Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bad Blogger Vacation Recap

Yes, it has been ages. I should have written earlier but I was in that happy dream state after going on vacation for 2 weeks and then I went away to Las Vegas for a friend's wedding AND THEN I had to go away for nearly two weeks for the International AIDS Conference in Toronto. So I had an excuse. It's been nearly two months and a lot has happened.

D and I vacationed in lovely Amsterdam, Brussels, Brughes and Ghent for 2 weeks in the beginning of July. I love Amsterdam and would gladly move there in a heartbeat. I am slowly trying to convince D that we can easily retire there even though we would be forced to ride our bicycles when we are old and have arthritis and a number of other elderly diseases. Poor D had his first experience with a certain green substance in Amsterdam and I'm afraid he will never smoke again. I was excited to get D a little stoned and so we went over to the Grey Area to get some bud. Unfortunately, I misjudged the amount to give poor D. He is twice my weight and he kept complaining that he didn't feel anything so I kept on giving him more stuff. Finally, he stood up and went outside and nearly collapsed. As I was not too sober myself, it took me a really long time to get him some Coke as none of the bartenders would let me purchase a glass of Coke. They rightly thought I was very high and would not let me buy anything. I finally got some Coke at a cafe while D was babbling by my side. We managed to walk back to our hotel and ate a lot of donuts.

I think the best part of Amsterdam was the fast food. The croquette sandwiches and the turkish pizzas were truly glorious. I have yet to find anything similar in New York. The turkish pizzas in New York taste like crap - they make the crust too thick and they put far too much lamb in the thing and oil leaks out of the pizza continuously. The turkish pizzas in Amsterdam however had this thin crispy crust with a slight smattering of tomato and meat and a slathering of shredded lettuce/cabbage, mayo and hot sauce with the whole thing wrapped into a convenient burrito form. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! The highlight of our trip to Belgium was definitely the restaurants. We made a point of visiting as many Michelin starred resturants in Belgium as we could possibly afford. My favorite was Aneth located just out side of Brughes and rated a one star. In terms of quality of food, I felt that there were very tiny differences between each star rating. I think that a meal at the one star place was as enjoyable if not better than the meals at the two star and three star places.

We ate at one star Aneth (Brughes), two star Bruneau (Brussels), two star Sea Grill Radisson SAS (Brussels) and three star Comme Chez Soi (Brussels. My favorite course was the whipped potatoes with chives and caviar at the Sea Grill in the Radisson. It was similar to the oyster and pearl concoction at Per Se but with the added yumminess of mashed potatoes! The biggest surprise was the seared and glazed foie gras at Comme Chez Soi. I hate foie gras! Yuck! But they actually made it taste pretty good. *sigh* Yes, I gained like twenty pounds on this vacation but it was well worth it.

The biggest disappointment in the vacation? Definitely our hotel in Brussels. If you go to Brussels, please do not stay at Royal Windsor Hotel. The hotel bills itself as a luxury five star hotel and charges accordingly but their standards are no more than a three star nice hotel. I assume they only got the five star rating based on the amenities they "claim" to provide. While we were there several problems popped up: our door would not open and our concierge had to show us a "special trick" to open the door - this is acceptable in a quirky three star hotel but certainly not in a luxurious modern hotel; our bathroom had a defective toilet seat and flusher so it never really flushed; the shower either had blazing hot or really cold water; the lights had gone out in one of the pictures so it looked rather shoddy; furnishings were rather worn; the telephone did not work and we had to request a repairman; certain amenities like the gym and the nightclub were not available and will not be available for a few months with no mention made of this on their website. It was a frustrating experience. Even more so because D and I look young for our age so staff never really treat us very nicely. We understand this and tailor our expectations accordingly but even with lowered expectations, this hotel was atrocious.

D thinks I'm getting spoiled in my old age. *grin* He's probably right but I think that we try really hard to be nice and it never really pays off. The chocolates in Belgium more than made up for all of our woes. I think I survived on chocolate for about 3 days of our trip. The pomme frites in Belgium were way over hyped as the fries weren't that great. I tried the fries in all sorts of different combinations - plain, plain with ketchup, plain with ketchup and mayo, plain with ketchup and mayo and onions - it was all gross. We had the best waffles in Brughes - freshly griddled with caramel on top and powdered sugar! The oddest thing was that there was a Blue Note Jazz Festival in Ghent during our stay. It was rather strange to hear Belgiums singing along to old American jazz tunes and even country music. Bizarre! We managed to catch the tail end of the World Cup game. D and I know absolutely nothing about soccer but we were cheering for Italy. D got very drunk and was chanting Italia. Some old man actually thought he was an genuine Italian fan and started talking to him in Italian! We kept up the pretense for a few minutes before the man left us disgusted that we didn't actually know Italian. A belligerent drunk French fan nearly beat up D after hearing his chant. We managed to get back to our hotel safely with no brawls.

We were so happy to come home after our travels! It's amazing how good home feels after you have been living out of a suitcase for 14 days. I think that our vacations in Italy, Spain and Costa Rica far outshone our Holland/Belgium trip but it was nice to travel in English speaking countries for a change. The people are just so much nicer in Italy, Spain and Costa Rica. I'm thinking furiously about what our next vacation destination will be. Any suggestions? I am a little afraid of Latin America due to the kidnappings. I'm intrigued by Africa (especially Kenya and South Africa) but D is deathly afraid of going especially since he would no longer be allowed to donate blood. I have been thinking a little bit about Greece but I much prefer an adventure vacation somewhere.....


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Blogger Adelynn said...

Hi nice blog.I even extend my holidays to stay in my favorite Big Bear hotel i surly take my child during my next visit

4/11/2008 1:35 AM  

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