(petit chou translates as little cabbage -a French term of endearment for children)
I was surprised by how little I knew about Belgium besides the fact they invented
Belgium is divided into basically 3 parts - Flemish who speak Dutch and live in
Flanders, the Wallonians who speak French and live in Wallonia and a very small German speaking part. Brussels is the capital and truly the only bilingual city in the country.
When I say that they are separate, I really mean that. I heard countless stories of Wallonians never visiting Flanders and vice versa. There is occasionally talk of seperation but there didn't seem to be any strife while we were there. We were lucky enough to visit both the Flemish and Wallonian sides of Belgium.
Our friends live in Wallonia in a small town with tractors, chickens and sheep. This was a WONDERFUL welcome change from big city Berlin.
We spent our first day in the French speaking part in a town called Bouillon. Unfortunately, this town is not that reachable by public transportation. We were incredibly lucky enough to be able to borrow a car.
As I walked out the door, I remembered asking "what food is Belgium famous for?" My friend answered, "Mussels." "Mussels" I thought?!?!
DELISH! We ate at a place called "Roy De La Moule" or King of the Mussels. Mine were dipped in white wine, cream, mushrooms and oil. The Scientist had them in beer, garlic and other spices. They were amazing and this is coming from a non-mussel eater.
The city of Bouillon is most famous for a perfectly preserved medieval castle called Castle Godefroid of Bouillon built in the 10th century (although historians believe it had been built centuries before). This is NO castle of princess fairy tales. This castle was built to defend and protect as evidenced by "modern" slits with 3 ways to shoot your arrows out of the window. The castle was inherited by Godefroid de Bouillon. He didn't seem like such a nice guy. You can read about him here if you are interested.
Watch the stairs! They were dark, steep and a little bit frightening.
The castle also had a falconry show but lacking any sort of French language skills (except from our French word book), we couldn't figure out when the show was. They were birds of prey lounging all over the castle including owls, an Andes Condor (they are HUGE!) and American falcons aka kestrals.
The views from the outside were stunning. These are real. We actually spent too much time on the watchtower just feeling happy we were alive. Oddly enough, some German tour group came on the tower with us and I have to admit, it was a little comforting to hear German. (Do you expats feel that way too?)
If you travel to Belgium, try to get a car and head up to Bouillon! More Belgian adventures to come soon...