Our Engagement Weekend in Belgium!

Looking back on these photos makes my heart melt, because unbeknownst to me at the time, this is the weekend that Kai and I would get engaged!

Proposal aside, it had already started off as a super special weekend. Valentine’s Day was on Thursday the 14th, so Kai and I went out to dinner at 4850 in Amsterdam for a romantic meal together. We drank fancy wine and stayed out way too late for a Thursday night. However, bedtime didn’t matter, because we had both requested the following day off of work, so we could drive down to Gent to celebrate three years together! Our anniversary (and I use that word lightly because we randomly chose a date a few months into seeing each other!) fell on Sunday the 17th of February, so we had planned a long weekend together in Belgium to celebrate.Because of the romantic nature of the weekend, we splurged a bit on two nights at Charme Haancelot, dreamy hotel in a former baron’s townhouse.The decor was quite elegant, and the bottles of celebration champagne I had packed fit right in.The reception area was also alluring, and the afternoon light streaming in next to this grand piano made me wish I were a cat, so I could curl right up on the reception floor and bask in the warm rays. That night I didn’t take any photos, but in all honesty it was a rough start to our trip. I had found a cute spot online where we wanted to have dinner, but they unfortunately didn’t accept reservations. As it was raining, we decided to drive over, fingers crossed that we could get a table!

When we got to the restaurant, we realized it was located on a pedestrian-only street, so gentlemanly Kai dropped me off and went to look for a parking space in the downpour. Meanwhile, I walked to the restaurant and got in line for a table, but when I finally spoke to the host, he explained that the restaurant had already reached capacity . . . just as Kai finally rocked up!

So we trekked back to the car in the rain, only to find that we had gotten a parking ticket in the 20 minutes we’d been gone! We then found a new parking space (another production!) and an hour after we’d originally set off from the hotel, we found ourselves roaming around Gent completely drenched, trying to find a suitable spot for dinner. It was one of those hangry-hopeless-I-can’t-make-a-decision moments, filled with total first world problems.

Eventually, we found a spot that had a table and decent reviews on Google, but I think the rating was relative to the touristy location, because the meal was very so-so – not to mention that we were soaking wet the entire meal! The parking ticket plus the wet, sub-par dinner didn’t kick the weekend off on the best note.

But fast forward a few hours, and we had finally dried off, and were cozied up in the corner of a brown bar together, drinking Belgium beer and playing yahtzee. Although the night had gotten off to a rocky start, we ended the evening with the discovery of our new favorite game, and a happy buzz, despite the evening’s earlier antics.

We had a good night sleep and went into day two with a fresh start and a growling belly!De Superette was close to our hotel, and highly recommended, so we stopped by for breakfast.We loved the cozy interior, and judging by the waiting list for a loaf of fresh bread, we knew we were in for a treat!Although there were a slew of open tables, we were told that they were all reserved, and we were seated at the bar overlooking the kitchen. We chuckled, as a lot of the ‘reserved’ tables stayed empty for our entire visit. But c’est la vie! We sipped cappuccinos while we waited for our meal to arrive, which took about an hour. But when our meal landed on the table, the long wait was immediately forgotten and we dove into warm baked eggs with garlic-parmesan croutons . . . And roasted winter vegetables!After we had fueled up, we hit the city. The day was PERFECT – warm, sunny, and blue skis. Nothing like the rainy evening before!! We weren’t walking long before Kai wanted to stop for waffles . . . which was a reoccurring request on the trip!If there’s one thing I can say about Gent, it’s that the architecture trumps any other destination I’ve been to in Belgium. From cathedrals to castles to river-side rainbow houses, this city is top. Because the weather was so nice, we spent the majority of the day walking around outside and exploring. We had coffee along the river. And then stopped for a beer in the square.The temperature got up to the low 60’s (INSANE for February!) and I was able to take my jacket off for the first time that year, basking my (sadly) pasty arms in the sun.
After our very strong Belgium beer, I was quite tipsy and I think Kai was as well . . . because he very unabashedly requested our SECOND waffle stop of the day!And being the light-weight that I am, I some unfortunately blurry boyfriend-waffle photos ensued. The sun was slowly starting to set on day two, so we decided to walk back to our hotel. It was quite the trek, but given the nice weather, we couldn’t bear to get in a cab or tram. If you ever want to know what it’s like to live in a real-life Disney movie, come to Gent! We had almost made it back, when a super cozy looking brown bar beckoned to us.
So we piled in for our last beer of the day. Which, for the record, was delicious!When we finally got back to our hotel room, we kept the party going and popped the bubbles! And traded anniversary gifts, took a bath in the Jacuzzi, and of course, drank some champagne :) We went out to dinner that night at Eethuis de Fobie. I didn’t bring my DSLR along on the date, but I did take this sole iPhone snap (below) while we were there. I don’t even know what this dish was in retrospect, but OMG I want to eat it again right now!The next day, we basically had a repeat of Saturday: beer, walking, beautiful architecture, waffles, more food!

We started out with smoothie bowls at O’yo. The restaurant was quite crowded, the food took a while to make, and the portions were small.In a nutshell, I don’t think we’d be back. It felt a bit like one of those hyped-up health food places where the portions are quite small and the quality is not that spectacular. That said, most of the other healthy eateries we had found were closed on Sunday, so we were happy to have found a spot where we could have some smashed avocado on toast and yogurt on a Sunday morning.Once we were fueled, we decided to walk over to the castle.We again wound through the main square. Where we asked a fellow traveler if they would take a snap of us! So this is our sole photo together on our Valentine’s Day / anniversary / engagement trip :) We strolled around the castle, and popped in and out of shops along the river and square. We both had to chuckle a bit, because the stores that looked the most appealing and we wound up visiting were the same shops we always frequented back in Amsterdam! As the afternoon wore on, Kai requested his third and final waffle of the trip. So we roamed around, scouting out the BEST looking waffles in town. Which we decided were made fresh, before our eyes at this adorable food truck.Crunchy on the outside, soft everywhere else, and laden with butter and powdered sugar on top!I’m so happy I got to spend the sunny weekend with my Mr. Waffle :) After that, we stopped for a champagne and some oysters (him: waffles, her: bubbles) before heading back to the hotel to pack up the car and head back to Amsterdam! It was the best day – the last one I could call Kai my boyfriend, and the first one I could call him my fiancé! I’ll share our engagement story in my next post :)
Until then xo

Ali

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