It felt really good. So good, that I can’t cover it all in one post. Part II will follow.
It was just a stop-over point for us because we departed Friday after work and didn’t want to undertake a big ol’ drive after a full week of anticipation. Plus, our long-term pal and host Matt K. wouldn’t even be there until Saturday afternoon. So we got to Wiesbaden after work (traffic was not as bad as I’d feared) and expected to crash out at the hotel.
But it’s much a cooler town than I’d thought. And it has a Five Guys. Note to self: don’t get a large ANYTHING.
We arrived on late Saturday morning, and met Matt G. at Place du Chatelain in the Ixelles neighborhood. He gave us a lovely impromptu tour and we got a delicious lunch on the street at Pizza Mamma Roma.
That afternoon we got back in the car, headed out to the Zaventem airport, picked up our ol’ pal Matt K. and the merriment continued.
He showed us his favorite parts of the city on foot, including a stop for a snack at the legendary Maison Dandoy for some Liège Waffles and espresso that blew our minds.
Sunday, we visited the Horta Museum. If you like Jugendstil design, this will be your joint. As opposed to the Mucha Museum in Prague, the Horta Museum is a less of a gallery and more of a snapshot in time from the turn of the (previous) century of an idealized socialist paradise domicile.
Monday morning, we dropped Matt K. off at work on our way to meet Pam M. at her home for coffee. She baked us a delicious surprise zucchini cake! The airliners passing overhead reminded me very much of the first ten years of my life near Selfridge ANG.
It was so cool to catch up with Matt K. again before geography makes that impractical again, and meet Matt G. and Pam M. in person after only having interacted with them online before.
After departing from Pam’s, we hit the road for Essen to meet up with Aileen and Justin for…Essen.1 It was almost directly on our way, and we have had a lot of fun with them online, so why not see if they are just as cool in person?2 That was a nice way to break up the seven-hour drive to Berlin. If you ever get a hankering for a BIG SLABBA TOAST, I vouch for Miamamia.
We needed to get the heck outta Dodge. Well, I did. With no travel from Mallorca until last weekend, it felt like we hadn’t been anywhere in ages. Don’t get us wrong, we’re enjoying the new place. But a whole lot of work intensity and no change of scenery to break it up made for a very real need to escape for a bit.
Had a long weekend to spend with our pal Matt (known as Cool Guy Matt to some readers) and some of his pals from England, so we hopped in his car while it was still dark last Friday and drove through the morning to Bruges — also known as Brugge and Brügge. It took about eight hours and when we got there, we were exhausted. And too early to check into the house we rented. So we drove to the seaside in search of some chow and to kill a few hours before checking in with the rented house’s landlord.
We got all checked in and then set out to procure foods and drinks for the weekend — that’s when the pleasure of reading Flemish really got started. All weekend Sarah and I were reading everything we saw out loud, giggling at the not-quite-English-and-yet-not-quite-German-ness of all the words we saw and quite easily could understand. It was even better than a layover in Amsterdam — that’s usually all the exposure to Flemish / Dutch that we get and this time we got lots more than just airport words.
Bruges is a dense little watery place that specializes in cute. We never did get around to trying any wafelen, but we had plenty of interesting beer and frites. (The rumors are true: those are some darn good fries.) At first I was quite pleased with the apparently abundant willingness of everyone local to speak English with us. Everyone from our landlord for the weekend to the barmaids and even the check-out grannies at the Carrefour switched seamlessly to English for us. Then I got a little embarrassed, thinking about how they were all at least trilingual. Then I got over that too, thinking about how the town’s livelihood probably depends on it. We overheard a lot of not-French and not-Flemish that weekend.
We got lucky with the weather in that it didn’t rain much while we were out and about exploring the town on foot. The drive back to Germany from Bruges was a non-stop downpour though. Big props to Matt for the use of his car and footing the deposit. If you’ve got a big enough party, renting a whole house for a long weekend sure can keep the cost down. If you’re going by car, bring all that stuff you think you’d need at home for the weekend, like your good knives, and extra bottles of your favorite juice, or whatever — and don’t forget to hit the markets to stock up on stuff you’d have to think long and hard about if you were traveling by plane.
Here’s the slideshow (looks pretty nice full-screen):