We ended our 10 week adventure in Belgium, visiting 4 cities (along with Cologne, Germany). Each of the four cities had a different feel, but food and architecture were definitely the common thread. Beer, frites, waffles, and chocolate. I doubt this is our last visit to Belgium...
- Belgium is surprisingly Catholic. Or at least they have a lot of Catholic churches, with some crazy relics and treasuries. Belgium has had a lot of wealth with trading ports and diamonds, and that shows when it comes to their religious artifacts too!
- In the midwest, you can get some good beer. But you can also get some super bitter, tasteless ones too. In Belgium, even their 'bitter' beers are smoother than many you can get in the US.
- Frites. Frites. Frites. Double fried, freshly cut potatoes. Why did we have to leave?!
- Chocolate dipped waffles. Waffles with strawberries. Stroop waffles with caramel sauce. Again, why did we have to leave?!
- The people of Belgium are incredibly varied and extremely strong-willed. One minute, you see an orthodox Jew biking past you (90% of the Belgian Jews work in the diamond industry), and the next you see a completely tattooed man with a beer in his hand. There is currently a movement for northern Belgium (Flanders) to gain independence from Belgium. Everyone speaks flemish, which is essentially a dialect of dutch. But its flemish, and don't mix that up.
- The Cathedral in Cologne (the Dom) might be my favorite church ever. The interior is nice, but the exterior is just incredible. 515 feet of spires rising out of nothing that just completely dominates the landscape. It was the same feeling I had in St. Peter's in Rome looking up into the dome for the first time. I will never forget the feeling of awe standing in front of it.
- The history of Belgium is beyond fascinating. We thought we were going to Belgium to eat and drink our last 10 days away in relaxation, but that was definitely not the case!