Where are We?

Our location as of 10/2/2012

Madison, WI, USA
Last updated 10/2/2012
See where we've been

Contact Us

BrlamaGoose.com
NikkamaGoose.com
Facebook
CouchSurfing
Geocaching

Country Recap: Belgium

Nikki pretty much summed up our short stay in Belgium: lots of wonderful food and beer, in a relaxed, laid-back, pretty surrounding. I wish we could have stayed longer in Belgium, perhaps cutting some time from France, so we could see more of the country.

Top three experiences?

Nikki:

  1. Hanging out with Jeltse in Antwerp.
  2. Walking around Brugge.
  3. Eating and drinking!

Brad:

  1. Brugge. It’s such a beautiful, old city. It was fun just to wander on the quiet roads and canals.
  2. Belgian beers. Trappist beers, which is a protected name like Champagne and Chianti, are really, really good.
  3. I had a great time in Antwerp when Jeltse showed us around, and especially the dinner of currywurst and fries!

Bottom three experiences?

Nikki:

  1. Staying with the weirdos in their disgusting house.
  2. Trying to find a cafe that was open for breakfast in Brugge. For some reason, they were all closed while we were looking.
  3. It was always tough to find a bathroom while we were wandering around.

Brad:

  1. Our Airbnb experience. It was not a nice place and the hosts were weird.
  2. Finding breakfast in Brugge was difficult, and we ended up just eating an early lunch at a massively overpriced restaurant in the tourist district. Apparently people don’t go out for breakfast in Belgium.
  3. Only having three days in this awesome country.

Best meal?

Nikki: Hard to pick just one, but I’ll say the fish and potatoes I had in Brugge.

Brad: We had a great dinner in Brugge. I had the roast beef with tomato sauce and Nikki had fish, with fries and good beer.

Worst meal?

Nikki: The ridiculously overpriced sandwich I had in Brugge.

Brad: Probably the dinner that never happened on our first night. Our Airbnb hosts took us out, and kept taking us to places they said had dinner, but all we ended up getting was beer and appetizers. I felt like they hijacked our night. We ended up ditching them and going home without a dinner.

Favorite person we met?

Nikki: Jeltse’s sisters were both just as friendly as she is. Too bad we couldn’t meet the whole family!

Brad: I’d say Jeltse, but she was my answer for Mongolia. So it’ll be Antony, one of Jeltse’s friends who we met up with. He explained a lot about Belgian beers.

Worst disaster?

Nikki: No major disasters.

Favorite place we stayed?

Nikki: With Jeltse and her family in Antwerp! So much fun and a very nice house.

Brad: With Jeltse. Her family has a really nice house, and I’m grateful for her taking us in for the night.

Worst place we stayed?

Nikki: The house in Brugge.

Brad: In Brugge, with the crazies from Airbnb.

Best thing we didn’t blog about?

Nikki: Dinner at ‘T Ganzespel in Brugge. The restaurant is only open two nights a week and the owner serves homemade classic Belgian dishes. It was a really cute place and the prices are great. Definitely recommend going there!

Weirdest thing?

Nikki: Jeltse translated Dutch names for us and some of them were pretty funny. The new mall is “The City Party Room” in English and one of the street names apparently translates into “Jerking Off Road.”

Brad: That Antwerp is named after throwing a hand and there are hands all over the place.

More »

Belgium

Cheesy travel guides are always talking about “the hidden gem” of a certain area. Since I think I have yet to refer to anywhere as a hidden gem, I’m going to go ahead and say Belgium is the hidden gem of Western Europe. Let’s be honest; since most of you reading this are American, you probably don’t know much about Belgium. It’s okay, you can admit it. I myself didn’t know it was an independent country until somewhat??recently. Well friends, I’m here to tell you, not only is Belgium a country, but it is also one of the greatest countries in all the land.

However, our first night in Brugge was quite weird. We stayed with a couple that I would describe as hillbillies. The guy, Pascal, had yellow teeth and thinning hair. He looked like he was about 45, but he told us he was only 30. His girlfriend, Yannick, was pimply and boisterous. Their house was filled with old junk and had mold on the walls. I felt like I was in an episode of Hoarders. We went out for a drink with our hosts–or, rather, they invited themselves along with us. At the first bar we went to, the waiter came over to tell Yannick to be quiet. She was honestly the loudest person I’ve ever met. It was like that SNL skit where Will Ferrell can’t control the volume of his voice. Then, at the next place we went to, while Yannick and Pascal were talking to a friend, the waiter came over and told us, “I feel bad for you, that you are stuck here with her, because she is so loud!” At that point, we were also feeling sorry for ourselves, so we left and spent the rest of our time in Brugge avoiding our hosts.

But I digress. Brugge is an awesome place to visit, even if you’re sleeping in a disgusting house with loud rednecks. All the buildings in the historical center are brick and about four stories high. Only the church steeples and towers poke up past the??surrounding roofs. The chocolate is incredible. Switzerland is going to have a hard time winning the best European chocolate award.

After our short stay in Brugge, we went to Antwerp and stayed with Jeltse, the enthusiastic girl we met in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Jeltse was??the best hostess, taking us on a walking tour of Antwerp and showing us all the sights and different??neighborhoods.??She made sure we ate good food, including waffles, fruit pies, stoofvlies, fries, and other things that I forgot the names of. We learned that what??us Americans typically call a Belgian waffle is actually more specific to Brussels.??The Belgian waffle that is popular all over the country is??smaller and has??chunks of sugar crystals??mixed in with the batter. Also, even though they’re called French fries, those delicious fried potatoes were (supposedly) invented in Belgium. (I can’t guarantee that’s true, but the Belgians definitely think it is.)

That night Jeltse and her friend Antony took us out for some good Belgian beers. Really, they’re all good. Belgium might just have the best beer in the world. Apparently the monks brewed them in the monasteries, and for whatever reason, their techniques were preserved and are still used today. Monks are still involved in production of some beers. Just like wine, certain beers have to follow strict regulations to earn the Trappist??appellation. The Belgians are also very particular about the type of glass??used, the temperature, and the??cleanliness of the tap. (Apparently, if the tap isn’t cleaned properly, you get a headache the next day. Again, I can’t guarantee the veracity of this claim.)

I think we would have enjoyed Belgium no matter what, but meeting up with Jeltse again really made our time there special. We had so much fun hanging out with her, learning about her country, and meeting her sisters. (Unfortunately, her parents were out of town, so we didn’t get to meet them.) I just wish we could have spent more time there! If we could do our trip over again, I would take time from France and add it to Belgium. At least we got a (delicious) taste of this great place!