Paris – Wine, Cheese, Bread

The Celtics – Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, & Paul Pierce

But more importantly, BELGIUM – Beer, Waffles, and Chocolate!

A few weekends ago Cassie and I hopped on the Thalys train to Belgium where we spent one night in Bruxelles (Brussels) and the next in Brugge (Bruges).  We arrived in Bruxelles with the plan to have a nice dinner at a place recommended by a friend and then head back to the hotel to ensure an early start the next day.  We heard there wasn’t much to do in Bruxelles, let alone things to do at night, so we weren’t worried about missing out on the nightlife.  We had dinner at IIIeme Act, the food was good, but nothing to write home about – a little overkill on the sauce front – but starting off the meal with a large wine glass full of delicious Belgian beer put the night off to a great start.A couple Belgian beers later we decided to go to Delirium Tremens Cafe for ONE drink.  I mean, delirium tremens is a Belgian beer, and there is a WHOLE bar dedicated to this amazing brew, and it was just a quick walk from dinner … so we really couldn’t pass it up. After our first beer – only 3 euros for a delirium tremens, take that Parish cafe at $13 a pop – we made friends with a stag party from Scotland:

Notice the pink elephants on our glasses? Pink elephants = delirium mascot

Then we made some more friends:

After a few dance moves and signing the wall of fame, we followed the magical blue dot (somehow my iphone GPS was working) back to the hotel.  Don’t you fret though, our “quiet” night in Bruxelles didn’t stop up from completing the thirty minute city tour Saturday morning.

Manneken Pis

More importantly, it didn’t stop us from our waffle fix, either:

We didn’t want to, but we shared that – nutella, chantilly, strawberries, yummmm.

After stuffing our faces with waffles we jumped on the local train to spend Saturday night in Brugge, a fairytale town full of beautiful old buildings and canals.  Our hotel, Hotel ter Brughe, captures it perfectly:

Our hotel is the building to the left and the main window in our room is the middle window on the third floor.  In fact, do you see that little white dot in the middle of the window ledge?  No, it’s not a snowball from the freshly fallen snow, it’s a plastic cup full of cheese.  There was no fridge in the room and our hotel in Brussels had baby camemberts all nicely wrapped at breakfast so we (read: I) couldn’t resist snagging a few for our trip to Brugge.  I think Cassie even had one when we got home later that night…

After settling in at the hotel we hit the town! Well, we walked 3 minutes to the town square to get some wintry photos and see what Brugge is all about.

Doesn’t the snow make everything look prettier?

The medieval belfry above is not only one of the main attractions in Brugge, but for the two days we were there it was also home to the Belgian Beer Festival! I kid you not, people flew in from all over Europe to go to this beer festival and we were just lucky enough to stumble upon it.  Entrance for two people was 20 euro and it included one beer glass and 5 drinks each.  Each additional drink was only 1.25 euro, take that HarpoonFest where for one person a twenty dollar entrance fee only gets you a plastic cup and one drink and each additional drink is $5. (I still love you, though) With over 50 stations serving 4 or more amazing Belgian beers, it was absolutely packed.  So for the rest of Saturday Cassie and I took full advantage of the beer festival.

Stag Party #2:

Cassie showing her delirium pride:

Our friends from Holland with amazing homemade beerfest snacks:

Once again our quiet night in the fairytale town did not stop us from having a Sunday full of roaming the city, snapping pictures, and eating Belgian specialties.

Dumon, Brugge’s BEST chocolate shop (and it was very inexpensive!):

A little Americana to remind me of home:

Getting lost on the small streets and wondering why we can’t take a boat tour on the frozen canals:

Cassie being “artsy” with her camera:

Our weekend trip to Belgium was definitely a success and I highly recommend it.  The train from Paris was so easy and one weekend was the perfect amount of time to fully explore these two cities, even with the big three taking up a large percentage of our  time.  Although, to be fair, if you don’t have a nice mix of the big three you are definitely not getting the full Belgian experience. 🙂

Side note: you could argue the big three might not be the best categorization of Belgian foodstuffs since it doesn’t include moules frites (mussels and fries). But when Cassie and I were there moules were out of season and we didn’t get to try any, so let’s not get technical.