Tag Archives: waffles

walking in a winter wonderland

Alternately, this post could be called “Bruges”. Not last weekend but the one before, I took a trip to Bruges, Belgium. I was lured by promises of Christmas markets, chocolate, ice skating, beer, boat rides through the canals, and last but certainly not least, waffles. The city more than made good on these expectations–walking through the streets, I felt like I had been transported straight into one of those little Christmas villages you can buy to set up on your bookcase or coffee table or you know, wherever, at Christmastime. It was charming.

And, indeed, we had waffles.


Weirdly, though, I discovered that I actuallydonotreallyliketrueBelgianstylewafflessosorryforgivemebye.

They were too crispy. I like my carbs doughy, what can I say….

I sampled plenty of chocolate, but more importantly, I saw this chocolate replica of Obama in the chocolate museum!


To be totally honest, I wouldn’t have picked this out as Obama if it hadn’t been for the sign telling me it was. But it’s still awesome. Even cooler than the chocolate Titanic I saw in Berlin. And that’s saying something.

We spent lots of time wandering through the streets of the city,





Bruges is actually known for its canals–I was told it’s called the Venice of the North? It certainly wasn’t as canal-ridden as Venice, but we still took advantage of the ones that were there with a canal cruise! This was a great way to see the city, but I was freezing by the end of it…a perfect excuse to go find some cute, cozy little restaurant and order a cup of tea. (Which probably happened four or five times over the course of the weekend. I can’t help it.)







(I hope these pictures are giving you a sense of how ridiculously charmingly beautiful Bruges is…I couldn’t get over it.)

We saw some famous art, too. Here’s a Michelangelo altarpiece:


Here’s what actually inspired me most in the church that housed it:


Why yes, those are small dogs depicted lying at the feet of the dead queen. Does anyone know where I can order at tomb like this?

Of course, one of my very favorite things was seeing the Christmas decorations and lights all over the city. It was the perfect way to welcome December!








(Got a little artsy on that last one, bet you weren’t expecting that! Things are getting crazy around here….)

It’s my blog, and I’ll fill it with amateur photographs of Christmas lights if I want to.

If there’s something I love more than Christmas lights, though, it’s food, so let’s get back to that. Because guess what I ate in Belgium? No really, guess. Just do it.

It involves these:


And these:


MOULES FRITES! I was so happy. So so happy. And in case you’re wondering, those frites were split shared by our table of eight. Just kidding, they were all mine.

No really, we shared them. Even I can’t down that many fries in one sitting.

I think.

Oh, funny story, though. After we left Beligium, my friends (who don’t eat meat except for fish, like me) and I found out that Belgian frites are fried in duck fat. Hehe, oopsie! Bad vegetarian. Pescetarian. Whatever. (I actually hate the word “pesectarian”, you automatically sound obnoxious when the words “I’m a pescetarian” come out of your mouth…I mean I am a pescetarian and I’m not sure there’s another food term that oozes more self-righteousness. Ick. Shudder.)

And Belgium wouldn’t be Belgium without any beer!

We went to this really cool, apparently well-known place called Bruges Beertje. It has hundreds of different beers or something completely insane like that. I really loved the atmosphere–it was very relaxed, and friendly, and there were all these cool old signs on the wall, and it just felt so perfectly and cozily Christmas. Yeah, I just made a beerhouse sound girly. Done and done.





Bruges was the perfect place for a December weekend trip. It’s not somewhere that I really ever thought about going before I got to Europe, but I’m so, so glad I did. One of the best parts about Europe is that it’s hard to choose a wrong city to travel to, really. But Bruges is no exception!




P.S. We were super fancy on the way home and ended up in first class…our train may or may not have been the Polar Express. It was.




Since it’s Turkey Day and the idea is that it should be all about gratefulness, I thought I’d do an appropriately thankful post. Without further ado, I give you Amsterdam (through thankfulness).


In Amsterdam, I was thankful for friends. I was especially thankful for my friend Allison (who you might remember from London!), because not only did she act as my tour guide for the weekend, she also let me crash on her floor. And eat her stroopwafels. Having now successfully pulled off two European weekends together, I think it’s safe to say Allison and I make good traveling companions. My friend/former suitemate/future housemate Taylor also happened to be in Amsterdam (well, “happened to be” makes it sound like we didn’t share multiple BBM conversations about coordinating our Amsterdam trip) with some of her friends from Granada, where she’s studying for the semester. It was so incredibly wonderful to be able to spend the weekend with two of my closest friends in this incredible city!



So. In Amsterdam, I was thankful for waffles. Waffles of all kinds. Fluffy Belgian-style extravaganzas, waffles topped with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, waffles dusted with powdered sugar, waffles dipped in melted chocolate, and of course, last but certainly not least, the famous stroopwafel, wafer-thin and full of chewy caramel. If it’s carby and sweet, chances are, I’ll love it.



(D E C A D E N C E.)


I was thankful that for the first time thus far in Europe, being a blonde, green-eyed giant actually helped me blend in. Everyone assumed I spoke Dutch, and that made me so happy. But it also made me feel bad when I broke the news that “stroopwafel” is the extent of my Dutch vocabulary. So, that was a bummer. But still–it was cool. In France, everyone thinks I’m Swedish, so I guess I need to go there to really find my people. And maybe learn a few words of their language first.


I went to the Rijksmuseum, and I was thankful for whatever wonderful curators organized the place. The museum is under renovation, but what was on display was really wonderfully curated. I’m pretty into art, generally speaking, and even I often end up finding museums tiresome. But in the Rieksmuseum, they provided just enough information about the works to keep things interesting without making my visit feel like a 3-D textbook reading. I loved it. And I got to see some really cool things!


I was thankful for the completely adorable couple that agreed to take my picture with the “t” bit of this famous sign. (Don’t worry, I returned the favor.)



I was thankful for pancakes. Specifically this one, which was ridiculously huge and topped with bananas, powdered sugar, and cinnamon. It was heavenly–slightly thicker and doughier than a crepe, but still closer to crepe than an American pancake. I loved every bite.



I continued to be thankful for whatever Dutch quality it is that makes good curators when I went to the Anne Frank Huis (a.k.a. house, wish I spoke Dutch). It was incredibly moving and informative and well-done. It was definitely a sobering experience, and I’m so, so glad I waited in the line stretched down the block to get to see it.


I was thankful for the Dutch in general! Seriously, people have been pleasant and warm almost everywhere I’ve gone, but the Dutch are topping the “Friendliest Europeans” list by a mile. Everyone was so kind and helpful and smiley. I think it has something to do with the bikes (which really are everywhere and more common than cars). People just seemed healthier and fresher and happier and more generally rosy and glowing.


I was thankful for my coat, which kept me warm on a very chilly weekend. Previously, the coldest I’d been in Europe was actually my first weekend in London (which indubitably had more to do with the fact that I was coming straight from the melting, steamy American southeast than with actual temperature). But Amsterdam marked my new freezing point, especially at night. Brr.


I was thankful for Wok to Walk. (Which is pronounced “Vok to Valk” in Dutch, tehe.) There’s not much more to say. Except, go there.


I was thankful to learn that I still love playing with bubbles just as much as I did when I was a kid and would play with the giant bubble toys outside of Chattanooga’s Creative Discovery Museum. Actually, I would do exactly what I did in Amsterdam a mere two weeks ago. Yes, I had to wait in line with five and six-year-olds to have a turn. Here’s to maturity and self-growth! No, but really. Here’s to the simple pleasures and their eternal ability to delight. Bubbles are perennially amusing.





I was thankful that a computer doesn’t understand the inner workings of my mind any better than I do. Also, I’m thankful that I’m at least certain I have more of a personality than the quiz I took at the Nemo Science Museum (amazing, so cool, home of aforementioned bubbles) would indicate.


In Amsterdam, I was thankful for coffee and canals, for beautiful Dutch architecture, for fresh mint tea paired with Dutch apple pie, for Christmas lights and the Christmas spirit, for bikes and trams and helpful people, for breathtaking art, scarves, lingering meals and long conversations, for watching the tear-jerker finale of Friends with friends, for frites dipped in mayonnaise, freshly squeezed juice, and goblin beer (whatever that is), for wandering new streets and soaking up new sights. Amsterdam easily earned five gold stars on the Tessa Crevasse Euro-rating scale. Go there! You won’t regret it.











Also note that, as at Thanksgiving and in life, my thankfulness primarily revolved around food.