This past week I had the pleasure of visiting the country of Belgium for the first time.  Specifically, the city of Bruges -- or Brugge, as is the proper Belgium name -- which is a lovely, old 15th century canal city.

Most people know Belgium for a few things:  great chocolate, big waffles and beer.  When I got there, the thing that stood out was definitely the chocolate.  And I mean a LOT of chocolate.  On every block of every street there was a chocolate shop.  With no exaggeration I can say that they literally had chocolate shops next door to other chocolate shops, which were located across the street from still more chocolate shops -- and yes, I ate that chocolate at least four times per day.

The photo above is of one of my favorite chocolate shop display windows:  a huge chocolate dinosaur.  If you look closely at this photo you'll see that the "spikes" down its back are actually figures of different types of people standing up, mixed with bears standing on their hind legs.  As you move down its back you also find three-dimensional chocolate pigs, birds and little crouching children.  The forelegs are made of chocolate leaves and balls, with two large heeled shoes as "hands." 

If you look from his head down towards his feet there are also chocolate men's shoes, chocolate bowling pins, chocolate elephants, frogs, leaves and champagne bottles.

How can you NOT love a place that's founded on chocolate? 

The experience was delicious...