Wednesday, June 28, 2017
One of the first stop we made was to The Béguinage or Begijnhof Brugge. I learned something new this trip. I learned about beguines who basically I think are ladies who lived like nuns, but didn't take the oath. The Begijnhof is a compound where they used to live. I don't know if there's like a rule in making the compound but The Begijnhof I saw here and in Amsterdam are kinda the same. The houses are in the perimeter of the compound and in the middle of it there's a open green space like a garden and there's like only one or two small entrances in the perimeter to enter the compound. The houses in Bruges Begijnhof are painted white and I think there's a museum. I like the tranquil feeling in it. I didn't have the time to go back to visit it during my free time and I think it's kinda a shame.
After The Begijnhof, we actually broke for lunch and walking tour resumed after it. There were still quite a few of us following the guide. The sky was getting grayer and the weather made me get anxious and disappointed that it would be a rainy day throughout. Just look at this very cloudy picture of Rozenhoedkaai, a place which is often photographed in Bruges I think.
As we walked more with the guide, it started to rain :( I was getting concerned. We made it to the square and after taking some time taking shelter, the rain went into a manageable drizzle. The guide let us off there and we're free to explore on our own. Since it was still drizzling, I went to the nearby Basilica of the Holy Blood where I don't know for what purpose, there's a group of people who seemed to be practising for a parade of something. There's people playing musical instrument and people walking behind them singing.
I watched them for awhile and the drizzle stopped and the sky actually kinda cleared out as I was walking around. The sky was getting bluer when I walked pass a counter selling ticket for the canal cruise. I had googled about this beforehand and I did want to take it. From googling the ticket counter seemed to be somewhere else, but since I passed one by Rozenhoedkaai and the price was the same (8 euro), I thought why not. I didn't have to wait long and it was a really nice trip. I do recommend you doing this when you're in Bruges. It makes you realize how pretty and photogenic this city is. The unskillful me didn't take good pictures, but even from the ones I have, they're just beautiful. The boat ride is about 30-minute long and they took you around places which you may never walk on your own. I also think the view from the canal itself are quite different as compared to seeing it from the streets.
After that I still had time to walk on my own. Somehow I made it back to Basilica of the Holy Blood. I was only in the courtyard earlier when I saw those people practising. This time around I decided to go inside the church. The guide did talk about the presence of the Holy Blood of Jesus Christ in here (hence the name of the church), but as I often do, I didn't really pay much attention. So when I entered I didn't even remember that. It only dawned on me when I entered and it was quite a sombre serious atmosphere inside and I saw a few people queuing at one side of the altar. There weren't many people and I observed them awhile. One by one they went up the altar, they put a donation and they look at this glass case which was manned by an older priest and a younger one. I think that's the older priest's assistant. Some of them touched the case. I thought I was there, why not, though I did feel inadequate or perhaps unworthy. This would be a big deal for some Catholics or people with strong faith to Jesus. I have to admit that I felt kinda nervous and I tried not to make eye contact with the priests, lest they could see it that this was just a curiosity for me for rather than a faith affirming experience. Also since I felt unworthy, I didn't touch the glass case. Honestly, I would have liked to take my time and see the vial and blood thoroughly, but since people only took a short time, I didn't dare linger. Wikipedia has a picture of the vial, you can see it here. After that I went to the other altar to pray a bit, telling God how thankful I was for the opportunity and the protection in the trip. I think I was the last person to see that vial that day because when I prayed I heard the ringing of bells and when I finished praying I saw that the priests and the case were gone. So they show it to the public at specific time during the day and I was quite lucky to be there at the right time. Whether or not you believe that's really the blood of Jesus Christ, as my guide said, it's up to your faith and belief. You can't take pictures inside the church, so I have none.
:) eKa @ 8:33:00 PM •
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