Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Brussels: Holiday Tour Trip 3

Another trip down on the Ye Ole Holiday Tour.  Brussels is everything I remembered and more. Grand Place is still on of my favorite plazas and the city is now officially confirmed as one of the best drinking places in the world (on my ever improving list).  Before I begin to regale you with the events of the weekend I must first start by saying that the story should be broken up into two parts: Pre-Absinthe and Post-Absinthe. Pre-Absinthe: We started the evening with what is now a traditional round of 3 + 1 free Kwaks (A delicious Belgian beer served in "coachman's glass").  From there we moved on to the Christmas Market and light show in Grand Place.  This year was an electric tree in Grand Place which received mixed reviews.  The tree lit up to different colors synchronized with Christmas music (we...of course were singing at the top of our lungs to every song).  Although it wasn't exactly traditional, I enjoyed the overall feel and contrast between the old world architecture in the square with the modern tree/light show. Once the show ended we headed to Delirium Alley which apparently turns into a drinking haven for under aged children during Christmas break....we only stayed long enough to crush a "Das Boot" of cherry beer and a shot of the Little Green Fairy.  Post-Absinthe:  Alicia has no recollection from this point on....she says it is all hearsay.  We moved back to our happy little corner where we drank Kwaks, had a beer at a smaller Delirium Cafe, and  finished it off with delicious kebabs. All the while Alicia was trying to convince us that she needed to be "free and fly like a peacock" and also "spread her wings" because we were cramping her style.  She almost had us convinced (she is a lawyer now after all) but at the last minute decided she would rather eat kebabs and go back home with us....I didn't argue.  (Que family portrait #2)  Pre-Absinthe:  The next morning/early afternoon was rainy, cold, and downright miserable.....hmmm...what to do?  Pub crawl anyone?  We went to a few pubs before Alicia had the brilliant idea of getting Christmas sweaters for our family portraits so we started off for the shopping district.  After an hour or so of walking around in the pouring rain...the sweaters were found! We went to La Lunette for one of their liter bowls of beer and then headed to the Floris Bar that sells more than 300 types of Absinthe.  Post-Absinthe: Christmas sweater party! (featuring the three of us and a camera with a timer).  Next stop, Prague.

Crushing water during pre-game warm-ups.
Family Portrait #1 (looking fresh to death before heading out on day one)
First round of Kwaks

"For ME?!"

Round One of the Little Green Fairy
Family Portrait #2 (late night day one: post-absinthe, no pics or memories in between)

Family Portrait #3 (the next morning)

An attempt at looking gangster?  Can't really tell.

Belgian waffles with chocolate and whipped cream...yes please!
Delirium Tremens...voted one of the best beers in the world.
The inspiration for Alicia's Christmas pose...you'll see.

"La Lunette" 1 liter of beer

Red Absinthe
My new pirate girlfriend.
Absinthe always makes Christmas Sweaters better.


Don't worry it gets better!
Equation: day drinking + absinthe + Christmas sweaters = awesome


Christmas Cards for life!



Just another delay at the airport.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

When in Rome.....take pictures! Holiday Tour Trip 2

 Warning....there is a ridiculous amount of pictures in this blog!  I guess it's better to have too many than not enough though.  Without a doubt, Rome is the most historically significant city we have visited to date...which found us wanting to drink a little less and walk a little more. (A.K.A. this was not Madrid) We walked, walked, and walked some more and I still have the feeling that we left only scratching the surface of the city.  I have heard from several people that you only need two nights to see Rome...I call B.S!  Once we arrived we immediately began covering ground visiting several great sites in the first night not wasting any time.  There is nothing quite like seeing Rome at night. It was amazing walking around only to turn a corner and be at the base of a monument or ruin that is hundreds or even thousands of years old. It helped that our hotel was in a great location that was very near the Colosseum so naturally that is where we started. That thing is gargantuan in real life (think Arizona Cardinals stadium built for gladiators instead of football).  It was a great place to begin, we didn't get to go in because it was too late but very impressive none the least.  After that we hit the Forum (ancient Rome city center), the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain (my favorite), and finished the night at the Spanish Steps (where a flower vendor fell in love with Alicia and briefly chased her around forecfully offering her a rose).  The following day we went to Vatican City.  The museums were incredibly impressive while the Sistine Chapel dominates any artistic display found anywhere in the world (my opinion of course and also Nicole's favorite).  Luckily it wasn't too crowded and we were able to sit and really enjoy the ceiling frescoes done by Michelangelo. I don't know how long we stayed in there but it could have definitely been longer. Alicia waited in line to visit St. Peter's Basilica which is one of the largest basilica's found anywhere in the world. (her favorite...me and Nicole wussed out but we plan of returning and will go next time).  Sunday came way too fast, but on account of the beautiful weather (and the only sun Nicole and Josh have seen since summer) we managed to have a wonderful day walking through the Borghese Gardens and eventually eating a great lunch near the Spanish Steps followed by some of that super Gelato that you can only get in Italy.  This was an amazing city to visit and remember you didn't hear it from me that you only need two nights to see it all.  Rome is now at the top of my "re-visit" list.  Next stop Brussels.....a little more drinking and a little less walking!