March 28, 2010

Living the Belgian Way of Life

The Christmas Market is over and the first few days of the New Year have past.
I was in Europe for 2 months so I needed to settle in and start getting accustomed to a Belgian way of life!  I've learned that it really isn't that much different then living in the United States.  Well except for maybe a few things. Like when you go to the grocery store to buy eggs, you are assured that what you are getting is unmistakably fresh! I'm pretty sure the chicken feather is not for looks.

Or that you could just walk up to a bike, pay 1.50 euro, ride it all day long, and then not even have to take it back to the place where you picked it up!  Pick another spot, they're all over the city! Alot of people use these to ride back and forth to work but if your a tourist it's a great way to see Brussels.

I know we have recycling in the States, but it is an absolute requirement here.  And you must separate the clear glass from the colored glass.  I love how there are recycle bins placed stratigicly throughout the city.

And in Belgium, everything is recyclable.  Are you remodeling, cleaning out the attic, doing some landscaping?  Pick your container and toss it in.

There is one thing that is universal......SHOPPING! Belgians love a good sale and when the first shopping day starts, which by the way is the first Saturday after New Years and lasts the whole month of January, you better get to the shopping streets early.  Oh yes, I said shopping streets.  This is where the only traffic you will see is pedestrian vehicles allowed!

But what I am going to miss the most is the smell of a fresh hot waffle in the air that leads you straight to one of those great waffle vendors selling them right from the street.

I could get used to this!

March 27, 2010

Happy New Year From Brussels!

Okay, I know it's already the end of March 2010. But I just wanted to share with you how once again we spent our New Year's Eve together in Brussels.

The previous New Year's (2008) Stijn introduced me to a way of grilling that I have never experienced before and what I think is the most romantic way to bring in the New Year!

Our New Year's Eve day was not spent deciding where we would go to celebrate the New Year, it was spent making a list and shopping for meats, seafood and vegetables. And how will we prepare our choices? On an electric "Stone Raclette Grill" . This is the coolest thing! A piece of granite that you cover in olive oil and then heat it up. This sits perfectly on your table and you can grill what ever your little heart desires while sipping on a glass of wine. No one is in the kitchen!

There are even little trays below the granite where you can melt some cheese to put on your veggie's.

So once again, we celebrated bringing in the New Year in Brussels with a nice romantic dinner....Just the two of us!

Click here if you would like to read more about how we spent our 2008 New Year's Eve.

March 11, 2010

Starting The New Year Right, In Belgium

After returning home to Las Vegas after being in Europe for 3 weeks this past Oct/Nov 2009 for my birthday, I had only about 6 weeks to get myself ready to leave again!

And boy did December 28th come fast! This would be my longest trip ever as I was not coming home until February 27, 2010.

The minute I landed in Brussels, I knew my New Year was off to a great start. Even after a two hour delay in Las Vegas, there was Stijn standing there waiting patiently for me. Stijn always knows how to put a smile on my face and this time was no exception. Knowing how much I loved the Christmas Market last year during my visit, we headed straight to the heart of Brussels to get a glimpse before it closed for the night.

The Christmas Market has about 240 wooden chalets scattered throughout The Grand Place, The Bourse, Place Sainte Catherine and Marche aux Poissons. The exhibitors come from all over Europe to sell their crafts, food and drinks.

It's a bit chilly in December in Brussels so the first stop is at one of the MANY chalet's where they sell Gluhwein! That's hot wine people! And oooohhh that shot of Amaretto was perfect!

There are sooooo many chalets selling all types of food, that it makes it nearly impossible to decide what to eat. Since I am a big fan of eating dessert first, Stijn introduced me to these great little dough balls that are served hot in a paper cone and liberally sprinkled with powered sugar. Now these little gems go by three names, "Oliebollen" (Dutch), "Smoutebollen" (Flemmish) "Croustillons" (French).

Okay, now it was time to find something warm! I do love snails, but I was hoping for something a bit more hearty.

Tartiflette Savoyarde is just what I was looking for to keep the chill off. This is a great dish made in a creamy base with potatoes, onion and bacon.

Stijn had a little something different in mind for his meal. So we left the "Bourse" and walked through "Place Sainte Catherine" making our way to "Marche aux Poissons" (Fish Market) to a chalet where they grill up some great "Boudin Blanc".

There is so much to see..... and eat at the Christmas Market in Brussels. Since we had all that our stomachs could handle, we decided to end our evening by watching the light show back at the Grand Place.

And all this within just my first few hours in Belgium. It's going to be a great year!
To see more pictures just click here...."Where's Debbie" and then click on the album Brussels Christmas Market.
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