Thursday, November 24, 2011

'Intocht van Sinterklaas' (Arrival of Sinterklaas)

As what seems to now be typical on a normal, quiet Sunday afternoon there was a parade outside our house.

This parade was due to Sinterklaas arriving in Bruges. The arrival of Sinteklass into town is a huge event and is often broadcast on television.

It is said that Sinterklaas travels from Spain (because he brings mandarin oranges) by boat. Once he arrives he parades on his gray horse, and his Zwarte Piet assistants throw sweets into the crowd.

Sinterklaas delivers gifts to children on 6th December, with the help of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), a servant of Sinterklaas. Belgian children put a shoe in front of the fireplace with a treat for Sinterklaas and his horse. The 6th December is very much celebrated like we celebrate Christmas Day with presents from Father Christmas. This day is mainly for children, and Christmas Day is is for family and presents for everyone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Basilica of the Holy Blood

We recently visited the Basilica which is situated in the corner of the Burg. It is named after the relic of Christ's blood which the Basilica was built to house. The Flemish knight Derrick of Alsace returned from the Second Crusade in the Holy Land in 1149 and is said to have brought with him a phial containing some drops of Jesus's blood. It is said that at various times the dried blood became liquid. This phial is carried through the streets of Bruges in the Ascension Day procession. People can go up and touch the relic, for a small voluntary contribution of course.

The Basilica is divided into two chapels. The more recent Gothic Upper Chapel has lots of mural decorations dating from the 19th Century.

The Romanesque lower chapel has preserved its original style.

The Basilica is definitely worth a quick visit and is free to enter.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Staminee De Garre

One of our favourite bars to take people in Bruges is Staminee De Garre. They have around 150 beers on offer but recommended is their own house brew which is 11.5% (and limited to three glasses per person).


They also serve seasonal fruit beer which is popular in Belgium.

The bar is down a blink-and-you-miss-it alley between the Burg and the Markt, and is usually fairly busy, but the drink, service, and atmosphere makes it well worth a visit.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Saturday Market at the 't Zand Bruges

First stop when Matt's family came to visit was the market at the 't Zand to stock up on meats, cheeses, olives etc.

Although it has a lot less charm than the Wednesday market in the Markt, this morning market has a lot more stalls, including more rotisserie chickens, olive stalls, and stalls selling clothes.

There other part of the market, aimed more at locals, is just left of Smedenstraat just off the 't Zand.

This part of the market sells fresh fruit and vegetables, live chickens, ducks, and rabbits, pets supplies and pets, and plants and flowers.