BE Cafe Marche Jourdan, Billy Corgan, Bon Jovi, Bruges, Brussels, David Bowie, De Vier Winden, Grand Marnier, Honeymoon, Koningin Astrid Park, La Chaloupe d'Or, La Civière d'or Au Petit Café, Manneken Pis, Mongozo, Pauwel Kwak, Ric Ocasek, The BCPF, Vinne Vincent
So, last we visited we had had a very beer-filled day in Bruges; high gravity and The Beer Museum and what not. Well, this is Bruges – Belgium, I say – so beer was going to be a recurring theme as long as I can help it.
After buying our chocolates and animal-fat-cone-shaped jelly candies, we made our way back to the hotel to drop off the goodies and then went out to get some dinner. We wandered around looking for a place to eat. Trying to not go back to the “Ol’ Standby” De Vier Winden, we stopped and looked at several menus before stopping in a cute little bistro type place, that in a completely rookie mistake we forgot to document with either pictures or writing it down.
Anywhat, as I said, there was more beer. I had a Pauwel Kwak, which is a lovely 8.4%ABV Amber Ale. It’s charm also includes, as does most European beer, its own specialty glass. However, this glass was bulbous at the bottom, wide at the top, long in the middle and fits into a wooden handle. The idea is the handle is there to ensure your hands don’t warm the glass. The first bit is annoying because I thought the glass was going to move, but the design is true and the glass moved nary a bit. The BCPF had some wine, a rosé, I believe.
We had had a great deal of food and beer for the day so we skipped appetizers and just ordered main courses. She had rabbit with cheese croquets and I had shrimp in a saffron sauce. Both were tasty, perfectly prepared and as is the case with just about every other dish on this trip, nothing but fabulous flavors abounding. Afterwards, we just walked back to the hotel and had our now-routine Grand Marnier and Sprite in the Oud Huis de Peellaert bar. Early to bed, early to rise. Well, we did watch some BBC (the only English speaking television there) news, reality and game shows. We actually, talked about how we miss those, just this week.
Our last day in Bruges we got up and found some lace to buy for our mothers and some other Bruges-made souvenirs before we stopped in front of a very strange combination of toy/hobby shop on the right and a sex shop on the left. They weren’t really “together” but the wall between them was barely wider than me. Then we moved down the street to the famous “Beer Wall.” Said huh…? Wall o’beer? For serious? YES for serious. Holy dang! At the end of this wall was a tasting station. I say tasting, you paid for the beer, but there was a huge selection. One that I saw that I just could not pass up was Mongozo’s Cocunut Beer. It was only 3.6%ABV but holy dang! it was some fabulous beer. Light, clean, very refreshing and very coconutty. I loved it. The BCPF, at this point, had had enough, I think. She did taste mine but that was about it.
We wandered a bit more through the old city and came upon the beautiful Koningin Astrid Park which has a statue of Neptune (as far as I can tell) in the middle of a little pond. The thing that I thought the most awesome about it was there were actual swans and a little swan bridge that enabled them to get out of the water easily. The whole thing was quite serene. A group of about 8 college kids brought blankets and picnic baskets and set up a mid-afternoon picnic, with wine and snacks. They were laughing and drinking and it was just cool to watch that. Felt good to watch the scene. We had stopped along the way at a little candy shop so while sitting on a bench watching the kids and swans, we ate a little of the goodies we got. Great stuff.
Then came more beer. We stopped for a few and they were potent. After that we walked through the streets taking pictures of many of the old canals and bridges. Then we ended up back in the square where we stopped at, you guessed it, De Vier Winden; we just couldn’t stay away. We had our “very best friend,” Vincent, again. We had more beer and some fries. We watched as a group of guys (and some young ladies) carried a guy to the square, and left him standing in the middle. That’s not odd, but the fact that they had him tied to a lamp post, plastic-wrapped with a sign and wine and dolled up in make up was. It turns out he was getting married the next weekend and this is somewhat a tradition. The sign translates to “I’m Good Jovi. Half nun half Bon Jovi.” I’m not sure what “the faith” part at the bottom was. He was taking it well and laughed it off.
More walking and looking until that night we ate in the square (not at De Vier Winden). As we approached the square we hear the bells in the Belfort and it sounded like it was being accompanied by other instruments. It seemed like it never stopped. As we sat to eat dinner at a street cafe called the Golden Stretcher Café or La Civière d’or Au Petit Café we asked the server (don’t remember his name) about the bells. He said it was the closing night of the bell tower concert season. He said there were accompanists and if the entire song was performed it would play over 24 hours. Wow. Anyway, it was beautiful to hear and beautiful to look at from our seats. Whilst eating there The BCPF had croquets (she wasn’t ready for full-on dinner, yet) while I had a steak, rare. We, of course, had beer and I opted for dessert. She wanted the apple pie but didn’t know that she could eat it. I wanted something and even though I’m not a fan of apple pie, I got it so she could have some. It was really good pie. Off to the hotel, and up the next morning to head to one of my least favorite cities in the world, Brussels. But first, more Grand Marnier.
The train was on time and we were in “first class.” The ticket, however was an “any Belgian train” ticket and we left earlier than expected. We arrived at the Brussels station two hours before our driver was to pick us up. So we waited in a little food court and waited until the time we were supposed to be picked up and went back to the platform we arrived at and did what the instructions we had said to do. We never saw this driver. We even begged someone to tell us how to find the hired cars and they were rude. We ended up having to get a taxi to our hotel. Strike one for Brussels this trip.
We get to our hotel and I must say that if you ever get the chance to stay at a Sofitel, do it!!! I’m a travel agent and I recommend them anytime I can. That hotel was one of the nicest in which we’ve ever stayed. I can’t really say what it was about it, but it just felt cozy. The room was spacious, had a great view of a neighborhood street, the lobby was immaculate and the staff was so very friendly. We went up and put our luggage away and went to the only place that I enjoy in the city, The Grand Place. We had to find our way to the “Metro.” We didn’t even know that Brussels had a Metro. The metro station didn’t look like it was in any good shape; like they were just building it but I understand that it has been around for a long time. It was a big construction zone and it was hard to traverse. Strike two, Brussels.
We finally got there and unlike last year, they had flowers out and the place was really nicely decorated. It’s majestic and historic. Full of shops and restaurants, the Grand Place is a bright spot in one of the dirtiest, most miserable cities I’ve ever been in. We decided to eat at a restaurant called La Chaloupe d’Or. The BCPF had a goat cheese, honey and rosemary pie that came in a filo shell and I had a meatloaf in savory sauce. The food at this restaurant was fantastic. The BCPF talks about that being one of her favorite meals. Of course, there was beer. I have to say while this restaurant was fabulous when it comes to food, the service was kind of crappy and to even use the restroom you have to pay €.35 just to be in there. That ticked me off. After this, we skipped dessert and went exploring.
We ended up in a record store where The BCPF purchased a CD that included Ric Ocasek teaming up with Billy Corgan. She also bought a Band of Horses disc. We then went to the Hard Rock Cafe and looked around. I saw Vinnie Vincent’s (one-time guitarist with KISS) boots and a set list from a David Bowie concert. We wandered down to to the Manneken Pis (the statue of the little boy that is taking a pee) which happens to be one of the nation’s landmarks. We made a point to see it last year, too. We then made our way back to The Grand Place and had waffles and lambics, cherry and peach, at a place called Aroma. We made our way back to the hotel, including taking a wrong turn trying to get to the correct Metro station. I HATE BRUSSELS!
We relaxed for a bit for our last night in Europe and did our airline check-ins and all that jazz. We then decided to walk down to the restaurant, BE Cafe Marche Jourdan, to have dinner. It’s a 4 star restaurant with the prices to match, but as with everything else on this trip, we didn’t hold back. We looked over the menu and ordered the salmon appetizer, trout with cauliflower sauce and shrimp and a selection of sweets for dessert. Here’s the funny story about this: the prices were up there and we overheard a neighboring table talk about getting bread or an appetizer. Out to our table came a very, very small piece of salmon on a thin slice of cucumber. The BCPF and I looked at it and looked at each other and then looked back, again, at the small ramekin containing the itty-bitty piece of fish. We laughed. We couldn’t believe this was the appetizer, especially at these prices. We wanted, so badly, to tell the neighboring table to not expect much. We ate the sliver of fish-on-a-cuke and said we didn’t know what we’d do if the entree was that small. Again, we reiterated to each other, this can’t be the appetizer. Well, it wasn’t. It was an amuse-bouche. Then we laughed harder. The appetizer was a good size portion and the entree was as well. And the fish (the waitress commented, “so, fish and fish?”) was perfectly prepared, tender and delightful. We had plenty of beer, again, knowing that this was our last night in Europe. The last night of our honeymoon.
Not to give so much away or TMI, I ran a bath for The BCPF and we just enjoyed holding each other in the water. Nothing too graphic, just enjoying each other. We slept very well that night. We got up, got showered, ready to go and received the call that our car was waiting for us downstairs. They took us to the airport and somehow we had no problems (this is Brussels after all). The flight back was uneventful, which is always the best way to fly.
And, so, Dear Reader, we concluded our honeymoon, our wedding trip. Here we are, five months later and all is well. I love that woman with all my heart and she really is my saving grace. We both hope you enjoyed reading about the honeymoon and wedding. I know it was long (this one is well over 2000 words) and it was a journey. I hope you felt like you were there with us. If you have any questions, comments or want to take a trip like this for your self, please let me know. I love to talk travel and this trip was so wonderful, I’ll talk your ear off. The whole trip was amazing – a dream – and writing this for you was great; being able to walk through those memories again. It’s hard to believe The Honeymoon Chronicles have come to a close. Thanks for reading about it.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“A country like Belgium, or socialist countries in central Europe spend more money on art education than the United States, which is a really puzzling thought.” – Mikhail Baryshnikov