Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bruges, Chocolate, and the Final Day


Today was my last day in Europe, as I fly home tomorrow.  I spent the day in Bruges, which is only an hour away by train.  Bruges is a beautiful city, sort of similar to Ghent, though with a bit more to see, and honestly more touristy as well.  The center was filled with Christmas Markets and all of the streets played music.  I did a self-guided walking tour (bought a little guide book at the tourist shop), although it was bitterly cold and sleeting/raining most of the time I was there.  I had to keep ducking in stores until I could feel my fingers again.  I climbed the belltower after a delicious lunch, which was croquettes and my first of three hot chocolates.  I had another hot chocolate at a small shop, just to warm up, then at the end of my walk I went to a tea room and had a waffle and the best cup of hot chocolate ever.  They brought a giant bowl (more like a tub) of warm milk, along with a bowl made of dark chocolate (I had chosen dark), filled with small dark chocolate pieces.  I put all of the pieces and the chocolate bowl itself into the milk, added sugar, and whisked (they served it with a whisk)- it was phenomenal.  I ended the day by walking to the edge of town to look at the Flemish windmills at sunset, the one time it stopped raining/sleeting.  I came back to Brussels, and my final night here is in a gorgeous suite.  My tiny cramped, uncomfortable room had problems, when the bathroom ceiling turned into a permanent shower (leaking massive amounts of rainwater from the ceiling), so they've moved me to one of the deluxe suites just for the night.

best hot chocolate ever

Belgium was fun, Flanders feels very Dutch, but Brussels feels almost exclusively French.  It's also interesting to compare Belgium to the Netherlands.  On the tour to Zaanse Schans I had learned that the Netherlands has a surplus of water, and the country is constantly finding ways to control and get rid of it.  I think Belgium has a similar issue, not with water but with delicious chocolate.  In nearly all of the chocolate shops (there is literally a chocolate shop every way you turn- even more common than gelato shops in Rome) they give you free samples.  On the train today they walked down the aisles handing out free chocolate.  Even on my pillow in the hotel, it's not mints, it's chocolate.  This is a very tasty country.

A side note, the blog will NOT end here, although the trip is over, I will continue to use this (probably a little less frequently) as a normal blog.  Please continue to read...

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