My trip to London came to a swift end with a 4:10 am wake-up call. The 6 of us hopped in a cab for Heathrow where we made a 6:30 am flight to Brussels. It was weird since we had to go through customs to get into Belgium which was apparently WAY backed up due to a flight just in from Angola. This seemed to have everyone up in arms and the passengers smelled like they had been on their flight for ages and ages. One women stood directly behind a cute little girl from Canada and kept breathing on her neck until she finally let her go ahead of her. For those of you who know me, my super power is a less than functioning nose which is generally a good thing as there are way more bad smells than good. But I could smell her too. After an hour or so and a stamp in my passport, we made out of the airport with no coronaries. After an hour drive, we checked into the hotel and headed to the town square of Kortrijk.
That is where we meet Phillip, CFO of the croissant making company. He introduced us to a school chum, the Mayor of Kortrijk. The mayor went on to give us a tour of the City Hall which was erected in 1520. The building’s style is composed of Gothic and Renaissance elements. In 1526, statues of the principal Counts of Flanders was put into niches, which so far had housed prophets’ statues. In 1616 the town hall was once more enlarged, with a part of the front in the extant style. Below are a few pics of the insides.
Next Phillip took us for Belgium beer. All of the rumors of the EXCELLENCE of Belgium beer are totally true; there are over 300 and some specialty beers. Each beer has to have its own special glass or you go to Belgium beer jail.
We tried Omer which is exported to America, so drink it if you find it. You won’t be disappointed. Then we headed out for croissants. These croissants are sold in America at Sprouts in the bakery section so if you are in a store go buy them and enjoy. I also promise; that they are good and you will love. We tried all kinds of these buttery, flaky pastries. We ate flavors like spinach and ricotta; ham and cheese; cheesecake; red berry; apple; whole wheat and so many others I can’t even been to name them all. The croissants were called sandwich carriers which made me laugh. We got to tour the plant and see them amazing process that brings these tasty delights to the USA and Europe. We learned about the companies dedication to ingredients. I also learned about winter butter and textured butter. He also explained that Belgium and Holland created techno music and the rave. There is even a huge festival there called “Tomorrowland” that apparently lots of people go to (people you wouldn’t image – even go).
Phillip then took us to Bruges for a personal walking tour. The man had did his homework and he was impressive in his tailored suit. He explained the importance of the river and that Bruges was thought to come from the word spanish Bruja. You see there were lovers like the start of every good story. They were wildly in love and the witches didn’t like the match so ultimatums were issued – stop seeing each other or else. The lovers continued so the witches turned him into a black swan. She came to the river every day and continued to wait for him. She refused to acquiesce to another so the witches turned her into a white swan. So now, you see people making the below symbol on bridges with swans in the background.
Back in the 1500s and 1600s, there were women who didn’t want to marry or become nuns but they did want to devote their lives to god. So we saw the area where they lived and it has become a posh housing area and museum.
They are lovely carriage rides to take as well. I got a book for my CA Tuesday Vino club. Love you guys.
We stopped for more beer as a member of our group was having hip pain. We walked to the church that houses Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child. But the church was closed so I missed it. :-(
We got chocolates at the best chocolatier in Bruges – Pierre Marcolini. I can vouch for the quality.
Next we headed for dinner where we got to meet Jacques, CEO and founder of the croissant company. The man was extremely charming, sincere, smart and good natured. Yes – I have a crush. He called head and arranged a special meal for all of us with wine pairings. It was AMAZING! He was telling us how much he loved Paris and he started to glow so Mark asked him, “What’s her name?” He laughed and turned red. I don’t think anyone caught him by such surprise in a long time. Jacques commanded the table and made everyone feel a part and special.
We headed back to the room for bed. Mark and I ended up taking a night walk and tried to get a beer – unsuccessfully I might add (since neither of us had any Euros). As we went back to the hotel, there was a small crisis. The 3 of us sat up trying to get it resolved until the wee hours of the morning. It was even starting to make me anxious. But at one point and two beers latter, we realized that we did as much as we could and then we all went to get a little sleep.
I can’t wait to go back one day. I have been up since 2:30 – I hate time changes.
All my love-