I’ve always been a fan of travel, even though I don’t go many places often. Abroad? Yes. Ireland, and other parts of the UK? Yes. My own city? No. It’s just the way it is I guess. Not much in Wolverhampton appeals to me, so I guess I don’t see the need to go out exploring anywhere. Anyway, today I stumbled upon this post in the travel section of the NY Times, and just thought I’d share it, since it is about Belgium…and chocolate! Enjoy!
36 Hours: Bruges, Belgium
A Weekend in Bruges: Beyond Cobbled Lanes and Medieval Canals
The Dijver canal. More Photos »
By INGRID K. WILLIAMS
Published: February 23, 2012
THE portrayal of Bruges in the 2008 dark comedy “In Bruges” was of a fairy tale city so dull it nearly drove Colin Farrell’s character mad. “Maybe that’s what hell is: the entire rest of eternity spent in Bruges,” he concludes in the closing scene of the film (the sanitized version, that is). In reality, the charming capital of West Flanders in northwestern Belgium is indeed tranquil, with swans gliding along medieval canals and cobblestone lanes dotted with lace shops and quiet cafes. But Bruges now has much more to offer. Ambitious restaurants are run by talented young chefs, and creative chocolateshops stock the confections of experimental chocolatiers. New and renovated museums are opening their doors and, after dark, local beer pubs offer mind-boggling selections of rare Belgian beers from the region’s celebrated breweries. Hell? Hardly.
1. WONDERLAND WANDER
Much of the enchanting city center is truly reminiscent of a fairy tale, with stone footbridges spanning picturesque canals and cobblestone streets curving past turreted manor houses. To see the prettiest parts of this medieval wonderland, wander along the Dijver canal, which snakes through town, making sure to end your stroll at Markt, the main square dominated by a 13th-century belfry. The energetic can spiral up the bell tower’s 366 steps for a view over the city, but first exercise the panoramic capability on your camera at ground level: the neo-Gothic courthouse, the belfry itself and the quaint gabled buildings ringing the square.
2. CHOCOLATE TASTING
With the absurdly high concentration of chocolate shops in town, it may seem as if every other storefront is peddling piles of pralines and trays of truffles. When succumbing to this temptation, seek out Bruges’s most innovative spots like Dominique Persoone’s shop, the Chocolate Line (Simon Stevinplein 19; 32-50-34-10-90; thechocolateline.be), packed with creative confections and fanciful flavor combinations like bitter ganache with vodka, passion fruit and lime. At the newcomer BbyB (Sint-Amandsstraat 39; 32-50-70-57-60; bbyb.be), however, the emphasis is on taste without tricks. Opened in October 2010, the sleek, all-white store is stocked with simple bars of fine Belgian chocolate wrapped in Pantone-style numbered boxes; try No. 15 with milk chocolate, hazelnut and babelutte (a regional caramel-like candy) or No. 50 with dark chocolate, tonka beans and lemon.
So, what do you think of Bruges now? Pretty inviting, huh? Yeah, I thought so too. Taipei is still No.1 on my list of places to travel to, of course, but I have to admit, this comes pretty close. If you’d like to read the rest of the 36-hour trip, look no further than here: NY Times – 36 Hours: Bruges, Belgium