So, we’re all in agreeance that, like the birds, we’ll be flying South for the next winter? fer sher. But! in the midst of all of this 5 degree shiz, the good Lord has blessed us with some glorious sunshine! And, whoa baby is it appreciated! Guys. I got a neck draft. That’s when it’s decidedly too dang cold. A neck draft? I can’t move and I can’t sleep unless I’m utterly exhausted, which kinda works out that I don’t have a schedule right now, but my poor hubby who can’t do anything about it but just hear me squirm all night. Thankfully, pharmacies over here are more like going to the doc back in the states, so first thing this a.m., I made some calls to get some kinda bengay-type-stuff/miracle-in-a-tube from the quarter English pharm so that I could move my neck to write this post. Super productive Monday. Wait. Where were we? Oh, yeah, there’s sun. Look^!!
Since that was completely unnecessary, I’m gonna throw in some trivia about the Atomium in Brussels because. Yeah.
- The iconic building was built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.
- It forms the shape an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.
- CNN named it Europe’s most bizarre building.
Belgium The guy who came up with the Atomium (better?) tried to copyright photos of the structure. They asked people to send in their photos and Photoshopped the Atomium out of them. Through the years, people have tried to argue that this is absurd (because, obviously). As it stands today, there is an exemption for private individuals to put photos in their scrapbooks..but only until 1 January 2076.
- Reality TV fans: It was the tenth pit stop in The Amazing Race 19.
- Music: Pink Floyd’s ‘Paint Box’ 1968 music video is set in Brussels, where you can see the Atomium in the background.
- Videogamers: It is a placeable scenery object in the game RollerCoaster Tycoon 2.
No, not High Life. Lambic. And I title this directly from the half tour guide’s mouth. Half tour guide because when we walked in, the guy asked us if we wanted to sign up for the tour that was leaving in five minutes…in English, no less. Well, yeah! Perfect. After he gathered our group, we got a short intro about the *beer stuff, he handed out pamphlets and told us the numbers on the path correspond to the numbered descriptions in the pamphlet. Uuuuuh? So, half tour guide.
We love a good walking/drinking tour, but we weren’t in the mood to read paragraphs about each station in the dark. So, we made the loop around the brewery pretty quickly and collected our beers at the end. Yes, I was afraid we’d look like the alcoholics rushing to get to the booze, but we were definitely not alone from our group. Half tour = just a trip to the bar. We ran into a friend that J and I used to work with in Dallas who now lives in Madrid..Life, you small. Then we picked up a Gueuze, Kriek, and Rosé to go and went on our merry way. Definitely check it out if you get a chance. It’s way cool. We plan on bringing you A&JMcG!
*beer stuff: In 1900, the Cantillon family founded the Brussels brewery. Today, the process hasn’t changed and it’s the only brewery still in the city. Ingredients: raw wheat, malted barley, and three-year old dried hops. The transformation inside the barrels takes one to three years to finish brewing. Sheesh. And in the fruit flavored beers, the sugars in the fruit mix with the yeast causing bubbles, making it the Champagne of Beers. Bam!
Just when we thought spring had sprung, we woke up on Sunday to another dose of winter. The ground was a fluffy couple layers of white, so we took advantage and headed to one of the more picturesque areas of Belgium we’d had on our list. Abbaye de Villers is a Cistercian abbey founded in 1146 (!). The abbey was completely rebuilt by the 13th century during its high point. The estate covered a good twenty-five thousand acres with 100 monks and 300 lay brothers (I mean, whoa). It wasn’t until the French Revolution that the abbey was abandoned in 1796. Today, the ruins make for an exquisite day trip if you’re in the area. For springtime photos and the inspiration for our trip, check out Cheese Web’s article.
Also, I told J that he should write this post since it’s his photos and his story to tell ( I was kinda just dancing around this place. It’s whatever.) and he maybe uttered two sentences that I’m supposed to remember at this point how? So, I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking and if you need a story, HERE‘s one. I probably reference her story once a day because obviously.
I couldn’t choose which were my fave,
so I went a little cray with the photo uploading.
Click here to see the whole lot of ’em..
Ever since our stop at Maison Leffe on this tour and the first time we drove through this craziness right HERE, we’ve been itching to get back to Dinant to check out this fab little city. It’s got some serious history, landscape, and tunes. The first mention of this city was in the 7th century..yeah, didn’t even have a 1000th place. See below for stunning views. And it’s lined with saxophones for a reason..birthplace of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone. Continue reading
Over four months of living in Brussels and we have yet to try the waffles. not kidding. When asked ‘what’s up with that?!’, I keep hearing J say that we have to try the Liege waffles first. He’s cute and funny and smart, but, honestly, I have no idea why that makes any sense. My theory is that it’s a touristy thing and we’ve successfully (overreaching?) made it to the title of Locals, so it’s not as high on our list, but when we visit new towns, Liege for one, we have to do touristy things there. Does that make sense? Okay, so maybe neither of us have a solid excuse. But we live in Brussels, so we could have them any time we want. bam. Plus! Belgium is known for, like, everything good – chocolate, beer, fries, and waffles….so we’ve got 3 of the 4 (and the extra lbs to show for it.)
There are two types and a full-on rivalry of Belgian waffles between two cities – Brussels and Liege. The Brussels waffle is lighter, crisper and has larger pockets with rectangular sides. The Liege waffle is richer, thicker, and chewier and contains chunks of sugar inside that caramelize…now does it make more sense why we’d be excited about this one? Continue reading
I’m just going to pretend it’s not Monday and J had to leave me to go get some bacon or something and keep on keepin’ on with the rest of our holiday trip. After Austria, not much else compared…enough so that we barely took any pictures and can cram it all into one post. I spent the better part of J’s birthday napping in the car (he still hasn’t <read: is afraid to> taught me how to drive the car). It was actually much better for him since once I did wake up, I realized how many flippin tunnels we were going through. The drive along the Austrian Alps has got to be the most scenic drive of my entire life. But as soon as we started heading straight toward the mountains, there was a whole lotta hyperventilating and ‘what if..’s and ‘do they know..’s goin on. At one point, they actually made us PAY to go INTO a TUNNEL. Okay, I’m getting this under control. Oh, it keeps going..
look who we found in Austria (I didn’t dress him up like that)
After a fun and educational (I rarely put those two together before becoming European) jaunt around Munich, we took a two hour drive southeast to Salzburg, Austria. And then fell in love. We dropped off our bags at this ADORE-able hotel, said ‘hi!’ to a familiar looking face, and strolled across the river to downtown. It was Christmas Eve, so everything was closed but all of the lights were lit so we navigated well.
Behind the downtown area, there was a hill with a castle-type thing at the top (we still have yet to learn what exactly it is). Backstory: I packed workout gear just in case the hotel(s) had a gym (just go with it, it makes me feel better). Climbing up the hill: J was the adventurer who wanted to see if we could get to the top and I was the one complaining about how steep it was when he reminded me about who brought the gym clothes. ‘but at the gym, there’s music to pump me up!’ So, up we climbed, him singing something he made up. Continue reading
Happy 2013 friends! I hope you got to enjoy some relaxation and time with favorites. J and I took off on the road to see more of Europe. We spent Christmas Eve in Munich, Germany, Christmas in Austria, drove through Lichtenstein to Switzerland on J’s birthday, and France on the way home. As busy as that sounds, it was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable vacations imaginable! No flights to crazy cities, no coordinating schedules, no hurrying at all. Just a week and a half together (that’s like 280 hours of uninterrupted A & J time!) doing and going where the breeze took us.
First up: Munich (or München in German..important when you’re driving and looking for ‘Munich’ signs that aren’t there). The city’s motto is “Munich likes you.” It seemed like the cleanest city we’d ever seen. The Marienplatz (their central square) was filled with Christmas market booths and drinkers at 11am. We took a walking tour of the city since we heard such great reviews about it – ‘best walking tour in Europe.’ It lived up to its name. And free…bonus points.
more Spaß after the jump
We had our first visitor to Brussels this past weekend. And ready or not, we became tour guides. Mark took a break from the Dallas heat to tour around Europe. Here’s a little synopsis of the weekend’s festivities..
First stop on the Tour de Belgium: Grand Place.
The Grand Place is decked out for Christmas. The controversial techno tree is in full ‘bloom.’ And the Christmas markets surround the smaller streets. We ordered moules frites and covered the tourist part of the visit. Then, ended the night in Place Flagey.
The next day: Military museum.
The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History occupies part of the Cinquantenaire. The aviation exhibition boasts one of the largest aircraft collections in the world. It’s located in the coolest wing…ba da ching!
Then, we road tripped over to Dinant, Belgium. Birthplace of the saxophone and home of the Leffe Abbey. Oh, and apparently an ostrich farm. Definitely on the list for a full weekend trip.
We took the tour of Maison Leffe, which was everything but the actual brewery. We left very impressed, mostly because of the interactive smell machines and Leffe glasses we received as gifts. Although the beer history and learning how to pour a perfect glass was probably the boys’ favorite, I loved the interior of the dining room. So chic for such an historical, quaint town!
On sunday, we took off to the Parliamentarium. One of the coolest buildings of our lives.Our Croatian friends showed us that there is actually vin chaud in the world that we enjoy and spoiled us at their home. The weekend ended in Place Jourdan, sans frites…not kidding.
Not too shabby for being 3 month locals.