Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

In Bruges, May 22-27, Part 1

I used that post title on the Odysseus blog back in 2008 but if it reminds anyone to rewatch that great movie (we did!) then my job here is done.

11:30 am we left the Dendermonde lock and entered the Schelde, hurtling downstream (well, at about 6 mph) toward Ghent. Just about 2 o’clock the doors of the Merelbecke Lock opened and we had left the tidal part of the river, entering the Ringvaart, the canal that “rings” Ghent. Just before 4 we left the canal and entered the arm of the Leie River that flows through the middle of Ghent. When we come back in a couple of weeks we’ll actually travel into the center but for now we were heading on to Bruges so we stopped at one of the three yacht clubs on the river just off the Ringvaart.

The KGWV is in a beautiful setting with the river slowly flowing by grassy tree-shaded banks. This club’s mooring are alongside the canal, the others are mostly on finger pontoons. But it’s loud and surgy! Big commercial barges go speeding by the narrow entrance to the river resulting in alot of wash, the boats dancing around and stretching out lines. The very noisy ring road and two railroad tracks surround the space. Luckily we’d only spend one night.

9 am Tuesday morning we reentered the Ringvaart and about 1:30 pm started through the three opening bridges that would bring us to one of our favorite moorings, The Coupure in Bruges. By 3 we were secured in the small arm off the main canal. We made the short walk into town to visit the tourist office where we learned that we had arrived just in time for a big four-day holiday. The town celebrates Ascension Day with the Procession of the Holy Blood and that would take place on Thursday. We were just in time!

Wednesday was chores day as we had the Holy Trinity:power, water and sun. Laundry and general cleanup were called for. We also met Hans and Jannie on theDolphijn, moored just behind us. From very northern Netherlands, they had sold their tour boat business, keeping and refitting out the smaller boat (about 15 meters) and were headed for the warmer climate of southern France.

Legend has it that in 1150, after the second Crusade, Thierry d’Alsace, Count of Flanders, brought the relic of the Holy Blood of Jesus back from Jerusalem and placed it in the Basilica on the Burg, the main square in Bruges. Now, every year on Ascension Day, a procession winds it’s way through the central city with marching bands, the many different town guilds in their finery and several “tableau,” scenes from the Christian story played out by the citizens along with “floats” of horse drawn wagons.

Church services begin  around 11 am, the procession starts at 2:30 pm and ends at 6, taking an hour and a half to pass any particular point. There were lots of horses, sheep, goats, a few donkeys, a couple of camels and lots and lots of people.

“Jesus” tells the children to come to him.

This Jesus is riding into Jerusalem on a donkey with many palm frond waving followers.

Barabas awaits his fate followed by
a phalanx of Roman soldiers.

I missed a picture of the guy riding the horse carrying the actual Relic because a bunch of people were standing in the way!

And finally, the mobile carillon appears to send the crowd off in good spirits!

We think all of Belgium was sold out of wigs and bronze makeup because there were alot of “swarthy” people in that parade.

We were off to find a beer, not hard to do in Belgium.

Friday would be culture day. Saturday morning we’d be off.

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