Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chocolate, waffles, and mussels from Brussels (and I'm not talkin' Jean-Claude Van Damme): Belgium

Spring break found Joy, Sean, and I headed to Belgium for 4 nights and 5 days of relaxation, chocolate-eating, and sight seeing.

We started our vacay away in the European Union capital of Brussels. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Brussels outside of the stereotypical ideas that I had about the city: chocolate, politics, and a kind of drabness. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, there was a lot of chocolate, and I mean A LOT of chocolate, politics, and even areas that seemed sterile, but it was a rather beautiful city towards the old town. We spent our first day exploring the area around the Grand' Place. What a sight! Surrounding the Grand' Place were shops, chocolatiers, waffle stands, beer halls, and homes. I was taken aback by the stature of the square and found it to be so wonderfully romantic and memorable.

Far left: Grand' Place. Center: Manneken Pis...I have NO idea why the fountain/statue of a little boy is such a big deal, but apparently it is. There are replicas (even in chocolate) of this all over the city. Right: Chocolate capital!!! Wonder if I would have gotten in trouble 
for gnawing on Mickey's ear?

We spent Saturday wandering through the city and into various neighborhoods. It was fun to explore and see the variety that Brussels had to offer. We meandered through a fabulous curio market, ate chocolate, toured a couple of churches, stopped for a quick drink, ate chocolate, checked out the World's Fair Atomium, ate chocolate, soaked up the night life, and I don't know if I mentioned this, 
but...ate chocolate. 

Left: Joy and I about ready to hunt for treasures. Right: the Atomium...this is as close as we got because we didn't want to pay...better things to spend money on. Below: chocolate!!!

We left Brussels on Sunday and spent the next couple of days north in Bruges and Ghent. I will say that while I enjoyed Brussels, I LOVED Bruges!! It was so quaint and full of so much character. There was a lot to see, though it was such a small town. It was like stepping into a nursery rhyme. I fully expected Mother Goose to show up somewhere! Ghent, on the other hand, was ok. I suppose that was due to the fact that the skies opened and literally DUMPED rain down on us. I don't know if my jeans have ever been so wet...even in the washing machine! We spent the last couple of days of our time together in Belgium discovering the hidden corners of these small towns, eating chocolate (you'd think we'd had enough after 2 days in Brussels!), and sitting back and relaxing. All in all, it was a great stop? Perugia and Cortona!


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