"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday Stroll: Two Countries

On our first night in Antwerp we had dinner with a fabulous friend of ours, known to the world as bestselling novelist Tess Gerritsen. She's here to sign books and do press at the Antwerp Bookfair and in Amsterdam.

The two authors outside the Italian restaurant.

It seems crazy having a reunion on this side of the Atlantic, when we live a mere 3 hours apart. But when you're a globetrotter with globetrotting chums, your paths are bound to cross away from home sometimes.

I ordered the lobster ravioli. It tasted as delicious as it looks!

Also dining with us was a large, glossy, beautifully behaved black labrador. He and his people were seated at the table nearest us. I couldn't get a good shot of him, alas. I love that European dogs are allowed into the very best restaurants. He was better behaved than I was.

After dinner at the shop next to our hotel I picked up Belgium's version of Little Debbie snack cakes. I had my choice of any number of waffle-type goodies. This one is 2 mini-waffles pressed together with vanilla cream inside (exactly like the stuff inside Little Debbie cakes.)

This morning at the bus stop I renew my romance with Nutella spread. I broke my addition to it 2 years ago. So far I haven't fallen off the wagon....

No, not a cathedral. The Antwerp Centraal rail station.


We took the train to The Hague for an afternoon of research and sightseeing.

Here's the Mauritshuis (the primary art gallery) and the Binnenhof, seat of the Netherlands government.

We visited two other galleries, all within a short walk of one another, situated around the Hofvijver (the body of water pictured below.)

On the other side of the Hofvijver, we found a fish snack shop. At the walk-up counter you could order sandwiches--or filleted pickled herring.

Here's the filleting process.

I watched a man down one of these herring like a seal, he held onto the tail, and gulped it down in two bites. (The seal would've swallowed it whole, of course!)

These, I believe, are smoked dried herrings.

We decided to try the very tiny local shrimps, caught in the waters right by the city.

Within the courtyard of the Binnenhof. Sunday strollers getting wet.

Binnenhof arches. This reminds me of the many perspective paintings we saw in the three galleries we toured.

We saw all the Dutch and Flemish masters--Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Mytens, and more. And the most famous Vermeer of all, Young Girl in a Turban, better known as Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Retraced our route back to Antwerp via rail and local bus, which conveniently let us off in front of our hotel, where we dined. I had a Flemish stew and washed it down with Kriek (cherry) beer. The barman was out of my favourite Framboise (raspberry) beer. But I'll have some tomorrow, I'm sure!

Legendary jazzman Toots Thielemans was dining at the same time we were. The restaurant bears his name...I'm wondering if his meal is comped?

It seemed odd not to be in church this All Saints Day, singing saintly hymns. But we did see lots of religious art!

Thanks for stopping by...to keep strolling, head over to Aisling's blog.

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