Sunday, October 31, 2010

belgium, belgian beer, and midieval hipsters

We took a train to Brussels and arrived with thoughts of beer, waffles, and chocolates.  After finding our way to our ultra modern BnB (which didn't actually serve the latter B), we promptly treated ourselves to some beer, waffles, and chocolates.

the grand place in brussels had incredible architecture


these restaurants lined the streets surrounding the grand place but the food was pretty mediocre.  good beer though.  definitely some good beer.

found a cool but ridiculously overpriced junk/antique store.

more good junk
one of the better beer logos belongs to the makers of delerium tremens

the delirium cafe was packed

arguably the best view of the city (free too) was actually a parking garage.

sometimes if you don't pay attention in french class, you end up getting a haircut in brussels that wasn't exactly what you had in mind.

decided to include a few of the detail shots we've been taking as a change of pace from the countless parkinglot views we normally post.

supposedly the best waffles in the city, though we ended up liking the stickier street waffles more.
but we didn't dare mention that to our neighbors

and really, at the end of the day a waffle is a waffle

the boss is still the boss, even in brussels

catching a ride to bruges

in case no one has mentioned it, belgium has three official languages: flemish (dutch really, spoken in the flanders region), french, and german.  french is mainly spoken in brussels but in bruges they speak mainly flemish.

hoofing it to our bnb with a view of st. salvator's cathedral

super modern design sometimes means you bump your super modern head on the super modern steel staircase.

our "hallway"

our front door

 bruges is often called the venice of the north because of the canals that run throughout the city.  we often called it bruges.  we're the orange door on the right
for fans of windmills, kevin, or lace chainlink fencing, we present all of the above

more detail shots

this may or may not have read bathroom

the flanders region, bruges in particular, is known for its ornate lace work.  and if that little anecdote wasn't thrilling enough for you, we visited some little old ladies who actually make lace by hand the old fashioned way, so hold on to your seats.

quite a rowdy bunch as you can imagine

who says you can't be a hipster in a medieval city

the belfry in the center of bruges is pretty impressive though the view from the top is fairly limited.

we always appreciate a bit of irony when we climb a bunch of steps up a giant tower for a mediocre view

going for a walk along the canal after sunset

toms may just be the best travel shoes (unless is rains)

favorite bar in the city, can't remember the exact name but it translated to "a little night music" and the owner plays nothing but the rolling stones

we went on a brewery tour at "de halve maan" brewery (the half moon) which ended up having the best view of the city but just pretty good beer (by belgian standards).

for our second night in bruges we stayed in another bnb across town and were greeted at the door with beer upon our arrival. the next morning for breakfast we were told "you start with bubbles" as our host handed us glasses of champagne. 
epic breakfast

saying our goodbyes to belgium we went to a nearly invisible bar hidden in an alleyway to try a glass of de garre, which is only brewed and served for this tiny bar

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Amsterdam and Neve Campbell

We arrived in Amsterdam to the deafening sounds of bicycles everywhere and were greeted warmly by our host Marnie.  After chatting for a while about being born in Holland and growing up in Canada, Marnie began telling us about her own grown children.  One is a businessman, one was a stage actor, and her daughter had spent some time acting in LA and had even been in a few movies.  We may have even seen a few of them she says, namely Scream 1,2,3, and apparently a possible 4.  She followed this by observing the disbelief on our faces and fetching a family photo.  Marnie was lovely (even going as far as to fold our laundry) and we fell in love with Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a beautiful city and people were out all night every day that we were there.

Outdoor cafe seating along one of the canals.

The red light district.

Working girls stand in front of their windows wearing bikinis or lingerie and beckon toward prospective customers passing by. 
The red light district is not as seedy as you might think.  This group of tourists is following their guide as she carries a giant sunflower over her head.
Still life.
View from one of the countless bridges stretching over one of the countless canals.

Seriously, there are bikes locked up everywhere.  Often times we were forced to walk in the road because the sidewalk was completely covered in green transportation.
We took a canal tour to properly see the city.

Probably the biggest chinese restaurant we've ever seen, though our guide said that this one was a miniature version of a restaurant in Hong Kong that seats something like 1,500 people.

In addition to the bagillion bikes, Amsterdam also has a pretty decent tram and bus system.

These puppies were all over the place but we didn't see a single person wearing them.  You believe that?  Not a one.

Take Holland home to your refridgerator.

This was possibly the best thing we've seen all trip.

This man putts around the canals playing the most beautiful music with his crank organ mounted on the boat while he plays various horns into a microphone hidden in a sunflower.

After his performance he hoisted a wooden shoe up to the bridge with a giant telescoping fishing pole so people could put coins in it.

Seriously, we almost gave him his own post.  but you can find him online.

Goodbye Amsterdam; we will miss you.