So when I found a guided tour all about chocolate, in Brussels???? I knew it was something I had to do. So the three of us (me, my BFF, and her hubby) set off early morning for the train for Brussels, about 55km from where they live.
We had just enough time to stop for a quick breakfast....and what would be better to fuel a day of chocolate-touring than a chocolate dipped pain au chocolat??
By the time daylight broke, I was counting down the minutes until the tour started....
This was the first Godiva shop and it opened in 1926.
Apparently, it's named after Lady Godiva. Legend has it that like, I don't know, a million years ago, Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering grievously under her husband's oppressive taxation. Lady Godiva begged and pleaded with her hubby, who refused to change the tolls. Finally, after she nagged him enough, he got super annoyed and said, "Look, I'll grant your request if you ride through the town naked on a horse, and no one even looks at you." Lady Godiva was one hot babe, so her hubby thought he had a foolproof plan. Lady Godiva took the bet, BUT, ran into town and told everyone and everyone in the village that they should stay indoors and shut their windows the next day. The next day, she rode into town. It totally worked, no one looked, and Godiva's husband keeps his word and abolishes the onerous taxes. Happy Ending.
Originally, Wittamers was a successful bakery, but then (like in the war, I think??) rations came into effect and each family was only allowed one loaf of bread per week. Obviously, this was very bad for his business, so the owner, Harri Whittamer started making fancy patries - which don't qualify under rations. So the rich people could still afford his patries. His wife was educated in design but wanted to contribute, so she joined in and started making elaborate cakes. Wittamers now caters cakes to the Royal Family. I was so inspired by this story, that I had to buy five or six chocolates....
Next stop was PURE. We watched a movie about how the make chocolate from picking the pod things off of the trees to making actual edible chocolate. It was pretty interesting, actually! Made me think a lot more about the "fair trade" chocolate that I see becoming more popular.
I actually spent a full day, in BELGIUM, learning about chocolate, making chocolate, and EATING CHOCOLATE. Ahhhhhhhhhh......
If I'm totally honest....I kind of imagined that the chocolate tour would be like this one episode of the Simpsons. Where Homer visits the land of chocolate? And EVERYTHING is made from chocolate - dogs, people, lamp posts, cars - and he runs around eating all of it. So I guess there was a very, very small peice of me that was dissapointed. But apart from the fact that I didn't get to run around in a cartoon land ACTUALLY made of chocolate? This tour rocked my world. At one point, I actually said, The next time I'm having a tough day/week/month in Madagascar, I have to remember this day. It was just that good.
Unfortunately....the only souvenir that I truly brought home from this trip to the land of chocolate....are the extra four pounds that are probably somewhere around my stomach/hip region.
Ahhhhh.... but it was worth it.