One of the great things about our new neighborhood is its proximity to the city's pedestrian zone and the Grand Place. While everyone who doesn't live in the neighborhood must drive and struggle to find parking, we have the luxury of walking two blocks then being in the center of the action. And this past weekend the action revolved around the chocolate festival. Somehow it is completely appropriate that the first festival we attended here in Belgium was Le Fete du Chocolat or the Chocolate Festival. And it was even more appropriate that it was raining. After all two of the first things I think of when I hear "Belgium" is chocolate and rain. But because it was Belgian chocolate it was good. Really good. So good that it was nothing a few (or more) raindrops could ruin. And we weren't the only ones who felt this way.
On an overcast and sometimes rainy Saturday afternoon the pedestrian zone was lined with booths and stalls touting Belgian chocolate in all forms. As we approached the street the air was filled with the distinctive aroma of chocolate. From bite sized gourmet truffles and chocolate filled waffles to chocolate bunnies (after all, Easter is rapidly approaching), fudge, and ice cream, it was all for the eating and buying. Some chocolatiers paired their chocolates with champagne while another sold chocolate infused coffees and teas. There were pastry shops selling both chocolate items as well as local fruit filled specialities which were welcome reprieves from the chocolate. (Yes, there really can be too much of a good thing). As an added incentive to lure people in, most vendors provided free samples.
|Chocolate samples anyone?|
We had wandered about halfway through the festival when the sky opened up and it began to pour. My first inclination was to run for cover but in looking around I noticed that no one else was dashing towards the nearest vestibule. Instead, people were lifting their hoods or raising their umbrellas and continuing on their way. So we joined the locals and did the same. Sidney loved splashing in the puddles and the rain did little to detract from the festivities. Sure we got wet but it was just a part of the experience. (Prior to our arriving in Belgium Glenn had boldly declared that we wouldn't let the rain stop us from venturing out so we didn't). But as is the case most days the rain was short lived. By the time we headed home the rain had stopped and before we reached our doorstep the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining. We were almost tempted to turn around and go back. But instead we brewed ourselves some of our new mocha coffee and drank it with chocolate macaroons. Life in Belgium is turning out to be pretty darn sweet.