In De Wulf - Restaurant - THE BEST EVER!


To celebrate D getting the new job and our wonderful time living in Belgium, we SPLURGED on Friday for lunch at the Michelin-starred restaurant In De Wulf.  It was a two-hour drive each way and the meal lasted three and a half hours.  It was the most expensive meal we have ever eaten, but it also was the best!  It consisted of 20 small courses  :  )

Chef alone

Chef Kobe Desramaults is quite young (30 years old), but wow can he cook!  He was born in Heuvelland Belgium, which is in the Flemish region near the French border.  He grew up in an old farmhouse - now the location of his wonderful restaurant.

Appetizer and wine
We opted to take our aperitif and amuse-bouche in the front sitting room by the fire.  We started our celebration with a local champagne.

The dishes are shown in the order we ate them.  The French name is written first then the "roughly" translated English version.


In De Wulf’ Menu - November 2011

Lard seche maison =

House speciality - homemade bacon;

salted and smoked, then dried-cured for 6 months



Cereales & Herbs =  

Crispy morsel on cream

Appetizers cereals

Betterave rouge yaourt =  

Beet root crisp with beet yogurt 

Looks so simple but it was packed with flavor -

one of the top bites of the day!  For the crisps, the chef makes an emulstion of beets and beet juice, gels the mixture in a thin sheet, then fries the beet gelatine.  This gives the crisps more intense flavor.



Beet root crisp


Poulet carotte =  

Carrot mousse on crispy chicken skin


Chicken crisps appetizer


Pain brule, Maroilles =

Burned bread filled with cheese from the Maroilles and covered with mushroom dust.

Another one that looks simple but oh my gosh! 

One of D's favorite of the day


Burnt bread 2


We then moved into the dining room to begin our culinary adventure.  Kobe's food has been described as an explosion of flavor and we found this to be a great explanation of what we experienced.  Each bite was so fresh, so unique -  it is hard to even describe.

Pain with frais beurre, lardon cream =

bread with creamy fresh butter and lard spread



Panais, lovage =

Crispy parsnip with a parsnip cream



Root crisp and foam


 Bulots =

Local cockles with sauce


Coockles on rocks



Before we get too far into the meal - just a quick mention that we had a flight of wines that were carefully selected by the sommelier for each course.  We did not have a different wine with each course....but the wine changed every few courses.


Wine glass altered


Bigorneau =

Periwinkle Welk (sea snail) with herb sauce

Cockles on spoons


Crabe, blette, feuilles de Capucines =

Crab, spinach, buttermilk-chive sauce

Orange flowers


Chau pointu raifort huitres plate de Zelande =

Oysters from Zeeland, covered with cabbage leaf and horseradish 

Roll with white flowers

 Coquille verveine pourpier =

Scallops with walnuts and verbena sauce

Another one of my favorites!  I love the smell and taste of verbena.




Bar de mer betterave maritime navets =

Sea bass with turnips strips, laural leaves, and bone sauce



Sea bass


Celeri-rave en croute de sel fromage cremeux, vinaigre de pomme, oseille =

Celery root baked in salt crust, with celery foam and cheese sauce





It was baked on the open flames (which was right next to our table) in a salt crust.  They only served the middle part.


Fire place w bread

Champignons sauvages, cereales =

Wild mushrooms, foam, and crispy cereals





 Choux laurier, coeur de boeuf =

Mixed greens covered with dry-cured ox heart shavings



Cow tongue salad


Lievre boudin des pates topinambour =

Wild hare fillet and sausage with carmelized onion, artichoke sauce and sunchoke crisps

This was another of our favorites.  We are used to rabbit, but wild hare had so much more flavor.


Cow tongue salad 2


 Gateau de fromage, poire de Kemmel =

Pears from Kemmel, cheesecake ball, served in elderberry juice


Apple ball dessert

 Noix, biere Pannepot, lait de Kemmel =

Hazelnut, beer icecream,  crisp, and buttermilk reduction


Dessert 1

 Pomme romarin, chervil

Apple tuile, rosemary mousse, Spanish cheese


Apple dessert 2


Back to the front room for coffee and more sweets.


Room with my arm



From left to right = chocolate, carmel, and salt,

marshmallow covered in chocolate with layers of cake

fruit gel

Trio dessert


and last but not least - smoutebollen....doughnuts  :  )




Donald was "fat and happy" with his gastronomical meal!


Donald 1 copy

Here we are with Chef Kobe.  We bought his cookbook and he signed it for us.  Donald spent the next day reading it and is already trying a recipe.  I will not be using this cookbook  - too complicated for me!



Photo w chef
We had a fabulous time and it truly was the best meal we have ever eaten!  If you have a really special event to celebrate and are living in Belgium - we highly recommend you splurge and go to In De Wulf..


Rochefort, Orval, and the Belgian countryside


Orval 28

There are only seven Trappist breweries in the world; six in Belgium - Westmalle, Westvleteren, Chimay, Rochefort, Orval and Achel and one in the Netherlands, De Koningshoeven.


A Trappist brewery is one where the beer is brewed by the Monks.   No other Belgian breweries are entitled by law to apply that name to their product.
  One of the things D wanted to do while we are in Belgium was to visit all six in Belgium.  We had two left, Orval and Rochefort.  On Saturday we headed out for a two-hour drive south to visit both, as they are only a few miles apart.  Photo below is at Rochefort.

Orval 11


 Rochefort is located inside the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy, near the town of Rochefort.  The monks are very secretive about the brewing process and the brewery is not open to the public so we had to peak through the gates.


Orval 5


It was amazing to see that modern brewing equipment through the windows.


Orval 2


It was founded in 1230, and the monks began to brew beer sometime around 1595.   There are approximately 15 monks resident at the monastery.  We were allowed to walk around the church and the grounds.


Orval 8


They make three beers:  Rochefort 6 (7.5% alcohol).  It is only brewed once per year, representing approximately 1% of total beer production.  The other two are Rochefort 8 (9.2% alcohol) and Rochefort 10 (11.3% alcohol).  The water for the beers is drawn from a well located inside the monastery walls.  The Rochefort 10 is D's favorite of the three... and his 2nd-favorite beer of all beers he's tried.   Rocherfort 10 is excellent when fresh, but also can age for 10 - 15 years.


Orval 9


As with all other Trappist breweries, the beer is only sold in order to financially support the monastery and some other charitable causes.  The monks will not increase production based on demand or profit motives, but only enough to support themselves, resulting in a fairly limited supply of beer.  D has never had any problems buying any of these beers.

Orval 10


For lunch, we stopped at the town of Bouillon, in the province of Luxembourg (not to be confused with the country of Luxembourg).  

Orval 22

Orval 14


It is a very pretty little town close to the French boarder and it has  a large castle built around 1050. 

Orval 13


The castle is in excellent shape.  We did not tour the castle , as that will be for our next visit.  We did check out the crazy medieval fair that was taking place.

Orval 16


Orval 15



We grabbed a quick homemade ice cream cone for the road and headed out to Orval.

Orval 23


Like all the other trappist abbeys, Orval's brewery is closed to the public. 

Orval 29

But what made Orval more special than the others was its stunning ruins that were open to the public.  

Orval 35

First the beer info:  Orval is the oldest of the brewing monasteries, founded in the 11th century by Benedictine monks.  There really is only one beer sold for commercial consumption called Orval and has a 6.2 % alcohol content.  They do make a second beer call Petite Orval, but this is only for the monks.  Orval is best when aged between 2 and 5 years before drinking.

Orval 32

Now the ruins -

Orval 36

There is evidence that there was a chapel here in the 10th century. In 1070, a church and monastery was started, but not finished until 1124.  In 1793, during the French Revolution, the abbey was completely burnt down by French forces and these are the ruins that exist today.

Orval 37

Between 1926 and 1948, under the direction of the Trappist monks, the new monastery was constructed and in 1935 Orval regained the rank of Abbey.

Orval 38

Orval 40

There is a legend of the abbey, which explains the Orval logo.  Countess Mathilda of Tuscany was visiting the site, when she lost her wedding ring in a spring. 



Orval 42


Distraught by her loss, she asked if God would return her prized possession.  If he would, she would declare the land sacred and donate the money to build the abbey. At that moment a tiny trout appeared at the water's surface with her ring in its mouth. The label of Orval beer displays the trout and ring.

Orval 47

In 1926, the newer monastery was started and completed in 1948.  The new monastery is built on the foundations of the 18th century monastery, reproducing the original plan.  


Orval 31




Orval 26


They have a very nice gift shop at the abbey where you can purchase beer, cheese made at the abbey, beer glasses, post cards, books, bottle openers, and a variety of other stuff.  We bought beer and cheese.

Orval 48

As you can see from the photos - we had beautiful weather.  We really had a fun day and can now say we have been to all six Trappist breweries!


Lunch at St. Nicholas Hostellerie - a two-star Michelin restaurant


Lunch at St Nicolas 19


Yesterday D took off work and we drove an hour and a half into the western part of Belgium to go to

St. Nicholas Hostellerie - a two-star Michelin restaurant.


Lunch at St Nicolas


Warm bread was immediatly brought to the table.  Then, our first course, an amuse bouche.  From left to right: a guacamole pillow wrapped in bacon, prawn marshmallow, and goose foie gras covered in a crackle crust served with a glass of kir.


Lunch at St Nicolas 20


The little pillow crunched in our mouths

and then a shot of guacamole flooded in.


Lunch at St Nicolas (1)


The marshmallow melted like air, dispersing

a shrimp flavor over our tongues.


Lunch at St Nicolas 31


The next course, another amuse bouche, was king crab wrapped with beef carpacchio; and in the white dish, (right to left) goose and quail liver parfait with shrimp, risotto, and a mushroom.  The parfait was delectable.  This was served with a nice white wine from Spain.


Lunch at St Nicolas 35


What a fun way to serve a small taste. 

Just a simple glass turned upside down.


Lunch at St Nicolas 43



The chef, Franky Vanderhaeghe, described the main theme of his cooking as "pure gastronomic pleasure".


Lunch at St Nicolas 41

Here is a detailed shot of the goose and quail liver parfait.


Lunch at St Nicolas 38


The chef is fairly young to have two stars. 

He creates very innovative and creative dishes.


Lunch at St Nicolas


We have never seen black gloves worn by the servers. They had them on when they placed the silverware on the table or when serving a dish. I wonder how many time they take those gloves on and off in a day?


 Lunch at St Nicolas 36


Our third amuse bouche was a cup of prawn bisque with veal tartar on the bottom.  The herb leaf was peppered with parmesean cheese.  And on the plate was ham pate wrapped in a vegetable casing.


Lunch at St Nicolas 5


Look at the little puprle leaf on the left.

Lunch at St Nicolas 4


A unique table accessory, an eyedropper design used for olive oil for our bread.


Lunch at St Nicolas 14


Our appetizer was shrimp served five ways.  

But we think there was a frog leg thrown in there (sometimes hard to tell with the language barrier)  :  )  all were divine.


Lunch at St Nicolas 15


The biscuit on the end of this shrimp roll was so savory.


Lunch at St Nicolas 17


Our main course was wild boar with potato quenelle, celeriac puree, and mixed fall vegetables.  They pared a soft red wine from Bordeaux.


Lunch at St Nicolas


At first we were told it was deer and it was described to us as white pork - remember we are in west flanders - the Dutch speaking part of Belgium.  We tried again with another server who was able to tell us in French which of course D was able to understand...wild boar.


Lunch at St Nicolas 18


The boar meat was delicious and as tender as butter. 

Lunch at St Nicolas 26


We thought this garnish was very creative - endive leaves wrapped around the potato quenelle.  We may have to give this one a try at home.


Lunch at St Nicolas 33

 Dessert time!  For the first round, we were served pear sorbet and mint foam marshmallows.


Lunch at St Nicolas 9


With a little biscuit and meringue.


Lunch at St Nicolas 7


The yellow cube is the mint marshmellow.


Lunch at St Nicolas 42


Next came our coffee.


Lunch at St Nicolas 29


I absolutely loved the container the cream came in.  When we took off the lid - it had a little ladle.


Lunch at St Nicolas 24


I need to look for one of these for us to serve our cream!


Lunch at St Nicolas 30


This is what I love about the Michelin restaurants, just when you think you are finished, out comes another round of desserts!


Lunch at St Nicolas 8


The very popular macroon with an orange filling,


Lunch at St Nicolas 28


a lemon drop with silver leafing which burst with flavor as we bit into it,


Lunch at St Nicolas 22


and a decadent brownie bite.


Lunch at St Nicolas 27


I like this angle D captured of our sweet little morsels.


Lunch at St Nicolas 23

When we finished the second round of desserts, D leaned back and declared this to be a perfectly wonderful meal!


Lunch at St Nicolas 34

I agreed!

The Ardennes and the butterfly park

Ardennes trip 026


We decided that we need to explore Belgium more so we planned an over-night stay in the Ardennes (southeast near the border of France) at the lovely B&B, Le Prieure Saint Gery.  It has two star Michelin restaurant where we had a spectacular four hour dinner.  If you would like to enjoy dinner with us, please click  here.

Ardennes trip 052


Our first stop was the Maredsous Abbey, founded in 1872.  Not very old by European standards.  We had a casual lunch at their outdoor cafe.  They are Benedictine Monks who created the very famous Maredsous beer, but it is now brewed in Puurs Belgium in the Duval Brewery.   They also make a very nice cheese.   

Ardennes trip 025a

 We then headed to the town of Dinant know for their Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame completed in 1227.  Look closely at the top of the ridge behind the church and you can see the Citadel, originally built in the 11th century.  It was destroyed in 1703 by the French and was rebuilt  in 1821.


St Gery 25

There are colorful homes and shops along the River Meuse.  

Ardennes trip 028

Dinant is also know for their couque (American cookies) known as the hardest biscuit in Europe.  And I thought mine was just stale!  We tried to eat this cookie.  Impossible!  We even dipped it in coffee, still as hard as a rock.  Next time I'll just paint it and keep it as a souvenir!

Tour de france 2


For those trivia buffs out there, Aldolphe Sax was born in Dinant, the inventor of the saxophone. 

Ardennes trip 029

If this isn't the cutest euro-car.  The keys were left in it.....I should have taken it for a little ride. 



Ardennes trip 025  (1)

The next morning we headed out to La Grange Aux Papillions.  On the drive we saw a beekeeper which I found fascinating.  If you look very closely (or double click on the photo to enlarge), you can see hundreds of bees flying around.

Ardennes trip 063

It was a bit overcast so the Papillons, or butterflies, were a bit sleepy.  But for us, this was perfect as we were more interested in photographing them rather than seeing them flutter around.

Ardennes trip 074

I was anxious to put my new camera to the test.  How close could this new macro lens get and still take a clear photo.

  Ardennes trip 067

It passed the test.  Check out the detail on this butterfly's eye.


Football logo

And the detail of his wing.  Amazing patterns which are to help camouflage them from predators.  The patterns are also used in courtship rituals.


Ardennes trip 068


Butterflies weigh as little as two rose petals. 

Ardennes trip 076

A butterfly lives between three weeks and a month. 

Ardennes trip 065

There was an elderly French couple who were also visiting and they were helping me find the butterflies to photograph.  The women kept tapping me on the shoulder.  It was very sweet and helpful as sometimes they were hard to see.

Ardennes trip 078 


Butterfly wings are actually transparent.  The vivid color comes from iridescent scales which overlap each other.  All butterflies have four wings.

Ardennes trip 069

And all butterflies have six legs.  But many keep the front two tucked in.  Did you known that they taste with their feet? 

Ardennes trip 072

They do not have mouths rather they have a long tube-like structure called a proboscis used to suck juices and nectar from flowers.  When not in use, it coils up.  You can see this in the photo below.  Some also eat rotten fruit.

Ardennes trip 077


This flower certainly looks like it would be a good one for them to nibble on. 

Ardennes trip 064

There are 28,000 known butterflies throughout the world.

Ardennes trip 073

These were so delicate they were behind glass.  The life cycle of a butterfly consists of four stages; egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (seen below) and adult (butterfly).  The pupa can last from a few days to a few months.  They do not eat during this time.


Ardennes trip  080

Looks like this one will be ready to release into the hot house garden very soon.

Ardennes trip 079



I was pretty sure nothing could top the beauty we saw at the butterfly park, until we passed this field of poppies - which are one of my favorite flowers in the wild.

Ardennes trip 061 


Poppies are so delicate, they look like paper flowers.


Ardennes trip 062

We found a quaint little restaurant to eat lunch just outside the town of Chimay.  Donald had frog legs in a sauce that was so good we wanted to drink it and I had a specialty of the region fish escobeche.  It was a white fish in a cream cabbage sauce. 

Ardennes trip 082

Our last site was the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont where the Cistercian Trappist Monks live.  They have been making the famous Trappist Chimay beer here since 1863.

Ardennes trip 083

It was a very peaceful oasis.  Tours of the brewery were not permitted.  Trappist Monks are very secretive with their beer making.  There are only seven Trappist Beers in the world.  Six in Belgium ( Chimay, Oval, Rochford, Westvleteren, Westmalle , and Achel) and one in the Netherlands (Koningshoeven). 

Ardennes trip 084

What  makes a beer a Trappist beer is that is must be brewed on-site at a Trappist Abbey or under the control of a Trappist Monk.  Donald has tasted every one of the Trappist beers and we have visited four of the Abbeys. 


  Ardennes trip 085

Here's D with a bottle of Chimay in hand!  For those of you who are interested this is one of the Trappist beers you can buy in the US.  You will probably pay three times what we pay...but hey, a special treat.

The four hour dinner


WARNING:  Do Not Read if you are hungry :  )


Le Prieure Saint Gery is one of 14 two-starred Michelin restaurants in Belgium.  We have been wanting to try it for awhile, but it is hard to get reservations.  They have a special offer which includes dinner, and over night stay in their 6 room B&B, and breakfast.

  St Gery 33


The meal lasted four hours and it had 13 courses.  We selected the flight of wines where the sommelier paired a wine with each main course with a sweet wine for dessert. 

This was the pre-pre amuse-bouche.  Tomato mousse with mini savory waffle.  It is a little dark as I took this first photo without a flash.  I was trying to be "cool".  The restaurant was very relaxed so I didn't worry about the flash later.  My Blog readers needed good photos!


Ardennes trip 031  


Next course, and one of my favorites (because of the ice cream) - cold asparagus soup topped with parmesan ice cream and a parmesan crisp.


Ardennes trip 032 


The next two came on a plate together - oyster in a pesto broth and 

Ardennes trip 033 


white fishwith olive tapenade with creme fraiche.



Ardennes trip 034


Another amuse-bouche - seafood egg roll with aioli sauce.


Ardennes trip 035 


Wait, one more amuse-bouche - warm egg salad topped with shrimp and broccoli gelee.  This one definitely tasted better than it photographed.


Ardennes trip 037


Oh and I can't forget the bread.  I could have just eaten this along with the butter.  It may have been the best butter we have had.  It was from from Brittany France and they are known for their superior butter.  Guess where I want to go next?




Ardennes trip 038

And finally the real appetizer - a lovely white fish, called Saint-Pierre served with eggplant, grapefruit, saffron and a few other tasty morsels.


Ardennes trip 039


Ta-Da - our first main course.  Red fish, bouillabaisse with clams, zucchini, arugula pesto, with a to-die-for cream broth.


Ardennes trip 040


A palate cleanser, again one of my favorites as it was sweet pea ice cream served with crispy bacon salt and asparagus cream.  Doesn't this make your mouth water just reading the description.


Ardennes trip 041


The second main course.  It had a sauce, but I was so anxious to eat it, I forgot to take the photo after the sauce was poured.  Duck breast, duck rillettes, asparagus, wild mushrooms, spring onion and red fruit.


Ardennes trip 042


Of course there had to be a cheese course.  One of the most beautiful cheese carts we have experienced.  


Ardennes trip 043


Worthy of three photos.


Ardennes trip 044 


You are able to select the cheeses you want.  But we told him to just make a plate for us, each one different so we could share.  We told him small.  He gave us each seven cheeses each.

Ardennes trip 045 


The cheeses were served with a plate of condiments.


Ardennes trip 046

I now have no room left.  But wait, how could I skip dessert? 

I can't  :  )      Good thing it was small.


Ardennes trip 047

The little chocolate one deserves a close up


Ardennes trip 048


Perfect......until we discovered this was just the pre-dessert to dessert!  Below is dessert, a parade of chocolate.  Again, another one that was hard to photograph, but trust me - it was so devine it melted in our mouths.


Ardennes trip 049

And believe it or not.....there was a post-dessert, dessert cart with coffee and ICE CREAM!!!  Now you know I was completely full as I passed on the dessert cart.  Just to make sure you caught that.....the dessert cart had ice cream and I passed on it.  I could not find one teeny-tiny spot to put it in.  It may have been the first time in my life I skipped ice cream  :   (

We were very happy that we only had to walk upstairs to go to sleep.  Certainly an unforgettable meal!

Carnival in Aalst, Belgium


No....that is not me!  It is D's new Carnival friend.  We ventured to Aalst, 19 miles northwest of Brussels, to celebrate Carnival known as the day of the 'Voil Jeannetten' (literally "the Dirty Jennies"), i.e. men dressed as women.   Some of them dressed quite boldly....


DSC09999 (20)


others tried to be pretty.....




and some were just plain raunchy!



It is held at a time of year to say goodbye to the cold days of winter and welcome the onset of spring, but this year - winter was here to stay.  It was freezing cold and it snowed the entire parade.


DSC09999 (125)


But that did not seem to slow down the partying!  This friendly group shared a glass of their special Belgian Liqueur with us.  Aalst is in the Dutch part of the country.





This celebration dates back to the 1400's.  But the parades, events, and parties as they are know today have been going on for 82 years. 



It is said that when it first started, their was no money for costumes, so the men wore their wives old outfits, carried a handbag and an umbrella and pushed a baby buggy.  All of which you still see today.  The baby buggies are now used to store their drinks.




There were several "adjustments" made during the parade -




see guys - pantyhose aren't so easy to wear!




The celebrations last for three days ending on Shrove Tuesday which is the day before Ash Wednesday - 40 days before Easter. 





The celebration is a time to "gorge".  The last time you can drink enormous amounts of alcohol, eat tons of candy and meat and do things you should not be doing during lent.


DSC09999 (35) 


And the people of the parade were certainly doing all of the above!


DSC09999 (139)

There are 2500 participants




and over 70 floats that wind their way through the street taking seven hours to do so.  It was so cold, we only made it through 4 hours.




Every year they create new costumes and floats.  They store them in big warehouses where locals work on them all year long.



As we understand it, the theme is an interpretation of the last twelve months’ world and local events, reflected in both their costumes and giant floats.



There are over-sized characters from local politics,





and the world. 




Many of which we did not understand.




The emphasis of the day is definitely on slapstick comedy. 




And men dressing as women. 


DSC09999 (102)


Sometimes it was hard to tell if it really was a man or just an ugly woman......


DSC09999 (116)

or just a really ugly man   :  )




The Gille is a long standing character whose costume is decorated with Belgium symbols; the lions, crowns and stars and in the Belgium colors red, yellow and black.  He throws oranges into the crowd.


DSC09999 (130) 

They also throw onions on Monday.  The people of Aalst are nicknamed ajuinen by their fellow Belgians because of the large number of onion farms that once covered the region. 


DSC09999 (127)

The festivities traditionally end with the "Burning of the Doll", happening on Tuesday evening.  This ritual is meant to represent the burning of the spirit of winter.

Believe it or not, this Parade is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Carnival in Binche Belgium

Each year the town of Binche in Belgium celebrates carnival with a very elaborate parade on Fat Sunday.  We went last year and had a lot of fun and got some great photos.  So we decided to try again this year.




The costumes were equally as entertaining as last year and completely different.  This event is said to date back as far as 1549 and is actually a catholic event, ending one day before ash Wednesday.





These three gilles (clown-like performers) were part of one group.  The gilles are the principal performers.  They march/dance around the town in groups to the beat of a drum.  Each group must have a drummer to participate in the parade.




The crowd was much bigger this year.  We could hardly walk down the street.





On Fat Tuesday, the gilles dress again and eat oysters and champaigne for breakfast.  At the end of the parade, blood oranges are thrown at the crowds.






Two from the harlequin group.





Me, dancing with the cats!



Cat with cats 


A few more of our favorites:





If you look closely, you will see all of the "gilles" are men!



IMG_0097 3 






As for the children, you will see both boys and girls dressed.  They are not part of the formal parades, but some are equally as elaborate.



Rose 1



He's a cutie.






Unfortunately, our Belgian rain showed up. 





Like the little one in this photo...





We were ready to go home when it started raining hard.





Until next year....



January Snow in Brussels

We had a beautiful snow a few weeks ago.  I ran out with the camera to take photos as it does not snow here very often.  I sent a few to my mom and she commented that our Blogs are about all of our travels and she never realized how beautiful it is in our own back yard.  So, here you go......our neighborhood in the snow.


The Grande Place - a 20-minute walk from our apartment.  The trees were left from the Christmas decorations.  The center is usually a big open space where they hold markets, festivals, musical events, etc.  



More of a "dusting" of snow.  But it stayed around for 5 days, they said that is the longest they have had snow on the ground in 20 plus years.





The cathedral - about a 5 min walk from our apartment.


This park is directly across from the cathedral.


A sculpture in another park.  We have many parks within 5 minutes of our apartment.


This is just down the hill from us.  It is one of the paths we take when we walk to the city center.




I guess we forget how beautiful Brussels is as we walk these streets everyday!


Brugge and the Christmas Castle



I don't want Christmas to end this year!  So, just a few more holiday photos to share.  On December 23, D's birthday , we made an overnight trip to Brugge, one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe.  We were also celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. 


The night was picture perfect.  The reflection on the canal water was like a mirror.


The day was equally as pretty.  When we first arrived I was disappointed as it was overcast, but after seeing the photos, the overcast skies are what allowed the beautiful reflections.


Their Christmas market was still running.  It was a very festive time to visit.



We stayed at our favorite B&B in Brugge, the lovely Cote Canal.  It is like the pages of a magazine.  The owner inherited it from her great grandparents and has done all the decorating herself.


















With the romantic canals and beautiful buildings, you feel like you are back in medieval times.




We are lucky Brugge is only a one hour train ride away!


D had off the week between Christmas and New Year so we took a day trip to the town of Durbuy.  On a tiny single lane road, we passed a forest of chairs.  It looked as if a musical symphony was ready to begin with the rising of the sun.


As we drove by, Donald said were those trees growing into the chair? 

Huh?  So we backed up the car.......


and sure enough.......


they had grown through the backs of the chairs.  It was a fascinating the middle of nowhere!

Durbury was an enchanting town with a castle of it's own.  It looks like a page right out of a storybook.  It holds the title of being the smallest "town" in Europe due to the fact that there are only 350 residents who live there. 


It had the most beautiful florist I have ever seen.  Her arrangements were so simple, but so creative.  I bought two.   I could not take photos inside, but here are a few shots of her outdoor displays.


It was freezing outside (low 30's), I would have loved to have climbed under that fur blanket and had a glass of hot chocolate!



The town was filled with displays of color.  Little vignettes...




and quiet cobblestone streets:


I cannot wait to go back in the spring. 

From Durbuy we went on to Modave, to the Christmas Castle.  I have never seen a castle decorated for the holiday, so I wasn't sure what to expect........It was magical.  The Castle had twenty rooms and everyone was decorated for the holidays.  It was done by a famous Belgian florist, Dominique Rausin.


IMG_9516 2

It is very unusual to be able to take photos inside of a decorated castle, but they allowed it... and I went crazy.


So crazy that I had to create an album so my decorating friends could see more of the interior of the castle.  For more photos, please go back to the top if this blog and click on the left hand side album title "Christmas Castle".


There was even a room dedicated to the well loved European gnome.


How cute is he????


On our way home, the sun was beginning to set, and the fog was rolling in..... 


It was such a fun day with sensory overload of picturesque sights.


A perfect way to close out the holiday season.  Until next year,

Good Bye Santa!