Friday, May 25, 2007

Canals, Beer and Chocolates

I'm just back from a trip by Eurostar to Bruges. It is city frequently compared with Venice because of its canals. That's about the only thing thing the two places have in common though - apart from the tourists. Like Venice the place fills up with tour parties during the day. Evenings though are magical when the place becomes quiet. That's the time to enjoy the restaurants and the beer. Then there is the other Belgian speciality - Chocolate. The plan was to fill a sketchbook but the crowds and responsible beer tasting made this almost impossible so I had to rely on my digital camera.

Bruges has altar pieces by Van Eyck and the Flemish primitives which are not to my taste. But Antwerp is less than hour away and it was marvellous to see Rubens on his own ground. There are two large altar pieces by him in the Cathedral and his house - now a museum - has some masterly portraits. There are some who think he is overshadowed by Rembrandt but for me his outstanding achievement was to bring a touch of Italy north of the alps that at least makes him Rembrandt's equal

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