Paris was a blur (a beautiful blur, but still a blur). After a full day of wandered, J+J, Rob and I got on a train to Belgium – the land of beers and chocolate. Hoorah!
First, we were in the quaint and iconic Bruges – the whole medieval town is a UNESCO world heritage site. And its easy to see why. The medieval architecture is everywhere, and looks awesome.
There are also four 13th century windmills out near the waterways!
In the centre of Bruges is the Belfort – it’s not the biggest belfort ever, but has a very cool 47-bell manually operated carillon (i.e. music maker wheel) which still chimes across the city. We climbed up to the top (366 steps) and got a great red-roofed view of the city. Some of you may recognize the bell tower from the movie In Bruges – heh!
But of course, in Belgium there is beer. Many many wonderful Belgium beers. We stopped in a couple of beer houses, but also went on a tour of the Brouwerij De Halve Maan – the makers of Bruges Zot. If you ever get the opportunity to try the beer (they export quite broadly) do give it a try. It’s delicious!
We had 2 very chill days in Bruges, but it was time to travel on. We got a train to Brussels – a big Belgium city with a lot of chocolate shops, a lot of beer bars and an amazing central square. The Grand Place is aringed by gold-trimmed, gabled houses and flanked by the 15th-century Gothic town hall. Awesome.
Brussels has a sense of humour. One of their most famous statues is of a little boy cheerfully taking a leak. Manneken Pis is tiny, but iconic, particularly since he’s often in costume relevant to an anniversary, national day or local event. If anyone recognizes this costume, that would be helpful for us!
Less famous, and obscured behind a pair of iron gates, Jeanneke Pis is a pigtailed girl squatting and having a pee. It’s in a dingy alley next to a downtrodden bar and she is quite difficult to see. And she was not in costume.
Onto the food and drink. We had been in Europe for 3 whole days, and had been to a chocolate shop everday. Brussels was no different.
Of the beer variety, we visited a couple of great places. Firstly was A la Becasse, hidden down a skinny alley though lit with a neon sign, it was quiet in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon. We were there to try a jug of Timmermans lambic mixed with fruit beer. Lambic is quite a sour beer, but the fruit beer is quite sweet, so the result is delicious. We had a pretty nice afternoon!
Later that night (after a nap and an antipasti dinner of salami, cheese and bread. And waffles), we visited another beer bar, Moeder Lambic Fontainas. They served about 46 artisinal beers in a trendy old-world setting. Our waiter knew all about the beers we were drinking and could explain about the different varieties and flavours very clearly. Brilliant!
Belgium was brilliant, though 3 days hardly does it justice. We’ll have to go back again and see more of this wonderful country.
But now, onto Germany!