Friday, October 16, 2009

The Great Day Trip Bonanza of 2009

Okay, okay. I give. I had all but abandoned this old blog but Jason has guilted me back into it. I don't know why I had grown so weary of it. When we first moved to London, I used the blog to vent my frustrations, to cheer my successes, to whinge, to brag... I don't know. I've dealt with this move differently. And if I'm honest, probably in a less healthy way than London.

Anyway, I'm determined to get back on the wagon. If for no other reason than to document this experience. So in that vein, I present to you... The Great Day Trip Bonanza of 2009!

The beauty of Belgium is that there are so many little towns and villages to explore, many less than 50 miles from Brussels. So one weekend, a long long time ago - we set out to conquer a few. First up is Leuven.

Leuven is a beautiful little university city (town?). In fact, we very well may move there. Yes, that's right. We might be movin' to Leuven. Since we've been extended here, we decided we may prefer to live somewhere a little less touristy/central/loud/insert-your-adjective-here. It's about 15 miles outside of Brussels and since it's slightly north, it's Flemish speaking (in Brussels, it's French). Thankfully, Flemish (a derivative of Dutch) is basically impossible to learn so no one expects you to speak it there. So if we end up movin' to Leuven, we'll learn a few polite words and phrases and then have no guilt about switching to English. Whereas here in Brussels, I feel awful about not knowing more French than I do.

So, on to it... Not a bad first impression of Leuven (where we might be movin'), hmmm?

But first things first, an espresso al fresco on a brisk fall morning.

The grand city hall in the Grote Markt.

In the basement of the city hall, there's an exhibition dedicated to...well...I kind of forgot what it was dedicated to. But these statues dressed in various school uniforms really cracked us up. And isn't that what's really important here? (Pay no attention to the one on the end there.)

Lovely Leuven... (You know. Where we might be movin'.)

I love all the colorful flags on the facades of all these buildings in one of the squares. Perhaps someday, I'll find out what they mean.

Later on Saturday, after we returned to Brussels, Jason got a notion to look up the top pubs on Chowhound. And just like that, we have a new list to work our way through. We've already been to some but we sought out a new one - La Becasse. And when I say "sought out", I do mean we "sought out". You've no chance of stumbling up on this place, tucked away as it is down a narrow little alley, making it all the more cosy.

Their specialty is their very own lambic beer, served in these clay jugs. They have all different sizes of jugs, based on the size of your party. Obvs, this is the jug for two. It's a really unique brew that actually tastes a lot like cider. Delish!

Sunday, we decided to hit Mechelen - also about 15 miles north of Brussels, and therefore, also Flemish speaking.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not hecklin' Mechelen (am I on fire or what?!?!?) but unfortunately our visit was ill-timed, as there was a marathon on that day so the majority of the city was all junked up with race barriers and the Grote Markt was covered in sponsors' tents and a dj playing very loud and very bad, though supposedly motivating music.

So we avoided that area and headed for the quieter corners. (But the great thing is that it's so close, we can come back any time and explore the rest. So, expect more of Mechelen at some point.)

But Jason was devastated when we passed by the brewery and found it shut down.

Since we had only half of Mechelen at our disposal, we were finished rather early and decided to pop over to one more town to round out our day.

Hello, Lier! Aren't you precious with your charming little street signs?

It was a gorgeous day out. A Westmalle kind of afternoon...

Lier even has its own astronomical clock. Perhaps not quite as fancy as Prague's....but honestly, what with the hordes of people that show up to see the one there, I'll take Lier's wee version any day.

We were totally enchanted with Lier. We just stopped here on a whim, but it turned out to be one of the most charming little towns we've ever visited.

I mean, don't you just want to pinch its proverbial little cheeks??

My impression of a weeping willow. I think I really captured the whole "beauty tinged with sadness" thing it has going on.

And before we left, of course we had to try a glass of the centuries old local brew, Caves - the beer of Lier.

Now that rhyme time is over, I must go pack. Sunday is our 6th anniversary and we are headed to Champagne for a weekend of bubbles. We are staying in Epernay, the birthplace of champagne. The motherland. Friends, few things are nicer than the French countryside in the fall. I should know. I've been to various parts of it for the last two out of three anniversaries.

We'll return on Monday but I've got another entry written and scheduled to post while we're away so I can catch up on this thing.


andrea said...

I hear ya on the weary (see, I can rhyme too!), I feel the same about my blog, but really? I don't think I am ready to fully give it up yet!

Oh, so Lee and I were in the Lake District and at our hotel in the pub they served Delerium or however you spell it and I was telling Lee about how much you like it. But we didn't try it. I had too much Lambic to drink. Have I mentioned how jealous I am of the beer where you live now?

Alice said...

Good for Jason for guilting you back into blogging. Your masses need you. :)

Beth said...

So glad your back. Give Jason a pat on the back for guilting you into it - and don't even think about pulling a stunt like that again missy.

MrsBlueberry said...

I am so glad you resumed posting as I was starting to go into Heather withdrawal. Happy Anniversary--hope you and Jason have a wonderful trip!

Sara said...

Your trip sounds wonderful!! Enjoy!

Robin said...

well, since i live my life vicariously through you (and jason) and your travels and living in other countries and all, shutting down this blog would be like...turning off the light in my life. sentencing me to a lifetime of darkness! i will not go gently into that good night!

clearly, i veer toward hyperbole at times.

seriously, i really look forward to reading your blog and i am so glad you decided to continue. perhaps blogging consistently - say, every day - would help your transition? no? ehh, worth a try.

happy anniversary!

The Tune's said...

I love delirium with the little pick elephants on it but I do have to say Bush Noel around the holidays is fantastic!!!! Love love love Belgium beer and am envious of your experience over there! If for any more reason to keep blogging is to make us repats jealous of your beer and travel again :-) Happy Anniversary!

Suze - Cheshire, UK said...

Give up blogging!? Talk like that again and I will come knock some sense into you! :)

Ashely said...

Did you wear the plaid just for me? I find your shirt to be acceptable and am happy to see that it doesn't have ruffles.

On a seperate note, multiple teeny-boppers were seen sporting side ponytails in Crabtree on Saturday. Say what you will. I cannot support that.

Monique said...

Welcome back to blogging - we missed you! Love the pics & happy anniversary:)