on September 27, 2003
I have just looked at Linda Kaye's account of this trip and in particular at her experience of weather--what luck. I thought it was precisely what I had managed myself--it had been a gloomy day and now the sun was out BUT it probably was clearing but there was one truly mighty thunderstorm to come before it did and guess where we were--no prizes! Umbrellas were issued and the driver tried to give us shelter under a bridge! Even so it was most informative and even enjoyable, but I did feel a bit naked next morning in completely unmenacing sun.
The trip lasts abot 40 minutes and is confined to the Leie River and the Liève Canal to Brugge, which joins the Leie at the top of the Graslei/Korenlei. The part of the Leie beween the Korenlei and the Graslei is the ancient harbour of Ghent and thus the buildings on the Graslei were of immense importance, but they do not all belong to a common age as in Brugge. Rather they are separated by hundreds of years. The oldest of them was built in about 1200 and is the Koornstapelhuis from when Ghent had the staple in corn and it all had to be stored here before sale. Adjacent to this is the minute old customs house. Other guild buildings were those of the Free Boatmen, the fish measurers, the grain weighers, and the masons. Incidentally the other side of the river is far more humbler with the hospices.
Near the bottom end of these two roads where the boat turns back is St Michael's Bridge and fro just before this the famous view of the three towers is to be seen, which are in order ST Niclaaskerke, once the belfry of Ghent, then the actual Belfry, and lastly the tower of Sint Baafskathedraal. Further up than the starting point the boat follows the Liève canal a short distance to the wonderful Gravensteen castle of the Counts of Flanders, who were always concerned to establish practical independence from the French crown to which they were nominally subject. Then it continues to see some religious and old industrial buildings. Lastly it returns to the junction and goes up the Leie for a short distance to see the [still in use] abbey.
A fine trip and a fine commentary.
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