Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Tale of Two Canal Cities

Saturday afternoon in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is energy...a whirlwind of activity...with a half million bicyclists, plus cars, trams, tourists, buses, barges, and boats it is exciting but overwhelming.  Bruges is a sleepy little village by comparison.  A fairy tale with floating swans and horse drawn carriages.  Two sides of the same coin, both are canal cities and both are major tourist draws, but as different as night and day.  One shocks, one soothes.  One exhausts, one refreshes.  Both are worth a visit.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam's 100 kilometers of canals are lined with stately homes.... 

waterside cafes...

and accommodations ranging from hostels to...

the grand Amstel Hotel.

Busy with all sizes and types of boats,
mirrors and stop lights help control the canal traffic.

There are some 1500 bridges crossing Amsterdam's canals.

There are floating parties and picnics...

old boats living on as sought after canal homes...

and well tended waterside gardens.

There are old classics and...

newer modern structures like Amsterdam's science museum with roof top garden.

Bruges, Belgium

A serene waterside estate on Bruges "Lake of Love"...

wouldn't be complete without swans.

Once upon a time, in the 11th century, Bruges was one of the world's largest cities and busiest ports.
It's a bit quieter now. 

Old St. John's Hospital, built in the 11th century, was one of Europe's first hospitals.
Today it is a museum.

Homes along the canals...

and a canal watch dog.

Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage site and...

was designated a "European Capital of Culture" in 2002.

The 13th century Church of Our Lady.
At 400 feet tall, this is one of the highest brick towers in the world.

Market Square's Gothic architecture.

Bruges offers a quainter (and greener) alternative to cabs.

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