Haunted in Bruges! Photo Essay

While traveling in Europe for the month of June, I looked forward a night in Bruges, Belgium. Little did I know the gorgeous and ancient Hotel Patritius was haunted. We picked the wrong room.

The road to Bruges

You may have heard of In Bruges, a famous movie about a repentant hitman, Ray, (Colin Farrell) who finds himself in Bruges where he and his partner, Ken, (Brendan Gleeson) wait for instructions. As the movie continues, we find out Ken loves Bruges and chose the spot for a reason, but Ray hates everything about the place. The black comedy includes vignettes of this gorgeous and historic place, so it stayed on my radar.

The Bruges Village before dusk

After checking into a family suite on the second floor above the winding staircase, we went out for a stroll. For some strange reason, while walking on patterned cobbles amongst the decorative brick buildings and breath-taking sights, I couldn’t shake loose the jangly feeling of anxiety.

The stairway from the top in Bruges

I have found that places have a certain energy. In Bruges, it was overwhelming. After a few hours of walking the streets to get our bearings, a bucket of savory mussels, and a pasta dinner, I settled in and relaxed.

That night I slipped between the cool sheets. I floated along with the random images of the day while making plans for tomorrow.

Haunted in Bruges

All of a sudden, a beautiful woman appeared in my thoughts. She wore a gold satin gown and a necklace which reflected the light which shone from a window behind me. Her pale face matched the almost white-blonde hair piled upon her head. She stood in a formally appointed room next to a small table. We locked eyes as she slipped out of sight below me. None of this was terribly strange, but…

SHE WAS UPSIDE DOWN!

I bolted upright in bed while trying to shake this bizarre image. I’d never had a thought where an image was upside down. EVER. My heart pounded as if waking from a nightmare. She hadn’t moved or floated in space. Gravity placed her and the table in the room. How weird was that???

My heart slowed over time. Soon images of all kinds of people dressed in seventeenth-century attire appeared randomly in my mind and I drifted off to sleep.

A view of our haunted room

The next morning, I recounted the dream and figured out why she was upside-down. It wasn’t her, IT WAS ME! Held between two people, my head hung backward. As I was removed from the room, I saw the woman slip from view.

Part of a haunted family room in Bruges

We packed up and checked out downstairs. I asked the Innkeeper about the history of the place. He told us it had been there for centuries.

“By the way, you stayed in our most haunted room. Many guests have seen a beautiful blonde woman walk between the bedrooms.”

“What?” I recounted my story, which wasn’t something I perceived in reality, nor in a dream. Rather, it was an alarming thought that freaked me out.

“It sounds like her,” he said and took our enormous key fob with the dangling skeleton key.

Later, I thought about how agitated I had been when first arriving in Bruges. What if I’m sensitive to the many souls caught between this world and the next? Who knows? I’ve never dreamed of anyone upside-down before or since. And what was up with all those costumed people in my thoughts before I fell asleep? I hadn’t seen anyone dressed in period attire during our entire trip.

Pretty postcard Bruges

Would I go back? Absolutely. Not only was it gorgeous, but the history was something I would love to delve into. Maybe I could discover something about the woman in the gold dress and the person who was physically removed from her chambers…

Check out the painting on the left.

Another hotel in Bruges

Have you ever vibed out while on vacation? Have you been to Bruges?

Related posts:

Being Haunted… A True Story in Time for Halloween

Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

Invaded and Homeless in Paris: Photo Essay

A Day in London with Charles Dickens: Photo Essay

Scotland’s Culloden House, Loch Ness and Barb Taub’s Arran Island: Photo Essay

Click for more wild adventures! 

Being Haunted… A True Story in Time for Halloween

Being Haunted

Most think being haunted requires a creaky old house where a person died unexpectedly. The shock of a fall, suicide, or murder traps them between our world and the next. They believe these lost souls spend their days shackled to a place and a moment in time.

That’s not always how it happens.

My house wasn’t haunted. I was.

A while ago, a high school friend recounted her experience with shadowy ghosts in their turn-of-the-century home. I envied her. I thought it would be cool to see something so extraordinary. I wondered if I would scream and lay awake night after night knowing I was watched by sleepless souls.

Be careful what you wish for.

My own experiences started with a trip to Wisconsin around 2002. Since the drive back to Colorado would take eighteen hours or more, we planned to get an early start. My husband, Danny, set the alarm for 4:30 AM and we went to sleep in the twin beds in my parents’ Victorian home built in 1901. I woke up around 4:10. Since I had to get up in twenty minutes, I decided to stay awake. A thunderstorm brewed outside and lightning flickered. Then one of our kids opened the door to the bedroom. A dark silhouette of a child could clearly be seen against the hall light. Whoever it was walked into the room and between the beds. Something was very peculiar about this shadow. I tried to focus on a face, but couldn’t see one.

I sat up. “Who’s there?” I asked, “Kelly or Courtney?” As I reached out, the shadow disappeared. I looked at the space between the bed. Not even a child could fit between. I lay back down. My heart remained steady as I recounted what had happened. It didn’t make any sense. Someone was there and then disappeared. I hadn’t imagined it. I was wide awake when I sat up. I looked at the clock again. 4:20.

“Danny. Are you awake?”

“Yes.”

“I think I just saw a ghost.”

“I think you did too,” he said.

“Why? What did you see?” I turned toward him, fully awake now.

“When you asked if it was Kelly or Courtney, I saw a light fly toward the window.”

Excited, my heart really pounded. Was it a ghost? What else could it be? I dressed and walked across the hall.

“I saw the door to your bedroom open and thought you were getting up,” said Courtney.

Crazy or what?

The other bed was empty. “Where’s Kelly?” My heart skipped a beat. I had seen enough horror movies to know what happens next.

Steps fell on the stairs behind me. My shoulders relaxed as Kelly joined us in the hallway.

“I couldn’t sleep, so I went downstairs,” he said. “I saw a light streak up the steps.”

We all experienced something strange that night. My brain couldn’t comprehend what I saw, so I wasn’t frightened. That would come later.

I assumed that would be the end of it until the next time we visited Wisconsin. My parents’ house had to be haunted. Not so.

Months later back in Boulder, I heard a shuffling in my bedroom and woke up. A woman dressed in black lace with a veil on her head stood on the other side of the bed and locked eyes with me. Her pale face wore a severe and angry expression. I sat up and yelled, “Danny! Look!” but she faded away.

A few nights later the same sound woke me up. I opened my eyes and gazed up at that woman’s scowling face looming above me. She stood right next to my bed. I could hear the crinoline shift underneath her skirt as she bent down toward me. I gasped and covered my head with the blanket.

These unexplainable occurrences always happened upon waking in the night because of a noise they made. Afterward, I would stare at the ceiling and wonder why me? My house couldn’t be haunted. We built it in 2000. We didn’t excavate an ancient Native American burial ground nor was a graveyard nearby.

Sightings would come in waves of three or four then there would be no activity for months up to a year. Then it would start up again. Doors would bang. Twice I saw bright orbs of light on the wall where none could reflect. A plant hanging from a hook would swing.

I continued to question what I was seeing until my night at The Stanley Hotel.

When my sister, Patty, her friends from Wisconsin, and I spent a night there on Friday the 13th, I told them nothing would happen. For one thing, the date was so cliché. Come on. Friday the 13th! In the years I’d experienced ghosts, I could never summon them like they do on TV. When they wanted to be seen, they would wake me up. There was no way they would appear. Ironically, I was the only one who had seen them and the skeptic of the bunch.

There was a group from a ghost-busting TV show who also stayed at The Stanley that night. When I asked them what I was seeing if they weren’t ghosts, one of the hosts told me I was experiencing sleep paralysis. But I was neither asleep nor paralyzed. A woman overheard us talking. After they left, she told me I was seeing ghosts and explained they are most often seen right after waking before we are fully conscious. I wasn’t sure what to think.

Everything that could happen in that haunted hotel did happen. Looking back, people probably held séances to summon the dead. It wasn’t sleep paralysis that pulled my coat down to the end of the closet or that banged overhead all night. It was unexplainable. Paranormal. Ghosts.

Days after my Stanley experience, someone pinched me when I lay down to go to sleep. It happened for the next three nights. I figured it was one of the ghostly children who ran the halls that night. In a photograph taken at the time, a huge orb appeared next to me. I’m still not sure how I feel about orbs in photos, but it’s there nonetheless.

At one point someone told me I should take classes to amp up my ability. What??? I was intrigued, but didn’t want to become obsessed. Nor did I want the responsibility of a medium. That was a life for someone else.

It was the banger who finally ended my interest in ghosts.

It, (I sensed it was a man) would bang on the dresser, the TV, then the ceiling. It had a peculiar sound to it. More like a snap than a tap. Danny said if he went to bed first it wouldn’t start until I came into the room. Yes. He heard it too. It would end after 11:00 then start up around 4:00 AM. I tried talking and then shouted at it to leave us alone and then gave up. This went on for almost three years. I even have a recording of the taps and knocks.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I really needed my sleep. I remembered something about salt. Armed with crystal bowls and a container of Morton’s, I placed several filled dishes around the bedroom. In two weeks the banger stopped. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?

At the Colorado Gold Writers Conference, I met someone who worked at a psychic center. I told him my book, The Foreboding, was based on some of my own paranormal experiences. He said I was in a minority of people sensitive to ghosts. Once I signaled my fascination and started to see them, I became a beacon to other entities. That explained why I’d several different ghosts over the years. Once I shut the door with the last ghost, they left me alone.

It has been almost three years since I’ve witnessed any paranormal activity. It occurred to me it should be considered normal. I didn’t hallucinate them, nor do I have sleep paralysis. Energy can’t be destroyed so where does it go when we die? I would say with some conviction sometimes it sticks around. We call them ghosts.

But remember what I learned. Trapped souls hunt those who can see them in the middle of the night.

Would you like to have a paranormal experience someday?

Be careful what you wish.

Have you ever seen or sensed a ghost?

Haunted at the Stanley Hotel

This haunting at the Stanley Hotel is absolutely true. I should know. It happened to me.

We celebrated my sister Patty’s birthday on Friday the 13th at The Stanley Hotel. Two enthusiastic friends, Connie and Donna, flew out from Madison for the occasion. After meeting at my house in Boulder, we loaded my car with our suitcases and a Ouija Board. It had never been used and I know it’s creepy, but I couldn’t help myself. There was a crisp feel to the air that November afternoon. As the foothills rose up on the side of the highway and the river tumbled by, it began to snow.

Stephen King’s book The Shining made this Estes Park hotel famous. He wrote it after his family experienced paranormal activity when they stayed in room 217. Many remember Jack Nicholson who played the possessed father in the movie and his two famous lines, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy,” and “Here’s Johnny!”

“I really don’t think anything is going to happen tonight,” I said to the group as we wound north along Highway 36.

My sister rolled her eyes and groaned.

A true haunted story of what happened one night at the Stanley Hotel, to me.“Ghosts aren’t like dogs that come when you call them.” I said, worried they would be disappointed.

“I know Susie, but it’ll be fun to see what happens,” Patty responded.

As we entered Estes Park, the Rocky Mountains served as a dramatic backdrop with its reflection in the pristine lake. It appeared like a hand-painted movie set. The Stanley Hotel perched above it, exuded an ominous presence with its ghostly white exterior.

After parking the car we walked across the Stanley’s massive veranda and entered the 100-year-old Victorian. Several other groups meandered in the spacious lobby. A few glanced at the Ouija board under my arm and giggled. I felt my cheeks grow hot. The auspicious date hadn’t gone unnoticed by many hotel guests, but several wedding parties arrived as well. I turned around at the commotion caused by a group that entered with all kinds of equipment. We overheard whispers that ghost-busters had come to dispel any paranormal activity.

The man at the front desk checked Connie and Donna into rooms located on a benign wing for ghost activity (much to their relief). However, my sister and I pounced on the very infamous 4th floor wing where hotel guests have often regaled the front desk with reports of children running up and down the hallway in the middle of the night. My sister stayed at the end of the hall in Room 412 and I checked into 406 known as “Billy’s” room. He was a little boy that haunted by moving items in the rooms and closets on our wing. As I put my things away for the evening, I hung my leather coat dead center in the closet so I would notice if it got moved. When I joined my sister and friends, I told them what I did and we all looked at each other and laughed.

Check out the size of those orbs. We could not find any in the same room the next day.

Armed with digital cameras in hopes of catching some orbs on film, we went to the 4:00 Haunted Ghost Tour. Our guide, Kevin, took us on an exploration of the historic Hotel, going to areas that had reported paranormal activity. Connie and I started taking random pictures in the piano room. He took us to Room 217 which is where the King family stayed. He said it was believed to be haunted by a man who swindled and pick-pocketed hotel guests. He was also a lady’s man and has been known to caress female hotel guests. He didn’t seem to be around that afternoon.

Satisfied with extensive historical tour of the building and the number of orb photos we captured on film, we went to our rooms to dress for dinner. I checked to see if my coat had been moved and there it was; dead center where I left it.

During dinner we strained our ears to hear the eerie sounds of the piano that had been reported to play at random intervals, but classical music filtered down from overhead speakers. Since it was November and the off-season, (the same time of year Stephen King had visited) half the cavernous dining room was left in darkness and I couldn’t escape a pervasive draft.

After dinner we walked the hallways and came upon the group there to dismiss any ghostly activity. Ironically, they were using the same EMF detectors the paranormal experts use.

“We took pictures of orbs down that hallway a few hours ago.” I said. Their meters shot way up, but they explained that electrical wiring enclosed in the walls caused the high readings and dust caused the orb effects.

“If I am not seeing ghosts in the middle of the night then what am I seeing?” I asked.

“We call that sleep paralysis. In other words, you are still dreaming when you wake up.”

“I am clearly awake when I see apparitions walk through my bedroom, but they are the experts,” I thought.

As the group went off to investigate another part of the hotel, a blonde-haired woman stayed behind. “Come over here and feel this,” she said. We walked over the bottom of the stairwell. “This is the vortex of the hotel,” she said. I walked up to the wall and stood with my back to it. A tingling sensation began on the soles of my feet and then moved through me to the top of my head where my hair stood on end. We each took a turn. “How would they explain this?” I asked.

Click on the image to enlarge and you will see the orbs. This is the hallway we sat in and used the Ouija Board.

The four of us returned to the 4th floor wing. I retrieved the Ouija board and we found a spot in the middle of the long hallway. We sat down on the tapestried carpeting, I pulled out the board and we put our fingers on the “planchette.” After a couple of minutes, I jerked it and everyone screamed. “I did it,” I admitted. We all laughed. I was getting very tired and was ready to go to bed.

Suddenly, we were struck by a cold breeze. We turned and gazed down the empty hallway. The door at the end of the hall stood wide open.

“Oh, my God!” we said in unison.

“Do you think someone down there could have poked their head in?” I asked.

As Patty stood up, the door slammed shut. She ran down the hall and checked, but no one was on the landing or anywhere on the outdoor stairwell. It had snowed and there were no footprints. What?

Patty’s friends were pretty freaked out. “I’ve had enough,” said Donna.

We said our good nights and after washing up, I tumbled into bed. Banging on the floor above me kept me awake for hours. I thought, “Why don’t those stupid ghost-busters set their equipment down instead of dropping it on the floor?” I covered my head with my pillow.

As I nodded off, screams of children and the pounding of feet resounded down the hallway. “Seriously?,” I thought rolling my burning eyes, “What if someone sees the hotel guests or staff running and laughing? Someone will catch them.”

It ended as abruptly as it started and I drifted off to sleep. An hour later, I was startled by a sound in my room. A pale-faced man with black hair parted down the middle and a goatee wearing a white shirt, black bow tie, and jacket, floated from the tapestry floor, rose over me and out the window. “Great. Now I am having sleep paralysis on top of all noise!” I turned over and fell back to sleep.

I woke up a few hours later to  a shaft of gray morning light. I dressed and called my sister. She came right over. “Did you hear them?” Patty asked, “The children ran down the hall at a really fast pace, but instead of slowing at the end of the hall, their steps just ended in mid-stride.”

“Well, I had sleep paralysis and saw some guy float over my head. What was up with all the equipment being banged over our heads all night?” I got up to check my coat and gasped. The sleeve had been pulled and it was almost off the hanger.

“Can you believe it Patty? I never expected anything, but they really put on a show!”

“Maybe because it was Friday the 13th,” she said. I gave her a big eye-roll.

We met Connie and Donna who said they had a great night’s sleep.

The blonde lady from the night before walked towards us. “Did you hear them?” she asked.

“They weren’t hotel guests or staff?” I asked.

“No,” she laughed, “those were the ghostly children the Stanley Hotel is famous for. Last night was the first time I’ve heard them since arriving a few days ago.”

“Well I had sleep paralysis last night,” I said and described my apparition.

“Sounds like you got a visit from F.O. Stanley himself,” she said, “That isn’t sleep paralysis. Immediately upon waking is the easiest time to see ghosts. That’s why they fade.”

While we checked out, the man at the desk asked how our night was. I said, “I wish those ghost-busters would have set down their equipment more gently. They banged in the attic above me all night long.”

“Ma’am, The Stanley doesn’t have an attic.” He pointed out the window. “You were on the 4th floor wing in a dormer room. There was nothing above you.”

 Do you believe in ghosts?

1st photo by hotelsinsider.travelhero.com  – The rest by S. Lindau