I like to believe that I am a normal human being. I tumble and trip over my own feet and fall flat on my face. I prefer chocolate over peanut butter. I adore summer. I have an unparalleled love for high tides and tan lines, ocean air and salty hair. I trust good friends, gritty tales, and great adventures. I believe in fairies and stardust, moonbeams, and magic…
…and as expected from most normal human beings, the feeling of ‘Fri-nally’ gets me fired up to make merry memories for moody Mondays.
Needless to say, weekends are my flipping favorite.
Three-day weekends are my flipping flipping favorite.
Four-day weekends are the cherries on my cake.
Buttt unfortunately for me, four-day weekends are loved by more than just me and my tribe (Read: The entire universe). The picky planners prove their mettle, weeks in advance, by rummaging and ransacking through the best of deals in the most bizarre of locations. Clearly, my unscripted, spontaneous tales pale in comparison to these meticulously laid out itineraries.
Nevertheless, keeping true to my impulsive, volatile and careless nature, finally, on a thrifty Tuesday afternoon, two days before the awaited holiday season, I decided to vanish!
…vanish from work,
…vanish from responsibilities,
…vanish into the haven i.e,
To many of you, Bruges is reminiscent of the iconic Colin Farrel movie, ‘In Bruges’. If the movie is to be believed, Bruges with its endless narrow canals and channels can be irrefutably crowned as the ‘Venice of the West’. To me though, Bruges is just well, Bruges! It isn’t reminiscent of anything. As someone who always advocated books over movies and had the worldly wisdom of a toddler, it really isn’t surprising that this tiny Belgian town in the western corner of Europe was as unknown to me as the variable ‘x’ in an algebraic problem!
In retrospect, I feel it was for the best…
…because no movie would equal the intoxicating excitement with which I discovered Bruges. I walked up and down this charm of a place with a huge helping of Belgian fries in one hand and a delectable Belgian waffle in the other. However, the scorching sun made sure that I wilted and withered like a desiccated leaf.
Naturally, the next logical step was to spot a gelato kiosk, to engage in an hour-long discussion on the vivid colors and bountiful flavors and to finally pick the safest option of them all, chocolate!
The hidden corners of Bruges were surprisingly inhabited by tiny cygnets and queenlike swans, exhibiting their eminence as the town’s official mascots, strutting and sailing and pausing and popping, in and out of frames and bends. They were a joy to feed. And an even greater joy to watch!
Inarguably, one of the most prominent landmarks in Bruges is the Belfry Tower. Irrespective of which godforsaken cranny of the town you are huddled in, you can see the infamous, leaning Belfry looming tall and tough in the heart of the town.
The original design of this bell-tower was proposed several centuries ago in 1240 A.D (Yes, this tower is older than all our forefathers put together!). Since repeated attempts to actualize its unique flagship design were continually thwarted by fires and lightning strikes, the tower in all its glory remains unfinished.
Glaringly beautiful albeit incomplete…
Located yards away from the Belfry Tower was the vibrant central market. Until I witnessed the marvel i.e., the Grote Markt, I didn’t know that I could travel through time. This elusive skill has always been a fanciful concept in my head. Something that I believed required geeky machines and a veiled portal.
Buttt, ALAS! I didn’t need a mysterious gateway to conquer time-travel!
All I needed was the market square! With its typical step-gabled shops, closely resembling the gingerbread houses, it definitely did take me back in time…
…to a time when Bruges thrived,
…to an era when Bruges ruled the Belgian economic front,
…to an age when Flemish traders ran helter-skelter with their merchandise looking for a possible prey to flaunt and flounder their carefully crafted crowns…
The curious corner of my head desperately wanted to know how things went downhill for Bruges. Buttt, for that, I had to know how things went uphill for Bruges. It was deeply confusing because I always assumed that in ancient times, trade is analogous to a booming port. But, Bruges has no port ?!
Six kilometers away, there was a tiny municipality called Damme (or the acting commercial outpost of Bruges) by the seafront. The thirteenth century Damme and Bruges were linked by an archaic river.
The seafront is now well, land.
The river is now a canal.
…and Bruges is now a commercial retiree.
Buttt, the trip would be incomplete without a stop at Damme.
And so, I went…
To a tiny paradise called Damme.
Just like how all good things must come to an end, the city’s economic lifeline silted up in the 15th century.
The Grote Markt dried up.
The city of Antwerp surfaced.
Thus, Bruges went into a deep slumber. For a good 400 years. And then, slowly re-emerged.
…as a town frozen in space, extending its time-travel wings to anyone willing to pass through it.
As the sun went past me and the day came to a calm close, I learned a valuable lesson, ‘The past can never be changed. Or erased. Or edited. Or forgotten. It can only be accepted.’ We can choose to accept it and grow. Or accept it and rot. The choice is ours to seize!
Carpe Diem 🙂
Until next time,