Gaming in Poperinge!

As promised (although a few weeks late…sorry), here are the games we played while on our weekend getaway in Watou. ¬†We traveled to the nearby city of Poperinge to a bar with a “witchy” theme!

We played “bar olympics” as Joe named it (reminiscent of our college bar olympic days ūüôā – a lot more beer drank then for me though)! ¬†It was girls versus guys. ¬†Here are some of the games:

Note: The games were almost all wooden and very old Рno electronic mechanisms here.  Growing up I was an avid Nintendo and Gameboy player, but an old-fashioned game is just SO much better!

Game 1:  Throw the metal plate into the holes (as you can tell, I have NO idea what the names are)!

Frog gets the most points!

Frog gets the most points!

Here is Joe showing off the metal plates that you throw.  Obviously, you want the metal plates to go down the holes on top of the structure.  The first to 8,000 points wins!

See the "witch" decor in the background...haha.

Game 2:¬†Fling your wooden pucks into your opponents area! ¬†If you look closely, you can see that there is string on each side where you would fling the wood pucks off…

This was by far my favorite! ¬†It was fast and you could not take your eyes off the game (no blinking…actually hurt after awhile)!

LOVE!

Game 3: Reminds of Hungry, Hungry, Hippo…basically you squeeze your air thingy to push the ball away from your area. ¬†You do NOT want the ball to land in the whole by you!

Definitely harder than it looks to squeeze those things!

Game 4: Reminds me of bocce ball…except with HUGE heavy wooden cheese blocks as “balls.” ¬†Sorry, not the best picture, but the cement block was where you wanted your cheese block to land after thrown (the closest team gets points – up to 11)!

Game 5: Swing a rope with a ball attached to knock down the witches (again, the theme of the bar)! ¬†This game was very easy…

Joe setting up the witches after I dominated!

There were quite a few more games that we did play, that unfortunately, I do not have pictures of. ¬†We will definitely be going back as I KNOW we’ll be back to Watou this coming fall!

Weekend in Watou: Getaway #2

Do you all remember this wonderful weekend?  Well, we decided to go back this past weekend with some friends and had another great weekend in Watou!

We drove into town on Saturday morning and we’re greeted by the wonderful hostess, Jackie, at the Watou Sint-Bernardus B&B! ¬†She showed us to our rooms and we were SO excited to try out a new room in the main house. ¬†We had the room on the top floor. ¬†Each room in the main house is themed – the themes are the different types of Sint-Bernardus beer brewed next door. ¬†Our room theme was the ‘Grottenbier.’

Yum!

Source

Fittingly, our room was blue to match the beer label.  Check it out.  It was adorable, big, and very clean!

Cute!

Loved this vanity!

View from the bed area leading to the bathroom/entrance way

After we checked in, we were off to visit the famous Westvleteren Abbey.  For those of you who do not know, this is supposed to be the BEST beer brewery in Belgium.  I believe I read that the beer has been brewed for centuries (check out the link above).

I did not really know what to expect, but was amazed at how BEAUTIFUL it was!  Unfortunately, they do not allow visitors to see the brewery, but there is a cafe where you can have some snacks and try the infamous beer.

Note: The beer is exclusively sold at the abbey and you must call to reserve a case when available. ¬†When you purchase the case, you are forbidden to sell commercially…

The abbey!

Of course, we stopped by the cafe for a snack and a drink. ¬†The guys got to try the infamous beer and the gals (prego) got to enjoy nice water/soda. ¬†Yum…:-). ¬†I did not take a picture of my meal (just a Croque Monseur – grilled cheese), but did snap a photo of the local specialty. ¬†For the life of me, I can’t remember what it is called. ¬†BUT, it was described as…chicken in a lemony-like jello…

The 'Local Specialty'

After lunch we proceeded to explore the small towns in the countryside by stopping at some local pubs to play “Bar Olympics.” ¬†More on that next post as it is VERY interesting and I have quite a few pics!!!

 

The Ghent 2012 Light Festival!

A couple weeks back, Joe and I had the pleasure of going to the 2nd Annual Ghent Light Festival!

Ok, so I was skeptical, 2nd annual – hasn’t been running¬†that long…but BOY was I wrong. ¬†It was absolutely amazing!!!

Basically, it is a walking tour around the entire city at night where you can stop and see about 20 different light shows (created by amazing artists) projected onto the city’s buildings, waterways, etc. ¬†We ended up going on a Friday night and it was CROWDED. ¬†I heard some 100,000 people showed up that night. ¬†Next year, we are definitely going to try and hit up Sunday night for crowd control.

Here are some of our favorite exhibits (photos courtesy of Joe):

Main attraction: Light Show in the Korenmarkt

Korenmarkt, again!

***The main attraction was the light show in the Korenmarkt. ¬†It was a continuous “movie” on the building above. ¬†It was absolutely amazing (had music to go with it). ¬†I’m not sure how they did it, but the pictures were so crisp and clear (sorry, the photos don’t do it justice – we haven’t figured out the night option on our camera yet)!

Belfortstraat!

You could walk through it!

The Belfortstraat display above was BY FAR my favorite.  You rounded the corner and seriously could not help but gasp at the structure Рbrightness, size, # of lights, etc.  I LOVED walking through it.  You might not be able to tell, but there are huge chandeliers hanging down the center.

Sint Jakobs Cathedral

The church was pretty cool too.  If you stood in line, you could dance on some sort of projector and your moves were projected onto the church (the picture above is of a little kid dancing Рobviously, they are multiplied to create 1000 little kids).

Gravensteen Castle

The castle also had a light show.  We stayed to see some lizards and hearts projected onto the tower!

Honestly, a really great night festival that was family friendly.  I think it brought a lot of tourism and good publicity to Gent.  Hopefully, 2013 will be the 3rd Annual!

Here are some of the professional links I found on the light festival:

http://www.lichtfestivalgent.be/en/lfg-2012/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/31/light-festival-ghent-2012_n_1245311.html

 

Cologne Christmas Market!

As you know, we explored the numerous Cologne Christmas Markets this past weekend!

We drove into town and found parking quite easily. ¬†We thought that we might have “beat the crowds,” but wow were we wrong. ¬†It was SO crowded. ¬†So much so, that it was tough to enjoy all the stands and browse/make purchases. ¬†However, we still had a good time and were amazed at the dedication the Germans have to decorating for the Holidays. ¬†It is AMAZING – best I’ve ever seen!

Here are some of our pics!

Entrance to the main market!

The first bite: Melted cheese on bread, what's not to like?!

Rides for the kiddies!

Entrance to the "Altstadt" Market!

Gluhwein stand - LOVED the wood!

Awesome mugs you got!

HAD to get my Lebkuchen cookies!

Of course, no stop in Cologne is complete without taking a little break at the “bierhaus.”

Slightly annoyed with my picture taking...

As we were walking along the Rhein river, we came across a “floating” Christmas Market! ¬†To bad it cost $$ to get on…

Ship Market!

We made one last walk through the main market set beside the beautiful Dom Cathedral.  Joe took over the camera and took some amazing shots with the sun going down!

Look at all those people!

My favorite pic of the day!

Overall a beautiful atmosphere and amazing stands – each market was like its own little village. ¬†Next year I’d prefer to go earlier during the season or on a weekday to avoid the crowds!

A last note – I drove home that night. ¬†My first experience driving on the autobahn and in Germany & the Netherlands. ¬†Boom! ūüôā

Off to the Koln Christmas Market!!!

I can’t tell you HOW excited I am to be able to visit an actual Christmas Market in Deutschland!¬† It’s like the best present EVER.

Today we are heading to the Christmas Market in Cologne/Koln. ¬†It’s a short 2.5 hour drive from Gent. ¬†Here is the link if you want to check it out!

Angel's Christmas Market at Neumarkt Square

Koln Christmas!

Source

I can’t wait to eat tons of LEBKUCHEN!

Source

Of course, I’ll be back and post pics and let you know how it goes!

Happy Saturday! ūüôā

Christmas in Belgie, Part 2

If you’ve read Part 1, then you know what is coming:

The BRUSSELS Christmas Market!

I was very excited¬†to go to this market. ¬†It was raining all day Saturday and I was rather blue (ok, understatement – I cried). ¬†I felt that I needed to go back to the USA asap to experience my true Holiday traditions. ¬†I know, seriously, I can be a baby. ¬†I am truly thankful for my experiences here, even if I have my moments….

Anyway,¬†it cleared up around 4pm and was 50F degrees. ¬†It was perfect —> off we went!

Joe's vending machine beer - for the train ride, of course! **Yes, you had insert your ID!

Bear with me, there are a LOT of pictures, so I’ll keep the chit-chat to a minimum. ¬†We entered the Christmas Market (which has +150 little huts). ¬†My favorites are below:

The Entrance - get your gluhwein! Perhaps to get a little tipsy so you'll buy things?!

Mmm, bread anyone?!

Traditional German wooden items...

My fave - glass ornaments!

After walking around for a bit (and of course, buying a couple things – HELLO ornaments), we decided we were hungry. ¬†Joe originally wanted to stop and sit down at a restaurant. ¬†I was NOT having that – how could we leave this magical (I know, gaggish) place?! ¬†I said that I was SURE there would be food to eat. ¬†Except, I didn’t say food…I tried to come up with an exciting thing Joe would want to eat…but, what came out was…”I’m sure there is warm meat available…” ¬†He was NOT enthused, but…look what we found:

Joe's food...warm meat of some sort...!

My food - Roasted potatoes & mushrooms!

And of course, how could we forget dessert?!

AMAZING...I bought a LOT of treats for the week!

But couldn't wait to have hot chocolate and this lil guy!

Belgian "Speculoos" cookies - VERY popular!

This display drew me in...it was adorbs. May or may not have bought some "stocking stuffers" for the siblings!

After meandering around, it was time to head back to the Grand Place for the light show. ¬†I’m going to be honest, it was seriously beautiful. ¬†The show had music playing throughout the centrum with lights darting along all the beautiful buildings. ¬†There were even ballerina’s and an opera singer. ¬†Yes, I may or may not have teared-up here too. ¬†Seriously, what is wrong with me?! ¬†ūüôā ¬†My pictures do not do it justice, but…take a look!

City Hall...

Ballerina's...supposed to be like a "Snow Globe"

City Hall, again!

The tree!!!! Amazing

Again, the awesome tree! I seriously LOVE Christmas trees!

A wonderful evening!

Hope you enjoyed – this was one of my favorite posts and also just happens to be my 100th post!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American blog readers!!!

Joe and I are thankful for so many different things this year – our experiences overseas, my acceptance into MBA school, our many visitors, and of course, our happy and healthy family and friends. ¬†We’re celebrating the holiday for the first time out of America. ¬†Instead…we’re in Switzerland! ūüôā ¬†Just another thing to be thankful for…

Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Sarah & Joe

Love to our family and friends back home. ¬†We miss you so much. ūüôā

PS – I’ve been really MIA on this blog the last week…lots of updates to come next week!

Day trip to Wallonia!

With the long weekend, Joe and I decided a day trip was in order. ¬†When we travelled to Luxembourg¬†(awesome) awhile back, we drove through Wallonia (the Southeast region of Belgium). ¬†The landscape is very different from Flanders – think mountains, valley’s, rivers, chateau’s, etc. ¬†We’ve had wanted to stop and visit some of the towns, but it was a rainy and cold day…so…we thought, let’s visit Wallonia this weekend!

First stop: Namur (capitol of the region)

We basically parked the car and walked randomly through the city (best way to explore small towns- in our opinion).  Here are some pics:

Walking along the river...citadel in the back!

River walk...

Warning: If you drive into the water...this is what happens.

Beautiful!

City center!

Do they have chips & salsa & nachos?!

Gorgeous church!

Second stop: Floreffe

Note: This town is small.  It took us about 3 different tries/turns around, etc to get here.  I read about an abbey that is producing beer and thought this would be great to see.  After about 45 minutes, we finally found it!  (Stopping to ask people in Wallonia is difficult Рall French speaking)!  

So glad we kept looking because we found this beauty!

The Abbey dates back to the 11oo’s! ¬†The monks here produced the Floreffe beer (still produced today). ¬†The abbey is also well-known for a specific bread recipe that one of the Sister’s made at the turn of the 20th century. ¬†The restaurant onsite sells both the beer and the bread (you KNOW we stopped there)! ¬†The seminary is still operating today…

Floreffe Abbey grounds...

Abbey church

Amazing!

View from the Abbey (set on a huge hill)

So peaceful!

Of course...we tried the beer & the bread!

Third & Final stop:  Dinant

Our last stop was to the small city of Dinant (population of about 10,000 people). ¬†A couple people had recommended that we go to this picturesque town on the river. ¬†It did NOT fail to impress…so beautiful. ¬†The city’s claim to fame is that the saxophone creator is from Dinant – and they DEFINITELY promote this (see pics below). ¬†We walked around for quite a bit enjoying the buildings along the river, the church, and the little shops. ¬†Sadly, the gondola up to the citadel was closed for the day, so we’ll have to go back!

View from the river...

Church & citadel in the background...

Saxophones lining the bridge...

Since it was dark, my pictures were not of the best quality…ugh!

To end our day, we stopped off for a bite to eat on the river at Cafe Leffe.  Pork for Joe and salmon for me.  We were brave and tried an unknown appetizer (again, ALL french)!  Luckily, it was delish!

Goat cheese with honey, apples, and raisins...

It’s amazing how much of Belgium you can see in about 8 hours…it was a lovely drive through the countryside.

Choco-late Festival!!!

As I mentioned yesterday, we went to Brugge to explore the “choco-late festival!” ¬†(The official link)!

We figured – we are in the chocolate capitol of the world (yea, Belgian choco, sorry Swiss) – how can we NOT go to a festival?! ¬†Plus, this festival is every other year so who knows where we’ll be in 2013?!

At first, we were a little skeptical about the line to get in…

I can smell the choco!!!

But, LET me tell you this Рwell worth the wait.  There was NO shortage on the free chocolate!  DEFINITELY got my 10 euros worth (entry cost)!

When you walked into the building, you were immediately taken over by the smell of all things chocolate. ¬†There were many booths/vendors set up that we demonstrating making chocolate, painting with chocolate, areas to buy chocolate, education areas (how a bean becomes chocolate), etc. ¬†One area left us quite bewildered – they literally had 2 people from South America sitting on the floor behind a poster of an area where chocolate beans come from…quite odd right)?

Anyway, the first exhibit (also quite odd) was furniture with drizzled chocolate. ¬†Yes, these were for sale…

Um, no thanks!

We then stopped to see a demonstration on how chocolate is made into little figurines…basically, liquid choco put into a mold and then cooled in the fridge at a designated temp! ¬†I got a sample!

Dark choco bunny anyone?!

Next up – a HUGE choco block. ¬†Yes, you could seriously pound it and then eat it…those are choco shavings on the floor!

Crazy big!

We also saw some chocolate cakes and chocolate mousse being made.  Seriously, I wish I was that talented at decorating treats!

Mouth watering...

The last exhibit on the first floor was free hot chocolate! ¬†When was the last time you had hot chocolate?! ¬†Joe and I could not remember…but vowed we’d have it again soon.

Yes, that topiary is all chocolate!

Upstairs were more demonstrations and more taste testing…as well as some CUTE gift ideas!

Stocking stuffer?! Check out those little hats! - Those are chocolate blocks to stir in your coffee!

Just chattin on my choco Iphone

As well as some more “artistic” chocolate…

Chocolate marzipan creatures...

AND even chocolate people!

Last but not least…what is a choco fest without a…

Choco fountain!

All in all, pretty fun and tasty festival! ¬†We definitely left with a bit of a choco hangover…but, whatevs, well worth it.

OH – and one last thing…as you exited, you were given a free orange…perhaps to “undo” the overload of chocolate?! ¬†I took one…Joe said, no thanks! ūüôā

London-town recap!

Let me just say a few things before I let the pictures speak for themselves:

I LOVE London. ¬†Remember when I said that Paris was my fave? ¬†Well, London has inched out for the #1 spot. ¬†It’s true.

We used points (A LOT of points) to reserve two nights at the Intercontinental London Park Lane.¬† WHOA. ¬†Let me tell you that this was an extremely nice hotel in an extremely nice location! ¬†From the minute you drive up to the minute you leave, there are about 5-10 people welcoming you and asking if you need help. ¬†I’m not kidding – I seriously didn’t lift any of my bags! ūüôā ¬†The concierge were wonderful and had many ideas at many different price ranges. ¬†The bar was beautiful, drinks and snacks tasty, and late night dessert = delish. ¬†There is a really nice gym and spa as well. ¬†The gym even had free apples (come on, it’s the little things)! ¬†For you guys out there, the hotel is only a block away from the Playboy club! ¬†Joe was pretty pumped as he’d never seen one before, so he went to talk to the bouncer…um, sorry Joe, members only! ¬†HA. ¬†And of course, last but not least, I got to see this guy¬†at the hotel!

Ok, off my hotel high, now onto the sightseeing!  Here are a couple highlights before the pics!

  • Christmas in London = amazing! ¬†I wonder if that is what a NYC Christmas feels like?
  • The city is jam-packed with businesses/people, but yet I’m amazed at how many beautiful parks/green space is available!
  • Very clean city (at least what we saw)
  • Friendly people & police! ūüôā
  • Hearty and tasty food!
  • Sooo many Starbucks!! Of course, I was happy, but surprised since that is NOT the case elsewhere in Europe!
  • Lots of wealthy people in London-town. ¬†Holy apartments, brownstones, and Bentley’s!
  • New words learned – ‘Scallywag’ or ‘He has his fingers in all the pies’ (guy who is a player), Knobhead (jerk, idiot), and ‘lovely.’ ¬†Everything is quite lovely in London!
Ok – and now, the highlights!

Hope you enjoyed – I sure did – one of the best weekends here in Europe. ¬†I still can’t believe I get to see all these amazing cities. ¬†I know that I’m a very very lucky girl and of course, I have to thank Babe for bringing me here. ¬†ūüôā