January 2011


Another 800-miles north of Barcelona, Spain and I arrived in Brussels, Belgium.
Hopped on the train from the airport to the city. Quite an adventure for me, as everything was ‘foreign’ to me:
but I managed to get myself off the correct train station.
I didn’t want to venture out too far and get stranded, but proceeded on the cobblestone road, and did the touristy thing in the vicinity.

Which brought me into the Grand Palace town center

Only a few were on my list to try
1. Belgium waffles in…well, Belgium

2. Mussels from Brussels

3. Hand made me some Belgium Chocolate

in the land of chocolate


4. Manneken Pis – the pissing boy

which was much smaller than I imagined

5. Fritz – the fries, but I wasn’t too impressed. It was meaty, like steak fries to me and I am more into the crispy thin ones.

6. And another delicacy, I got the Filet Américan.

I recalled the this Mr. Bean episode, which made me even more enthused to try it out.
well, “When in Rome…”

Once again, made it back to the States just before another big snow storm #2 hit.

That was an exciting way to round up the year. I wonder when and where my next adventure will take me.

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Left the next morning, just before the huge snow storm in Europe hit. Thank goodness my friend stayed with me until I got checked in, as if the German language wasn’t overwhelming enough, I didn’t even know where to begin looking on the departure/arrival info.

After I got settled, I just hung around and soaked it all in like this guy.

Arrived in Barcelona where I met the soon to be newly weds at the airport. They were in a rush as they were still dealing with last minute plans before the wedding, so I was dropped us off at a house in Cerdanyola, Spain.
Friend’s “mom” had a quick lunch waiting for us.

Finished the salad and I thought that was it, until she brought out a tray of baked chicken….oh moms…they’re universal.

Headed out the to the city to check out the Christmas Market and the night life. So did everyone else.

Lights everywhere, down every street. I wonder where the city stores all the decorations afterwards?

Stopped at Trencadis for some food and called it a night since jet lag started to kick in.

Once all of the people from the states arrived in Spain, some of us wanted to venture out to the city, by taking their public transportation. By the way, transpo here puts the California public transportation system to shame…once we were able to find it though.

Found the tracks, and saw the train, but where was the station to hop onboard?

Eventually made our way into Barcelona, Spain. I didn’t really do any research for the area and knew the hosts would bring us to the must see spots in Spain. What was on my list was of course had to deal their specialties:

Paella:

the pintxos bar:

Somewhat tapas/buffet style. You walk with a plate and grab from the displays the bread topped with various ingredients from salmon to cheese, to my ever so favorite jamón. To pay your bill, they count how many toothpicks remain on your plate. I can see how this may be a problem for them with my mischievous past 🙂

the churros con chocolate, thick sludge like hot chocolate to dip with the churros:

the coffee:

Explored the famed architect, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, thou his work is scattered all over the city.

Visited Els Quatre Gats, where young Picasso use to frequent, known for a gathering place for artists:

and how can I pass up black ink squid paella if it’s on the menu. No is not an option for me when exploring a new country 🙂

a little flamenco dancing:

Still have a wedding to get to, more time in Spain, and then off to Brussels, Belgium!!!

I got a chance to attend a wedding in Spain and I jumped at the offer. I knew some of the places in Europe was going to be cold, LIKE SNOW COLD, so I tried to prepare the best that I could being from sunny California.

We almost didn’t make it though. While taxiing on the runway, about to take off, we turned around because a passenger had a panic attack. With a 2-hour delay which included heading back to the gates, escorting the passenger off, digging out their baggage, and refueling, we were back on our way.

Got to pick my layover locations, so first stop was Wiesbaden, Germany via Frankfurt, to see a college friend.

It’s been a while, but thanks to the social networking of today, we were able to meet up, even if it was for less than 24hrs. She moved there last year and was pretty excited to show me why she was excited about this place. First we took her dog out for a stroll in a park not too far from her place.  Took in some of nature’s art, (seems as if I stepped into a postcard scenery)

and then some “art” art

Dropped the dog back at the house, and we were off to the city.
Went to a gummy bear candy store.

Ate at a currywurst restaurant, Curry Manufaktur in Wiesbaden.
Sausages were cut into slices and seasoned with curry sauce, consisting of tomato paste or other spices blended with curry and topped with curry powder. Not being able to read or even order my food had me pretty apprehensive. Good thing I had my ‘local’ tour guide to help me out, and ended up with a huge plate of their specialty.

Jet lag kicked in and we headed back for a nap. We headed back out at night.
Walked through the Christmas Market, and drooled over more food.
Like the Flammkuchen, a flat bread pizza with cheese, potatoes and ham



Schokokuss
, Chocolate coated marshmallows with many different flavorings inside.

23Karat gold covered cashew nuts displayed at the candied nut stall.

Poffertjes. Somewhat like the Chinese Egg Puff/Eggettes, but this version is dressed with vanilla sauceand powdered sugar.


Keep in mind the Christmas Market takes place outdoors, and in the winter!

While gathering around outdoor tables, and breathing out into the coldest of airs, people would chatting away with a cup of Glühwein (hot mulled red wine with spices) to take the chill off. Since I’m not a fan of the taste of alcohol, but just to experience it, I managed a few sips and it definitely kept me warm.

This trip is all about exploring new eats for me, and this leg of the trip in Germany was a success.

The next morning I left for Barcelona and realized I left just before a huge snow storm hit Europe.
Pretty lucky my friend said, and I agreed it was a close one.