A Travellerspoint blog

Day 20: Paris Street Art, Louvre, Ballet

So unfortunately I didn't take very many pictures in the morning, or afternoon.. or really anytime except when I went to the Opera building because I forgot my phone at the hotel. So I'm borrowing some pictures from McCall ;p

We started off the morning by taking this really unique street art tour around a few of the arrondissements (or sections/neighborhoods) of Paris. This definitely made my list of coolest things I did during the trip. It gave me a whole new view of the city. Things that I wouldn't have even had a second thought about seeing it before. The tour guide, a young college student-aged girl, showed us some of the famous street artists' works along the streets and alleys as well as places that the artists come together to work on collaborative projects.

Here are some of my favorites from the tour, photo credit- McCall :)

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After the tour we were let loose for lunch. So I'm just going to stop here and say that since I didn't take any pictures of where I ate for lunch (for today and the next) and I didn't pay with my card either day I had no proof of where I went or when. I only knew that one day we went to a mexican place and another we went to a hipster cafe. I didn't know which day we ate where, I only remembered sort of what we were doing shortly before-hand and what the inside of the restaurants looked like. I didn't even find them online while there so I had no previous internet searches to go off of ether, we had just stumbled across both places! So I'm not lying when I say that I spent the last two hours figuring out where I ate those two meals in Paris. It's a little sad, I know, but I loved both restaurants so much I knew that if I gave up now then I'd never figure it out! And I hope that if I get to go back to Paris in the near-ish future I'll be able to eat at these restaurants. Or at the very least recommend them to you fine people so you can search them out when you go!

Ok so now that you know my long, but fruitful, search for the name of the lunch places (and that it is clearly worth it to eat there!), I can continue! After finishing the tour Hugh, Madeline, McCall, and I walked around the 10th Arr. to do some shopping and find somewhere to eat. Hugh and McCall found somewhere they liked pretty quickly but I guess I was being a little picky because I wanted something else, as did Madeline. We searched for a little while longer until we stumbled on (what I now remember as) Craft Cafe. The food looked good to both Madeline and I so she ordered Quiche and more Madeleine cookies and I ordered a sandwich and a scone. Oh my gosh, that sandwich was amazing. The bread was baked fresh, all the ingredients were top-notch. The scone was crumbly and yet buttery at the same time. Heaven in a mouthful!

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^^^ pic from their FB page

Afterwards we had to meet at the Louvre , but since we finished lunch with some time to kill we decided to check out the gardens right outside of it. On the way walking to the gardens I passed someone familiar- it was a girl from my high school that was in some of my classes. I said hi right when I recognized her, in the middle of the crosswalk, we exchanged "how are yous" and "this is crazy!" real quick and kept walking. What a coinky dink! We laid on the grass and enjoyed the day, talking and laughing. When we decided to that it was time to get to the meeting spot we got up and walked over to where we thought we were supposed to meet. About ten minutes go by and we have seen no one from our group. Frantically we race between the top of the metro station we were supposed to meet at and the big glass pyramid in the courtyard area. Finally we see Tashia, Catherine, and all them, plus a few other people. After about five more minutes we have half our group. But not the other half and no Dr. D or his family. After about another 15 minutes of so of waiting McCall texted another girl in our group, Serena (one of my roommates in amsterdam), to see where she was and if she had found Dr. D. After texting back and forth the only thing we knew was the rest of the class was indeed with Dr D. somewhere under the Louvre. After a full hour later (nearly two hours after the initial meeting time), Dr. D found us and brought us the way we should have gone- which was a back way into the museum, only discoverable if we had gotten off at the Louvre stop- McCall, Hugh, Madeline, and I had simply walked to the Louvre and the rest of the people had gotten off at the wrong stop (there were two stops that had the word "Louvre" in them).

We saw all we needed to see at the Louvre, and I'm almost ashamed to admit it... left after an hour and a half. It had been a long day full of walking around and standing in the sun and we felt like we saw what we wanted to see so we were good. I don't regret it- more to see next time I go!

We went back to the hotel for a small dinner and for rest, then we got ready for the ballet ("training for the ballet, Potter" quote was used often)! Let me tell you about it, so it was in the Opera Garnier, which was the Opera from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA! (*cue overture music*) Am I listening to the soundtrack right now as I'm typing this? You betcha.

This time Dr. D made sure to give us clear instruction on how to get to the Opera house to meet to get our tickets. JJ used me to smuggle in gummy sharks to eat during the performance (genius! why didn't I think of that??), but I got to have a handful, so it was all good. Better than good- I got free candy! The opera house was beautiful! I could just imagine the Masquerade scene from the movie!

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We saw the ballet "Les enfants du Paradis" (the children of paradise), an actually riveting ballet based on an old movie. Full of love, lust, heartbreak, and, of course, dance!

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^^^Pictures from inside the opera house, and OH LOOK more pictures of me. Someone call vogue, clearly I'm ready for the model life.

After the performance was over since it was Sean's birthday we went to his favorite crepe place down the street from our hotel, pictures of it are in Day 21and chipped in to buy him one of the fancy ones. The guy who worked there (who we joked that our study abroad was single-handedly providing for him) even gave him a free soda. Those crepes are fantastique, and fairly cheap too! All in all, great day- even with broiling in the hot Paris sun by the Louvre!

Posted by cedevault 12:34 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 19: Paris Free Day!

So today started off great because we were able to sleep in! Trust me when I say that it's totally worth it when you've been having to wake up earlier than your inner clock! I had my granola cereal with milk for breakfast and then we were on our way. It was the usual group of Madeline, Lacey, McCall, Megan, Stephie, and I. We went to this old graveyard that is home to many famous people. It was nice because it was fairly close to the hotel we were staying at so we just walked there.

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We first went to see Chopin's grave- awesome because his Nocturne number 1 i believe it is, is one of my favorite classical pieces.

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Then we found Moliere's grave, who I learned about in my senior year of high school- a great playwright!

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Finally we found Oscar Wilde's grave. I've never read his works, but I've heard about things he did. Plus I'm pretty sure he's Kelsey's favorite author so I sent her a picture of me by the grave.

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We then hopped onto the metro and took it to the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris to see the Sacre Coeur church.By this point in the day it was HOT. Like 90-something degrees out (Fahrenheit) so when we got there it was a long, sweaty climb up to the church.

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However, the view on the top was worth it! We got a great view of the city sprawl and while we were enjoying the breeze at the top looking out, we ran into Catherine, Kylie, Lauren, Tashia, Madison, Zach, and JJ! We talked for a few minutes and then they climbed down because they were coming from the church while we still had to look in it.

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The church was pretty cool, but by this point all the cathedrals started to melt together haha. One great thing though was I found a 5 Euro bill on the floor of the church!

We made our way back down and got back onto the metro to take us to the Champs-Elysees to see the Arc de Triomphe #typicaltourists! Not really too much to say about it, it was cool to see it in real life since it's featured in so many pictures of Paris and movies set in the city. We were taking pictures in front of it when we ran into Hugh, the other Madison, and their group. We talked for a little bit and then resumed picture taking.

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^^^ McCall and I!

It wasn't for a few more minutes that we realized Stephie was gone. Gone, gone. We tried to look for her, one of our group members crossed the roundabout street to see if she was under the Arc, but she wasn't there. We figured she had left with Hugh and them, but we couldn't be certain so we were frantically trying to get their numbers so we could ask them if Stephie was with them (this situation is where having international cell phone plans are handy). We waited around the Arc for another 20 minutes and decided to just go along with our plans because we were fairly certain that Stephie just had gone off with the other group and forgotten to tell us. Luckily a little while later we got a text back from the group that that was indeed what had happened.

Our next stop was the Laduree shop for French macaron (pronounced sort of like mac-ah-rah, definitely not like mac-ah-roon). The shop was so cute!! rows upon rows of the little treats! I had seen macaron all over pinterest and hipster instagrams but I'd only ever tried one before, and it was from Costco so it wasn't super legit. I bought two there (1.50 euros each) one cafe and the other caramel with salted butter. Both were (as the french woman said at Musee d'Orsay) fantastique!

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One of the things that I really wanted to do while in France was to get a really nice dinner (the French are renowned for their food!). I talked to the girls in my room, Lacey, Madeline, and McCall, and they were down to spend a little extra money on a nice meal. So I got us reservations at this bistro, La Regalade- Saint Honore. After getting our macarons we shopped in some stores to get outfits to wear to dinner (we really wanted to make it special!). After making our purchases at Zara's, we headed back to the hotel. But not before stopping in at another macaron place and buying two more! I got chocolate and this strawberry lemon one. I don't remember the name of the place, sadly :(.

We got ready for our dinner at the hotel room, did our hair, got dressed in our purchases, and left to go to dinner!

The restaurant was so nice! The waitstaff were very professional and provided good service (I think it helped that my name is Corinne DeVault- a very French name. tangent- the woman who rung up my stuff at Zara asked if I was french when she saw my name on my debit card, in french, but when I clearly didn't understand, she repeated in English, and then when I said I was American she asked if I had french relatives, and I explained my ancestors had come from France). The set up of the dinner was that we pay a base price for a three course meal and we get to choose what to eat for each course. I had the squid-ink risotto for my appetizer, a pan-fried pork belly with orange and yellow carrots for my entree, and their famous Souffle (first time trying it!) for dessert. We also got a pre-appetizer of pate and bread, and a post dinner treat of Madeleine cookies that were included in our base price. The water of course, wasn't. That meant that our bill was higher than what it said on the menu, but that was okay because it was soooooo good!!!!!

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All in all it was a very successful dinner! We talked between courses and felt very fancy :)

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^^^ us in front of the restaurant. McCall, Lacey, Madeline, and I (L to R)

After dinner we walked to the nearby love-lock bridge, which didn't have any locks any more on it because the Parisian government got them removed for the safety of the bridge. It was such a beautiful night!! The sun was low in the sky and casting a golden-pinkish glow on the parisian streets and on the Seine.
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^^^yet another picture of me haha get used to it!

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We then went back to the hotel because the Paris streets aren't the safest late at night. I had to do my laundry finally, but I had no idea how to use the washer in the hotel basement so I got to do peasant labor! I washed an entire suitcase-worth of clothes in the tub. I now can fully appreciate the wonders of a washer and drier. I was glad that I had two days for my clothes to dry because just one wouldn't have been enough. As it was, my clothes were dried in time to pack up and leave. It took like three hours to do and by the time I was done laying all my clothes out on towels I was exhausted! Wringing out wet clothes takes a LOT out of a person!

Posted by cedevault 12:13 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 18: Giverny ~ Versailles ~ Paris- France!

So we started off the day by leaving the snooty ("Snooty?" "Snotty." "Snotty?!"- from Ferris Bueller's day off, if you remember the reference I will love you forever!) hotel worker and waiter behind and going to see Monet's garden! I was actually really excited to see it because this was something artsy that I could really appreciate being a total nature lover.

Let me just say that it lived up to the hype. The gardens were bursting with flowers and color and life! Simply marvelous! I suggest that anyone who has time go see them, while they are somewhat small, they are a host to many different types of flowers and plants that all tumble out onto the path.

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Okay so for whatever reason (I was just feeling mischievous or something?) I decided to pretend to be an expert on Monet and spit off random, and untrue, facts while walking around the gardens to the others. Like I said, I'm not really sure why I did it haha. So I started off with small lies, "Did you know that Monet had many mistresses?", "Did you know that he had three illegitimate children?", "Did you know that Monet would get drunk before painting? That's why his paintings are so blurry!" (that was a personal favorite of mine!), "Did you know Monet refused to have Chrysanthemums grow in his garden?" and when Lauren asked why- "He just didn't like them!". Finally I was ready for my grand finale, people assumed I was a Monet expert by this point, so when Hugh and I walked away from the group I decided to let him in on the secret. I confessed that nothing I said concerning Monet was true and that I wanted to do a really outrageous "unfact" to see if people would actually believe it. After a minute of brainstorming we came up with an idea. I rushed back to the group I was walking with and said "Oh my gosh, you guys! I just overheard a tour guide say that one of Monet's mistresses was Japanese, which was why he had such a japanese influence (which actually was true), and they had an illegitimate son together who died at Nagasaki". The girls looked impressed, the guys looked a little skeptical, but when Hugh came up behind me and vouched for it they believed us! Naturally I had to try it on more of the study abroad! But the second time I started laughing halfway through and thought I had completely given myself away (and I had to Zach and JJ for sure) but Stephie still believed me! Great success!

After that it was time to leave, but since Dr. D had ordered everyone bagged lunches from this restaurant on the grounds we first went to pick it up. I got this veggie sandwich that had eggplant and zucchini and other veggies on it, and then they all came with chips (which I gave away), a chocolate croissant, and a water bottle. As we were sitting in the bus the guys called me out on my Monet lie and I came clean about all of them, which everyone found really funny! Stephie was astounded that I had made it all up! For the rest of the trip anytime someone made up a fake fact it would start with "Oh did you know..." and have something outrageous that Monet did dealing with what the lie was about, Hugh, my partner in crime, would say it a lot! Not gonna lie it fun to have started an inside joke!

After Giverny we drove to Versailles! And oh man was it hot and crowded! The palace was a little ornate for my taste, but it was interesting to learn about how King Louis "the Sun king" would basically make people watch him and his family like Keeping up with the Kardashians! He would have nobles watch him eat, play games, etc. just to keep them in line... and because he wanted an audience, which I guess reality TV would understand but I sure don't!
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The hall of mirrors (one of the most famous rooms in the palace itself) lived up to the hype!
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^^^ Versailles Palace mirror selfie with Kylie, Tashia, Madison, and Catherine!

After finishing the relatively short tour, we had plenty of time to explore the grounds, or in Tashia, Madison, JJ, and my case- enjoy the garden and the day by relaxing on the grass!

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^^^oh look another selfie of me... who's not surprised? haha. enjoying the afternoon sun in the garden :)

I was a little sad because I did want to rent bikes to bike around the grounds with McCall, Lacey, Megan, and McCall, but I lost them part way through the palace tour and I couldn't reach McCall via cell phone to meet up. However, relaxing was very much needed and I ran into Catherine, Lauren, Zach, and Kylie while looking for the bathroom, so we all ended up together on the grass and talking. Previously I had been a little intimidated by their group but because of the Monet prank, it made me super comfortable with all of them. I'm so glad that it happened because I got to know everyone really well and since we all had similar senses of humor, it made for some fun times ;).

After leaving Versailles we drove into Paris!! McCall played her french music (she's a really good speaker- and she even impressed the snooty waiter from the night before!) as we drove into the city. Our next stop was the Musee d'Orsay before going to the hotel. There was a shutdown for like an hour and half of the museum because of a "suspicious" bag or something, but it opened up and we were able to explore. I actually liked this museum a lot because (while I don't think it was organized that awesome) it had a lot of cool paintings from the Realist and impressionist periods, both of which I like and it was in the old train station! There was this huge clock in it!. There was this one painting that caught my eye because the tear drop on the woman's face looked so life-like! It was beautifully done.

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Another painting that I really liked that I first saw in my AP European class four years before. It's called (in English) "London, the Parliament. Sun breaking through the fog" by Monet (really, I'm not just making something up!). It's one of his Houses of Parliament series paintings.

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I went around with Hugh most of the time because we were very good at finding where the paintings we were supposed to see were, There was this one that we could not find so we asked one of the workers there where it was. He had us follow him, so naturally we assumed he was taking us to see it! But then he took us to this balcony and pointed at another building across the river and explained it was in their sister museum for the time being. We thanked him and then stood for a minute enjoying the view. This french lady with her friends came out onto the balcony with us and exclaimed loudly "oh! FantasTIQUE!", which made Hugh and I laugh as we went back inside.

After finding all the paintings we were supposed to we still had a sizable chunk of time to kill before leaving to the hotel, so we explored the other parts of the museum that didn't have any paintings on the list in it. There was this one called "The young girl and Death" by Marianne Stoke that we spent at least five minutes looking at and discussing because it really caught our eye. The angel of death looked so sad to be taking the girl and so understanding and the girl looked sad, but not afraid to go. A very interesting painting.

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Funny thing though- the three paintings that really struck my fancy weren't on the list to look at! I guess that's a win for Dr. D because it means that I was going above and beyond the assignment and actually appreciating the art!

After getting to the hotel/ apartment (I was rooming with Lacey, Madeline, and McCall- of course lol-) we went to the nearby Monop grocery store (Monop Parmentier to be exact!) to get food. My favorite purchase was this granola that had a bunch of dried fruits in it. I loved it so much that I made sure to buy another box to take with me when I left paris! McCall got granola from the same brand but with chocolate in it not fruit (and she just ate the granola and left the chocolate since the granola was THAT good!) So if anyone goes to the Monop grocery store i recommend buying this... and ship some out for me because I can't get it anywhere online :( I need it!!

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Long day but good, and we have a free day tomorrow, so a chance to sleep in and take it relatively easy!

Posted by cedevault 20:53 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 17: Ypres, Belgium- Vimy Ridge, France

We started the day in Ypres by going to a WWI museum called "In Flanders Field", based off the famous poem dealing with the war. This ended up being one of best museums we visited. It was fascinating, interactive, and very thorough. They had these arm bands that was given to every one of us that we registered saying our age, name, and where we were from and throughout the museum there were places where we could scan the bracelets and it would show stories about people who were involved with the war that would relate to us, I had a young woman who joined the nursing force, a young man from Chicago who fought, amongst others. It was extra interesting because the town was a major battle front for the western front of WWI. So we were walking on real life history.

The museum was extra cool because it was located in an old building right on the town's main square.

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We then left the town of Ypres, and traveled across the border into France to the Vimy Ridge memorial site! It was another historical site dealing with WWI, this time however it was a real battlefield with preserved trenches and tunnels that we toured.

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It is crazy to think about how many young men needlessly lost their lives because of the trenches. They'd be holed up for weeks, years, in the cold and wet only to be told to run over the top and be shot... just so that they're side would get a few more yards that they'd end up losing a few weeks later. The needlessness is astounding.

There was a memorial set up for those that died in those battles, magnificent, but sad.

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We then continued on to a hotel outside of Giverny (the home of Monet). This town had some of the most unfriendly people that we met during the entire program (*and I can say that for sure now that I'm finished with it!*). So the first person we met was the man behind the hotel desk checking us in. I mean I'm not one to continue stereotypes, but the French men there were.... not very nice. He looked at us like we were some sort of sub-humans! We're only Americans! ...

Well we got all checked in and everyone was vying for the wifi password (like I said- It's our lifeline!) and we find out you have to pay for it! Not happening. haha We were resigned to no communication for the next 24 hours -_-.

McCall, Hugh, Sean, and I went to the "nice" restaurant in the little town. Out of two.... So we walk in, planning on just ordering something small, well everyone except Sean who wanted dinner- which we didn't think was going to be a big deal- APPARENTLY it was. We were forced to wait for him to order dinner, get it, and eat it before we could order our desserts! McCall and I ordered this peach soup that had a scoop of ice cream in it. Very different but very delicious.

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We had the credit card to pay for the meal all ready to go so that we could leave quickly (we had already been there for two and a half hours) but when the waiter came back he said he had to go get the card reader! That really meant that he was going to go talk to his friend for thirty minutes, actually more because by that point Sean (who was using his card to pay) insisted that McCall and I to just leave. (Dr. D and his family came in, ordered entire meals, paid, and left before we were even offered the bill!) So we went back to the hotel room (we were sharing that night... like most nights haha), talked for a little and then went to bed.

Posted by cedevault 19:23 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Day 16: Brussels-Ghent-Ypres, Belgium

So after waking up and eating, our group traveled to the Parlamentarium in downtown Brussels. This place also proved to be a disappointment because when Mr. D called to get our reservation way back in early spring, the workers told him that he did not need to get the electronic tour guides for the tour. While we technically didn't need them to actually get into the tour, everything interactive was done through the electronic guides.... and most everything was interactive. So for the first time ever we actually left a place slightly earlier than when we intended.

We got back onto the bus (thankfully- it was quite cold out for spring/summer!) and drove to Ghent so we could see the famous Ghent altarpiece. First though, we were able to roam the city a bit. On the way to Saint Bavos' Cathedral (where the altarpiece was) we passed this little cafe place that I thought looked good. SInce it was time for lunch I led my group back to the coffee shop.

It's called Den Hoek Af and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone that visits in Ghent. I had a flower tea (that came with little tea cookies I shared with the other 7 people in our group) and this vegetable soup that came with probably the best bread I've ever had in my life. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest, it was that good! Plus, it was really cheap (especally after the only somewhat good waffle that cost just as much). It was such a fun find because it gave off this hipster-y, cozy, warm atmosphere (which was nice since it was windy, a bit rainy, and chilly) without feeling pretentious. I forgot (ugh so mad at myself now!) to take pictures in it, but here's one i found online by Julie Landrieu and a link to their facebook page here.

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I seriously want to travel back to Ghent solely for that restaurant.

After lunch we wandered around more and went into some chocolate shops to buy truffles and chocolates. When it was time to reconvene we met at the St. Bavos' Cathedral again to see the altarpiece. It was pretty cool to see it after learning about the history of the altarpiece (apparently it's been going back and forth between Belgium and Germany for a long time, like Germany took it in WWI and WWII, but Belgium managed to get it back). It was painted by Jan van Eyck, but apparently his brother was the one who was supposed to paint it, but he died soon after. The church also offered pamphlets that talked about what is actually represented in the paintings, which made it easier to appreciate as well.

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Then we went to the church across the square so we could climb up the tower and see the bell's mechanisms while it was tolling. Very neat. We climbed back down and Mr. D lead us all to this waffle shop and bought us waffles.
***I'm honestly astounded at the fact that I didn't gain weight on my trip!***

We then walked to the Gentse Gruut Brewery where we got to learn about this microbrewery that makes medieval-like beer. The funniest part was since we are all BYU students and don't drink, the staff there were amazed and weirded out by the fact that we weren't doing any of the taste tests. I decided to bring home a bottle of their best beer to my dad (who does drink, and would actually appreciate the fact that we went to a brewery). After the presentation given by one of the founders, I went up to the presenter and asked him if I bought one beer, which is the best. He thought I would be buying for myself, so he started talking about the "light" (in color since it lacks hops, not in calories) beers (they had a white and a blonde) that younger women enjoy, but I cut him off and asked if he were to go and pick one to drink, which was his favorite. He suggested the Inferno since it had the strongest flavor and was intense. Knowing my dad, I knew that he would like that one and I bought it.

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(a picture provided by their website... I was really bad about picture taking that day)

After we left the brewery, we drove to another town in Belgium, Ypres, where WWI battles were fought. We checked into our hotel rooms and my friend McCall said my favorite quote from the trip (as we were looking out the window and talking about how since there was a big platform right outside our window someone could easily get into our hotel room):

Mccall: I dunno, I feel like nothing bad has ever happened in this town.
Corinne: besides the war?...

Anyway, after that we then walked over to the Menin Gate where the town holds a last post ceremony every night at 8:00. It was definitely worth going to. They talked about two soldiers that died in one of the battles and had their family lay flowers down by their names.

As you can see the event is very popular. The gate is engraved with the fallen from all the battles fought in Ypres, which gave the ceremony real weight.

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After the ceremony I stuck around to get a picture of the gate looking in.

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Since we hadn't eaten dinner yet, we found an Italian place right on the street leading up to the gate, ate there and then walked back to hotel. I don't know how we remembered where the hotel was because we didn't have any maps and we took lots of turns to get to the Gate from the hotel, but nevertheless we made it back okay.

Posted by cedevault 10:39 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

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