Sunday, May 20, 2012

Zermatt: Home of the Matterhorn!

I will start with the ever cliche statement "pictures just don't do it justice," but in this case it is extremely accurate.  The Matterhorn looms over the town of Zermatt like a silent sentinel always in the background.  Amazing.   
This blog is going to be more pictures than story, but you will see why.  We began our trip by loading the dogs and packs into the RJ Cooper for a 2 hour drive.  Zermatt is closed to cars, but we were able to get to a nearby town and hike in from there.  We stayed at a small apartment/hotel that I booked online with one bedroom and a cool Murphy bed for EK (which of course he was afraid of, like in the cartoons, he would be slammed back up into the wall while he was sleeping). The first night we ate delicious pizza at Grampy's while listening to the most god-awful keyboard singer playing classic rock covers at the top of his the end of the evening I felt like he was actually in physical danger from Nicole.  The second day we set out for a nice hike, probably about 7 or 8 miles.  We ate lunch at a restaurant with amazing views.  We knew we were in trouble when they wouldn't serve us tap water....THIS IS THE ALPS PEOPLE! I want fresh glacial water straight from the tap, not a 4 franc bottle of crappy mineral water from France!  Anyway, we ate a quick expensive lunch and moved on. The hike from there was great, we saw billy goats, prairie dogs, and of course excellent views of the Matterhorn.  We were all pretty well spent by the time we got back to our apartment, but it was worth it. We decided to save hundreds of dollars and eat in that evening.  Nicole made us some pasta and we drank four bottles of wine while chatting, telling stories, and eventually watching the Miami Heat game...good times!  Next trip is Dusseldorf, Germany in a couple of weeks!  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Brussels, Welcome to Party Town UK!

New favorite city! This place embraced me like we were old friends who haven't seen each other in long time. A beer drinkers paradise, a cozy bar lovers haven, and street food in abundance...need I say more?

Probably not, but I will anyway. Our trip started out a little rocky. Nicole was supposed to meet me and EK at the airport in Brussels, only one problem, she flew into a completely different airport about 70km away! After a few minutes of telling each other that we were both in front of baggage claim, we started to piece it together. We rented an apartment in a great location that was perfect if you don't include the facts that the main bathroom had no door, the shower was some kind of converted bathtub that got water everywhere, and the stairs were so steep nobody felt comfortable going up or down after a beer or five. (EK slept on the couch every night until he felt like he could make it up to his room!)

Nicole here. Belgium beer is by far the best grown up drink, (not including wine) and it was like being in a grown up candy store. I was a bit exhausted after my conference in Barcelona, but one sip of a Kwak beer was enough to put a smile on my face. We spent the first night walking through the city in search of beer - easiest search ever. We did pass the grand place, which is possibly one of the most stunning plazas I have ever seen. You are just surrounded by awe and wonderful architecture. A must see sight by night. We then found what is referred to as Delirium Village. Amazeballs. I will let Josh take back over, I'm just so sleepy!
Delirium Village: an alley of enchantment! Think Diagon Alley except that instead magical items for sale, it is any kind of beer (on tap or bottles), spirit, or liquor imaginable and everyone in the entire alley has had at least one too many!
The next day we went to a beer museum with complimentary tastings at the end. Yeah, I said it, A BEER MUSEUM! Nicole was making fun of me because I was taking pictures and studying equipment like I was an art snob at the Louvre! We then worked our way home weaving in and around an amazingly raucous gay pride parade. It was great seeing such a huge crowd of happy drunk people supporting something they believe in! This guy can only take so much techno though, so we didn't follow for super long. After the parade we had some more beers, a little absinthe, and a nap. (in that order!)
Nicole again: We had enough of the crowds, so after the nap we went for a great dinner at restaurant called "et qui va ramener le chien". Possibly the best scallops I have ever had. It was in this fantastic cream sauce with asparagus and leeks- just perfect. After that we of course went for a couple more beers. My favorite of the night was this very cozy placed named Poechenkendle (don't quote me on the spelling) and just near the highly overrated peeing boy statue.
Our final full day and night in Brussels was a bit more high minded ( possibly my idea). We went to the Magritte museum. It is fabulous and if you like his work, I suggest taking a couple hours and using the audio guide. It is more like a mini lesson on the artist and provides an in depth history of his life and art. We also toured around the royal palace and park, both great sites to see. After our civilized touristic activities we basically reverted back to beer lovers and went back to delirium to try more beer. Only thing that was different was the addition of das boot and more legitimate absinthe. Great times! EK went to Berlin and is meeting us in Zermatt (home of the Matterhorn) on Thursday!

Mostly types of Absinthe
The Absinthe Menu