Prevue November-December 2017 - 56
A journey of the senses-chocolate to a thriving comics culture
[ON LOCATION] JOHNALEE JOHNSTON
choes of the past guide our steps along the medieval
streets and canals of Bruges as Charles Baudelaire's
famous poem is read aloud to underscore a tour of the
senses: "Like lingering echoes, which afar confound
themselves in deep and sombre unity, as vast as night, and like
transplendency, the scents and colours to each other respond."
Feeling our way through Belgium-Bruges to Brussels-grounded
our week-long adventure and meetings and incentives groups will
also find much to be inspired by.
Miraculously spared from damage during WWI and WWII, the city
is one of the best preserved settlements of its kind in Europe.
Throughout the morning and into the afternoon we experience
this history in a profusion of sights, sounds, scents and tastes.
Rosemary and lavender, once the perfume of the Hungarian Queen,
waft into the air from the gardens of Old St. John's Hospital
and meld with roasted coffee beans, chiming bells from the 13th
century Belfry of Bruges that dissipate high above horse hooves
on cobbled streets, artists painting under the Belgian sun and
shops donning the works of furniture, hat and jewelry makers. The
Medici family brought banking to the area in the 15th century; you
can almost hear the coins jangling.
There are 52 chocolate shops in Bruges, and they must
use only five ingredients to be considered authentic Belgium
chocolate, says Frank, our guide with Hello Bruges. Belcolade
chocolate is the most faithful to this regard we're told, but
inventive tree-to-bar samples from The Chocolate Line are
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nevertheless pleasing. Our journey continues on to the UNESCO
World Heritage city centre where "not everything is as it seems,"
Frank says with raised brow. There's a mysterious golden globe
perched on the rooftop of Boechoute, "the house on the corner."
We'll let your group discover this one for themselves. Frank also
points to a number of Gothic buildings that were designed using
the golden ratio, a mathematical principle deemed sacred by the
In Bruges there's also a museum for just about everything:
lace, lamps, beer, chocolate, torture devices and the works of Dali
and Picasso. We stop by the Historium for a history lesson of the
area via animatronics and virtual reality storytelling and then head
to the Lace Museum where the artistry and techniques of the
lace makers date all the way back to the 16th century. Customized
workshops are available here to groups that want to learn the
history of bobbin lacemaking, the traditional form, contemporary
forms that use digitization and everything in between.
Elsewhere in the city, the world's first underground beer
pipeline stretches from a bottling plant to the Halve Maan
Brewery where the city beer, Brugse Zot, is served. We tour
the brewery, taking in the scents of sweet and earthy malt and
hops along the way before settling in for a light lunch of eggplant,
zucchini and potatoes. Groups of up to 20 can tour the facility
and seasonal dishes inspire the gourmet a la carte menu. No less
stimulating, our hotel for the night, the 44-room, four-star Martin's
Relais, rests on the bank of the Spiegelrei, Bruges' oldest harbor
with 700 years of history. Groups will find a range of four- and fivestar hotels for all sizes across the city. This property is comprised