European Vacation, Day 15/16: Lucerne

Our trip was approaching the end but there were two things to look forward: seeing a college friend in her hometown of Lucerne and BREZELKÖNIG!!!!

Ok, ok, it may seem like I love pretzels more than old friends, which is only true on the most superficial of levels. Brezelkönig is a Swiss pretzel chain that I think is delicious. I order the pumpkin seed pretzel every time I want a little piece of Heaven on Earth. On our way from Riequewihr to Lucerne, we had a transfer in Basel where we bought our first pretzel of the trip.

After our Basel pretzel stop/transfer, we arrived in Lucerne and took the 6 bus to my friend’s house. It was so wonderful to see her. We had the best time catching up. As the afternoon went on, she suggested going on a hike. Instead, I asked if we could go for a swim. She drove us to a nearby beach (Meggen?) and we went for the best swim! I love Swiss lakes and we had a great time.

After returning back to the apartment and freshening up, we went out to dinner with my friend and her older son. She had made a reservation at the Drei Könige restaurant. I had asked for a restaurant that was a little off the tourist track. The restaurant served delicious food, kind of a Swiss farm-to-table cuisine.

After dinner, we walked across the wooden bridge and towards the bus stop. It was really a perfect evening.

The next day, I felt great. The above is the dog, who is not necessarily a morning dog. My friend and I took a walk, which was really nice.

And then, it was time to go. The lovely thing about Swiss transportation is that even though we stayed in Lucern, it was easy and reliable to take a train to Zurich airport. The Zurich airport was a little confusing for the luggage check-in, which is not something we normally do but I wanted to bring home some hospital wine from Salzburg. So, next time, I would recommend a little more time at the airport which, trust me, I’m loathe to say. But there are often several security checks within European international flight terminals and we cut our timing a little on the close side. But on the upside, I did have another pumpkin seed pretzel on the way!

Vacation ’23, day 14: Biking on the Alsace Wine Route

I love how easy it is to travel plan using the internet. But sometimes, it is hard to find exact information that I want, even though it seems like it should be easy. That was the case for the Route de Vin/Alsace Wine Route. Even though I looked on the Alsace tourism site and also found one good blog post from a Mom who dragged her family on a 60 km slog (I kid, I kid), I still felt like I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

There are plenty of guided bike tour companies, but I wanted to cycle on our own. For e-bike rental, we used Le vélo libre, which has locations in Colmar and Riquewihr. It was easy to book online and the night prior, we walked by the pick-up site. So, I felt good about our start in the morning, even though I didn’t have an overall map of the wine route itself. This ended up making navigation a little difficult since the route cuts through the vineyards and only passes by the towns on the very outskirts. So, we had a few times where we went into a town and then couldn’t find our way back to the route right away. We weren’t lost since we had our smartphone maps app, but we occasionally ended up with bike directions that were on roads rather than getting us back to the more scenic, car-free path.

For the e-bike rental, it’s all app-based with a passcode to get inside a room with bikes, helmets, baskets, a bike pump, etc. There are QR codes for finding routes, which we used initially before adding to the trip. The e-bikes were in great condition. The recommended mode gives a bit of a boost, which was much appreciated later in our bike ride. Someone accidentally knocked his into “Turbo” mode, which supposedly causes the bike to malfunction. Well, if “malfunction” means “go up the hill super easily,” that’s what turbo means.

Cycling through the vineyards!

So, logistics aside, we were on our way around 9 am. The forecast was still on the warm side, but the day was absolutely gorgeous. Our first route took us from Riquewihr to Ribeauville. The biking was so easy and fun. I am a big fan of the assist. It makes even mild uphills something I don’t even think twice about while still feeling I am (mostly) under my own power.

We got to Ribeauville, which is very beautiful. Annoyingly, I kept humming two lines of “Be Our Guest” to myself on repeat. But it did make me think of Beauty and the Beast.

While in Ribeauville, I longly looked to the horizon at the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle. I really wanted to go! SMS didn’t really want to commit to the bike ride, but agreed to go to Kintzheim castle in order to have a castle day. If you’re suspecting that I was laying a trap, well, I was.

So, we biked from Ribeauville to Kintzheim. This was where we couldn’t find our way back to the Route de Vin initially. Google maps said to bike along a busy two-lane road, which I didn’t like. So, we backtracked and found the route. Near Kintzheim castle, there was a little road that led up to various parking lots. At parking lot one, there was a packed path/handicap vehicle access that we rode to the castle. There wasn’t much there, but we did see a falcon! We were also much closer to the Haut, so I convinced SMS that we should go to L’Orée de Château for lunch. This brought us further up the mountain and covered lunch, so this was an excellent plan.

We stopped at L’Orée de Château for lunch, another flammkuchen! Thank goodness for the power assist- the hill was starting to get very steep! I also liked the assist because it meant we kept moving at a brisk pace, which kept our time on an actual rode to a shorter time period. Yes, this part of the trip was completely off the Route, so we were sharing the road rather than on a separate trail. But it was worth it for the castle.

After lunch, we biked to the top. We were a little bit tired and thought the view was spectacular. We almost skipped the castle tour. I’m so glad we didn’t! The castle was amazing! There’s a self-guided route that takes a person up to a fantastic tower where the views are even more impressive. The castle is in excellent condition, after an extensive restoration by Wilhelm II who was really into making Alsace more German in the early 1900s.

There were also actual tours, but I’m not sure when/if there were any English tours. There seemed to be a lot of French, German, and Spanish tourists in Alsace. We didn’t hear a lot of English spoken. We mostly got by on my functional, so-so French with some English along the way.

After the castle, we started back to Riquewihr. We rode down the hill along the D1B1 to Saint-Hippolyte before getting back on the Route de Vin. This was the best trail riding of the day, since we navigated the trails to a cheese shop, La Fromagerie-Ferme L`Hirondelle. There wasn’t much to see there other than a cheese dispenser, but it was nice to ride the trails between trails and manage the connections without needing to take any shared roads.

We made it back to Riquewihr and had a picnic dinner, eating some of our cheese purchased the day before and some rolls. We needed a break from the large dinner meals. It was a gorgeous evening and our picnic was the perfect end to an outdoors-y day!

Vacation ‘23, day 12: Strasbourg —> Colmar —> Riquewihr

A lock! We went through it the day before on Batorama

We started our morning with a walk through Petite France towards a nearby bakery. It was very pretty in the morning light.

This bakery had tasty pastries. The coffee situation was a little less dialed in, but I think there was a small malfunction in the machine. It was nice to try another place and both bakeries we tried in Strasbourg were excellent.

Then! We went to the local hospital that has a historic wine cellar. Wine was both a form of barter payment for treatment, as well as the treatment itself for patients hundreds of years ago. I thought it was so cool to have an active wine cellar associated with a hospital so I wanted to check it out.

It was an even better stop than I thought! I had low expectations, thinking that it would be a sort of novelty stop that was not super engaging. I was wrong! We purchased the audioguide for 3E and it was well worth it. There was a lot of interesting detail about the wine tunnel/former underground city connector, the current wine cellar itself, and several notable barrels. The tour was 25-30 minutes and really well done. I recommend!

A few of the barrels had one shape in the front (egg) and a different one in the back (circle or oval), which is apparently a very difficult technique. The history of the oldest white wine was described. The original barrel and the subsequent one are both displayed, but the wine is currently held in a slightly more modern barrel due to the evaporation of wine over time requiring a smaller barrel than the original. The second barrel eventually became too leaky so the current barrel is the wine’s third home.

There is a small bottle of the wine on display to show the color. There was also a very old wine press in the corner.

After the tour, we walked back to the hotel, picked up our bags, and headed to the Strasbourg train station. The station is beautiful with an old building within a glass enclosure.

We took the regional train down to Colmar. There are no lockers at the train station, so we took the bus into town and used an online baggage app to arrange for bag drop-off at a florist. It was very convenient and nice not to drag our bags around.

There is a covered market that is super cool and has a lot of interesting looking delicacies and food. We were pretty set on snacks so we didn’t need anything, but it was a feast for the eyes.

We took a selfie at the bridge in “Little Venice.” Although Colmar is definitely cute, it wasn’t my favorite place as it felt too large-group touristy with most shops and restaurants feeling kind of tourist trap-like. I don’t know if that is very fair, but there was something about Colmar that I liked less than Strasbourg or Riquewihr.

There were also a few examples of pixelated art by the Stork, who always incorporates a stork into his pieces.

So, yes, Riquewihr! When booking the Alsace portion of our trip, I thought it would be nice to actually stay in a village. This was also very touristy, but for some reason, I didn’t mind as much. A large portion of the crowd are day-trippers, but there are still a lot of people in the evening for dinner and drinks.

We arrived in the mid-afternoon and walked the Main Street. We had a cheese degustation with a guy who was very nice and spoke great English. The smallest amount of cheese we could buy was still a lot. The reason is you have to buy a full slice and the cheese we liked best was from the thickest wheel.

The crowd skewed towards the European Baby Boomer Retiree crowd. There were a lot of French, German, and Spanish tourists.

We joined in with the crowd, admiring both the beautiful day and the cute town. I drove myself semi-crazy singing two lines from Beauty on the Beast on repeat. Inside my own head, don’t worry!

SMS always looks down the well, which is a habit I’ve picked up. Sometimes they are impressively, scarily deep!

Animal Style

We ate that night at Hotel/Restaurant Au Cerf. The portions were absolutely humongous. The food is good, but we found it hard to be members of the clean plate club!

I had a traditional beef/potato dish while SMS got the risotto. Then it was off to bed, with church bells as intermittent background sound.

Vacation ‘23, Day 11: Strasbourg

Strasbourg in the morning

The next day, we had our tourist itinerary thanks to Alex and the internet.

Atelier 116

We grabbed breakfast at Atelier 116, which is a tasty bakery that is definitely featured in several guidebooks based on the crowd it draws. I ordered a Kugelhopf in addition to a breakfast pastry. I was on a mission to try a lot of local/regional dishes and I feel I did a pretty good job this trip!

We walked in Petite France, which is so cute. There are a few canals that are tributaries of the river Ill.

The buildings are so pretty. There are a lot of tourists, which isn’t a bad thing. After traveling through this region for a few days, SMS said Alsace is like the Cinque Terre of France: cute, small towns with pretty houses/buildings that tourists flock to and move among from stop to stop. This may not sound super flattering but no ill intent is meant in the observation. These places are tourist sites for a reason- they’re gorgeous.

We went to the Cathedral to see the interior, as well as the Astronomer’s clock. We bought tickets right before they closed for interval preceding the Astronomer clock show. The tickets are sold 1130-12, then a movie is shown from 12-1230, and finally, the Astronomer Clock has its big reveal at 1230.

The movie is quite informative. The clock itself is pretty amazing but in terms of my personal interest in glockenspiel/cuckoo clock type displays, I think this may be it for me after seeing the Munich Rathaus and now this one. I know, I know. This is probably heresy to certain people but you know, we make our own vacation experiences.

Next, we got lunch at the other restaurant Alex recommended. Well, actually, he recommended another restaurant (Buerehiesel) that’s Michelin starred and offers fairly reasonable prix fixe lunch menus. But, it’s near the EU and there was a plenary session that week so the reservations were complet.

Instead, we went to Madison Kammerzell, where there are several Alsatian specialities including sauerkraut with fish. This did not sound appetizing at all when Alex mentioned it the previous night, but we decided to try it. It was awesome! We also split a tarte d’onignon, which was quite good.

No one will mistake my photos for an IG influencer!

Afterward, I got an ice cream from Glacier, another Alex recommendation. Peach sorbet and fromage blanc ice cream. Another hit!

After lunch, we went on a Batorama river cruise. It was a covered cruise boat, so a little less fun than the uncovered boat we were on in Amsterdam, but we enjoyed seeing the waterside view of places we had walked through that day and the previous day.

When we landed, we went straight to the tram station. We had plans to meet up with Alex for a quick drink. This meant that we “saw” another country on this trip since we crossed into Germany. But Alex says it’s very French in that area. We went to his house, which was 10 minutes outside of town, which quickly transitioned to a more rural appearance, even though we were so close to a city.

Colleague and friend!

His house is beautiful and we met his wife Vanessa, who is really nice. She’s a Spanish professor and speaks French and Spanish so through my worst Franish/Spench, we communicated a bit. Alex had to work that evening since he has a divided work day so that he can take meetings that work for PST. So, we took off after an hour or so and headed out for dinner.


For dinner, we went to Caupona Taverne where SMS got a spaetchle dish, while I got a vegetable tarte flambée/Flammekueche. Spoiler alert, tarte flambée is still not much of a health food even with vegetables on it. But it’s still delicious!

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel. Another beautiful night with our walk as a digestif!

Vacation ‘23, Day 10: Luxembourg City to Strasbourg

Il ne parle pas français

SMS and I went to a cafe for breakfast, which was quite delicious. However, SMS is a big fan of gluten and something got lost in translation.

Then, it was off to the train station towards Strasbourg! This promised to be a fun part of the trip because we were going to meet up with a colleague of SMS. It’s always nice to meet up with someone who actually lives where we’re visiting.

Le Grand Tigre. I sent this picture to Alex asking, “Où est-I’ll?”

We arrived at the train station, dropped our bags off at the hotel, and went to the bar across the street which Alex had recommended, Le Grand Tigre.

We were thirsty…

And hungry! We ordered two Tarte Flambée, one traditional savory and the other sweet honey orange. We also ordered a salad for the veggies and instead got the Alsatian version of an antipasti salad. It was a lot of cheese and sausage with a little lettuce.

Beautiful Strasbourg

We met up with Alex, who took us on a walking tour of the town. It was a really hot day and us temperature-delicate Californians barely hung in there, but it was a fantastic way to see the sights.

Protective knight

We saw a square named after the knight posted above it.

We saw an unexplored German ordinance (deactivated), lodged in the side of a hotel.


Then, we walked passed a secondary school that Alex hopes his son will go to because it looks like Hogwarts. (It’s also a very good school.)

Then, we walked through the university and had various departments’ buildings pointed out. It’s a beautiful university and very highly regarded. We walked with Alex to pick up his daughter and son at their two schools and then took the tram back to his car, where we parted ways.

No filter. Seriously!

On our way back to the hotel, we rounded the corner and saw the most amazing sight. The cathedral was spectacularly lit up by the setting sun.

Alex had given SMS and I some recommendations for where to eat. We decided to go to La Cloche for a cheese-based dinner. The restaurant was amazing- tasting boards, fondue, and table-side Raclette. So cool! It was not necessarily the best choice for two people after a long hot day, but we enjoyed it.

The incredible cheese dome!

Vacation ‘23, Day 9: Maastricht —> Luxembourg City

I woke earlier than SMS and took a walk around the city center. It was a beautiful morning.

Along the way, I saw a painting of the Beeld Bronzen Haan. Wait a minute, is it more famous than I thought?!?!

I got back to the hotel. SMS and I went to the fancy hotel breakfast buffet. Yum!

Back of the hotel, by the 7 bus stop

Then it was time to go. I had requested a taxi that was running late, so we took the bus. I would have been fine with the bus all along, but the Google directions didn’t provide it initially as an option. We took the bus, cut through the station, and hopped on our Flixbus to Luxembourg. The night prior, I had bought our tickets for 15.99 Euros each! So cheap! It was also the fastest, easiest option to get to Luxembourg City. Google maps has been great throughout this trip, but the routes to LC were really long and convoluted. I didn’t quite believe it, but I also didn’t want to spend a long time figuring it out. So, Flixbus for the win!

We stayed at Le Chatelet, a super cute hotel with the most Euro bed set-up so far. SMS was a fan of the separate bed covers. It was still warm and there was no AC, but it wasn’t peak hotness of the trip so we were ok.

For lunch, we went to a cafe specializing in Luxembourg dishes, among other options. It was on the corner of Place d’Armes.

Even though it was hot, we went for two gravy-based dishes. We know how to live- follow us for travel tips! I had a Vol du Vent while SMS had a sausage dish. Both were excellent.

Then we walked around the central part of Luxembourg City. We stopped at the Grand Palais, where I took a ridiculous picture to send to my book club since our last book was a thriller set in LC.

Next, we went to the Chemin de la Cornice, “Europe’s most beautiful balcony.” It overlooks the Casemates, which was our next stop.

We entered the Casemates after paying our 5E charge. There was an English language pamphlet, which was helpful but the layout was confusing. By the end, I think I got it. The fortifications are very impressive, as are the views from the view holes. I would definitely recommend going.

Then, we walked into the Grund. Most shops were closed, since it was Monday. Even though it was hot, it felt safe to walk down because SMS had made a key discovery through a podcast- there are elevators to take you up and down in the Grund. Total lifesaver. We took the ascenseur Plateau St. Esprit Grund twice. It’s not super obvious, i.e. no signs to say, “Elevator over here. Please take to avoid sweating to death while walking uphill!” But if you know it’s there, it’s easy to find. Like most things in life, I guess. Although SMS felt the Luxembourg City in particular had a lot of discreet passageways and staircases that you have to be in the know about, otherwise, you’re out of luck.

SMS tasted this and thought it was fun in a glass

For dinner, we went to Panane, a cute cafe near our hotel. We both got veggie heavy dinners. SMS tried the local Cremant, while I had a British-style Gin & Tonic, i.e. in a huge goblet that allows more alcohol to be served the botanicals to effervesce and reach the nose.

We took a walk back into the Centre after dinner. It was a gorgeous evening.

Also, another super cool piece of bike infrastructure was the bike/peds bridge under the Pont d’Albert. Even though there are sidewalks on either side of the upper vehicle part, there is a really nice bridge underneath. We took it earlier in the day for the shade it afforded. A+

Vacation ‘23, Day 8: Ghent -> Leige -> Maastricht


We started off our day with a quick hotel breakfast followed by a tour of the Gravensteen. The castle was really impressive and worth seeing, especially before the peak heat! The audio tour is helpful for a general overview, but it is led by a comedian who is not, in my opinion, the funniest. So, it was worth shortening some of the tracks.

Before leaving, we had a snack and a drink at our favorite chocolate shop, Tailored Flavours. We still had a few chocolates from yesterday so we didn’t buy more, but we did enjoy a tea and hot chocolate, accompanied by their delicious almond cookies. It was very tasty and gave us the needed endorphins for the slightly unpleasant task of dragging rolleraboard bags along the cobblestone streets made of “Belgian Blocks,” a term used in the auto industry for a specific suspension test done over similar blocks to ensure a smooth ride in rough conditions! Our poor little suitcases barely stood a chance!

Lamb, street art edition, surrounded by Belgian blocks

Then it was off to Maastricht! Yes, there was a late change in plans. I had planned on going to Durbuy, which inspires a lot of ambivalence on the internet. Some people love it, others think it is the tourist trap of all tourist traps. Since we had just spent time in Ghent which felt very touristy, I decided that maybe it wasn’t the best place for us. Two other key factors are 1. It is remote and we are taking public transport on a Sunday, which is even more infrequent and 2. The hotel we reserved does not have AC and it is going to be 90F today. That would result in a rough night of sleep, for sure!

So, I used Marriott points to book a hotel in Maastricht. It’s a fancy one, located in a former monastery. It was absolutely beautiful and totally worth it! They also are firmly in camp pro-AC!

On the way to Maastricht, SMS caused a minor train drama! The bathroom had been locked for the first hour. When the conductor came by, SMS asked if the bathroom was available on the train and the conductor said that one should be. When SMS and I told him it had been occupée for a long time, the conductor burst into action. Knocking on the door, Êtes-vous malade, and then sternly warning that he would be opening the door in one minute. This caused a fuss, with most people laughing when a drunk train fare dodger emerged. Then, I couldn’t believe it. SMS used the bathroom. I would have 100% used a different car- who knows what would be in there?! But SMS said it was just normal.

Our journey took us through Liège, where I was hoping to stop for a waffle. But between Sunday transportation schedules and wanting to dump our suitcases/check into our nice hotel, we decided just to pass through.

We arrive in Maastricht, which is another super cute Dutch university town. There’s a central river and no canals, but we really liked it from the start.

We took the bus to the hotel, finishing the last bit of distance rattling our suitcases over Belgian blocks. We went out to get something to eat. We had meant to go to a downtown cafe, but quickly found Friedt Maastricht, the best fries in Maastricht. They were delicious. I was in a sulk though, because SMS wanted to go back to the hotel for our deferred welcome drink and decompress in the AC while I wanted to press on. As SMS said, “How can anyone be sad eating a French fry?”

We headed back to the hotel and SMS was right, the welcome bubbles were delicious and the AC was enjoyable. Afterwards, we headed out to the shopping streets. There was a small craft fair going on in a central square, that included a DJ with a “Linger” remix that was interesting. Not a song that I ever thought to set to a beat drop.

We went to a cafe that the hotel reception had recommended, de Gouverneur. There were several beers on tap as well as many, many bottles. SMS and I got beers on tap, a Pilsner and Blonde respectively.

I had my sights set on going to Boekhandel Dominican, a bookstore in an old church from the 1200s. It was amazing! A church of books! I’m so happy we went. I was determined to buy a book from there. It was hard to pick. Ultimately, I chose Remains of the Day since it’s been on my TBR list for awhile and I wanted something that would age well. I wasn’t sure if The Guest by Emma Cline would be similarly rarified and worthy of being purchased in Book Church.

I had another place I wanted to go- the statue of the Beeld Bronzen Haan. I had found the online reviews for a rooster statue that were so funny. I wanted to see for myself and maybe add to it. I highly recommend the experience, if it isn’t too far out of your way.

Nearby, there was a large bird cage with finches and yellow birds that almost looked like C bird.

Speaking of C bird, we got a proof of life picture from our friend who stopped by to feed her yesterday. It warmed our hearts.

As we walked along the old city walls, we turned in towards the university and back to our hotel. We came across a Spanish tapas place that we decided to eat at, after a small amount of overthinking on my part. We had several tapas and I had a glass of sangria. Our bill was 42 Euros. OMG. Why do we live in Silicon Valley where the prices are so much more, not even inclusive of tax and tip? SMS points out that eating out prices have really gone up since the pandemic, which is true.


We walked back to our hotel and turned in for the night in the lovely, lovely AC. My gosh, we are so soft. Just like our delightful, comfy bed!

Plantin-Moretus Museum visit

Hanging in the courtyard of the Plantin-Moretus

On our way from Rotterdam to Ghent, we stopped in Antwerp. I had come across the description of the Plantis-Moretus museum and decided I really wanted to go. I love museums that are a mix of a rich person’s home and a certain niche collection. My favorite example is the Isabella Gardiner museum in Boston. But in Antwerp, the Plantis-Moretus museum is the home and office location of a family-owned printer that published many of the books during that time which was key for academics, botanists, doctors, clerics, and intellectuals.

Spectacular courtyard

The audio tour is included in the entrance and is quite good. There are also books on loan, which contain the transcript of the audio tour and a few extra tidbits.

Printing presses

Initially, we started the wrong way and went into the printing press room. Two of the presses are very old and date back to the 1600s. Amazing!

The oldest presses

We toured through the house, to include the office spaces, the copy-editor room, the libraries, and Mr. Plantin’s bedroom, complete with his deathbed portrait. That seems a little grim.

The second floor contained a lot of books and some plates, copper and woodblock. The collection has some incredible works, including a Gutenberg bible. Um, it wasn’t displayed. Boo hoo, I’m not sure what I was expecting- that it would be laying out, ready for me to rifle through to find my favorite Bible verse?!? But many of the works are digitized so I’m going to explore the website when I get home!

Here are the letters for Garamond font! The amount of fonts that Mr. Plantin owned were very impressive- quite a monopoly!

Finally, a lot of the walls were lined with embellished leather panels, which were quite luxe and very status symbol-y. Just as an FYI to any ethical vegans touring the museum- you may become very sad!

Vacation ‘23, Day 7: Ghent

Our day in Ghent was a little on the mellow side as the heat continues to slow our pace. It’s been quite nice to see a sight or two each day, although I still have hard charging days left in me!

After breakfast at the hotel, it was time to head to St. Bavo’s for the famed Alter of the Lamb. I love a good triptych and this one is amazing.

The front half of the cathedral is free to enter. The ceilings are amazingly high. This was the first cathedral we’ve been in this trip and they really are remarkable structures.

The crypt

The first part of the Lamb experience is to take an AR tour through the crypt. It was nice and cool in the crypt and it was nice to learn about the church and the art. I wouldn’t want to go that in depth in every cathedral but for this one, it was perfect.

The restoration of the alterpiece has really revived the work in terms of color brightness and detail. There is a more in-depth exhibit at a local museum which we did not attend, but I’m sure it’s exceptional. The panels above are some of my favorites. One, contained St. Livinus, holding his tongue that was torn out while he was preaching :[. Two, the angels in one of the smaller panels are very into their singing…or maybe someone is singing off-key? In all seriousness, the main panel was my favorite with the groupings of people, the central lamb, and the trees and plants in the background. I strongly recommend seeing this in Ghent!

It was interesting to me how modern I found the stained glass in this church and others. There are square blocks that seem somewhat abstract, and others that have figures that seem almost comic-like. Above, there’s a guy who looks like a comic figure and a groovy skeleton to his right.

These paintings in the knave were so cool. From a distance, they look like 3D marble reliefs, but they are actually monochromatic paintings. So talented!

The Rococo-style pulpit is very famous.

We had a nice coffee and treat break. We also bought some chocolates and nut mix for later.

Then we did laundry at a cafe/launderette. Yes, it was that time on the trip. Especially since it’s been quite warm- shirts are a one and done!

We had dinner at Alberte, which I’ll write about separately. This was another surprise menu that, for our tastes, didn’t work out quite as well as others on this trip but I would recommend the restaurant!

Our walk home was partly along the river Lexie, which is quite beautiful. All in all, it was a nice day in Ghent.

Dinner at De Matroos en het Meisje

Feeling hungry!

While planning for the trip, a common theme seemed to be that reservations at restaurants were highly recommended. And honestly, it’s so easy to do in the age of the internet and excellent translation, that why not?

In Rotterdam, I read about De Matroos en het Meisje and thought it sounded absolutely delicious. It also seemed to be reasonable in its portion-sizes and since we could pick 4 or 5 courses, it sounded perfect since appetites can be unpredictable while traveling!

SMS and I picked the four course option. I picked the wine pairing, which is available by full and half glasses. I picked the full glass pairing since I am a lush planned on sharing with SMS.

Our first taste was an amusé bouche, which was a tomato tartlet with a special oil. Afterwards, the server came and poured the first wine. I was afraid I had ate the food before the pairing. Never fear! They were very focused on pouring the wine before the pairing.

The actual first course was a grilled corn on Jerusalem artichoke purée with corn ice cream. Delicious! The waiter said how he and the staff thought that savory ice cream was the new culinary trend. In his words, what yuzu was a few years ago.

The second course was a fennel, sea leaf, crunchy zest, and flavored thin dressing that was wonderful. The pairing was with a young Spanish wine from a winery outside Madrid that is owned by a young couple. When I asked if the wines were from places where the chef knew people, the waitress shrugged and said, “No, it’s what the distributor tells us.”

The main course was absolutely delicious: morel mushrooms, delicate mackerel, turnips, artichoke purée, and “gravy from young cow.” It was paired with Sabia and overall, I think this was my favorite course! The corn may be tied.

The dessert was a smooth, liquid-y marangue on top of more ice cream and some crunchy crumbles. It wasn’t the most beautiful looking thing on the plate, but it was tasty.

Dinner was on the sidewalk next to a large square where people were walking, kids were playing games, and other restaurants had tables set up. It felt so neighborly that it was a lovely feeling to carry through a meal. The four course option was also nice to have a meal that was large, but manageable. I definitely recommend this restaurant in Rotterdam!