Travel

Of Chocolate and No Witches

 

June 26, 2014

So far we had been mostly constrained to Wallonia, with Brussels serving as a sort of transition point. We’re deep in Flemish country now, evident from the moment we detrain.

For the longest time, I always assumed there was a mystical story behind this town’s name. What I failed to realize is that in an all too common case of exonyms, the name “Brujas”, which means witches in Spanish, had nothing to do with the (assumed) real origin of the city’s name. Brugge is very likely derived from brugga, which is Old Dutch for “bridge”. Seems accurate.

Settling on some steps in front of the Cathédrale Saint Sauveur de Bruges, Sara waits patiently on my left as I click the shutter a few times, making sure I get all the angles I need for when I (half-successfully) stitch them together later.

We can hear the carillon just before the 83m tall Belfry comes into view, towering high above the rest of the buildings in the Markt. It may win in height, but where beauty is concerned, I’d say it’s a tie.

Another highlight of the Markt is the Provinciaal Hof or Provincial Court, located where the Waterhalle used to be. It’s kind of hard to imagine boats navigating through the canals and loading and unloading merchandise right in the heart of the city. It must have been quite a sight. And even though the water halls are no more, the canals are still there, apparently, albeit underground.

Right next door to the Court is Historium, an interactive museum that “takes you back in time to Jan van Eyck’s life during the Golden Age of Bruges”. As interesting as it might sound, we’ve only dropped in to shelter ourselves from the sun as we plan our next move.

The colorful, step-gabled roofs wave goodbye as we leave the Markt.

Having arrived later in the day, we don’t have as much time as we’d like, so after weighing the pros and cons we decide to head to the museums we came for in the first place: Frietmuseum and Choco-Story Brugge.

As both museums are owned by the same company and almost right next to each other, it makes sense to get a joint ticket, which also gives us a decent discount. Next stop: Choco-Story.

Credit: Choco-Story Brugge
Credit: Choco-Story Brugge
Credit: Choco-Story Brugge

As soon as we step in, I’m wondering why we don’t have a museum about chocolate in Mexico. We… don’t… have one, do we? Do we!?

Credit: Choco-Story Brugge
Credit: Choco-Story Brugge

The cold air running through the museum keeps me awake, and the meticulously crafted sculptures from getting all melty. They’re truly impressive, and even more so once you wrap your head around the fact that you could just go up and bite them and they’d be pretty edible. Since they’re, you know, made of chocolate. Although god knows how long it’s been since they were carved.

Credit: Choco-Story Brugge

The detail on these figures is just stunning. They look exactly like mud and marble, respectively, down to the texture, shine, and shading. I wonder how long it would take me to get even remotely close to creating a figure like these.

Chocolate cats with colorful designs? Yesssssss.

To see more of these wonderful chocolate creations and learn about the story behind this universal crowd-pleaser, you can check out Choco-Story here.

But that’s more than enough food-themed museums for now. We head back to the Station Brugge and patiently wair for our train. Once it arrives we find that it’s much more crowded than the morning inbound, and this time around, there is not a seat in sight.

We find a little corner next to some doors, Sara on the floor and myself on the steps to the second level. At least the view is great.

The sun is setting by the time we make it back to the Gare de Verviers.

Back at the Maison du Vieux Moulin, there’s a very peculiar dinner waiting for us. It’s Hawaiian pizza taken to the next level with the addition of kiwi and goat’s cheese, and it’s quite delicious. 

I’m already imagining the pizza purists who hate pineapple losing it over this one. Me? I’ll enjoy one more slice.

 

Andrea Wintergerst

Based mainly in Colorado. Loves cheese, rain, and starry nights. Can usually be spotted in the wild wearing a Spirit Jersey and balancing two cameras. Often laughs and cries at the same time.

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