Chris had to take a little trip to Belgium for work, so naturally, I tagged along!
My knowledge of Belgium (before visiting) = waffles, chocolate and beer. All good things, but we found out that there was so much more to love in the small country of Belgium.
We stayed in Diksmuide (literally pronounced "Dick's murder"), a small municipality in the Flemish provence of West Flanders that is widely known for its famous butter. Butter? Butter doesn't seem all that random to me considering I grew up in a state (Oregon) that's known for Tillamook Cheddar cheese.
|Diksmuide's Town Hall and St. Nicholas Church.|
I was pleasantly surprised when we drove into the quaint town.
Like most European cities, the heart of Diksmuide is a large town square. A little Christmas market was taking shape when we arrived, and the imposing Gothic steeple of St. Nicholas Church could be seen looming over Town Hall.
It is a perfect little city with detailed architecture, clean streets, fancy boutiques, and classy pubs on every corner. One would never guess that Diksmuide has such a broken history. During World War I, the city was heavily attacked by German forces, and at one point, the city was flooded in an effort to destroy the Germans. The Germans never took the city, but by the end of WWI, Diksmuide was reduced to a pile of rubble. In the 1920's, the city was completely rebuilt. We heard that a common field trip for British high school students is a visit to the German Military Cemetery where 25,638 soldiers found their resting place.
The city is peaceful now, of course, but it seems that a different sort of struggle looms over the entire country. The Dutch make up the majority of the Belgian population, but the other people represented are the French, and they don't really see eye to eye. In fact, there was no government for over a year because of the tensions between the two groups of people. The day that we arrived, in fact, a government was finally established but our host seemed dissatisfied and discouraged with the elected choice. I suppose only time will tell, right?
|Duvel Belgian beer is Chris' new favorite!|
So, the first night we arrived, we were taken out to dinner. Chris' first beer remained his favorite in Belgium. I am not a huge beer fan, but I have to say that I too appreciated the spicy taste of Duvel. If you ever find this beer, try it. We even heard a few locals proclaim that out of the 1,500 local Belgian beers, Duvel is the best.
|Chris + steak = my husband's heaven.|
One thing that we've been missing in Serbia is a big, fat, juicy, medium rare steak. Now Serbians eat meat. Don't get me wrong. They eat loads of meat; every type of meat, and they eat it for almost every meal. We like Serbian food, but no where in Serbia have we found a restaurant that prepares steak rare -> med rare, and that's how we like it. We discovered that Belgium is known for its Belgium Blue beef, and they don't even ask you for a temperate when ordering. You get rare -> med rare whether you like it or not. We liked it a lot! So much so that we each had two huge steak meals during our time in Belgium.
I added a few more pictures of Diksmuide below. Enjoy!
|Canals run through the city. Diksmuide is 10 miles from the North Sea.|
|Just a sweet park on the outskirts of the town.|
|St. Nicholas Church that was rebuilt in the 1920's after the German's bombed the original one.|
|Inside St. Nicholas Church.|
|Bombs that were actually dropped on the city. Now they adorn Town Hall.|
|Night falling over the town square.|
|New friends at Diksmuide's Christmas market|
We met some of the friendliest people in Belgium. The first night in Diksmuide, we decided to take a stroll around the Christmas market. I was hunting for gluhwine (mulled wine), and Chris was on the market for a sausage. As I was ordering, a loud voice behind us insisted that we each try a Duvel "the best beer in Belgium." Wim (The man on the far left in the picture above), insisted that we stay for a beer, and he bought a round. Wim introduced us to his friends and before we knew it, an hour had passed.
|The owner of the booth brought me some home made snail soup. Amazing!|
|We met the owner of the information center, and he gave us a book on the town.|
We were invited to come back to Belgium, and Wim and his wife even said we could stay at their place in Brussels. We were not expecting such warm and hospitable people, but we are so glad that now we know what to expect next time we visit.
Good night Diksmuide! Tomorrow, off to the magical town of Bruges!