Chocolates and diamonds - you couldn't ask for more
Vikki: We've had the last 3 days relaxing in Bruges, where chocolate and waffle shops line the streets. It's another beautiful city with quaint brick buildings and cobbled streets, horse and carriage rides and canal boats take the tourists around the sites. Its a great city for wandering on foot and we are staying central, so have the car parked up. We've sampled the local cuisine being the waffles and chocolates (of course) and can state for the record that they are as good as expected and very moreish.
We've also been busy gearing up for Greece, changed our itinerary slightly so adjusting accommodation and sorting ferries. Hard to believe that tomorrow we drive back to France (hopefully seeing Monet's Garden on the way), return the car and then fly on to Greece. The Europe leg of the trip really is drawing to a close now. It's been an amazing adventure so far and I think 2 weeks in Greece, soaking up the last of the summer (or autumn sun) is a fit way to say au revoir to the Continent.
Raj: The small city of Bruges is postcard perfect. I've enjoyed the architecture of the buildings, walking the streets and popping in and out of stores. It reminds me of some of the villages we visited in the Italian countryside, only on a larger scale. Even though we are now officially in the European Autumn, there are still a large number of tourists - mainly English and American. You have to watch out for people, horse and carts, bicycles and the odd car. Every second store sells chocolate and the aroma is everywhere. The presentation is amazing, however they don't do free samples! I enjoyed the visit to the Chocolate Museum, and surprisingly the Diamond Museum also because of the excellent diamond polishing demonstration at the end which was extremely well done and in English. I was not persuaded to go to the diamond store next door (Vikki knew better than to ask) but the kids did buy a few cheap souvenirs down the street. All in all an enjoyable stay in the centre of the city. We now have the challenge of down sizing our kit once more as we lose the car tomorrow. I'm looking forward to Greece (and the islands), but not the 2am arrival on Sunday morning!
Anouk: A few days ago we drove to Belgium, the home of chocolate. Yesterday we went to the Chocolate Museum and learnt a bit about chocolate. It was quite different to the other chocolate museum (we went to in Barcelona) because it didn't have the chocolate sculptures but it had a lot of facts and information. We learnt some facts about the cocoa beans such as: cocoa bean trees have 1000 blooms and they bloom twice a year, cocoa beans grow inside a big shell and people use long sticks to cut them down. We got to watch a demonstration of how they make the chocolate in moulds. First we got to try a dark chocolate button which was very rich and then we watched a man putting the chocolate in the moulds. He put a hazelnut filling in the middle. At the end we got to try one and it was delicious.
Today I enjoyed going to another museum which was the Diamond Museum! We got to see a lot of diamonds. We saw some pictures of diamonds that belonged to rich and famous people like actors, the princess of Monaco and queens. We also got to go see a show about polishing diamonds. Some of the facts that I learnt during it were: That the biggest diamond in the world was found in Africa and now it is in London in the Queens sceptre. You can find many different colours of diamonds. My favourite part was at the end of the show because the man was very very nice and he let me and Harley hold two diamonds each!!! First we got to hold a rough diamond and then we got to hold a shaped and polished one.
Harley: This morning we visited the Diamond Museum. Belgium is famous for diamond polishing and has been doing it since the 15th century and still is today. Diamonds are a very expensive mineral and are in lots of jewellery. Diamonds are so hard that is takes 4 days to cut one diamond in half, using a diamond cutting machine. 80% of diamonds are made into the "brilliant" shape. A brilliant has 57 facets, a facet is another name for a side. Diamonds can be found in lots of different colours like yellow, blue, green, black, white, pink, violet, orange, purple and red! Only 13 deep ruby pink diamonds have ever been found and they cost 1 million euro per 1 carat. The biggest diamond ever found was in Africa weighing in at over 6000 carats and 10.5 cm long (the size of an adults fist!!!) It was cut up and the biggest diamond named the Great Star of Africa or the Cullinan 1. It is the largest polished diamond in the world and is in Queen Elizabeths spectre. Today Australia mines and produces the most diamonds. Next we went to watch a diamond polishing show. First they cut it, then shaped it (which is called bruting) and then polished the diamond. At the end of the show me and Anouk got to hold a diamond about the size of a pea and worth 5,000 euros.