Belgian Blitz


As part of my mid-30s birthday celebration this weekend, we hopped a train bound for Belgium, the land famous for its delicious beer and out-of-this-world fries. Apparently they have chocolate, too.

As opposed to German beer, which honors the simplicity of making the most out of four ingredients, Belgian beer celebrates various styles from light and fruity to dark and make-you-forget-your name, along with every permutation in-between.

We blazed through Brussels, Bruges and Ghent over a long weekend but never felt like we were rushing. Between the museums, architecture and historic sites, there were plenty of distractions, but, as you can see by Molly’s photo essay below, we maintained our focus.
round one: cafe in Brussels
round two: pouring like a pro
round three: dinner in Bruges
round four: bike ride to Damme
round five: kwak and a Bruges tripel

round six: put your leffe in, put your leffe out

round seven: mussels in beer (and beer) in Bruges
round 8: cold chillin' at the train station
round 9: a day in the life in Ghent

round 10: sidewalk sale

round 11: back in Brussels
round 12: still thirsty
round 13: it's getting darker
round 14: Brussels bar, repeated
round 15: designated "regulars"

round 16: unpack, move in


Another trip to Dresden; So it goes ...

The New Town, in all its hip glory.

I went to Dresden. Again. Last weekend was my 6th trip in the past four years to the Vonnegut-famed city, including a two-week stint for a German course in February highlighted by a monumental, albeit brief, run in with Bill Murray

But I still went. Again. I grabbed my friend Caroline, left Jeremy to hone is hausfrau skills, and went. Again.

Graffiti dances over the New Town
Our time in Europe is coming to an end; and we wrestle with trying something new versus revisiting our favorite places. We have so much earth in Europe we haven’t walked on, new cultures (and food!) to experience. So why visit somewhere you’ve been many times before?

It’s simple. When you revisit a city, your surroundings become more vivid. It’s like watching a movie more than once – your understanding of the plot deepens, you notice secondary nuances.

Likewise, with a city, you begin to learn the culture outside of museums and tourist-packed walkways. The city becomes more familiar and you become more familiar in it - people stop to ask you for directions; glances and friendly smiles from passersby on the backstreets become commonplace.

You are in it. And Dresden in one of favorite places to be “in it.”

A glimpse at the Old Town from the Elbe River.
The city was completely destroyed during World War II, and until the ‘90s, remained in a somewhat state of devastation. Now, it is a rebuilt version of its historic self. The baroque architecture is peppered with new innovative structures creating a unique mix of old and new.

Vonnegut's protector.
The Elbe River separates the New and Old towns. The New Town is actually the eldest, as it endured the least bit of destruction and was rebuilt first. But it appears newer with its gridlocked rows of concrete communist-era buildings, tagged with elaborate works of graffiti. 

The Old Town was built with new materials masked by the rubble of its former self to give that old town feel. The Frauenkirchen, a beautiful church in the center of the Old Town, was rebuilt meticulously using original pieces placed in the exact same spot as it stood in the former structure.

And it works. It all works. The city is inviting. The New Town is hip and fresh, full of artists and hippies, bars and vintage clothing store. The locals of the New Town refer to their side of the river as "the dark side." 

The Old Town is refined with quiet restaurants and quaint shops lining cobble-stoned streets, flushed with churches, monuments of yesteryear, and an impressive castle once belonging to Augustus the Strong. 

It is without a doubt worth a visit to Dresden if you find yourself in Germany. For me, it may even warrant a move. Because like St. Louis and Honolulu, Dresden feels like home - not just “a” home, but home. 

And sometimes it feels good to just go home.