Chocolate, Beer, Fondue and Republicans

Maybe I just have a thing for cities with canals. Other than Amsterdam, Venice and Brugge…what other cities have flowing canals crossing the city? Oh, Delft I think, yes. Anywhere else?

On November 2, 2000, my friend from college Guy (on the left) and his friend Johnnie (on the right) came to visit Amsterdam. We decided to go on a little spontaneous road trip to the teeny-tiny-Epcotesque little town of Brugge, Belgium. We ate a little chocolate, they ate a little fondue (I can’t eat the cheesy kind) and we drank a lot of great Belgian beer. My personal favorite is Palm. You know a beer can’t be all bad when it’s brewery history dates back to 1597. We drank quite a lot of it in Amsterdam on our recent trip.


So Guy, Johnnie and I rented a car and drove to Belgium. Belgium is a cute little country with a funny history and diverse culture. Brugge itself looks too cute to be real. In fact, one of our Tour Directors once told me that a client on one of our tours actually asked, “When does Brugge close?” The client apparently thought that the city was an open-air museum that packed up and closed itself up every evening. And supposedly holidays.

Aren’t they just adorable?

We stayed at the cutest hotel called the Hotel Bourgoensch-Hof which was in a perfect location just a few blocks away from the main square. This took a lot of convincing because the boys, being boys, just wanted to stay in a random hostel; but I guess after traveling so much to so many nice places (mostly for work) my tastes have become more…refined. My backpacking/hostels days are most likely all behind me. (thank god) But we found this little gem of a hotel that was not expensive and just as quaint as the town itself.

The thing about Guy and Johnnie, as cute as they are, they are both Republicans. At least they were at the time. This probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the elections were taking place on that very day. So through the course of the day while browsing around Brugge we tried to get updates on the Gore vs. Bush battle while we (me vs. the boys) held a few political debates of our own on the side.

The three of us shared a room, and ended up staying awake all night staring at the tiny TV mounted to the wall hoping to see who won the election. Thank God for CNN’s international broadcasting. I couldn’t believe I was sharing a bed (even if platonically) with a GWB supporter on election night. It made me want to take a long shower. Even if I still felt a hint of the crush I had on Guy when we were in college together. Wait, what? Did I just say that outloud? No. I have no idea what you are talking about. I didn’t have any crush on any Guy.

Here’s me definitely not having a crush on Guy

The next morning, before dawn, I grabbed a train back to Amsterdam to get back to work. All the way I was SMSing Ashbloem and friends for updates on what the hell was going on with this election. Well, we all know how that turned out.

I saw Guy one other time, strangely in Seattle (where we were both visiting friends and family). I haven’t seen him since, and that must have been at least 4 years ago. I heard he returned to Pittsburgh (where we went to college) and opened up a gelateria with his Italian family….

Holy Crap!

I just did a quick search and found out an update! (I love google!) He has opened up a cafe called Grasso Roberto (Fat Robert, Robert is Guy’s first name) in Bloomfield. He has been awarded one of the top 40 people under 40 years of age shaping Pittsburgh’s future. Yay!

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