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Archive for June, 2009

We visited Chris and Saskia who live in Heerlen, NL last weekend. Had a great time exploring Hasselt in Belgium where Chris picked us up from the station and where we found the yellow duckie, lunching in Maastricht, BBQing Saturday evening and riding in Saskia’s horse drawn carriage on Sunday morning. We spent all our spare time having fun playing with Saskia’s six (it used to be more!) Tonkinese cats.

Photos from the Netherlands

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A quick one, not focused on food. Hopefully this provides a few helpful nuggets if you’re planning a visit to Bruges. If you’ve already been, and have advice to add (especially Bruge restaurant recommendations) I’d love to hear from you.

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A little Bruges sky thinking


Getting to Bruges

The closest international airport is Brussels, and from there it’s another 1 hour train journey to Bruge. If visiting from Europe, train lines are well connected. We took a 6 hr bus ride from London for £25 per person. The bus sat in a train carriage while going through the EuroTunnel. Kinda like a heavy transport version of turducken.

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Staying in Bruges

Bruge is a tiny walkable city, and the footpaths radiating around the old city are lush with flora and canals. So if on a budget, staying outside of the city gates might be a more value-for-money option. We paid €55 a night for a double-bed with ensuite bathroom.

Het Wit Beertje (their website shows photos that are pretty accurate)
Witte Beerstraat 4
Bruges

Our host Jean-Pierre Defour was friendly, attentive and served a generous breakfast of bread, vanilla custard pastry, meat, cheese and cucumber yoghurt (and fruit and yoghurt off screen).

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Getting around in Bruge

You can walk the entire old city in a day, and going on foot makes it easy to nip into quiet pretty little residential lanes.

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Or for the full tourist experience, you can canter around town in a horse carriage or do a boat tour of the canals.

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Things to do in Bruge

Besides the usual art and city history museums, 4 slightly kookier options are the Haalve Maan Brewery Museum, the Diamond Museum, the Friet Museum and the Chocolate Museum. The latter 2 have many “exhibits” for tasting and the Chocolate Museum sells all kinds of moulds for home-based chocolatiers.

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Five Fun Friet Facts, and then Farewell

  • Potatoes were largely shunned as poor man’s food when they were first introduced in England. Their market value rose only after a savvy farmer put fences and guards around his potato fields, making them seem valueable. Gotta love old school marketing
  • China is currently the largest global producer of potatotes, even though potatoes play no significant role in Chinese cuisine
  • Friets are allegedly a Belgian invention. Fishermen who caught and fried little minnows tossed potato bits into hot oil one harsh winter when the fish weren’t biting.
  • Friets ended up being called French Fries in America because some French-speaking Belgian soldiers offered them to some American soldiers during WWII. The Belgian soldiers never got around to correcting them, possibly because they didn’t think Walloon Fries sounded much better
  • Friets were traditionally fried in a mixture of beef fat and horse fat

For more research and ideas on Bruges, Wikitravel provides a well-researched write-up.

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This is a belated “thank-you so very much” to the generous souls who kept us well fed in last days of Babs and me winding down our London kitchen. As you can see from the photos, we were well taken care of!

Thanks to Dom & Jas, for hosting quite possibly the classiest BBQ I’ve been to ever (down to the home-and-hand-made chocolate truffles… Jas you need to share your recipe here please!). Thanks to EJ, for doing the early morning schlep to Billingsgate to get obscenely fresh prawns and sardines.

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Thanks to Frank and Em, for keeping it real, sharing your engagement brownie with us, as well as all your wisdom on South America (we’ll be harassing from the road closer to the time). Not to mention a very fierce game of Pictionary!

And finally thanks to my mum-in-law, whose lunchbox-for-2 was the absolute last (and much needed) meal in our flat, eaten on the floor of our empty living room just before we handed over the keys and headed out with our backpacks. I’ll be needing more briyani practice sessions in India in December…

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Here’s to breaking bread together again somewhere sooner rather than later.

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In Bruges

Wen and Obelix

We made it through our first stop, Bruges, a pretty town with great weather (while we were here), which was lucky as we’re only starting to get to grips with living on a tight budget, and walking around pretty towns in good weather is, well, free.

Wen and many types of potato

The only tourist attraction we splashed out on was a combined ticket to the frites museum and the chocolate museum. Two of my favourite, if not healthiest, foods – how could we resist? The museums were educational too, weaving in the native American histories of each with stories of the European explorers who brought them eventually to Belgium’s shores.

More pics of Bruges

Amir

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Version 15 June 2009

17 June: Leave London, head to Belgium and Netherlands

21 – 25 June: Paris
Last weekend of June: Meet friends in San Sebastian. Possibly end trip by spending entire budget on pintxos.

1st week of July: Volunteer on farm in Orgiva, near Granada in Southern Spain
2nd week of July: Morocco
3rd week of July: Pay homage to Barcelona, take boat to Rome

2nd half of July: Rome, go across Italy to Bari to take a boat to Dubrovnik; Vienna, Prague
1st half of August: Berlin, Krakow, Warsaw, Vilnius

2nd half of August: Riga, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Moscow
End of August: Take first flight on the trip, to Istanbul

September: Check out Ramadan night life – Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Quite likely celebrate Eid in Egypt

October – November: East Africa and South Africa

December: India

2010

Mid Janauary: Zip over to Ghana for a Dzakpasu clan celebration

Early February: Zip back to Goa and Coorg in India to be a guest at my first full scale (finally) Indian wedding.

(After this we’re really talking broad sketches)

February – March: Drift east towards China. Ideally through Nepal, but I’m not yet convinced this is doable in Fe-brrrrrrrrrrrr-uary. Route through South East Asia to be decided, but need to get to Singapore for Grandma’s 95th birthday bash in late March.

April: Plotting to celebrate Bab’s 30th in Tokyo, Japan. Maybe some combination of Korea and China afterwards

May: Australia and New Zealand, if we have any money left

June: Here’s where we realized there’s still South America to go, and it will need 3 months. Whatever else happens, by hook or by crook we’re going to Argentina.

“But what about the USA?!”

We’d love to, but we simply can’t afford a big USA odyssey this time around. Driving coast to coast in America is still on my to-do list. Sometime, somehow, someway.

Stay tuned.

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Friends,

You will have heard about our hare-brained scheme to various degrees, and while we have had many sceptical moments, here we are — our last day in London.

On Wednesday morning we start our 12 month (maybe 18?) honeymoon + sabbatical by getting on a bus to Bruge, and from there head slowly eastwards with as few flights as possible until we wind our way back around again.

Follow us on Twitter: worldwidewabs

If you need to reach us, email is best.
If it’s urgent, use these numbers below – we’ll be forwarding them to our local SIM cards wherever we end up.

Amir: +44 70 1776 9969
Wen: +44 70 1785 2208

Take care of each other while we’re gone – looking forward to catching up with you again soon!

Wen & Babs

P.S. If this is the first you’ve heard of any of this, it probably means we’re long overdue for a catch up on the road sometime somewhere.


Our life in boxes …

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