Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Best Food I Ever Ate

Day two was Christmas Eve, and we had great plans to get up early. But as the Bowens always say "A plan is merely a point to deviate from". But we did eventually get out the door, and we were on our way to BELGIUM!

I'll be honest, I slept the whole way there, so I missed most of the scenery. But I was super excited to wake up just as we were pulling into Brussels.

I love Brussels. It is such a beautiful city, and it seemed like a great mix of old with modern. Our first stop was the Grand Place, which was a seriously amazing town square. Tall, majestic buildings surrounding the square, surrounded by shops and was lovely.

Then we moved on to the Christmas market, and ate some of the yummiest fries I have ever had. Belgium needs to work on their condiments, but the fries were awesome.

After we had shopped and snacked, we headed back towards the car. And that's when we stopped for what I think I can honestly say is the BEST thing I ever ate.

Why hello beautiful.

Guys, Belgian waffles in Belgium are NOTHING like Belgian waffles in the States. First of all, they don't come by way of batter. They come in balls of dough. And they aren't just simple waffles, they have big chunks of sugar spread all throughout them. And then they cook it right there in front of you, and then cover it with toppings of your choice: chocolate, strawberries, nutella, raspberries, whipped cream, caramel, powdered sugar, bananas, ice cream....  The particular shop we stopped at happened to also sell Australian ice cream. My combination of choice-  raspberry sorbet and dark chocolate drizzle. OH.MY.HEAVEN. The raspberry sorbet was rich and strong (me likes the strong flavors) and the chocolate drizzle froze over it and had to be broken with every bite. So imagine with me:

Hot, carmelized waffle topped with the most delicious raspberry sorbet of all time, drizzled with dark chocolate. Every bite has a bit of crunchy sugar, with raspberry melting into the waffle, a cold bite of sorbet, and a morsel of chocolate that begins to melt instantly in your mouth. Bliss, my friends, pure bliss.

After slowly enjoying every last bite of waffle, we piled back into the car and headed to the Netherlands. Valkenburg, to be exact. Don't worry, I had never heard of it before either. In Valkenburg they have a really cool Christmas tradition. Every year they have artists come create larger-than-life scenes depicting different aspects of the nativity in a huge set of caverns out of SAND. These are sand sculptures people, and it was crazy impressive.

Other than just being beautiful and very impressive, it was actually a very touching. The sculptures depicted everything from the proclamation from Caesar, the difficulty of traveling, the mass gathering of people, and it all led up to the final scene at the manger. I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on my Savior, and to feel the Spirit. It was the perfect way to end the day, and the perfect way to lead into Christmas.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Let it Begin

Ok, so maybe I was a little over-enthusiastic earlier about being ready to tackle blogging about our trip. Life has been crazy around here, and every time I thought about sorting through all the pictures I started to feel very tired.

But never fear, I promised a tale from across the pond, and I always deliver. So let us begin...

So our first full day in Germany was one of our only full days in Germany. One of the biggest Christmas traditions there is the weihnachtmarkt, or Christmas market. Tons of booths, lots of yummy food, and really cool trinkets and crafted items that I've never seen before. So our first stop was in Koln (also known as Cologne), which is one of the most popular markets in Germany. The market was nestled right up to the base of the amazing cathedral, which was a beautiful backdrop for the festivities. We explored the cathedral first (my first cathedral!) and then ventured into the market.

Brigette took a stained glass class
over the summer, so she was geeking
out just a little....

My first real Bratwurst, delicious!


Some sort of potato fritter, I can't remember the name

After we'd explored to our heart's content, we drove on to Bonn, the birthplace of Beethoven! They have a big statue of him and everything. We weren't there as long, but it was beautiful.

So pretty!

More brats

GIANT chocolate covered strawberries.

My love :)

Spencer bought me my own
weihnachtmarkt mug, by himself,
 in German!