After spending almost 12 days as a traveling duo, my other half and I finally arrived in his home country – Belgium! Upon arrival we hopped straight onto a train headed for Rhode-Saint-Genèse. This is home to his Uncle, Aunt and some of his cousins (his Grandmother was also there for the holidays). As it was Christmas time, we were both thrilled to see family and catch our breath after the whirlwind in London and Paris.
The first night we enjoyed dinner with all of his cousins. This was my first real experience with a large amount of French all at once. It was quite an event. Although, I would have to say that many of them talked with me in English – I cannot really put into words how wonderfully welcomed I felt because of this!
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were filled with impeccable food – thanks to my other half’s Uncle :). Smoked salmon, foie gras, oysters, plums wrapped in bacon, rabbit, the list could go on. Delicious food, wine and champagne. Such fun it was!
On Christmas day, we walked down past the local shops and onto a forest walking trail. As I grew up on a tree farm, the walk (even without the white fluffy stuff sprinkled on the ground) made me feel at home. The remainder of Christmas was filled with more food, Michael Bublé and (most importantly) family.
On, what Canadians call “Boxing Day”, my other half and I traveled with his Grandmother to her home in De Haan, where we spent almost three very frigid days traveling through the little village and walking along the coast of the North Sea. De Haan was a lovely little place and spending time with my other half’s Grandmother was an absolute treat. She is an incredibly smart individual and oh, so sweet. With her, I got to try out Sole fish – SO DELICIOUS. I have tried and tried to find North Sea Sole here in Michigan, but have failed. Guess I just have to go back now! 😉
After a few days in De Haan, my other half’s friends picked us up and we headed to Bruges for a day there before heading into Brussels. Bruges has been deemed the “Venice of the North” and is considered the lace capital of the world. It’s a neat little place with all sorts of food and shops to wander around. Like Venice it has canals running through it. We ate and climbed all 366 steps to the top of the Belfort Bell Tower. Though the day we were there was fairly cold, it was all sorts of fun meeting and spending time with my other half’s friends.
At the end of the day, we traveled in to the city of Brussels to spend the rest of our time in Belgium. Our first stop was the grocery store. Louis made us delicious sweet and sour chicken that we shared while enjoying all sorts of Belgian craft beer.
Our first full day there we went wild with the addictive liége waffles and fries. To avoid my own embarrassment, I’ll avoid sharing how many waffles I consumed that day. Just know that as satisfying as they were…my tummy certainly didn’t thank me. While in Brussels, we visited Manneken Pis, the Atomium, the Comic Strip Museum, the Cantillion Brewery and many other places. We also had a delightful dinner with another Aunt and Uncle of my other half.
On New Years Eve, we traveled to the city of Diamonds — Antwerp. It was a neat city with one of the most magnificent train stations I have ever set my eyes on. We found that walking under the Scheldt Rivr and looking back at the city was the most pretty experience. Returning then to Rhode-Saint-Genèse, we celebrated the New Year at my other half’s cousins. Such a wonderful feast of food we shared! Overall, a fabulous way to bring in the 2015.
On our last day in Brussels we spent it with two other friends of my other half. After eating and a walk around a pretty park area, we traveled to their family-owned bakery and got to experience the “behind the scenes.” Such a delight! One of the neatest experiences! If you are ever in Europe, find a yummy bakery and make friends with the owner – take a tour – they are quite the sight.
Overall, Belgium was a wonderful place to visit. Not only were there many exciting things to do and see – but being with family and friends was so refreshing! Next stop, Berlin!