Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This is cool..... (Angie - you'll love it!)

A few weekends ago Luke and I were taking a walk around Dublin's north side and while doing so, we stumbled across a bunch of people and HORSES - in the middle of a square surrounded by apartments and modern restaurants! I asked a gentleman what was going on and he advised me that they hold this horse fair the last Sunday of every month and that it's been happening for over 200 years. Pretty amazing. There had to be about 50 horses. People were riding them bareback through the square. I've never seen anything like it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Weekend in Brussels, Belgium - Last day

The last day...... boo... :(
We woke up at about 9am and headed out to the same place for brekkie where we had the same thing we had the day before because it was SO GOOD. We ate, had a cappuccino and a beer and then we were off to enjoy our last day (which was SUNNY!). We walked down a few side streets we hadn't been down and we sat down in the sun on a street outside a cathedral where we sipped a can/bottle of beer and got a little tanning in. After we decided it was too hot to just sit we walked around the city, enjoying the sight, sounds and smells until we ended up at the main square where we sipped cold sangria and watched everyone taking photos and oohing and aahing over the beauty of the buildings. As we sipped we talked about never going back to Dublin and just staying there where we didn't have to work and where it was sunny. Back to reality and we realized that we only had about 2 hours before we had to leave to catch the bus so we found a little patio where we had a pizza (the real, thin-crust Italian kind) and then we rushed to get our stuff from the hotel and made our way to the bus stop where the vacation ended.....
Now we're back in Dublin and back to work and back to reality and can't wait until May when my Mom and Dad get here and we're off to Poland with them. CAN'T WAIT!

Easter Weekend in Brussels, Belgium - Day two

We were up by about 10am because we had gone to bed early the night before. We missed the hotel breakfast but were kind-of delighted about it because that meant we could go out for breakfast. We headed to the same place in the square (on the way I saw a scarf that I HAD to have!) where I had the BEST quiche in the world (ok, so I've only ever had quiche like, twice, but that's not the point) - ham, mushroom and onion oh my and Luke had a BIG omelette - ham, cheese and somethingorother. Both of us were extremely satisfied with our brekkies. After we ate we headed out to wander the town again.
We eventually found ourselves on a modern shopping street - jackpot - where I dragged Luke into a few stores looking for a pair of wide leg jeans (they're finally back in - hallelulia!!). From there we walked up to the main street and found ourselves at the Botanical Garden, which was beautiful. Another street over we found a lovely church and then we headed back to the old city area.
We took a route back that we hadn't taken before and we came across a few things we hadn't seen the day before. We stumbled upon this great big park where there was a photography installation that was wonderful. It was pictures from around the world. Beautiful pictures (one or two of Canada! Yoo hoo!). We looked at each of the photos and tried to read the details of each one (they were in French - how I wish I had taken French through all of high school.... if only I had known that it would come in so handy, and not just to get a job in Ottawa....). After the photos we headed downhill, back toward the old city area where we came across more beautiful buildings and gardens. From there we ended up back at the bar with the 2004 beers where we continued the tasting. After a few we headed back to hotel, stopping at a store that sells, yes, folks, this is true, 250 different types of beers. What a crazy country. We grabbed a few and headed back to the hotel where we sat down for a minute and got dressed in something a little warmer (this second day was overcast and not as warm). After a few minutes we headed back out and found a little pub down an alleyway that we had come across where we had, yes, another beer. After that beer we were hungry so we had dinner - a seafood paella on a patio on a crazy busy pedestrian street. After dinner we wandered to the main square and found a small pub on a small side street. We went in and found ourselves in a gay bar. We looked at eachother and neither of us minded so we plunked ourselves at the bar and ended up getting the best treatment we'd gotten since we'd been there.
Back to the bar with the 2004 beers for a few and then we headed home, stopping to get Luke a waffle with whipped cream and strawberries - yum.

Easter Weekend in Brussels, Belgium - Day one

Easter Long Weekend kicked off for us on Friday morning at 3:30am when our alarm went off. We had to be in a taxi by 4:10am and onto a plane by 6:20am cause we were flying to Brussels for the weekend!
We managed to get our things packed the night before so when the alarm went off we each had a cup of coffee, got dressed, brushed our teeth and hopped into the taxi.
The flight was good. Both of us napped most of the way, as I'm sure you can imagine. We arrived in Brussels at about 9:20am and arrived at our hotel at about 10:30am.
Our hotel was located on a square in the old city which had tons of outdoor cafe's and restaurants. Check-in wasn't until 3pm so we dropped our bags off with the concierge and made our way out the door and into the warm sun and the bustling square. In the centre of the square was a market that was up daily and had trinkets, scarves and jewellery. It was lovely. Around the perimeter of the square were the restaurants and cafe's and stores. Luke and I wandered a little until we came across a lovely cafe where we ordered a beer each and a plate of fries to share (it was lunchtime for us since we were up so early). We sat in the sun (it was about 14 degrees) for a while and then took a walk to the main old city square, which was magnificent (as you can see from the photos).
After a gander at the square we wandered down one of the side streets until we came across the Mannekin Pis (a fountain that is a little boy peeing.... very strange if you ask me, but Brussels is famous for it... ?!). Right by the fountain was a great looking pub with a lovely little patio so we ordered a beer and plunked ourselves down to watch the tourists fight to get photos of themselves and their loved ones in front of the bad little boy peeing in public (does he have no shame?). After a beer we continued our walk through the side streets until we came to a main street that lead to the newer part of the city centre. We saw a large, green dome shaped building far in the distance and decided to walk to it. It got hotter and hotter as we walked and eventually we were sweating and wishing that we had left our winter coats at the hotel (it got up to about 18 degrees - the sun was hot, hot, hot). After a while Luke had to pee so we turned off the main street to find a cafe or bar where we could Luke could relieve himself and we could have a nice, cold beer. We ended up walking through an area that was rather scary and intimidating... definitely not an area we were interested in stopping in so we kept walking and Luke kept 'holding it' until we came across a bar that looked less dodgy than the previous ones we had passed. We stepped inside, sat down, ordered a beer and were just happy to be out of the heat and feeling somewhat safe again. The bar wasn't exactly 'happening'. It was full of locals (foreign locals) who were playing pinball and smoking like chimneys (yes, folks that smoke, Brussels has not yet brought in the ban - smoke 'em if you've got 'em! - and I did). After the glass of beer we made our way out of the dodgy area and found the main road again. Back to the point of this walk - to get to the green topped building. We made it there shortly after and found a lovely park leading up to the building (please don't ask what the building was because we have no idea..... it was pretty and that's why we were interested). By this time we were feeling the tiredness creep up on us so we headed back to the old part of the city where we found tons of little streets with restaurants (Italian, French, Greek) all with little patios to eat your meal on. We then wandered back to our little square where we ordered mussels (Mussels in Brussels.... had to do it) and a salad. We shared both and of, course, had a beer or two. From there we did a little more wandering until we came across a small alley where we found a bar that advertised having 2004 different beers. This caused Luke to salivate, thus making him very, very thirsty, so we HAD to go in, look at the menu and try some beers out. We went down to the bar and found ourselves in beer heaven. There were about 10 taps at the bar, a list of 70 beers and another 'beer bible' which listed the other 2000 beers they had on offer. Eventually we each decided on something on tap so we brought our beers outside to the patio where we found the little GIRL peeing fountain which we didn't even really know existed and which I found a little creepy. We ended up sitting there for a few hours, trying many beers (I tried their fruit beers which are lower in alcohol, about 3-4.5 percent and Luke had the heavy duty ones ranging from 8-13 percent). Ladies.... I know not all of you enjoy beer BUT you would love the fruit beers they have in Belgium. Cherry, strawberry, coconut, chocolate, passionfruit, banana, cactus... the list goes on and on. The great thing about them is that although they are flavoured, you can still taste the beer. They don't taste like pop. It was amazing. By about 10pm we were pooped (we're not lame, we had been up for 19 hours by that time) so we headed back to our hotel room, had a chat, watched some French TV and fell asleep.