Day Seven: Bruges, Belgium
The corps took a much needed day off Wednesday, making a one-day stop in Belgium between their performances in France and the Netherlands (Holland). All the equipment was loaded onto the truck borrowed from the Dutch drum corps Jubal, and the buses were once again packed with luggage for the next stop on tour. After a leisurely morning, the corps departed from Saint Quentin, France, for an afternoon in Bruges, Belgium – one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
PHOTOS: The GLASSMEN load equipment into the bright orange Jubal truck, and fit the mass of luggage into the bus bays.
The corps was dropped off near a park just outside the city – and many didn’t know what awaited them inside the cities’ walls. The main city of Bruges has a population of about 25,000 – and is often referred to as "The Venice of the North" because of the series of canals on which it is situated. Originally adapted for trade purposes, they now are exclusively used by tourist boats, owned and operated by five different families in Bruges. Many members and staff took advantage of the beautiful weather to hope in a canal boat and take a quick tour of the city before traversing on foot.
PHOTO: Color guard soloist Stephanie Yuen and friends take in the city of Bruges by canal boat.
Bruges has a total of nine different cathedrals in the city, with a wide variety of architecture, and an impressive number of historical and religious relics, and an equally impressive amount of important art and sculptures. In fact, Michelangelo’s sculpture of ‘Madonna with Child’ now stands inside Bruges’ Church of Our Lady, built in the 13th-15th centuries. Members that traveled through these numerous churches were treated to beautiful organ music and a plethora of information about art and architecture from the period.
PHOTO: The Church of Our Lady, one of nine cathedrals towering over Bruges, holds Michelangelo’s "Madonna with Child."
Many GLASSMEN took advantage of the dozens of streets lined with shops as far as the eye could see – lace and tapestry markets, chocolate shops, and souvenir booths lined up next to more modern clothing and home decor shops. If only there were more room in the suitcases to bring it all home! The main Market Square that ties all these shop streets together is home to the famous Belfry Tower. Now housing a museum, the belfry continues to ring the time out across the city, and the carillon of 47 bells (that’s 27 tons!) plays concerts three times each week. But any GLASSMEN that were in the square Wednesday were treated to an extra special melody – the music of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rang out each hour on the half hour. It was as though the city knew the 2006 GLASSMEN would be there!
PHOTO: Six members of the GLASSMEN drumline pose for a quick photo in the main Market Square of Bruges.
And if that weren’t coincidental enough, anyone who passed by the Provincial Government Palace (built between 1887-1921) was treated to another strange occurrence. The flags on the building, representing the province of West-Vlannderen (Flanders), were marked with the logo of the province – which bore a remarkable resemblance to the GLASSMEN shield logo!
PHOTO: A media campaign photo with logo promoting the province of West Flanders.
The city of Bruges is so packed with sights and sounds and activities that could never be covered in one short day. But if nothing else, many of the GLASSMEN treated themselves to some of the best food that the region has to offer in any of the hundreds of cafes that line the streets. You certainly can’t say you’ve been to Belgium without having a plate of fries with mayonnaise, a pot of steamed mussels in sauce, or an honest to goodness belgian waffle topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce. It was the best way to end a most perfect free day!
The corps boarded the busses again at 8:00 p.m. and headed up north to Dordrecht, Netherlands, where they will spend two days in rehearsal in preparation for the Jubal home drum corps show, "An Evening with the Stars," on Friday night. Stay tuned for updates from Holland as they happen – and a first look at one of the biggest shows in Drum Corps Europe – at www.glassmen.org.