St Faith's Church, Walsworth, Hitchin
An Anglican and Methodist Local Ecumenical Partnership
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|Bruges Trip - August 2008|
|The 2nd Hitchin Parish Annual Summer trip, organised by St Faith's, was a perfect blend of fun, fellowship, food, and culture.
We left St Faith's after church on Sunday 24th August, stopping to pick up friends from St Mary's and St Mark's, arriving at the Hotel 't Putje in Bruges in the early evening.
On the first evening we split into various groups to explore the restaurants of the City for dinner. There was a lot of choice - something to suit everyone's tastes. For those who had the stamina, the bars were an attraction and dancing went on into the early hours.
Over the two days of the visit, people took advantage of all that Bruges has to offer: a medieval city with many ancient buildings and works of art. A popular venue was the Church of our Lady, the highest building in Bruges at 400ft, which is home to the Michelangelo sculpture of the Madonna and Child.
Within the group, we experienced the many ways of getting around: the centre of the medieval city is easily travelled by foot, but there are also guided tours by pony and trap, trips along the famous network of canals offering an alternative view of the City. Bicycles also proved an excellent way of negotiating the narrow streets with the opportunity to cycle along the canal encircling Bruges, visiting the windmills that stand along the city walls.
Some tackled the challenge of the 366 narrow winding steps to the top of the Beffroi in the Grand Place.
Having made it to the top, the reward was a panoramic view of Bruges, its churches and the cathedral of St Salvator, seen below on the right.
Keeping in mind the prospective visit to St Faith's by the Bishop of St Albans to talk about the art of Bruges on 17th September, many people visited the Groeninge Museum which contains Flemish painting from the 15th Century to the present day, including the early artists of the Bruges School. Other popular venues were the brewery, the chocolate museum and the chip museum: offering an insight into the City's food culture that we much enjoyed during our visit.
On the final evening, everyone gathered together for a meal before setting off for the overnight trip home, arriving back at St Faith's at 4am on the Wednesday morning.
There was some excitement as we reached the ferry with just 7 minutes to spare and were joined by hundreds of Standard Liege football fans who kept us entertained during the crossing with their singing. However, sadly there were no volunteers for the church choir!
There is a great deal more to Bruges than can be experienced in two days. The City is full of museums, historic buildings, churches, and other places of interest as well as art, a large range of food and eating establishments and of course the night life.
Our thanks go to Charmaine Sabey-Corkindale, the vicar of St Faith's, for organising a wonderful trip for the parish. We hope there will be an opportunity to return soon!
While we enjoyed the sights of Bruges, two members of the party paid a very special visit to a friend in nearby Wingene. Read their story here:
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