After a week in Belgium, I wake up thinking of the culinary delights, the purveyors of these goods, and the eclectic architecture. There is a plethora of choices of delectable chocolate, waffles, fries, and beers. Culinary purveyors abound in this country, and some are located in gorgeous buildings. The architecture is varied: linear and austere some with stacked gabled roofs, others resemble gingerbread houses and have fairy tale qualities to them, others nod at the grandeur that one may associate with the French eighteenth century. There are also varied styles of the nineteenth century such as Art Nouveau and Art Deco of the twentieth century, and at times there are cobblestone roads underfoot rather than pavement.


On our first day in Brussels, we headed to Dandoy for waffles. There are two types of waffles - the Liege and the Brussels. We opted for the Brussels. I ordered mine with a light coating of powdered sugar, and my husband and son had theirs topped with chocolate syrup and strawberries. One of my favorite indulgences is hot chocolate, and I doubled the indulgence by having it with a thick dollop of cream. The experience reminded my husband a little bit like eating beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans as I was dusted in powder sugar on both occasions.

A couple of days later I was introduced to the Speculoos cookie at Dandoy on a food walking tour with our guide Valentina. Dandoy still makes theirs the traditional way with butter, brown sugar, and handcrafted wooden moulds. One can see some of these moulds displayed as art on the walls at Dandoy.

After visiting the flea market at Place de Jeu de Balle we found our way to lunch at Aux Armes de Bruxelles. My husband and I enjoyed the Moules and Frites and our son a salmon dish. The portions were generous, and we couldn’t finish our meal however we did our best. Though we had no room for dessert we saw the chef finish crepes with liquor and set them en flambé. It was a dazzling theatrical performance. We’ll have to go back another time for dessert. This restaurant oozes charm that matches the one in your daydream of what a restaurant should look like in Brussels.


Visiting Bruges is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I only wish we stayed longer. The aesthetics of this charming place suits my aesthetic sensibility. Bruges is called the Venice of the North, and for me, it reminded me a bit like Nantucket in spring with the daffodils, brick, and cobble, and the canals reminded me of River Cam in Cambridge, England. On our way from the Bruges train station to our hotel, we were wowed by crocuses covered lawns and later by a dazzling field of blooming Daffodils in front of the Beguinage.

We stayed at awarding-winning and beautifully appointed Hotel de Castillion across the street from Saint-Sauveur de Bruges. The hotel building features stacked gabled roofs and attractive interiors with a melange of furnishings that unite warmth with sophistication. Our room featured beautiful exposed wooden antique beams, festoons and fully operating curtains, and toiletries from White & Company.

We were hungry and we heeded the suggestion of our hotelier Joachim and headed to ‘t Schrijverke. The restaurant is named after a poem by Guido Gezelle, and ‘t Schrijverke in English it means Whirligig Beetle. A terrific place to dine al fresco. I ordered the sole, my husband opted for the Stoofvlees which is similar to a beef Bourguignon cooked with beer instead of the red wine, and my son had the risotto. The beer in Belgium is delicious. I tried the Zot Blonde and my husband the Zot Bruin. Surprisingly, we all had room for dessert. I opted for the creme brûlée, my son the waffles, and my husband ice cream with coffee and liquor. There's a statue of the Belgian priest and poet Guido Gezelle next to the restaurant.

The following morning we enjoyed a lavish breakfast at our hotel with an array of baked goods, eggs, smoked salmon, fresh fruit, berries including red currants. It was here that I had the best chocolate croissants during the entire trip and I adore red currants. Later in the day we went on a walking tour with Anna. It was a crash course on history of Bruges, beer, and chocolate. She pointed out the plaques with a golden cocoa bean outside of chocolatiers. This indicates they belong to the chocolate guild of Bruges. After visiting establishments that sell over thousands of beers she introduced us to Dumon chocolates. There was so much chocolate available I felt overwhelmed by the vast assortment and in the end, I didn’t indulge sufficiently to my chagrin but a handful of my friends have benefited from the chocolates I gave them as presents.


While visiting the attractive university town of Leuven we popped in for a drink at De Blauwe Kater Jazz & Blues Cafe. The atmosphere is authentic and a terrific place to enjoy a drink with family and friends. I love to come back to listen to jazz. Leuven is well worth visiting even if you’re not here to study. I suggest Saint Peter’s church and the KU Leuven library tower. Saint Peter’s church features an elaborately carved pulpit in oak and beautiful works of art, including the Head of Christ, the remaining piece of a cross lost in a fire. At the KU Leuven university library tower take your time to pause at the photo exhibition on your climb up to the top of the tower. Through the exhibition, you can learn about the rousing history of the university library and tower, and at the top, you have the city at your feet.

We’re very grateful to return to international travel again, and we felt welcomed back. Since I wasn’t as familiar with Belgium as I am with some other countries, I consulted with the travel advisor J5 Travel Tailors which I found very helpful. Dining and walking took center stage in our exploration of Brussels, Leuven, and Bruges. In Antwerp, the highlight of our visit was The Rubens House and the architecture of the train station.

Just when I was beginning to get to know Belgium it was time to return home. I can’t wait to go back.