Friday, November 22, 2013

Bruges (Brugge), Belgium

The Venice of the North!  Well, a Venice of the North
Well, we had our first snowstorm here in Luxembourg this week, which reminded me that fall is practically over, which reminded me I need to get these fall pictures up!

While Bruges was gorgeous and we had a lovely time, Pete started referring to it as EuropeLand.  You know: cute, crowded, expensive, with little evidence of any "real life" happening besides tourism.  A bit of a canned attraction.   There are lots of places like that in Europe, I suppose, and it's the eternal paradox of tourism in general.  There's nothing really wrong with it, but perhaps we're just ready for a more off-the-beaten-path holiday next time around.  Variety is good.

Anyway, rapid-fire photo tour of our Bruges trip!

Train was way cheaper than renting a car (+gas+parking) for 3 days.  62€ total for all of us, round trip.
Settling in...
inexpensive apartment just outside the city
kids' room
Poor Daphne brought her homework
local beer, the Bruges fool
Market Square...

yay, bikes
the classic postcard shot
bell tower leans about 4 feet
Climbing that bell tower...

explaining the complex carillon
some of the 40+ bells
view of a canal
Canal boat ride...

in line with the other tourists
on the boat

evidence I was, in fact, also in Bruges (first pic of me in 3 posts on it)

Church of Our Lady
Swans, swans, everywhere...

Miscellaneous around town...

giant bike lanes!!
lace shops
convent courtyard
bridge on our walk into town
I don't know what this is but it's probably my favorite photo.
Where we stayed
End tour.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Friet Museum: Bruges, Belgium

oh, the mayo
We purchased combo tickets for the chocolate museum and the fries (friet) museum, and we visited them back-to-back.
or "frites" in French
But before proceeding, we should clear up a couple of things:  1) Fries are not French Fries.

and 2) they are served in a cone:

but are not typically multicolored
The museum is divided into two sections: the potato part and the friet part, with some overlap.
our guides this time were Fiona the Friet and Peter the Potato
wild, old-timey potatoes
By the way, the museum really, really wanted us to know that potatoes are of extreme nutritional value.  If you fry them in grease, that's your problem.
Frituur - gotta love a country with food stands dedicated to fries
cooking some of Fiona's kin. :(
We'd only eaten a brief snack-lunch between museums so we were looking forward to sampling some frites!
Frituur in the basement.  You can see some of the sauce containers on the counter.  Sauces are a big deal, with endless variety.
We opted for ketchup and "sauce Américaine" which tasted like nothing we'd ever had in America.  Be warned that Belgian frites are most often cooked in animal fat, so your tummy might not be prepared for this adventure if you eat too many.  Ahem.
we're getting to be old pros at this
I think our family was split - Daphne and Pete preferred this museum, while James and I preferred the chocolate museum.  But both were fun and worthwhile, and our kids were just the right age to enjoy the kid-friendly bits.

Next post you may actually get to see what Bruges looks like on the outside!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Chocolate Museum: Bruges, Belgium

We're continuing the museum theme for the next couple of posts.

The school schedule in Luxembourg is different from most of the U.S. in that there are only two months of summer holidays, but more frequent/longer breaks during the school year.   During this, our second year in Luxembourg, we are attempting to "do something" during these breaks.  (Remember, we are lazy cheapskates).  Like everyone in Luxembourg, Pete is entitled to five weeks of vacation, so we are doing our best to line up his with the kids'.

At fall half-term break, we spent three nights in Bruges, Belgium.  As Belgian chocolate is known the world-over, it was no surprise to find a chocolate museum in the well-known, Flemish city of Bruges.  And since we decided as a family to skip celebrating Halloween this year (gasp!--but much easier to get away with in Europe than the States), it was fitting that we still did something chocolaty on the 31st in mini-homage to our American-ness.

Choco-Story Museum
Meet Choclala, our cocoa bean guide, and his buddy the Cocoa Fairy.  Our theory is she's the tooth fairy's arch nemesis.  And Choclala looks an awful lot like a brown tooth...
sticker-matching game to keep up the motivation
several playmobil dioramas helped tell the history of chocolate
cocoa pods are big!
explaining the components of different types of chocolate.  45% SUGAR!  Yikes!
Chocolate was mainly just a drink for 100s of years.  The froth was a big deal, and these special sticks were rubbed between the hands to create the foam 
How chocolate got to France

molds for solids
"Oh, goodness, I've had enough" -manniquin lady
tasty art
Praline-making demo, with samples.
Prize for completing sticker hunt.  Noooo...not our buddy Choclala!  Crunch!
Choco-Story: a kid-friendly museum, with chocolate samples, in English.  What more can you ask for?