Waffles, Chocolates and Beer in Belgium

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Belgium WafflesWhen travelling Belgium, you will soon learn the country offers much more than magnificent sightseeing, there are also a lot of waffles, chocolates, gluhwein and beer available. Christmas markets are full of waffle vendors, selling gluhwein too, which make the winter temperatures a lot more bearable.
It is said that Belgium is to beer what France is to wine. Not only does this country offer an incredible diversity of beers, it is also home to one of the most traditional beers, called Trappist. Trappist is controlled by international law (similar to that of Champagne in France) and the monks of the abbey must be involved in the making process. Other well-known beers are Hoegaarden, Duvel and Leffe. Stille Nacht is a great beer and absolutely recommended for Christmas, as well as the sweet and sour cherry beer known as Kriek.
The Liege waffle is the most popular and common waffle in Belgium and you can easily identify it by the uneven edges. Bakeries and shops sell the waffles with a variety of toppings to choose from, such as whipped cream with fresh fruit and drizzles of chocolate on top. If you happen to be in Brussels, be sure to visit Maison Dandoy at Rue Charles Buls 14, Brussels (phone: +32 (0) 25126588) for a warm, soft and delicious waffle.
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If you are in Bruges, a good place to try out freshly baked Belgian waffles is Laurenzino, Noordzandstraat 1, (phone: +32 50 333-213). Laurenzino offers delicious waffles with chocolate, caramel, whipped cream or basically anything you want on top of it. They also have traditionally prepared ice cream available.
Gluhwein is a hot, spiced wine and can help to warm up the body in cold weather during the Christmas season. Cinnamon sticks, cloves, oranges, sugar and good quality red wine are all added together and once the mixture is almost boiled, it is ready to be enjoyed. The hot drink is traditionally consumed over the Christmas season.
Tempting Belgium chocolates infused with flavors such as caramel, fruit, spicy, nutty or floral notes are famous around the world.
Belgium chocolatesBelgium produces around 170,000 tons of chocolate each year and is well-known for its high quality and unique manufacturing techniques. The country is home to more than two thousand chocolatiers and also invented the praline in 1912, which became famous as the best chocolates in the world.
Christmas Attractions for Tourists in Belgium
You will find Christmas markets everywhere in Belgium offering freshly baked cookies and bread. Belgians adore Christmas and most of them also adore Christmas beer. The annual Christmas Beer Festival in the Essen region offers about 170 Belgium beers in all colors and flavors of which most tilt toward spicy, dark and strong. You can sample the highly recommended “gluehkriek,” a warm, spiced cherry beer. Each year, organizers in Brussels (Belgium’s capital) invite the smaller, craft breweries and taste every single beer to make sure it meets the standards.
Belgium is easily overshadowed by its neighbors, France and Germany, and is not quite Western Europe’s top tourist destination. One thing is sure; one can never spend enough time in Bruges. Bruges is a charming town located in the province of Flanders in the Flemish region of Belgium and is often referred to as “Venice of the North.” The town is filled with incredible history and offers magnificent sightseeing, superbly steamed mussels, beer and sublime chocolate.
brugesBruges boasts medieval architecture and notable buildings include Church of Our Lady, Basilica of the Holy Blood, Old St. John’s Hospital, Groeninge museum and Saint Salvator’s Cathedral. The medieval overtones of the town’s cobblestone streets lead to countless historical and artistic wonders. The 13th century Belfry is Bruges’ most famous landmark.
Once you went over the canal and inside the city walls, Bruges closes in around you with street after street of charming historic houses and canals. The “Heilige Bloed Basiliek” is a beautiful church in Gothic style on the Burg Square. The chapel underneath the church is built in Romanesque style.
The Jerusalem church is located in a more quiet area of the town and was built by the Adornes brothers and showcases Gothic stained glass. You can also visit the Lace Museum as the entrance fees for the Jerusalem church covers both.
A great place to visit is the Choco-Story Museum at Wijnzakstraat 2, Sint-Jansplein. The museum will learn and tell you everything there is to know about chocolate. Belcolade usually has an exhibition where you can get some excellent samples.
An amazing fine art gallery in the old Freemasons temple can be found at Twijnstraat 6-8, central city. Make sure to visit the chips (fries) museum, called Friet Museum, which is the only museum in the world to tell the story of the how the potato evolved into a fry.
For an amazing view of the city, you can visit the famous Belfry at Grote Markt. You can climb the 366 steps to the top of the 83-meter high tower and will be richly rewarded with breathtaking views of the charming city. While you are spending time at Grote Markt, you should also consider hiring a horse drawn cart for a romantic trip around the city.
Shopping and Eating in Bruges
There is a vast amount of chocolate shops in Kathelijnestraat and if you are willing to spend a little more make sure to visit the Chocolatier van Oost on Wollestraat. At Dumon, Simon Stevinplein 11, you can purchase high-end chocolate creations. The local supermarkets sell mass-produced chocolate at low prices. Have a look at brands such as Jacques and Côte-d’Or.
Mussels and “fricadellen” (meat balls) are outstanding in Belgium. De Bottelier, Ezelstraat (close to Sint-Jacobsstraat) is a popular restaurant among Bruges’ residents and offers excellent food.
The Brasserie Medard, Sint-Amandsstraat 18, offers a mountain of spaghetti with tomato sauce, cheese, and mushrooms for only 3 EUR. Tourists are not welcome until they sit. Be warned that if you wait to be seated, you are likely to be sent away for no reason.
The Cambrinus, Philipstockstraat 19, (phone: +32 50 332-328) is a very popular place. The restaurant has some of the best selection of Belgian beers, some with really odd names like Lucifer, Satan, Brunette or Nostradamus. Best is to make a reservation in advance to avoid disappointment.
A good way to start the night is to visit the backyard pub, De Garre, hidden down a little alley off Breidelstraat.
Garre BeerThe alleyway is less than a hundred yards from Markt. This is a superb traditional beer house in a historic building. Go there but be prepared to wait for a seat. The house beer at the pub is called “Triple de Garre” and is eleven percent strong. Highly recommended!
Entering and Getting Around Bruges
A large number of carriers offer direct flights to Brussels. Traveling to Bruges on Belgium’s excellent rail system is a great choice. The citizens of Bruges make fanatically use of their bikes and around sixty percent of the traffic coming into the city are cyclists. There are many bike rental companies, such as Quasimundo and Baia Bikes.
Belgium is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Belgium for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa.
To enter Belgium you need a valid passport. Europe nationals are required to carry travel documents such as an ID card or passport. By law, everyone in Belgium, including tourists, must carry some sort of ID on them at all times. For foreign visitors, this means your passport.

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One Response to “Waffles, Chocolates and Beer in Belgium”

  1. VisitSiena Says:

    looks delicious 🙂

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