Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving -- Visit to Bruge, Belgium

We had a great Thanksgiving week.  Grant attends an American School, so he had Thursday & Friday off.  Vanderbilt had the week off, so Kate came home.  And due to some technical difficulties, Lori's planned business trip to South Africa didn't happen so she was home as well.  We took advantage of the break to spend some time in Bruge, Belgium. 

Bruge has a beautiful old city center with an abundance of Medieval Gothic architecture.  The town has avoided major war activity so everything is intact and original.  Its biggest threats now are the swarms of tourists who come to enjoy the beauty.  But you can avoid the throngs if you visit in late November on an evening when the temperature is near freezing and it's hailing.

Great tourist weather

The Town Hall.  Note the many statues on the wall
 We managed to take a break from historic architecture to visit the French Fry museum.  It was a real gem.  The story started with the history of the potato, which originated in Peru.  How the potato got from South America to Europe is a "hotly debated topic" according to the museum.  Some claim they came from Peru, while others believe that Argentina should receive the credit.  While they are called French Fries, the cooking technique actually originated in Belgium (I wonder if the French would also call this a hotly debated topic?).  It seems that US soldiers in WWI enjoyed the fries served by French speaking Belgium folks.  The soldiers mistakedly assumed the cooks were French, called the hot, crispy potatoes "French Fries" and Belgium lost out on a huge advertising opportunity forever. 

One final potato fact --- in Belgium they cook French Fries twice.  First, they are fried at 130 degrees C for 6-7 minutes.  The fries then sit for 10-15 minutes before the final frying at 180 degrees C for 1-3 minutes.  We have had fries cooked this way before and they are quite tasty.  We are so European that we eat them with mayonnaise now, too.   
Enjoying Double Cooked French Fries at the Museum

We concluded the weekend with a stopover in Antwerp to visit the Sechlers.  Ben was home from college as well, so it was the first time all 8 of us had been together since we travelled to Egypt two years ago.  Carol prepared a great turkey dinner and we toasted Lori & I's 27th wedding anniversary.

Even the basements are interesting.  This Christmas shop was in a 600 year old building named the "Pelican Building".  It had a Pelican Statue on it's facade. 
Town Hall in the evening

An example of a building with religous symbols built into the corner.  One belief is that in the olden times this would qualify the building as a religous structure, thereby providing a tax break.  Sounds similar to some current day strategies.
Roof detail

The anniversary couple

One of Bruge's many canals.  Grant and Mark climbed the 380 stairs of the Belfry that you see in the background. 

Even medieval towns have a sense of humor. 

Another version of the portable sign

A beautiful canal.  In the fall and spring these scenes are stunning.

The Market Square

No comments:

Post a Comment