Every Christmas, my family goes on a trip together in lieu of exchanging gifts. The past couple of years we snorkeled and beached our way through Aruba then white water rafted and hung out with the monkeys at an ecolodge in Costa Rica. This year we took a month long trip abroad that ended up being 3 trips in one including:
- Brussels, Belgium
- Barcelona, Spain
- 14 day trans-Atlantic cruise back to the U.S.
Two days before we left for our trip, while we were packing Kyle said to me (well, more like yelled frantically), “OH MY GOD MY PASSPORT IS EXPIRED”. I about threw up but quickly pulled myself together and into problem-solving mode. After some quick Google searches we learned that you can pay an expediting company around $500 (yikes) to get your passport in 24 hours. But after calling and talking to the company, 24 hours is really a 3 day process – one day to send in your passport, one day to get it updated, one day to mail it back to you. Never mind the outrageous price tag, we didn’t have 3 days. Come to find out, there are a handful of passport offices around the country you can go to in person to get your passport same day. And one of those places just so happens to be Houston, Texas, a mere 3.5 hour drive from San Antonio. The passport office doesn’t guarantee same day service, but we made Kyle an 8am appointment the following day and he drove to Houston, fingers crossed the whole way. Luckily, Kyle was able to renew his passport and left Houston at 3:30pm with it in hand. WHEW.
PSA: GO CHECK YOUR PASSPORT NOW. I don’t care if you don’t think you’ll be traveling outside the country any time soon, just go do it. Right now. And thank me later.
After that whole fiasco, we were *really* ready for our adventure to start. First stop: Brussels, a city known for it’s beer, waffles, chocolate, and frites. All of which we partook in, obviously.
Brussels doesn’t have the best weather in December (mostly wet and cold), but we made the most of it, traipsing around in the rain to see the sights and experience the city.
One of my favorite parts of Brussels were the Christmas markets, which seemed to be scattered around everywhere. It was booth after booth of delicious food, mulled wine, and festive crafts.
We spent hours walking around the city, taking in the sights and enjoying the Christmas festivities. Getting lost in a city is one of my favorite things.
We really came to Brussels for my Dad, who is a huge fan of Belgian-style beers, so a big portion of our time was spent seeking out the 60+ beers my Dad wanted to try. We didn’t quite get to 60, but we made a pretty big dent in the list, frequenting Delirium and taking a side trip to the Leffe Brewery in Dinant.
The Leffe Brewery has a self-guided tour that was actually really interactive and much more interesting than I expected.
My favorite though was the beer at Cantillon, the last lambic brewery left in Brussels. I tried lambics other places and thought they were too sweet, but Cantillon is the only brewery who doesn’t use added sugar in theirs, making for a beer that was more up my alley.
After our bellies were full on beer and chocolate, we took Ryan Air to part 2 of our month-long hiatus: Barcelona, Spain.