Exploring Romania More Deeply

Exploring Romania More Deeply

First Time in Romania
At the start of my Journey to Greece last June, I spent five days in Romania visiting mainly Timisoara, Sibiu and Brasov. Stopping in villages along my route or at vista points atop mountains to take photos of the magnificent scenery below became part of my daily routine while travelling by car.

The landscapes in the Transylvania region of Romania, in particular in and around the Carpathian Mountains, were absolutely breathtaking.  Of the three cities visited on my first trip, I loved Brasov most and would have liked to have stayed there longer.

For more informatio…

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Road Through Bulgaria Back Towards Belgium

Road Through Bulgaria Back Towards Belgium

Saying Good-bye to Xanthi
Two weeks ago I left Xanthi, the main destination of my Journey to Greece, to head back up north to Belgium.  I was sad to be returning towards ordinary life instead of continuing to wander wherever the wind blew me, so to speak.  Ok, it would take quite a gale to blow me in one direction!  But you understand my point.

Even though I still had one month to travel from Xanthi to Brussels, the remorse was hard to shake off.  I immensely enjoyed visiting Xanthi, which I believe will always have a special place in my heart.  I am preparing a separate post on my time in…

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Eating Out in Xanthi – A Personal Guide

Eating Out in Xanthi – A Personal Guide

What are the Eating Out Habits in Xanthi?
This summer I had the pleasure to visit Xanthi to spend time with friends and explore the local food culture.  As many of you know, Xanthi, located in Greece’s Thrace region, was the main destination of my three-month Journey to Greece, which is now about two-thirds completed.

During my stay in Xanthi, I had the pleasure of several delicious homemade meals prepared by my friend, Thomais. I also enjoyed eating out for lunch and dinner numerous times in restaurants, not including my various snacks between meals.

After a mere five weeks in Xanthi, …

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Musutu in Xanthi, Greece

Musutu in Xanthi, Greece

What Makes Musutu a Local Hit?

Musutu in Xanthi
  • Location
  • Atmosphere
  • Food
  • Service
  • Price / Quality Ratio

Summary

Musutu is a definite must-stop in Xanthi for fine food, coffee and drinks. The manager, Giorgos, will take excellent care of you. At the end of your meal you will feel as if you've made a new friend.

Musutu
Elpidos 7 | Elpidos 7 & Dagkli
Xanthi 67100, Greece

Tel: +30 25410 68988
http://www.musutu.gr/ (currently under construction)

4.5

Customers stop in all day and evening at Musutu, a cafe-restaurant located on a pedestrian street in the center of Xanthi.  During the off-hours they come to chat with friends and to enjoy coffee.  Greek coffee or espresso, cold or hot, however you enjoy it.  Although there are many other places for coffee nearby, locals seem drawn to Musutu by an invisible force.

In fact, however, what attracts people to this cafe – restaurant is the manager himself,  Giorgos Grammatopoulos.  He is like the conductor of an orchestra who you don’t notice until …

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Becoming More Centered in Central Europe

Becoming More Centered in Central Europe

Rivers, Pastel Colors and Lots of Green
I always try to avoid generalizations or stereotyping when talking about countries visited.  How can a tourist really understand the depths of a country’s uniqueness or what makes its people tick in a few moments or days passing through?  Even after living in Brussels for 26 years and becoming a Belgian citizen I try not to ruffle any feathers when asked to describe various features of Belgian life.

In the past 11 days I’ve driven more than 2000 kilometers (1200 miles) from Brussels to Brasov, Romania.  I have tried to avoid larger cities as well as …

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Pizza Chic in Paris

Pizza Chic in Paris

Best Pizza Dough Ever!

Pizza Chic in Paris
  • Location
  • Atmosphere
  • Food
  • Service
  • Price / Quality Ratio

Summary

I'd travel pretty far taste Pizza Chic's super delicious pizza dough and their soft pillows of fresh mozzarella!

4.2

The name of the restaurant Pizza Chic is misleading.  You would think it’s all about appearances and style, while this could not be farther from the truth! The artisans behind the scene carefully prepare the dough at least 5 days in advance by letting it slowly rise and ferment to perfection! Never have I tasted better pizza dough! The same can be said of the mozzarella cheese which tasted so soft and creamy atop my pizza. Utter delight!
The atmosphere at Pizza Chic, in the 6th arrondissement, is nonetheless very chic. It has a hint of New York sophisticat…

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Pei & Mei

Pei & Mei

What made Pei & Mei Tasty yet Unexceptional?

Pei & Mei
  • Location
  • Atmosphere
  • Food
  • Service
  • Price / Quality Ratio

Summary

Pei & Mei offers fine uninspiring food without many vegetarian or vegan options. If you are visiting Brussels, the restaurant is centrally located on a pedestrian street near the Sablon Square. Pei & Mei is set up better for intimate meals for 2 or 4 persons than for large parties.

3.8

I chose Pei & Mei because it was included on a list of vegan-friendly restaurants in Brussels. I was searching for a restaurant to take a good friend to celebrate her birthday.  As it was a warm summer evening we planned on sitting outside on the terrace.

Pei Mei outside terrace

 

I was disappointed that there were no vegan and very limited vegetarian options on the menu given that its mention on the vegan-friendly list was one of the main reasons…

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Bij den Boer – Brussels

Bij den Boer – Brussels

What makes Bij den Boer one of my favorite restaurants in Brussels?

Bij den Boer
  • Location
  • Atmosphere
  • Food
  • Service
  • Price / Quality Ratio

Summary

Bij den Boer's fixed-price menu offers the all-around best value in Brussels. The food, atmosphere and service are all reliably quite good.

4.3

Bij den Boer, located at Quai aux Briques 60 across from the Sainte Catherine metro station, has been one of my favorite restaurants in Brussels for years. Bij den Boer offers the best price/quality ratio of any restaurant I know.  This restaurant has a bustling brasserie atmosphere with a hint of nostalgia.

Everything about Bij den Boer is authentic and good quality.  Their menu offers mainly fish and seafood, yet also has several meat options.  The best deal is Bij den Boer’s fixed-price menu featuring f…

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Le Homard et la Moule Restaurant Review

Le Homard et la Moule Restaurant Review

How to Work Up an Appetite near the Belgian Coast?
At the end of October 2015 a friend and I went to the Belgian seaside on the North Sea for the day.  We had gone to Bruges, Ghent and Hasselt together over the summer to visit the towns, and now we were heading to Ostend.  We planned to visit the James Ensor House, a city museum created in the last house of the renown expressionist – surrealist painter.

As the day approached we added more details to our plan.  In the end we agreed to visit the Saint Sixtus Abbey of Westvleteren, Belgium, to taste the “Best Beer in The World”.  The Saint Si…

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Restaurants in Los Angeles Enjoyed

Restaurants in Los Angeles Enjoyed

What Restaurants in Los Angeles did I Enjoy over New Year’s Holiday?
In the past few years, Los Angeles has become one of the best cities in the United States for enjoying food.  Mexican, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Persian (Iranian), Armenian, Jewish and Californian cuisines are only a few to highlight here.  Of course, traditional Italian and French cuisines can also be found all over the city.

A vibrant food truck culture also permeates the city streets, especially in certain neighborhoods.  These food trucks have been on the front lines of innovation, fusing tastes from different …

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Ate Brussels, Drank Bordeaux

Ate Brussels, Drank Bordeaux

How did eat! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX match expectations?
How was The Hotel in Brussels?
Since last July I’ve been excited to attend the 4th annual foodie event eat! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX in Brussels.  Even more so when my post on this event won a free night at The Hotel in Brussels for the opening night of eat! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX, on Thursday 10 September 2015.  This special prize package was organized by VisitBrussels and The Hotel.

Checking into The Hotel a few hours before attending the eat! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX was a wonderful way to get into mood.   I had not been t…

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Ristorante Rossi Slow Food in Leuven

Ristorante Rossi Slow Food in Leuven

What makes Leuven a city to visit?
After a day trip to Hasselt in Belgium, a friend and I stopped in Leuven on our way back to Brussels for dinner.  Leuven is a hustling and charming university city about 15 minutes outside of Brussels in the province of Flemish Brabant.  Many consider Oude Markt in Leuven to be the longest bar in Belgium in the summer because this central square and surrounding areas are lined with cafes.  Once the weather becomes warm, everyone seems to come out from hibernation to sit outside with friends with a drink or food in their hands.

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De Coeckepanne in Hasselt

De Coeckepanne in Hasselt

Where to have lunch in Hasselt?
This month I’m celebrating 25 years in Belgium.   There are still several places in Belgium I have not visited, including the town of Hasselt, which is the capital of the (Belgian) Limburg province.  Yesterday’s visit to Hasselt was pleasant on many levels: excellent company, warm sunny weather, and a surprisingly attractive city center.

Although Hasselt has a good public transportation system serving the entire city, we walked from the train station across the city center to the Modemuseum, where a Paul Smith exhibition  is currently showing until 16 August…

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Brasserie Chez Clément in Genval

Brasserie Chez Clément in Genval

Why pick the Brasserie Chez Clément for a birthday celebration?
Brasserie Chez Clément is located in Genval, about 10 kilometers south of Brussels, yet is definitely out of the city and in a country setting. If you’re travelling to the restaurant from Brussels you will pass the Forêt de Soignes and enjoy splendid views of the woods, helping you to unwind and get in the mood for what’s coming.

Brasserie Chez Clément
  • Location
  • Atmosphere
  • Food
  • Service
  • Price/Quality Ratio

Summary

Chez Clément is located in the countryside outside Brussels. It's a wonderful setting in the summer, especially when you can go for a walk nearby and enjoy eating outdoors. The location and the atmosphere are the strongest features of this institution. The food is good, yet uninspired and the service merely average unless you are a local regular.

3.7

I had been to Brasserie Chez Clément only once, two years ago with a couple of good friends for my birthday. I really enjoyed the setting and wanted to return there with my (adult) kids…

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Blackbird in Bruges

Where to eat lunch in Bruges?
I went to Bruges this week to visit the Triennale Brugge 2015 which continues until 18 October 2015. Follow this link to read my review of the Triennale and see some photos of Bruges.

A day trip to Bruges always helps recharge my batteries. I enjoy walking aimlessly around the town, especially away from the center, which is usually crowded with tourists. One drawback about Bruges is that restaurants tend to be overpriced and mediocre since they cater to the visiting hordes and do not need to encourage customer loyalty.

 

Blackbird - Informal Dining
  • Location
  • Atmosphere
  • Food
  • Service
  • Price/Quality Ratio

Summary

The Blackbird is a welcome place to eat and drink while walking around Bruges. It's located on one of the must-see squares, has tasty food at good prices and friendly service.

4.2

I was therefo…

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