Who hasn’t heard of Belgium chocolates? Me, until about five years ago. I was in Portland attending a conference with a friend and was wandering around the downtown shops. My eyes the words that sprung CHOCOLATE on its glass door. The small store invited me to come in with its simple “come in” sign.
A tall, thin man, standing behind the counter, wearing an apron over his light blue shirt and I struck a conversation immediately about their speciality.
“What is special about these chocolates?”
“We fly these chocolates from Belgium…The chocolatier crafts the chocolate…giving them a complex flavor,” he excitedly campaigned for every morsel of white, dark, and milk chocolate in the house.
I sunk my teeth into one of their most popular selection.
“My gosh! What have I been putting in my mouth all this time?”
“It is smooth on the inside and on the outside. The fillings are creamy and not too sweet.”
“I got it. You don’t need to tell me anymore.”
I almost wanted to lick my finger.
“Pack a dozen for me and another half dozen for a gift, please.”
I came home and licked off every bit of chocolate on my hand as I thanked the people who were finest in their craft.
Couple of years later, I believe the store closed. But I still dream of chocolates from Belgium. Since I am taking a break to drink a cup of coffee at this time. I am going to do some research on travel dreams. These are places, activities, and foods on my bucket list that I have never tried or want to try again.
Going back to chocolates and dreams, Belgium is where we are going today. I got to get to Belgium first. Let’s see if somehow I get to Belgium what will I do.
Learning about Belgium and what it has to offer
Of course, I would want to go visit a chocolate maker, so I can have a fresh batch. But hold on, what does Google say about what to do in Belgium while I stuff myself with only Belgium chocolates?
Google tells me that there are few places to see in Belgium, castles for starters.
I have never visited a real castle. The Gravensteen castle looks like a castle that has stories to tell. That’s because it was built in the 10th century. Then there is the Gothic Cathedral and Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.
After doing some research about the places to visit, I see that I have more than three reasons to go to Belgium now. In addition to those sites, I would like to go to a real chocolate house, and taste house made Belgium chocolates.
How would I plan this trip to find chocolates?
Since I would probably go as a long weekend trip, I am thinking of going for three days four days max.
The dream trip I am planning is assuming that I have reached Brussels andI have checked in already in a downtown hotel for the first night.
I reviewed at the map of Belgium and goggled the distance for my first two sights. The maps said it is 1 hour and 9 minutes by car. I wondered if I could take the train that, since I love trains.
Yes, there is a train, time varying from 1 hour 16 minutes to 1 hour 27 minutes. Since this would be a very short train trip, I will take the less expensive fare and ride the scenic train to another destination.
My first touring site will be the cathedral. According U.S. News, the cathedral viewing is free but the archeological site requires an admission fee. I might add that on the tour.
I figured that tour alone would take up to lunchtime since I like to read and take pictures of places I like to visit.
After all that walking, by lunchtime, I might just get a cup of coffee and Brussels local dish.
Then after lunch, I would go the castle and see if I could spend the night in it. If I can’t I will return back to the hotel. Gosh talk about a shock going from a castle to a hotel? That’s ok. Chocolate will soothe the jolting disappointment.
If the night is not going to be spent in that well-known castle, I wonder if there are other interesting accommodations in Brussels like tiny houses. It remains to be seen, whether the second night will be in a hotel, a castle, or a tiny home. I still vote for the castle. (Remember this is a travel dream, you can go anywhere for a few minutes).
Now, the second day of the tour, the plan is to grab a quick breakfast. After that, I will have to start doing some street talking with the locals. I would have to start striking a conversation with the locals to direct me to the finest chocolate houses and or the chocolate emporiums. I don’t mean fancy, I mean real, real good chocolates where you can smell the dark rich flavor before even you see it.
You might ask why don’t you just look at the Apps. You were using search engines and Apps to get you there earlier.
Friends, let me tell you. I know the apps and the books are great at providing recommendations but sometimes I find that there are hidden spots that just where only a few know about which are only shared amongst the locals.
After getting the information, I will rush to the chocolate house by taking a taxi, unless I can walk there. I assume the best chocolate house is going to be in someone’s house, near a castle, like a retired chocolatier who only serves chocolates on Sundays for the joy of pleasure.
By late afternoon my tummy will be full of so much sweet that it would like a lick of sour.
What do the locals eat in Belgium?
If I don’t have any word of mouth for foods from the locals, I would rely on the search engines. At this time, a search in Google tells me that there are variety of foods to eat in Brussels. Of course, the Belgian Waffle tops the list. How could I ever forget that? That was my favorite at the good old breakfast place before the easy and fast breakfast café’s took over?
But no, I won’t eat Belgium waffle for lunch; I will save the best for the last day. It will be a spur of the moment decision between mussels and the Belgium deep-fried shrimp for lunch. I think my tongue wants something shrimpy, shared with a good glass of Belgium beer. Then the plan would be to go to local pub for that taste.
After I find a pub to have lunch and strike more conversations with the locals about their life, their town, their hopes and dreams, I would do some minimal shopping for people back home. With the full lunch I had hours ago, I would be probably too full to eat dinner unless it is going to be chocolates
By day four, hopefully, I would had made some friends by then. My friends would have given me a good sense of the place. Art and architecture, new and old around town is how I would spend it after Belgium Waffles. It’s almost time to return
Now, I better check out and go back to work until my next virtual tour come knocking in my travel dreams.
P.S. I did find a box of chocolates in the meantime. Thanks to my friend’s mom.