Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ice Sculpture Festival in Brugge!

On Tuesday we packed up the car again and headed this time to Brugge - a Belgian city about one hour away from Natalie's house. Just like Brussels, it has been very well preserved and is still in great condition! Not only is this city very old, but it is also a canal-based city and is sometimes called the Venice of the North. The main canal that runs through the city is the Dijver Canal - here is a shot of the canal and some of the buildings on it. It is a pretty romantic city, and with the Christmas season was fun for shopping around as well. We poked in the various Christmas markets - picked up a cute hat and dried fruits. Also saw some ice skating in the Grote Market - the main sqaure - and had some waffles yet again! This time we didn't add any crazy toppings, just had the plain waffle and appreciated it for its deliciousness and pockets of sugar inside!

I also finally found my Belgian Christmas ornament. Since I started travelling a few years ago, I have made it a tradition to buy a Christmas ornament everywhere I go and someday when I have my own tree, I will be able to decorate it with all of these different ornaments and each will have a special story. This one is lace, which is something Belgium is famous for and will remind me how lucky I was to spend a Christmas here.

The main point of going to Brugge, besides from seeing another adorable Belgian city, was to attend the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival. It was this awesome festival that is put on every year in a different European city and this year's theme was Ice Magic. Walking into the exhibition was like walking into a freezer - well probably because it was, and they only kept it at 23º which is a bit chilly. As soon as I got in, I was amazed. I have seen documentaries on ice sculptures and have even seen an ice sculpture but this was a whole different realm. The Ice Magic theme kind of tied into Harry Potter and we saw sculptures of skeletons, cats, gnomes, books, wizards, cats, potions, kings, and so much more - and of course Harry at the end! I wouldn't even know where to start if someone said to make a wizard out of ice...or even how to make a book! I read that they use over 300,000 kilograms (651,500 pounds) of ice and 400 tons of snow to put this exhibition together. Over 40 ice sculpting artists come in early November to start constructing this place from all over the world. Not only were there sculptures but an ice slide. You know me, I had to go down it! So, Natalie and I climbed our way to the top with all the little kids and slid down...and found out ice is pretty hard and very cold haha, something we could have figured out before. Here is a pic of me, laughing out loud on the slide! On top of the cool sculptures and the slide there was an.....ICE BAR! I have always wanted to go to one of these. The whole bar was a block of ice and the bottles of liquor just sit there! We all got a shot to commemerate the bar and to help us warm up a little bit haha. Those poor bartenders, working there all day must freeze! At the end there is a little restaraunt and stopped in and warmed up with some hot chocolate!

I can't believe it's almost Christmas Day - my vacation is going SO quickly! I feel very lucky I get to spend a Christmas here :D I hope you have a great Christmas Eve!


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