Thursday, May 17, 2007

Damme: Belgium

Right, so after all that gorging (see previous post) it was time to burn off the calories with a tour-guided bike ride from Bruges to Damme (pronounced Dumma). Only 7km apart and all of it on flat land, it was hardly much exercise but we looked the part.

We cycled alongside a canal that used to freeze over in winter. We heard how people would go skating along it with a beer in one hand a waffle in another all the way from Bruges to Holland. Cycling just didn’t sound as much fun! By the way, although we do embellish a little every now and then, the beer part above is true. Public liability wasn't much of an issue back then.

As we cycled along the canal on a beautiful poplar-lined avenue, Jez felt it apt to have a little video stop. In the clip you are about to see, I try to explain that the Canadian poplars were planted after WW2 as gratitude to the Canadians for assisting to liberate the Dutch. You wont hear any of that though as Jez interrupted me with an excellent impersonation of a leering Dutch yobbo!

In Damme our guide pointed out the symbol of a dog on the town flag and scattered throughout the architecture of the city. Legend has it that many moons ago the dyke protecting the city sprung a leak. Every time the locals tried to repair the dyke, another leak would appear elsewhere. The situation was dire. As the town elders gathered for council, they noticed a ghostly dog following them. One of the dam-experts pointed out that the shape of the hole in the dam matched exactly the silhouette of the dog. And so the dog was captured and plugged into the rupture. Damme was saved and the dog sacrificed his life for enduring fame.

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