship to set sail to the Baltic……(possibly to be continued!)

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Europe, part deux!

  1. Yes, PLEASE to be continued. It’s great fun to see the sites with you. Every entry exposes just how much planning went into this GRAND TOUR:) Laura xo

    • Hi Michelle….thanks for your note! It was a fabulous trip….so much to see!!! And so much to be inspired by….speaking of inspiration….hope to see you soon!!
      Xoxox

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