Belgian Chocolate… and other things

Worming my way through the crowds, the night now well and truly ready for the fireworks planned during the Flower Carpet festival. The theme? Mexico. The beautiful colours of yellow and orange light up the cobblestone centre of Grand-Place or Grote Markt in Brussels, where I had spent earlier that morning having breakfast observing the numerous trucks beeping in and out and unloading shipments of flowers.

I squirm my way past men holding their DSLRs and women tightly gripping the hands of their children, some holding beers and others eating. I look up at the City Hall balcony full of people, the building lit up with blue and green and pink and I don’t know how to get up there. They look unordinary; delegates, wealthy businessmen, women wearing gowns, that sort of thing, but the view from up there would be incredible. There is just too many people and I think that if the fireworks don’t start soon, I may want to head back out of the crowds and to the Le Comptoir de Mathilde for some Noix Noisettes, hot chocolate prepared in little square pieces with a spoon stuck inside that you simply dip into warm milk and mix so the chocolate melts into it. Read More

Tulip Country

“You like what you see?” he said, pressing down toward his crotch as the others laughed, all five of them now cornering us. They were drunk. Scottish men in Kilts touring Amsterdam for a football match and who thought that they can celebrate the win by visiting the Red Light District at the same time my friend from Canberra had asked me to join her.

“I told you I didn’t want to come here,” I whispered, feeling the tension quake through my veins, mostly from anger. People often think my hands shake from fear, but it is far from that, shuddering from the pressure of controlling and suppressing my indignation knowing that it might get me into more trouble. Read More

The Canterbury Tales: Kaikoura to Hanmer Springs

“Shit!” the Kiwi yelped along with the echoes of awe by the others watching when I successfully shot the clay target with the shotgun. “Have you done this before?” I smiled quietly, acting cool despite the pain in my shoulder when the handle recoiled back into it that later left a terrible bruise. It was exhilarating watching the clay blast into bits in the air over Waiau River, but also disturbing that – as a pacifist who has never held a gun before – how good I actually was with a weapon. Read More