L is for Lost (in Paradise)

The question I get asked every time I catch up with someone since we have returned from our trip is “What was your favourite bit” and it is so indescribably hard to choose a favourite place after two months where I saw and experienced so many amazing cities. I have loved 90% of the places we have been to, and people regret asking once I start thinking out loud about what an amazing place Europe is. But, long story slightly less long, if I had to choose one city that really blew me away, one city that I fell head over heels for, it would be Venice. Maybe it was because I wasn’t expecting to love Venice, after so much hype around this little city located on a lagoon I wasn’t that excited. Italy itself I knew would deliver in terms of food, but in general I kind of thought the highlights of our trip were done.

How wrong I was.

We arrived in Venice after a ridiculously long but beautiful train ride and walked in the burning hot Italian sunshine to our little basic room in a suburb just outside of the city of Venice called Mestre. We were exhausted, and without much excitement for Venice we decided to just use the afternoon to look around Mestre and do a much needed laundromat run, whilst drowning ourselves in ridiculously cheap sparkling water to fend off heat stroke (and to think it wasn’t even the middle of summer). We grabbed dinner at a little “Snack Bar” which turned out to be common throughout Italy and are an amazing, cheap way to grab food and drink in Italy.

This little snack bar kind of became our second home in Mestre, mainly because Venice itself is ridiculously expensive and this place did pizza, pasta and beer (aka everything we needed to survive, at a ridiculously cheap price). Plus the people were friendly and it was always stocked with enthusiastic, noisy, gesturing Italians. The people didn’t speak a word of English, and I was struggling to adjust to speaking Italian but somehow, in Italy not knowing the language wasn’t really an issue. Who knew hands were so great for communicating.

Our second day, after spending a restless night in a relentlessly hot room, we caught a morning bus into Venice itself (after a cappuccino with the locals at our new local). We stepped off the bus and immediately headed in the opposite direction to the main street that our hotel had recommended as an easy way to hit the sights. Best decision ever. Who would choose one large street, crammed with tourists and tourist shops over small walkways winding alongside canals, empty of tourists and with little hidden shops and restaurants full of locals. We got lost within five minutes and that was the best part of the day. Every turn, every little path held a new surprise, from peaceful canals, magnificent churches somehow hidden behind a corner, tiny little pizzerias and gondoliers suddenly appearing around corners.

It was breathtaking. I have never been so quickly taken with a city but there is something so utterly unique and characteristic of Venice that we had smiles on our face the entire time. I was drawn into a little shop, almost empty apart from the owner and stocked from floor to ceiling of handmade venetian masks. We ooohed and ahhed at the beautiful masks and the owner who was so wonderfully Italian couldn’t resist telling us all about Venice’s Carnivale where the city packs full of masked Venetians. He donned a cape and a mask and then dressed me up to so that Edd could snap some photos. It would have been creepy if it was anywhere else, but in Italy this enthusiastic attitude just made so much sense. He wasn’t trying to push a sale (my immediate fear) but was so incredibly proud of his city, his traditions and his talent that he wanted to tell us all about it. He was just one countless Italians who made them one of my favourite nationalities to interact with.

We stopped in at the Scuolo Grande di San Rocco where we admired the huge number of works by Tintoretto, concentrated in one beautiful building. They had basic wooden mirrors to walk around and see every artwork on the ceiling without hurting your neck, a detail that was kind of genius. It was quiet, peaceful and full of incredibly religious imagery but it held nothing to the city itself so it wasn’t long before we were back on the streets of Venice, exploring (read- getting lost again).

We ate deliciously hot calzone, stuffed full of fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella whilst sitting canal side as the gondoliers went past, occasionally with a song proudly belted out. We made our way through winding streets in the general direction of Piazza San Marco, but we were drunk on Venice’s charm and a short walk took much longer as  we lapped up the views that only Venice can offer, couples celebrating a surprise engagement over a glass of prosecco, Gondoliers waiting for eager explorers, melting gelato in the hand of every second tourist and those beautiful emerald canals that play host to it all. With no cars, bikes or scooters everyone is on foot, which is great after a month of nearly being run over countless times.

We eventually met up with the many tourists at Piazza San Marco, staying long enough to gaze adoringly at the pink marble of the gothic Ducale palace and laugh along with many others at the pigeons who were more than a little daring. It was busy but the piazza is so grand and spacious that it doesn’t feel crowded until you try to leave, back into the narrow streets. We attempted to follow the Lonely Planet walking tour, and kind of succeeded, catching the main sights such as the Rialto bridge and the ancient seafood market. But no where did we enjoy Venice more than when we took a wrong turn, ended up in some little courtyard and decided to break for either gelato, a spritz (venetian cocktail/wine mixer) or both.

At the beginning of this trip, 8 hours of walking felt like murder. In Venice I could have kept walking forever (well I would like to think so) but eventually we took a rest and sat beside the canal with half a bottle of Prosecco, the Venetian answer to champagne. I tried and failed to blog, too distracted by the beauty of this unique and wonderful city, and its local characters who come along as part of the deal.

I have never fallen so hard and fast for a city. With Venice, I was head over heels from the moment I took a wrong turn.


My first photo in Venice.


In our new favourite mask shop


I won’t caption all of these…because they will all be the same. Take me back




The Grand Canal, which was a whole other type of beautiful






Piazza San Marco






The guy who sang for all of us who watched. It was one of those moments that was so perfect you kind of expected a flaming meteor to come down and kill everyone…just me? Oh.




I took photos of the canals mainly, but the architecture and churches were also beutiful


Attack of the pigeons.


This little girl was braver than most of the adults, just sayin’


Piazza San Marco


The Ducale Palace


Looking out over to some islands




Walking tour begins


But soon we were lost and crossing over more unknown but charming canals


My kind of mask






From the Rialto bridge


The Rialto Bridge, prettier to look at, a little too busy to try and walk over


A Spritz. Prosecco, soda water, some kind of italian liqueur and an olive? I wasn’t paying much attention, but everyone else had one.




Saying good bye was hard, even though we were returning the next day.


D is for Ducklings

So you probably thought I forgot about you… Not really, I have just being procrastinating blogging like it was the hardest thing in the world. We have been home for a week and a half and in that time I have shamefully avoided blogging like the plague. Partly because it was so time and energy consuming adjusting back to normal, crazy, chaotic life but more so because thinking back to our trip makes life at the moment seem that much more unexciting. And i miss our travels like a hole in the heart at the moment. But I can’t just leave us hanging in the middle of Europe, and worse, I can’t leave this blog without telling you all about my FAVOURITE bit so far. So please accept my apologies for abandoning this blog for so long. Today we return to Europe, on the day that we left Prague on a morning train to Vienna where we were giving the city one meagre day to impress. 

Leaving Prague was hard, but at this point I had learnt that it was hard to leave most of these amazing cities. Each one deserved far more time than I had to give, and each one left me wanting more. Vienna had the worst deal of all, with only an afternoon to get to know the old centre of the city. The train ride was spectacular. With a combination of amazing Czech rugged landscape and incredible huge Austrian mountains I could hardly draw my eyes away from the window. We arrived in the city and caught the metro to our accommodation which was located a handy 5 minute walk from the old imperial city centre. With no time to waste we headed straight into the world heritage central streets. We wandered the long way in, through a beautiful large park that was home to numerous sculptures, groups of people enjoying the afternoon sunshine and a clan of 15 ducklings that almost made me jump into the dubious looking pond just to get a cuddle. It was nice, but we have seen a lot of parks and it wasn’t quite as pristine and beautiful as some of the others. 

The central, pedestrian street led us through a busy thoroughfare of historic buildings housing expensive shops and street performers smiling at the huge number of tourists milling by. It was not as impressive as Prague, too busy and too expensive for my cheap, slightly anti-social socks. But it was still good, I think we were just getting more judgemental as we added to our experience of amazing cities. We stopped in at a large church or two, both impressive and a welcome relief from the busy streets and bright sunshine. We wandered down side streets, tried to avoid accidentally walking into all of the horse carriages and people dressed up like Mozart, saw children running after giant bubbles with big smiles on their faces and watched a street artist create amazing things with spray paint. It was fun and entertaining but my overall thought after leaving Vienna was that the city has so much more to offer that we didn’t get to see. 

We found a late dinner at a cool new Italian place (‘cause Vienese sausages weren’t quite the right meal for us and I was too tired to try and search for anything else that was authentic) where you went up and ordered directly from the chef, who then proceeded to cook your pasta and make your spicy arrabiata sauce as you watch. It was fun, but more importantly it was delicious. We made our home, back through the park which had become my favourite part of the city centre, and settled in for an early night, drunk randoms and all. An 8 hour train at 6 am awaited us…but our next destination was quite possibly our favourite city of all so I think it was worth it.

It wasn’t the most impressive or exciting city, but it was a good pitstop on our way south and now I know that I would definitely return to Austria (granted, I want to go back to 80% of where we have been so far).

I promise that my next post will not be in two weeks 😛


Ducklings are cute in any country


Park Life


Pretty sure there are 15 ducklings there.


1 candle per prayer


A church that was so simple on the outside but completely ornate on the inside


Creepy baby pews


Train views



P is for Praha

It was a long but pleasant train ride to our next city, Prague (Praha), helped by the fact that we were booked in and not scrambling for seats and also because we were sitting in a Harry Potter-esque train carriage along with two pairs of travellers with whom we got along with really well. One pair were friends from Belfast and the other were cousins from Ecuador so we had plenty to talk about regarding our travels so far and the countries we all came from. When we arrived in Prague, after experiencing some beautiful Czech mountainsides, we all teamed up to go and buy our tickets for the next leg of our trip and also try and figure out the exchange system (this was the one country, other than the UK, that we were visiting that did not use Euros).

We sadly all split up after figuring out how to navigate the metro to our respective hotels, but it was fun to be in a team for a little while. Kind of like how forming an alliance on the Amazing Race gives you a little bit of extra security. Our hotel was in an amazing location, situated just underneath the Prague Castle on an old cobbled road lined with restaurants and bars. Unfortunately it was also up a rather steep hill, so what would normally only take a couple of minutes took us plus our suitcases at least half an hour, and nearly killed me. The beautiful room made up for the walk, the cheap prices in Prague compared to the other countries we had visited meant we could afford our only 3 star hotel. Living it up!

We soaked up the comfort briefly before eating some very delicious food at a little Czech pub where the only waiter present had the worst service I had every experienced. So much so that it was funny. I had read that people can be brusque in Prague, but this was a whole other level of hating ones job. He even sat and ate cereal whilst people sat waiting for service. It was pretty funny and luckily the food and beer was ridiculously cheap (about $1.60NZ for a pint of beer). I can’t say we left him a tip though.

The next day we started off with an exploration of the huge castle grounds (i still don’t know how to pronounce the name of the castle, Prazky Hrad?) . There was so much to see, from the amazing cathedral to the incredible lane of ridiculously tiny medieval houses. The gardens were also beautiful, and not just because of their incredible views over the city. After the castle we wandered down to the vegan restaurant near our hotel that I had been eagerly eyeing earlier. What followed was one of my favourite meals so far, the most incredible vegan burger and organic beer, with smoky bacon (made of something non balcony), vegan smoked cheese and a soy aioli that was to die for.

With bellies rather full we strolled down, across the Charles bridge to take a look at the old part of the city. We made a slight detour to visit the ginger bread museum, I don’t really like ginger bread but the notion was too cute to pass up. Charles bridge and the old medieval part of the city were beautiful but understandably busy and packed full of tourists. It was good to see but it was a welcome relief to grab a beer down beside the river at a little outdoor bar where a guy was doing a solo gig. I think that was my favourite part of the day, sitting in the shade and watching people in little boats on the river. Listening to a guy try to sing songs in a language he couldn’t really pronounce (but he had a damn fine voice!).

I am only partially ashamed to say that after an afternoon of wandering around Prague we eventually crawled up the hill towards the castle again, to return to the same vegan restaurant to eat dinner…well at least we didn’t order the same food! If we had been there for any longer than a day I am quite confident I would have tried every dish. We ended the evening up at the castle looking out over the castle as darkness crept over and the lights of Prague came on.

Prague is an exceptionally beautiful city, busy with tourists for a reason (not just because it is so cheap!). It was a taste of something different, and I loved it.















1. Arriving in Prague and loving the view
2. But I wasn’t alone in this
3. Quite possibly the nicest location for a Starbucks
4. The cathedral at the castle
5. And it’s beautiful stained glass
6. Not so bad from the outside either
7. Can’t get enough
8. The golden lane at the castle
9. And yet another view
10. I don’t care of you eat meat or not but if in Prague make sure you eat here
11. Cause this burger may have changed my life. For a moment at least
12. Gingerbread museum was more of a giant gingerbread shop
13. Charles Bridge
14. Riverside beer
15. And the creepiest statues we came across in our trips

E is for Eastside

It was a bit of a mission getting from Amsterdam to Berlin, and a mission that we seemed to share with what felt like far too many other tourists. Our first train went relatively smoothly, we had a seat for one hour and the next hour we had to sit on our bags but there was plenty of space and we had lollies. The second train…well it decided not to show up. So us and about 50 other travellers who had just come from Amsterdam waited for the train until we realized it was a no show and all went to find a replacement. Unfortunately the replacement was not really equipped to have so many extra people on board and it was ridiculously cramped. To the point that when we saw a snack cart everyone who was standing, sitting, crouching in the aisle way just kind of laughed. Until we realized that they were actually going to try and get through. It was terrible and unfortunately it lasted for around 5 hours. Not the best introduction to Berlin but at least we got there.

It was late by the time we got to our hotel and found something edible for dinner so the sight seeing was saved for the next day where we woke up, fuelled up on the hotel breakfast and headed straight for the Brandenburg gate. The area in front of the monument had been set up for the World Cup game that was playing in the park later on in the day, which made the photos far less pretty but the giant marble gate with the chariot on top was none the less rather impressive. We took a brief look at the Reichstag (German parliament) which is far prettier than our own in Wellington (I have yet to see any parliamentary building that is less attractive than our own).

After a short detour through the corner of Tiergaarten, a huge city park (where we spotted our first red squirrel, beautiful albeit a little shy) we came across the incredible Holocaust Memorial, a vision in concrete set against blue sky. There is no way to capture the experience in words, wandering through undulating concrete slabs, as if in a maze of industrial gravestones that weave across an apartment block. It was an experience I won’t soon forget and a highlight of the day in Berlin.

After a brief detour (caused by us getting lost) we found the Topography of Terror, a must do for any one interested in World War 2 and the events both preceding and what came after for Germany. It was a big exhibit with a lot of information to read but I felt like I learnt a lot (which is always a good thing, especially when it comes to pub quiz). It was also located alongside a section of the remaining wall, on top of what used to be an important Nazi site.

After so much war and concrete it was a relief to escape back in to the giant park, armed with a couple of sandwiches and cold drinks. We did a lot of aimless wandering, winding our way through and meeting a few animals along the way (giant crows, tiny mice and another red squirrel who was a bit friendlier and keen to accept a few crumbs). The park is beautiful and large, although be warned that in the southern section Berliners are commonly sunbathing naked. No beach needed, just a sunny spot of grass. Can be a bit of a surprise without some forewarning (consider yourself forewarned).

We left the calm oasis and stopped in at the train station to book our tickets for our train to Prague the next day (we took a while but we had finally learnt our lesson). It was too late to visit the museums on Museum Island properly but we trained there regardless to take a look at the beautiful buildings, the river and the big Berlin Cathedral that is also located on the little island. The cathedral was even more impressive on the inside, large and ornate with marble and gilding everywhere. We also accidentally started the climb to the dome, without quite realizing what an undertaking it would be. After a punishing hike up hundreds of stairs, we stepped out on to the balcony of the dome, to soak up the 360 degree views of the city around us. Well worth the climb, if only to see the magnificent roof of the Cathedral along with its sculptures up close.

Last on the “must not miss” list was a visit to the East side gallery, a 1.3Km section of wall that has been turned into a public display of art and a monument to freedom. It was another highlight of the day (okay, pretty much everything was a highlight) to wander along and adore all the incredible art works, some conceptual, some weird, some controversial and some just plain cool. The only downside was the graffiti that has become a bit of a problem over the artworks, with people feeling the need to sign the wall or write messages over the art. Unnecessary but it definitely didn’t ruin the experience.

After a pretty busy day, we went along to a local bar where the Germany vs Portugal football was on, it felt like a sin to be in Germany and not get involved. The atmosphere at the bar was perfect, not too crazy but still fun. What was slightly scary was that everytime Germany scored a goal (they scored a few) people with weird masks on would come out on to the balconies of their apartments and throw cascade bombs (or something similar) down on to the street below (where we were). It didn’t make me feel particularly safe but the people we were with seemed to just take it in their stride so we did the same.

Berlin was a surprise for me. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, mistakenly thinking that it held no history and was too modern for my preferences. On the contrary, although the city has rebuilt to become modern, clean and efficient it still is home to the haunting memories of its troubled past. It was a great contrast to what we had seen for most of our trip and a perfect but brief introduction to Germany and its football loving Berliners.

Ready for a whole load of photos?? Berlin was a little bit photogenic so there are a few, with some captions at the bottom 🙂 x














1. Brandenburg gate
2. The Reichstag
3. This lion statue made me really sad. I thought it should feature so you can feel sad too 😦
4. Getting lost in concrete corridors and mazes
5. The holocaust memorial, didn’t feel real when wandering through and it doesn’t look real in photos. Pretty amazing spot.
6. A tiny section of the Berlin Wall
7. The section of wall by the Topography of Terror exhibit
8. And recovering from the heavy stuff back in Tiergaarten
9. I named this little guy as we fed him…now I can’t remember his name. Something German … Maybe Gunther? I should stop naming all the animals we come across
10. An urban oasis if ever I saw one.
11. Views from the Cathedral
12, 13 & 14 East side gallery, amazing.

K is for Katten Kabinet

There were a couple of things we had prioritised for Amsterdam, the popular Anne Frank house and the Van Gogh museum. We had heard (and seen yesterday) the big queues outside the Anne Frank museum so got there first thing to avoid wasting precious time. For some reason, at 10 past opening the line was already several hours long and worse than usual (according to a local travel guide who had thought he could skip the worst by coming early). I am very anti standing in line for hours and will do almost anything to avoid it (like trying to buy tickets online, which we had done yesterday but all the online tickets were already sold out) so we decided to post pone.

After a coffee stop next door we decided to move on to the markets that were taking place just down the street, in our favourite Jordaan region. The stalls were wonderful, crowding around in every direction and featuring every possible item, from fresh bread and cheese to beautiful handmade jewellry and prints (with everything else in between). We picked up a few things for dinner as well as some delicious fresh cranberries and dropped them off at home before moving on to catch a bus to the Van Gogh museum (which we had managed to get online tickets for).

Ah, the satisfaction of walking past endless lines and skipping queues for immediate entry is something I greatly enjoy so I savoured the moment as we entered the modern gallery and museum, dedicated to Van Gogh and his incredible art. The museum did not disappoint our high expectations as we spent a couple of hours going through each room and reading about the history behind a very talented but tortured artist. After a quick stop at the gift shop where I picked up a copy of my favourite print to bring home, we took a stroll through the the nearby park. It was fine and parks are always a nice break from crowded concrete spaces, but it was nothing incredibly special (and had the added bonus of cyclists everywhere).

After a ridiculously delicious toasted sandwich (seriously, how can something so simple taste so incredible?!) along with some dutch beer we found something I almost didn’t quite believe was real. On tripadvisor I had located a Cat museum. Yup. This KattenKabinet was something that seemed to good to be true so once we eventually found the tiny sign on the door and paid an entry fee we feasted our eyes on the most weird and wonderous collection of cat related goods. Paintings, prints, posters, sculptures, movies and even a pinball machine. No cat stone was left unturned. There were even a couple of living exhibits who happily let us shower them in cuddles. It was strange but in the best possible way. Why is there no cat museum in Auckland?? I think I could be up to the task.

After one more check and confirmation that the lines for Anne Frank were still ridiculously long (I am still disappointed that we didn’t get to visit) we went to relax in another cafe that featured a gorgeous friendly cat who was available for cuddles. After so long with only a rare sighting of a feline, today felt like we had somehow arrived in cat heaven. Cappuccinos always taste better when you are trying to share your seat with a gorgeous furry friend who doesn’t judge how bad your dutch is (awful just for the record). We realised we hadn’t tried a Dutch pancake so hat was our next delicious task, and covered in chocolate with fresh strawberries it was a good way to end the day.

Another beautiful day in Amsterdam where I only nearly died once thanks to a stubborn cyclist (seriously, the cyclists in Amsterdam terrify me) and another visit to the cheese shop to try something new for dinner. Amsterdam was great, the dutch were wonderful and the cats were cuddly. What more could an eager tourist ask for?









1. My favourite non-feline character in Amsterdam was this tiny little boy in a suit at the markets, munching on a tomatoes and holding fresh flowers. I think my heart melted.
2. Delicious bread to later match with delicious cheese
3&4. Becoming quite the canal expert
5. Katten Kabinet. Cat Museum. Need I say more?
6. Cat pin ball machine
7. More canal goodness
8. Cafe cat!
9. Mmm pancakes.

J is for Jordaan

I was reluctant to leave Bruges, the only thing that made the departure sweeter (quite literally) was the box of belgian truffles we purchased before leaving. Keeping the chocolate intake high, our trains to Amsterdam went by rather quickly. Before we knew it, we were in the Netherlands and trying to locate our accommodation for the next two nights.

We stupidly hadn’t bothered to download any maps or instructions as the place we were staying had emailed us a list of instructions that very clearly detailed how we would find them. Unfortunately, instructions are only helpful when they are correct, which ours were not. So after much grumpy wandering, trying to locate street signs and navigate our way amongst the canals, we managed to finally get help from some English speakers who pointed us in the right direction.

The place we were staying in was great, a little apartment in the Jordaan region sitting right beside a canal. The Jordaan region turned out yo be my favourite area of Amsterdam, quiet and peaceful with canals full of houseboats and streets lined with beautiful elegant houses covered in flowers.

We couldn’t have been happier, until we realised there was a cheese museum just up the road.We quickly located the museum, to find that it was mostly just a big cheese shop. This was even better than a cheese museum as we could try everything (and try everything we did). With our bellies quite full from all the cheese samples, we found a little cafe on a side street to grab a coffee and a little vegetarian pastry for some post cheese late lunch.

It turns out that the way we like to choose a cafe is by waiting until we find one with a cat inside. It worked quite well in Amsterdam, where the cat population seems significantly higher than in France. This cafe not only did amazing coffee, but also featured an extremely fat black cat who allowed us to pet him without any reciprocal affection whatsoever (he was lucky I was having so much cat withdrawals).

Amsterdam had an incredible atmosphere, and not just because of the smell of marijuana that was present pretty much everywhere (im surprised easily well we got used to it, at first I was a little weirded out). We walked alongside canals to see the tulip flower markets just as they were closing and then to the busy Rembrandt square where there is an amazing sculptural memorial with Rembrandt standing above life size figures from one of his most famous paintings.

The city of Amsterdam was buzzing with excitement and because the area we were staying was the older rather peaceful neighbourhood so it was fun to wander through the more touristy streets and shops. We also took a brief wander through the red light district, how could you go to Amsterdam and not? It was totally different to how I had expected it to be, but I am not quite sure why. It is hard to imagine what it is like seeing women selling themselves in windows and doorways and even harder to try and understand without knowing the context for this part of Amsterdam’s culture. It was interesting but I can’t say we spent long there haha.

We headed back to our little appartment, only stopping to pick up some beer and cheese (from the cheese museum!) to eat for dinner. I didn’t expect to fall in love with quirky little Amsterdam so quickly, but fall I did. Whats not to love about its beautiful canals lined with gorgeous tall houses, its cafe cats and its characteristic smell. It is hard to not feel happy in a city where it seems like everyone is having fun.








1. Our first beautiful dutch canal (feat. bikes of course because there are more bikes than people)
2. CHEESE. I ate a lot.
3. More canals and bikes. You are gonna get real sick of them.
4. Cause when I go to tulip markets we all know what I really want…
5. Tulips of course!
6. Lions. Not era though 😦
7. Canals and bikes plus bird
8. Such an incredibly beautiful place, especially in the Jordaan area.

B is for Brewery

We hadn’t originally been able to decide whether to spend two nights at either Brussels or Bruges, so we compromised and spent one night at each. After the busy chaos of a beautiful capital city like Brussels, it was nice to know we were going to somewhere smaller next. It was a super easy train from Brussels to Bruges, just one hour or so before we arrived and found our hotel which was in a great location right beside the train station.

We grabbed some lunch from a local deli (amazing mozzarella sandwiches that were made fresh before our hungry eyes) and took them to eat beside the beautiful canals in the nearby park. Bruges was stunning in the warm sunshine, with geese and swans populating the canals and everyone either cycling or wandering through the little streets. It was like a polar opposite to Brussels, calm and peaceful. The most peaceful spot was a little monastery garden, walled off but open to the public (provided they stayed quiet).

A priority for us was to visit a Michelangelo Mother and Child sculpture in one of the two main churches. They charged a small fee to take a look but the sensitivity of the small subject, sculpted in a way Michelangelo can only achieve, was worth it even if the rest of the church was relatively unremarkable. We then took a look at an art exhibition being held at the other nearby church, which was much more grand and impressive.

It wouldn’t have felt right to go to Belgium and not do something beer related so we went along to a tour of the local Half moon brewery. It was more fun that I expected (I was just doing it for the free beer at the end) with a great tour who took us through the new parts of the brewery as well as showing some of the older bits that were no longer in use. We also got some great views over Bruges after climbing out of the window to get onto the roof (as well Asa. Rare photo of both of us!). The beer at the end was delicious and far superior to the stuff I normally buy. I also know slightly more about the beer making process than I did before, but don’t try to test me on this knowledge as I am far too modest to show how much I know…

After the delightful beer that made up for all the stairs we had climbed, we walked through the central square, a smaller and older looking version of the grand place in Brussels, but much cuter in my opinion. We were aiming to get to a chocolate factory but we arrived just after it had shut (I still get nightmares of the devastation of that one moment). The only way I could find some kind of solace was by eating the most delicious Waffle of my life, smothered in melted chocolate and ice cream and served alongside another local beer (also made by the Half Moon brewery). I may need another waffle, all these memories of missed chocolate tours are making me emotional.

After more wandering around streets we realised it was getting late. We weren’t feeling up to a big meal so we found the perfect dinner in a little shop selling delicious falafel wraps which we devoured along with a plate of perfectly cooked fries smothered in the most delicious curry/mayonnaise sauce. I had a list of things we had to try in Belgium: beer, chocolate, waffles and frites, so with the list completed we made our way “home” to recover from all the calories we had consumed.

Bruges is still one of my favourite cities we visited (I write this sitting in Italy after falling far too behind on these blogs) and it had a great atmosphere as well as the perfect size for exploring on foot. I know I will have to go back one day soon, the chocolate factory still calls my name…













No captions because most of the photos are just gratuitous shots of beer and beautiful Bruges 🙂