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+ Photos and ramblings from a Denver-based couple as they discover the world, one country at a time.

Posts tagged chocolate

AmsterdamBreakfast at GsGsGuy drinking beerCafé BrechtUntitledAmsterdamCanalsSo many jamsJammin' at De BakkerswinkelSunflowers at Albert Cuyp MarktDE KASGardenShared course oneDe KasHeirloomsGreenhouse at De KasChocolatlI like you, AmsterdamPretty apartments in De PijpBikes on bikes on bikes

AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam is full of character and bursting with wild and lively things. We spent most of our time in the Jordaan and De Pijp neighborhoods, and really enojyed them both (but if we had to pick a favorite, Jordaan wins). Amsterdam is a pedestrian city so, like Paris, we highly recommend renting a bike or walking to as many places as you can – along the way you’ll discover little gems you wouldn’t have noticed by car or tram. Not to mention, the city is so visually distracting (in the best way possible) that you won’t even realize how much you’re walking or cycling (or how bad your legs ache). And if you need to take a load off, popping into a café for a beer or dessert is never a bad idea. In fact, we highly recommend it.

Beware: Coffeeshops sell ganja, not coffee. If you want coffee, you need to look for a café. But if you want ganja, we recommend going to the red-light district. And if you’re lonely and want sex, you can find that there, too.

Eat
De Bolhoed – Vegetable heavy (mostly vegan) food done right. Don’t order the quiche unless you like your quiches light on the eggs, loaded with vegetables, and topped with a shitload of seeds.
Gs – HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF DELICIOUS BREAKFAST. You’d be a fool to miss this place. You’d also be a fool to show up without a reservation, unless you like waiting with a rumbling belly. Also: BOOZE.
De Bakkerswinkle – Cozy cafe with fresh baked scones and bread (amongst other breakfast items), plus a killer jam/curd selection. They serve lunch and other savory items, as well.
No Sushi – Takeout (only) sushi done right. They have limited options, but they’re sure to satisfy vegans and meat eaters alike.
De Kas – We lunched in a greenhouse eating herbs and tomatoes grown within 100 feet of where we were seated – and everything else was was sourced from local farms around the city. Eating there was truly a remarkable experience – and to top it off, one of the chef’s was kind enough to give us a tour of the grounds + kitchen. We cannot recommend De Kas enough.

Treats
Organics – Grocery store with a decent chocolate selection. They have other ogranic offerings, but let’s not kid anyone: we were there for the chocolate. Rather, Ashlae was there for the chocolate.
Chocolátl – The lady went on a €50 shopping spree and got some seriously decadent chocolate bars. They aren’t particularly cheap, but the owners let you sample everything (seriously, EVERYTHING) so that kind of makes it worth it. Recommended: Grenada Chocolate Company‘s Nib-a-Licious and Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé‘s Cacao Criollo.
Metropolitan Deli – Chocolate, espresso, ice cream, waffles, etc. Go for the truffles – they’re worth their weight in gold.
Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx – Ya know, if you’re drunk or have the munchies.

Drink
Café Brecht – Great brews, caffeinated beverages, and decor similar to what you’d expect to see if you walked into a house that had been abandoned for 50 years (read: AWESOME). We sat around sipping beer and coffee for a good three hours, enjoying the tunes (Ella Fitzgerald! Louis Armstrong! Billie Holiday!) and admiring the little details and various trinkets scattered around the café.
La Fruteria – Smoothies and juices.. and waffles for the person who isn’t into healthy eating. The man had bright eyes (vegetable heavy) and the lady went for strawberry banana. Both hit the spot.
Café ‘t Smalle – The service was slow but the canal view more than made up for it. And the beer selection was top notch.
Screaming Beans – Coffee done right. Welcoming atmosphere and surprisingly spacious despite the entrance being rather cramped. Grab an Americano and a pastry, and cozy up to a table in the back. Or outside if you’re down for a little sunshine and people watching.
Arendsnest – 30 different Dutch beers on draught, meaning there’s something for every taste. Great ambiance and service, and close to all the local spots, but far enough removed from the touristy areas.

Go
Van Gogh Museum – To skip the lines, order tickets online ahead of time.
Rijksmuseum – If you plan on going to the Van Gogh Museum as well, get the museum pass.
Anne Frank Museum
Albert Cuyp Market – Funky little market with everything from flowers and fresh fruit to tennis shoes and wood tables. Stroll through early in the morning to avoid the sea of people.
Walk along the canals
Rent a bike

Sleep
We stayed at the Okura Hotel, but can’t recommend it. I have a problem with hotels (especially ones with prices as high as theirs) charging exorbitant fees for fitness facilities and wifi (they do offer free basic wifi, but it’s slow as hell). The rooms were nice, but it was too business focused for us. Bonuses include: Nespresso machine. 5 foot soaking tub. Rainfall shower. Luxury matress. AIR CONDITIONING. And being able to be as annoying and as demanding as you want because you know the person in the executive suite above you is being 10x worse.

Run
Visually speaking, the city makes for a great run. But physically? The cobblestone sidewalks will beat the shit out of your feet and ankles – especially if you wear minimalist running shoes. Do your stubborn self a favor and find a pretty park.

Pretty housesIce cream truckBottlesUntitledPile o' cherries at the MarktDumon ChocolateThe CanalBeer at the oldest pub in Belgium!Belgian waffle with the worksChocolateRoom with a view2x fried

BRUGGE

If you can’t tell by the photos, we went to Brugge to stuff our faces with all of their best edibles; chocolate, waffles, 2x fried chips, and beer. The city is small and charming, but you don’t really need longer than two nights in the area, as you can see most (if not all) of the sights in just a few days. Eating out in Brugge is insanely expensive (€18+ at most places) and so we did a lot of takeaway (considerably cheaper) and grabbed some stuff from the market. Not to mention, we gorged ourselves on chocolate and waffles, so there wasn’t much room for “real food” while we were in Brugge.

Chocolate
Pralinette – The chocolate was rich and creamy, but a bit on the bitter side. I’m not usually a fan of bitter dark chocolate, but it was surprisingly tolerable.
Chocolate Oe Praline – I tried the dark chocolate bark with almonds. The chocolate was flavorful and creamy, but the bark was lacking in the almond department.
Depla Chocolateir – Second favorite chocolate shop; very rich (but not bitter) with light notes of vanilla. I love when you can actually taste the vanilla in chocolate. The dark chocolate covered hazelnut rows are not to be missed.
Chocolatier Dumon – Hands down, the best chocolate in Brugge, and the best chocolate Ashlae’s had in her entire life. It was rich and creamy, and melted almost instantly (which probably had more to do with the heat). Ashlae highly recommends the plain chocolate, as nuts and berries, or fancy fillings, only detract from the incredibly flavorful chocolate – but Thom says go for the truffles.
The Chocolate Line – This place was good, but had been talked up by locals and we didn’t find it nearly as delicious as some people claimed.

Waffles
Laurenzino – Apparently the best Belgian waffle you can get in Brugge – but Thom’s belly doesn’t agree. The waffles were heavy, as were the toppings. However, if you prefer your waffles on the dense side, this is your place.
Chez Albert – Despite Laurenzino being praised as having the best waffles in town, Thom preferred the waffles from Chez. They were light and airy, and easy to cut. And with the small, flimsy fork they provide, that’s a pretty important aspect.

Drink
De Garre – Tucked away down a narrow alley, this pub has loads character and a large selection of alcoholic beverages. But you should skip the fancy stuff and go straight for the Tripel.
Café Vlissinghe – The fact that it’s the oldest pub in Brugge is reason enough to not miss this place. They have a great patio, an adorable pup wandering the grounds, and local brews on tap. Get a postcard and send it to your favorite beer drinker.

Go
Hire bikes and ride around town (or to the coast, it’s only 18km away).
Take a canal tour, but make sure you arrive early – tours fill up quickly and waiting in line is no fun.

Sleep
We had a private room at the Lybeer Travellers’ Hostel and really enjoyed the facility. The spiral staircase is narrow and steep, so you may want to think twice about coming here with a large suitcase. They’re in the middle of a renovation, but that aside – the place was great. The common area was super funky and comfortable and the shower was clean and had great water pressure. Bonus: You get a free beer if you like them on Facebook!

Run
If you’re a runner, running along the canal will surely be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable runs of your life. Steer clear of the cobblestone streets because those aren’t exactly easy on the ol’ ankles.

Grand PlaceFlea Market Place du Jeu de BalleFlea Market Place du Jeu de BalleINVADERBrusselsCafé-Tasse chocolatesWall of condiments and alcoholFresh squeezed OJTextiles at YetiYeti CafeBelgian waffles in Brussels

BRUSSELS

We spent a mere four hours in Brussels, which was just enough for us. The city is pretty rough around the edges but has a handful of charming spots that shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area. We walked from the train station to the heart of town and wandered around the Grand Place, admiring what has been deemed one of Europe’s most beautiful squares. We then headed over to Café-Tasse to stock up on chocolate bars from one of Ashlae’s favorite chocolatiers (extra noir, alstublief). Before we skipped town, we brunched at Yeti then headed back to the Grand Palace area to get Thom one last real deal Belgian waffle from Le Funambule.