ok, i’ve held out long enough—even i can’t stand it any more.
and since i’ll be jet lagged all day, i just gotta do the chocolate post.
difficult as it is to recount such pain and trauma, i think it’s important for me to spill the beans on what we’ve been through the last few days.
it was tough but we survived and i think maybe we’re stronger for it.
actually, the day started out innocently enough—we left the hotel at a nice early hour and decided to stroll through the grounds of the botanical garden, which was right next door (hence the name hotel bloom, i’m guessing?).
what we thought was a smallish configuration of formal gardens, greenhouses, and sculpture, turned out to be a completely lovely and eclectic collection of gardens arranged in a much larger property than is at first apparent.
this pretty shepherdess gazes out over the maze of hedges toward the far corner, where a couple of portals in the shrubbery lead to an allay along a gravel path
lined first with japanese lantern trees and lavender, then with more exotic plantings
until finally we found ourselves wandering among lush fuscia plants loaded with flowers, fig trees, banana trees, and plants with these gorgeous flowers
which we couldn’t identify—they are really big.
this garden segued into a much more shady section that was focused on large specimen trees interspersed with cool grassy stretches and sculpture niches.
which in turn opened up into a sunny, more casual area where wild flowers and water
made a nice background for some inner city wildlife—all around the large pond and stream were herons, turtles, ducks, and well, rats, too.
but we try not to judge . . .
this last area led us back to the street, where we headed for a square in the city center known to house the very best chocolate shops—top of our agenda that day was exploring as many of those as possible.
now this was thursday, which as it happens, was a national holiday. the whole city was celebrating a day off to enjoy fun foods and free time and as luck would have it, the weather was spectacular.
and i promised you chocolate and chocolate you shall have at last.
we needed a shot of coffee before starting though and once fortified, we were ready to get to work—little did we know just how big a day of tasting, eating, and imbibing we had ahead of us.
alice made a beeline for pierre marcolini, pretty much poo-pooing everything else in her path as “chocolate we could find in any high-end shopping district”.
haha, like the one around the corner from me in canton, ohio, right?
all joking aside, the shop was absolutely stunning inside. we were asked to stop taking photos once we got into its depths
but trust me, it was lovely—all black with vintage style glass cases and everything packaged in beautiful boxes with ribbons. sigh.
the tasting went very well, ahem, and each of us left with a black shopping bag.
as if that wasn’t enough, very close by they also have a little take-away cafe serving ice cream, cookies, and cakes, where the displays are equally fabulous.
next we stopped in to explore delacre, where impossibly pretty cookies were displayed in cases, jars, tins, and packages. needless to say, we fell there, too.
by this time we were feeling a bit peckish, so we stopped off at the wittamer cafe before heading to their chocolate shop.
we rested and ate at small but savory lunch in their charming upstairs tearoom during a brief spit of rain (the only shower of the day). once we were refreshed, we walked in the direction of the chocolate shop, where adorable window displays of chocolate hats sucked us in
and an extremely friendly staff showed us around the cases, kindly translating the ingredients into english.
by this time it was pretty late in the afternoon; alice and carol decided to head back to the hotel for a rest while cookie and i continued to walk and take photos, hoping to work off a little of that chocolate we’d
scarfed down tasted.
here’s a bit of what we wished we’d consumed, haha. but we couldn’t take it back by that time . . .
on the other hand, you gotta love a city that considers escargot to be fair food. and when in rome . . .
actually, i have a few street shots from earlier in the day that i love. as we entered pierre marcolini, i noticed that a marching band was assembling in the cafe across the street
happily sipping espressos and chatting while they waited for their call to the parade. i had a bird’s eye view from the second floor of the chocolate shop
and once they were called to assemble, they flew into positions and began their march. it was excellent.
this pretty doll shop sits below the main salon of the designer, where people-sized clothing is sold—the dolls are created and dressed in small version of outfits from the collection and make an effective display in their own right.
first we headed up the hill away from the center, walking partway toward the hotel with alice and carol.
we threaded our way further down the hill, heading away from the center along a street lined with furniture shops, salvage depots, draperies, etc, which fed into a part of the city that was a bit more edgy looking.
brussels has some really great grafitti and wall murals, which became one of the subjects we focused our cameras on
tin tin, the famous belgian comic book hero, is one subject that is repeated a few times in murals we spied during our walk.
brussels is very old of course, and because of that, it has some interesting contrasts in its architecture—here and there, where a gap existed or an old building fell down, newer ones replace them, providing a lively mix of styles
another subject we became enamored with is this church, which we ended up circling and viewing from nearly every angle
we love the dramatic shapes that comprise its steeple.
(i love this one—it’s hard to tell, but just as i snapped the photo that bike which rounded the corner and flew past turned out to be a tandem, ridden by a young couple; it was lovely).
when we got to the bottom of the hill and passed under the train tracks, we discovered a funky artist-run coop on the other side, nestled into what appeared to be a small middle eastern quarter.
as we made our way back up, we saw the church from a new angle.
now it was time to head for our evening activity, which was beer tasting. (yes i know; i think our poor stomachs have been paying for this decadent day ever since, haha, though the disturbance does seem to be abating a little now that we are back in london).
thanks to our friendly salesperson at the lush soap shop, we had a tip on a great taproom that was a bit off the beaten track.
and boy was she ever spot ON—we loved this place. with what seems like at least several hundred beers available, there is certainly something for everyone. shown here is the menu of beer on tap, but there is an extensive list of bottled beer that truly boggles the mind.
if you plan to be in brussels and you like beer, this one is a must.
and so ended our day of delicious overload. are we sorry? not a bit. would we do it again? probably—i mean, what part would you/could you leave out??
ok, now here’s the money shot—my grand total take for the day. now keep in mind that most of these items are gifts that i’m taking home and try to look at it as you would your haul from any respectable yarn experience . . .