24 October 2016

Day # I don't remember... We're in Bruges.

8/11/2016
Bruges/Paris 

Hello and good morning from Bruges!! This morning we had a walking tour through town-- it was actually raining thoughout the whole thing, which was a little sad. This town is so neat and beautiful. I would have loved beautiful weather. 



One of the churches we stopped at, The Church of Our Lady, held the only Michelangelo sculpture outside of Italy. "The Madonna of Bruges" is Mary with the child Jesus. Pretty awesome! 





I stole this from Wikipedia to tell you about the next church-- The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Roman Catholic minor basilica in Bruges. Originally built in the 12th century as the chapel of the residence of the Count of Flanders, the church houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders. Built between 1134 and 1157, it was promoted to minor basilica in 1923.






Bruges is such a cool little town. The tour was interesting and we saw some really beautiful churches. After the tour, we did a tiny bit of shopping, bought some more chocolates and finally... we arrive at the world famous Belgium hot chocolate. Heaven in a glass. Basically (I THINK) they just melted a bunch of chocolate and handed it to me. It was so rich, so thick and so perfect. 

Now we're headed to Paris by bus. I slept the majority of the way. We stopped for lunch at this huge-- basically truck stop-- which really kills my romantic relationship with Paris. 

We make it to Paris, check in to our hotel, Brian and I basically left two seconds later to explore. We walked so long and so. far. We were looking for somewhere to eat but not just anywhere. We visited so really high volume areas-- Notre Dame, Luxembourg Gardens-- people everywhere! We picked this cute bistro across from the gardens for dinner... after much deliberation and googling. 


We ordered a meat tray first-- followed by bread and wine. For our main courses-- Brian chose the lamb chops and I went with a pasta. It was so nice! So perfect. We loved sitting outside at this cute bistro and just taking in all Paris had to offer-- the sights and sounds of Paris I'm so in love! With this city, this trip and my handsome, lovely husband. 




After dinner we did some more walking-- again, past Notre Dame, down the river, to the Lourve, looking for the Opera house. I promise you that we walked the whole entire city. We finished the day at just under 10 miles. 









We ended up saving our feet a little and took the metro back. It was a perfect, magnificent night. I even had my 1st Paris crepe. YUM. 

22 October 2016

Europe, Day 5 - Belgium

8/10/2016
Brussels/Bruges

Welcome to Belgium, friends! Home of the best chocolate I've ever had. And now my mouth is watering for hot chocolate... more on that later. 

Today started EARLY! Left the hotel at 8:30 but our bags had to be out by 7:45. My hair was still wet when they showed up so I look totally fabu today. Again, breakfast didn't disappoint.

It took us about 3 hours to get to Brussels. Dreary, rainy day. I tried to sleep on the bus but woke myself up numerous times with loud snores... actually we should call them what they are really ridiculously loud snorts. 

We had lunch in Brussels. It was cold. It was wet. I think this dampened (HA!) the experience. I can't say I loved this town. The lunch was bad, so bad! 






The chocolate and macaroons made up for everything though. Belgium chocolate is the closest thing to heaven, I think. Everyone had samples, I tried the salted caramel first, to die for! Brian and I bought a couple macaroons and chocolates = happiness. 

We went and saw the little peeing man and then got back on the bus headed for Bruges.


Arrived in Bruges!! The weather is less than perfect. Lots of rain! Brian and I ran to the supermarket when we got to town and grabbed some laundry detergent. It was 2 euro! I washed some clothes while Brian slept. I washed SO much in the sink and then covered our room to dry everything. It looks crazy in here! 

I met up with Holly while BJ slept and Scott worked to go do some shopping. We really needed to find Scott a sweater since the temp dropped so much. That's all we ended up buying, besides chocolate, nail polish and tooth paste. We're wild in our old(er) age! 

Dinner with the group was next at Maximilian. Vegetable broth was so good. I can't believe I'm tying that. I loved it! We had chicken and veggies and it wasn't horrible. 

Max looking over us during dinner.
On the way back to the hotel from dinner, we found this neat little pub. It was fabulous! So good. They had 12 different beers on tap, that they make locally. We got the sampler and tried them all. I found one that I really liked! 



Coaster on top means we liked it 




This woman came in at some point during the night and live painted. It was so cool! I think we tried to buy the painting at some point, I know we tried talking to her. She wasn't interested. Let's just say she didn't speak our language. That will make it sound a lot better. 





We tour Bruges tomorrow, can't wait! Then off to Paris!! 


21 October 2016

Europe, Day 4- Amsterdam, Netherlands

7/9/2016
Day 2- Amsterdam 

It was so nice today to just get up and go-- no packing or traveling. We had breakfast at the hotel this morning- great salami and cured ham. I could really get use to this kind of breakfast. Nutella filled croissants, so many carbs- I love it. Soft boiled eggs-- Europe you speak my breakfast language. 
Breakfast Views
Our travel company has a bus for our travel today-- so no walking, just go outside and ride. It's even armed with wi-fi! We've been lucky to have wi-fi pretty much everywhere we go. We're able to upload our photos for the day. I'm terrified that I will lose my phone or accidentally delete everything. So I'm loading all photos to Dropbox each night :) 

Today we took a driving tour of Amsterdam-- a lot we actually saw on the tram yesterday but it was really neat to get a little lesson along with the drive. 

We took a canal tour-- sadly, it was raining but towards the end the sky cleared. This is such a beautiful city! It's so amazing how many canals there are, so neat, so beautiful. We learned so many cool facts about Amsterdam.... there are actually more bikes than people. They drag thousands of bikes out of the canals each year. Houses basically sink into the ground here. There is a really complicated way of building homes here but they still sink some... you can actually look at them and notice how crooked they are. 

Back to the canals... most of the canals are actually man made, man dug(?!). Houseboats and boats are everywhere along them. However, Amsterdam only allows 20k houseboat permits. So the waiting list to obtain a permit is actually pretty long. Another fun fact-- on average, one car drives into the canal a week. You can now see why they put these 3-4 inch barriers to block you from falling in. How bizarre. Sounds like they should add a few more inches! 


And THE BIKES. The bikes are everywhere!!! I can't believe I didn't get a picture of the cluster of bikes. We were told multiple times how often bikes are stolen. It's wild. 

So the canal tour-- so cool. Very informational. Such a pretty city. Have I mentioned that yet?? SO many lush, beautiful flowers. I am very jealous of the green thumbs who grew and maintained all this. (I've only had my mums for a week and they are looking.. uh, not lush)

Laughing at this bad hombre. 
After the boat tour, we took the bus out of town a bit to a cheese factory and clog shop. They walked us through how to make cheese and had people actually putting on a demo. We got to try them all-- it was gouda heaven! My favorite was the smoked ham gouda. Brian loved them all, he went through the line 2 or 3 times. I actually lost count. 


I think our guide was Jessa from Girls. 


The clog demo was pretty dang cool. The guy who did it was very high energy. Everything he said/did was to sell the clogs. He almost had me convinced that I couldn't live without a pair of blue and white hand-painted Holland clogs. For 20 euro they were a steal but I left them at the factory for the next person to enjoy. 










Next we went to an old fishing village called Vollendam. It basically reminded me of the port of Cozumel. Tourists EVERYWHERE. In the most overwhelming way. Everyone looking for a meal and shot glasses that say Holland. 

I enjoyed the outskirts the best. We had a Christmas card photo shoot. 







We finally found a place to eat but our waitress wanted nothing to do with us. It was basically a disaster from the get go. I was so ready to leave! And that's all I wrote about this fishing village in my journal. Haha. 

We did stop at this cool windmill on the way out of town. 

Holly got artsy on this one and I stole it :) 
Once back to Amsterdam, Brian and I opted for our nightly ritual of a one hour nap, shower, ready for dinner, grabbed a drink before heading out to dinner with Scott and Holly.


We had reservation at Daalder in Amsterdam. This was such a cool, modern and innovative place. Their menu was awesome. You choose the number of courses you want and the rest is a surprise.  We went with the 6 course dinner and additional wine pairings. I wish I remembered every dish we sate. It was simply amazing. I can't say just how good it was. I didn't even grab any pictures!!! 

My favorite was the tuna tartare. It was paired with a crisp, refreshing white wine. OH and the bread! Yummmm. That butter, fresh sea salt and olive oil from Chile. So amazing... what else? Sea bass with asparagus and radishes- so phenomenal. Our 1st red wine paired with a gnochhi with hazelnuts and I'm really not sure what else but I would be totally thrilled to eat it again. The red wines were so perfect, I love a good red. I've missed it so over the hot summer months! 

Our main course was duck and HOLY MOLY!!!!!!!!!!! The sauce sat for 5 days! We think for all the flavors to concentrate but honestly, we were in the place called food heaven, we couldn't remember what the waiter told us. It also came with some kind of amazing-ness that I don't recall now and then 4 HOURS LATER we ate dessert. 

Again, I have no idea what it was but I know we all loved every ounce of this meal. Everything was so light yet so perfect and satisfying. Everything about the meal was fabulous and delish. It makes me so excited for all of our reservations in Paris and London. 

After dinner we took a walk through the red light district. Wow. Not at all what I was expecting but after 2 minutes, I knew I had seen enough. We grabbed a cab and went back to the hotel. 

Next stop: Brussels and Bruges..... 
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