Travel guilt can set in when I am away from home. It feels bad sometimes to eat every meal out. Not only is it a killer on the calorie count, but it can put quite a dent in the old pocketbook. There’s a balance that I try to achieve each day while traveling. It’s not exactly a concrete plan, more like an organic process that flows from event to event of the day. Here’s an example of what I mean. Gal Pal Elizabeth and I based ourselves from Brussels and took the train to Bruges for the day. We walked each square mile of the city soaking up all the vibrant colors and ambience that is unique to this little gem and stopped at a restaurant for lunch recommended to us from ex-pats Nancy and Terry who lived in Bruges for years. It was an amazing lunch, but not cheap. The atmosphere was divine and we ordered well so we felt it was worth the price. We picked up trinkets and special items for friends and family back home trying to make sure we purchased thoughtful items that would show them we were thinking of them from afar. Along with making sure that the gifts would pack easily, it was important to shop around for the best prices since tourist spots can really take advantage and charge way too much for something that can be purchased for less outside the city walls.
When we returned to Brussels that evening our feet were tired and our bellies were empty. What to do about dinner? We wanted some good food and a drink, but instinctively we both said that we had spent a lot on lunch and presents so “let’s find some place reasonable for dinner.” We wandered around an area close to the hotel looking for a spot that looked clean, crowded (if it isn’t crowded at 8pm then stay away – it must be awful!) and had food other than sausages! Ahhh, we stumbled upon an Italian place (billed as a Pizzeria, but most were not eating pizza) that looked charming and the menu was full of familiar items that were reasonably priced! It was funny to be served by people speaking French with Italian accents. Our waitress was friendly and efficient. Many people knew her by name so we gather that we truly were at a place where the locals frequent. If it’s good enough for the locals then it’s perfect for me. Fresh bread and a dish of olives were put on the table with dispatch and glasses of wine appeared just as fast. We each ordered salad and giant plates of yummy pasta (one with seafood and one with meat) from a wide selection of offerings from a menu that rivals any Italian joint back home. Although the desserts sounded amazing, there was no room left for me to taste any. When the bill came our jaws dropped – in a good way! Our meal complete with wine for two was about 25 Euros with tip included. I defy anyone to have as good a tasting meal as this for the same price anywhere in Europe. Two thumbs up for Giannino’s!

Ristorante Giannino Rue du Marché aux Fromages

26 1000 City of Brussels, Belgium 02 513 24 87

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