|After a warm evening in Gent we started out on board Elodie for the first hour of the day then launched off on our bikes after fixing yet another flat tire. The ride again took us through nice countryside with roads or paths lined with planed trees for windbreaks. Along the way we passed a marker almost hidden on the side of the road which was the border between the Netherlands and Belgium. We stopped at a local bar beside the canal that used to have a small boat to ferry patrons and local workers across the canal. We sat outside and had a beer, and were joined by two delightful older Belgian cyclists who were very keen to know that we were Canadian. One was quite familiar with Canada and knew about Kelowna and Nanaimo. It seems there is a famous Dutch athlete (a cyclist) who had married and moved to Kelowna. One of these cyclists was drinking Kierk, a Belgian cherry flavored beer. He insisted that we taste it and it turns out that Heather quite likes Kierk! Further along in the ride, beside the canal just after waiting for a drawbridge to close from a passing VBT cycling barge, we stopped at a location where the locals have built a monument to the second world war out of an old German panzer tank. This is one of the areas where Canadian troops fought some of the toughest battles against the Germans, and the Belgians are very predisposed towards Canadians. We cycled past some left-over bunkers which folks were so engrossed in looking at that they didn't realize those in front had stopped and we almost lost Anita Werk into the canal. She did a great tuck and roll after leaving her bike at the side if the path, avoiding a potentially very wet finish. Luckily the bike fell over before landing in the drink.
We met the Elodie on the outskirts of Bruges where we enjoyed some cool beer and then headed into town after freshening up for another fabulous tour by Luke. Then we splintered into smaller groups to enjoy dinner in Bruges, an absolutely gorgeous city with amazing character. I'm sure I took 100 photos the first evening. You have to see the photos to understand why people rave about Bruges.
The history tour gave some interesting insights into the Nunnery, the first hospital, the brewery, the tannery which used to be on the outskirts of town because of the smell, the best chocolatier and ice cream store. Not to mention the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and the numerous cathedrals. In one of the main squares there is a modern sculpture commissioned by the city to represent the aspects of Bruges. A Japanese artist won the right to create the sculpture. Unfortunately he created something totally out of character and this abstraction is now referred to as the car wash!