I was driving to my next assignment at RAF Upper Heyford, UK, and spent the night in Bruges, Belgium; prior to catching the car ferry from Ostend, Belgium, to Ramsgate, UK, the next morning – and these historic windmills along the banks of the river were quite impressive to see.
The city of Bruges is full of canals, along with a river that circles the central core of the town; and these historic windmills were located in a park along the curving river bank – directly facing the wind from the North Sea.
Seeing these windmills reminds me that the more things change, the more they remain the same; with society now looking to use ecologically friendly energy technologies today – including the modern version of this windmill – which was already in use hundreds of years ago.
The canals in Bruges were very scenic and quaint, and were very reminiscent of those in Amsterdam; and I spent the afternoon on a very scenic and leisurely walking tour of the city.
The canal tour boats were very popular for tourists taking sightseeing trips on the canals through Bruges; this view shows “The Belfry” tower rising high above the center of the Market and the surrounding city.
The city center of Bruges, centering on the area surrounding the central market square, is designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO; and is beautifully restored and maintained…which made it a delight to visit.
The central market or “Markt” is a generous sized central square, with historic buildings facing it from all sides – making it a most pleasant and surprising stay for me – as I had no idea what to expect while visiting Bruges.
European weather can often be damp and dreary, and as you see, these beautiful historic buildings have colorful awnings to keep the townspeople dry on the sidewalks while they shop.
This horse drawn carriage adds a nice touch to the Old World feeling of the central market square of Bruges, despite the modern crowds and cars that fill the square in the background.
This is a particularly scenic perspective of Bruges’ central market square, with the row of historic buildings on the left flanking the beginning of the “Provinciaal Hof” to the right.
The “Provinciaal Hof” is a beautifully designed government building facing the central market square, that gives the town an inspired “fairytale feel” to it – with its many delicate spires pointing skyward.
This is Bruges’ City Hall, as beautiful and ornate as the “Provinciaal Hof;” with a facade decorated with rows of carved statues overlooking the people passing by below.
There must have been a festival or holiday in Bruges when I visited, as the streets lining the city were all decorated with colorful medieval banners extending out over the streets.
The city’s festival banners were perfect subjects for my camera during my walking tour of Bruges, and I was now beginning a new chapter of my life on my way to RAF Upper Heyford, UK; and the next day I’d take the car ferry bright and early from Ostend to Ramsgate – and on to Oxfordshire.
I had driven to RAF Upper Heyford, UK, once before when I was in the 480th TFS at Spangdahlem AB; to attend an EW conference at the 42nd ECS “Ravens,” who flew the EF-111A; and the group attending the conference all had dinner together one night in a restaurant in Oxford.
Walking alone through the streets of Bruges, prior to crossing the English Channel the next day to begin the next chapter of my life; gave me a chance to pause and think about the events of the past few months while deployed to the desert for the Persian Gulf War.
A view while walking towards the Church of Our Lady in Bruges; I had been deployed to the Gulf War for only two and a half months in total, working with two different squadrons in two separate locations – and it was all starting to become a blur in my mind – as if these past events had only been a dream.
What I took away from the Gulf War more than anything was that I owed God a promise that I made to Him to do His will – if He would just allow me to return home safely…and He had done just that – so the ball was now in my court; here’s a view of the Belfry from the market square.
The next morning I was on the car ferry at Ostend, and on my way to England…and I had time to think long and hard about where my life had taken me over the years, trying to understand what I was to do for God with my life.
I continued writing songs and a New Year’s resolution would later inspire me to write my autobiography starting in January of 1994; which led to more writings – and eventually to starting this blog – and now to my decision to start a non-profit organization serving, “the least among us.”
So the thinking and pondering I’ve done since childhood continued while crossing the English Channel on my way to RAF Upper Heyford – and only time would tell what the future would hold for our family.
As with so many chapters of my life, the future led me through uncharted waters; and looking back on it all, I never knew what was waiting for me just around the next corner…and it was best that I didn’t ever know what to expect over the horizon.