Normandy and Belgium and the Netherlands, oh my

For our last day in France, we decided to visit the Normandy beaches along with Janak’s friend, Scott. We took a train to Bayeaux and planned to take a bus from there out to the beaches. What we didn’t realize was that on Sunday everything shuts down — there were no buses to be had. But one long taxi ride later, we arrived at the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha beach. It’s an interesting place to visit, though sad. There were thousands of graves there, mostly from the same few weeks. It was a shock to realize that the chapel I was walking towards was not at the end of the cemetery, as I had thought, but was only halfway along. There was another half to the cemetery that I hadn’t even realized was there. Nine thousand graves is a lot to take in.

It feels a little strange at this point to transition from writing about cemeteries to writing about Belgian waffles, but given how late this post is I will just have to continue on, so now for something completely different:

We next went to Brussels, where we aquired a very useful map in our hostel, which had a lot of helpful comments and recommendations. Map in hand, we went out to explore the city. Our first stop was for waffles. The map recommended one place in particular for the best waffles in the city. It was one of the nicer restaurants we’ve been to on the trip, and the waffles were amazing: light and crisp and delicious. Best waffles of our lives.

And so, full of waffley-goodness, we set off across the city for the Magritte Museum. The art was entertaining and surreal. Magritte is one of my favorite painters, so it was fun to see a lot of his work together. It was made even better by the fact that the woman at the ticket desk was nice enough to offer us the student discount.

For the rest of the afternoon we wandered around the city, admiring the architecture (quite impressive) and buying more food. We went to a chocolate shop and each got four or five different little chocolates, which were as good as you would expect. I also got some local cherry beer. Apparently Brussels beer uses local wild yeast, like SF sourdough does, which gives it a distinctive taste. My beer mostly tasted like cherries, so I couldn’t say, but anyways it was tasty.

For dinner we went to a fry stand, which according to our map is the last of the original fry places in the city. It’s just a little metal shed in the middle of an intersection, where they cook the potatoes right in front of you and give you a huge tub of mayo for dipping. The fries were the best we’ve ever had. In conclusion, the Belgians know their food.

After Brussels we went to the Netherlands. The highlight for us was the cheese factory in Beemster. This is where they make one of our favorite cheeses, a gouda based on a medieval recipe. As you can see from the pictures, we were quite pleased. We purchased about three pounds of the stuff. Fortunately it’s cold enough that it stays good as we haul it around.

Sorry for the food-heavy post, folks, but it’s been so good lately. We’ve been making an effort to try local things everywhere we go, and so far that strategy has really been working well for us.