I thought I couldn’t eat any more after my 5 days in Paris…turns out I was wrong.
To give some context, after leaving Paris with my parents, we ended up in the quaint Medieval town of Bruges. It’s a UNESCO-preserved world heritage site located in Western Belgium, about three hours by train from Paris. Though Bruges was full of overpriced restaurants (which I have to say were still pretty good) and gimmick tourist activities (apparently one of the more popular things to do in Bruges is to take a horse-and-carriage ride around city), something in the combination of cold rain, a shared familial inability to read a simple tourist map, and an endless selection of charming chocolate shops made this Euro-version Disneyland feel authentic for the day.
Upon arriving at the hotel, we got a map of the city (I wouldn’t really call it a “city”) and pinpointed the different places we each wanted to visit. It become immediately obvious to us that there wasn’t a whole lot to “do” in Bruges but walk around and “stare at a lot of pretty things.” Which was definitely nice after coming immediately from Paris. In any case, we began to make our way around the town after grabbing some (overpriced) lunch. Within the first five minutes of walking into the freezing cold rain, we immediately ran into a street vendor selling freshly made Belgian waffles. When in Belgium…
I’d say we saw most of the town after 90 minutes of walking around it, which included the detours our noses took into every chocolate store and bakery and the bickering that ensued as we helplessly attempted to locate ourselves on this dinky tourist map. But were those chocolate shops amazing…
The canals were by far the most picturesque part of Bruges. As stunning as the Medieval architecture was (many of the 12th Century buildings remained in tact), it was only perfected by these canals running throughout the town. It would’ve been ideal to see the canals on a sunny day, but waiting around Northern Europe for perfect weather is all-together impractical. Fortunately, the cold and the rain provided that extra sense of gloom appropriate for a Medieval town.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted and was still feeling pretty full from my mid-day Belgian Waffle snack that accompanied a pretty big lunch. My parents decided to try traditional Flemish food for dinner, and we ended up at this incredibly authentic, quaint Flemish restaurant that doubled as an inn. Pretty traditional. After the fam and I killed two large bottles of heavy Belgian beer (about 3 servings of beer per bottle), a meal felt kinda unnecessary. Next thing I know, a waiter sets down the largest dinner bowl I had ever seen in my life in front of me and begins to serve freshly made French Fries from a large basket without once indicating once he was going to stop serving them. Once other waiters had done the same thing to my parents, I instantly realized that the large bowl of Flemish Beef Stew and mountain of French Fries was a serving intended for one person. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
I didn’t finish my meal (probably because lunch, a Belgian Waffle, and a couple of beers were still hangin’ around in my stomach). But it was easily the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. Feeling absolutely satisfied with how the evening had turned out, I was ready to head back to the hotel and hit the sack. However, rather than asking for the check, my Mom asks the waiter for the dessert menu…
Okay. I was not feelin’ this one, so I took a pass. But my Mom wouldn’t hear any of my whining. She was going to share a dessert with someone. And that someone was going to be me (Mom, if you’re reading this, that is exactly how it sounded). When the waiter brought over what looked like a foot-long Belgian Waffle with ice cream, melted chocolate, and whipped cream, I felt my stomach run away to a dark place in oblivion where it never wanted to be found again. I shamefully admit that it was the most delicious dessert I’ve had…and I also shamefully admit that I ate just about all of it.
Well, I gotta say Bruges did a number on my appetite. I ate the best meal of my life in Belgium and got to spend the day trekking around a beautiful town with the two people who continue to spoil me rotten. Couldn’t have asked for a better vacation with the parents in Bruges.
And now for something completely different…AMSTERDAM