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Monthly Archive: December 2016

December 2016 – A few days in Bruge, Belgium

Time to head off to Bruges, Belgium (one of our favorite places) before we head back to Amsterdam to fly home on New Year’s Eve.  Berlin Tegel is quite easy to get to from center city – hop on the TXL bus and in about 20 minutes you are at the old and dingy airport.  We can’t figure out when the check-in desks open but the U.S. idea of checking in 2 hours before departure doesn’t exist here! Security is right at the gate because the airport is so old it has no place to do a central security.  Everyone on the flight uses ONE security line and the line does not move quickly – take off coat, put phone, computer, Kindle, belt, in the bin.  New airplane rule on Brussels Air … exit row cannot have anything under the seat in front of it.

After landing, we took the train to Brussels Midi and then to Bruges where we stayed at the IBIS.  Standard IBIS – small room, clean bathroom, excellent breakfast.  The ongoing mystery for us is why European bathtubs with showers are so deep.  People with short legs have great difficulty getting out of the tub after a shower!

Belgium and Bruges are known for beer and chocolate and that’s what this stay was about – visit to Halve Moon Brewery for a beer and Bourgogne de Flandres brewery to do the tour – self-guided with a map to hunt down the moles in the brewery.  Mark had a lovely chat with the brewer who’s working on a degree in brewing even although he has a degree in microbiology already.  The Bourgogne de Flandres house beer is brown mixed with lambic and that makes a pretty nice sour beer for me.  We also stopped at Trappist Beer Cellar (great selection of Belgium beers and knowledgeable staff) and Bieratelier Bruges -on Wijngaardstraat 13.   Bieratelier is a tiny bar with 7 beers on tap, 6 of which are Christmas beers. We tried 4 of them.  It’s a fun bar and the bartender is always helpful.

Christmas beers at Bieratelier, Bruges

Christmas cupcakes in Bruge

Bruges canal in the fog

Bruges canal in the fog

We had to buy some Neuhaus chocolate for a variety of people and make a stop at our favorite little chocolate shop in Philipstraat. We found this one in 1990 on our first visit to Bruges and have returned ever since.

One night dinner was at Malesherbes on Stoofstraat and you’ll need a good map to find this.   Maleherbes was yummy and our splurge – champagne, pigeon pate with a side of duck foie gras, lamb filet that was rare and tender served with potatoes and ratatouille. Finally, we had chocolate mousse for dessert.  This was a typical French meal – 3 hours.  The manager told us they only do one seating at dinner so no one has to feel rushed.   (more…)

December 2016 – Berlin for Christmas by way of Atlanta, Auburn, D.C. and Amsterdam!

Christmas bear in Galeries Lafayette window, Berlin

End of dinner at Entrecote, Berlin. The wine is a giveaway!

Advent wreath hanging in the Augustiner Kellar, Berlin

Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin

Nativity Scene at Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market, Berlin

We took the roundabout way to get to Berlin from Denver. Leg #1 – We flew to Atlanta, rented a car and – Leg#2 – drove to Auburn for 4 days for a nephew’s wedding. Driving on I86 is not much fun on a Friday afternoon and by the time we got to Auburn we thought a beer would taste pretty good, but when we asked our waitress at dinner what kind of beer they have on tap, the answer was “we don’t serve alcohol”.

While we were in Auburn, Mark and I went for a tour of the university – checked out the stadium with sculptures of their Heisman winners, the book store and the student center where we were one of the few customers of the Starbucks! We drove around a bunch of Auburn, the town, spent time with friends and family, and got the nephew and his bride married!

Leg #3 started on Sunday afternoon – another drive on I86 back to the Atlanta airport where, by the way, there is no gas station anywhere near the rental car return location!

Leg #4 – the flight to Washington Dulles was delayed several times thanks to all the ice all over the country, slow luggage loading and the air start machine to start the compressor that didn’t work – the hose kept popping off. We ended up leaving 3 hours late and arrived in IAD about midnight, took the shuttle to the Hyatt and went to bed.

Leg #5 was DC to Amsterdam and this one went remarkably well except for United moving Mark without asking to a different aisle seat.   We both ended up changing seats – Mark because United moved him to accommodate a mom and son and then I changed with her husband so I could avoid sitting next to the children. Why did we fly to Amsterdam?  Cheap tickets!  I found this one for about $470 RT each and that was too good to pass up.

We saw the news about the truck crashing into the Christmas market in Berlin so everyone was sending emails checking with where we are.

The sun was actually up by the time we got to the Amsterdam Centraal station and found the hotel – IBIS Styles at Centraal Station. The only room open at 8 AM was in the basement but has a big bathroom! Had a nap and shower and walk and a pancake with ham and cheese for lunch before Mark started on some work meetings.

Dinner at the Kantjil & de Tijger (Indonesian food) – The food was good but the service was spotty.

Leg #6 the next day – Amsterdam to Berlin by train.  We had the 2 window seats in a 6-person compartment in 1st class. While we waited for the train to leave, we could hear a cat meowing in the next compartment. It turned out to be 2 Siamese cats and, when the owner let them out of the kitty carrier, they were happy and quiet. They proceeded to lay on the seat by the guy and just check out the world. Eventually, they fell asleep curled up together.

We have a VRBO apartment on Plankstrasse near Friedrichstrasse Station (more…)