New Year’s Eve bubbly on Brussel’s Grand Place
This time next week Kyle and Kendra will be back in Arizona, Joe will be on a plane headed to Arizona (for a two month visit), and I will be busy at work. BUT, that’s next week. This week I’m still on holiday getting all snuggly with part of my family.
We’ve been busy living it up. We’ve done weekends in Amsterdam, Paris, Cologne and Brussels, along with showing off Mons and Brugge — including lots of good cheer with friends.
We’ve imbibed in a lot of goodness! And, the obligatory tourist shots!
We also got to witness a little bit of the Yellow Jacket ruckus in Paris. Our tour guide was more a fan of the protests than telling us interesting bits about the city, but it’s all good since it’s now part of our story.
The city was way less crowded than normal, and we saw the remnants of the violence that erupted prior to our visit, but we were lucky that no projectiles or fires took off where we were — just people chanting and parading for their something better.
We also got to celebrate Lorayne’s birthday sipping champagne at the top of the Eiffel tower, so our story is always more full of happiness than its antonym.
On New Year’s Eve we joined the party at the Atomium, which was fun until, well, it wasn’t, but that too turned out okay.
The aerial dancers, music and fireworks show was amazing — and free to enter! But, the trip home was insane. I love Belgium, and I get it has its kinks, but promising free public transportation after midnight (in Brussels) and then not planning on crowd control eeze a problame!
We got to the Tram station only to find a swarm of people like us trying to figure out where the damn line to get into the station was — instead it was just a mosh pit of hats and scarves pushing our way forward only to learn that the corner of the crowd we were in was ‘closed.’ Wtf did that even mean? Long story short we have no idea what was going on inside the tram station, only that our asses weren’t getting in. So, Kyle took over the GPS and we began the alleged 1.5 hour walk to our hotel. The goal was to hail a cab or jump on a bus or try out another metro station along the way. LOL, but every bus that passed us was so packed with people their faces were literally squished against the windows. They would have flipped us the bird — since we laughed at the insanity of it — but they were too packed in to be able to lift their hands. I wasn’t handling the whole thing very well and was really pissed, but then it started raining, and I just gave in to it because what can you do? Walk in, hopefully, the right direction, while packed taxis and busses pass you by — until Kyle managed to hail us our miracle cab.
So, we brought in 2019 with amazing fireworks, a bit of a “wtf do we do now” panic, then relief thanks to a stranger, and then, finally, oh thank God we’re home. That pretty much sums up our years, doesn’t it?
It’s all good because our story will always move forward, and that’s a great thing. Cheers to all of you and all that the new year will bring us!
And Auf Wiedersehen to the holiday season — we’ll catch you again in 11 months!
We haven’t fallen into an abyss; we’ve just been busy, busy, busy. Before I fill you in on what we’ve been up to, let me photo blast you the latest addition to my family who is born on 8/18/18. He’s been raising hell and breaking hearts since the minute he became my daughter’s son. I get to hold the little cutie on October 27th. I cannot wait!
This child has no idea how much we’re all going to spoil him. Oh I soooo hope he and his parents can come visit this summer — oh and when he’s a little older, Christmas! Europe is so magical around Christmas time. Okay, it’s always magical, but uber lit in December.
Tickets are booked for Kyle and his girlfriend to visit during Christmas, so I’m also excited about that.
We’ve been busy with visitors actually. In August we had too much fun with Jordan, in September Joe’s friend Brian came for a week and those two had a great time touring Normandy, and then last week my friend Marna popped in for a few days.
Showing off Belgium to visiting friends: beer, waffles, Brugge, outdoor markets, Mons Tanks in Town and the Belfry.
We’ve also been whooping it up with our friends in Belgium as well. There’s just so much going on this time of year. We checked out the flower carpet in Brussels, had too many laughs doing a pub crawl in Brussels, had quite a few Grand Place days, and were mesmerised at the Fire Symphonie in Viller’s Abbaye. Baroque music and acts in the abby ruins, lit up only by candles and fire. It was truly amazing. I hope they do it again next year.
LOL my crazy peeps tailgating before the big event. My pictures don’t do the symphony justice. The musicians, the dancers, the fire acrobatics, lol and the horse act all on a brisk night amidst the ruins of our past. Villers Abbey is one of my favorite places to go near Brussels. We’re signing up for more of their experiences!
A bizarre in Germany, the shopping street in Mons and the flower carpet in Brussels.
There’s so much more to share, but I can’t think of it all. Living in Belgium is such a treat for us. I know there will come a day when we have to leave here, but for now we’re inhaling it all as much as we can. There’s pretty much a festival or some sort of fun event going on every weekend until after Christmas. Then we’ll have the dark, cold days of January and February to snuggle up at home, and then before you know it Spring kicks in, and we’re back outdoors whooping it up.
Work has been super busy, so this weekend we decided to just chill in Mons, and lo and behold there was a pumpkin festival…
Camembert with pumpkin and flowers, and those birds and flowers are carved squash and pumpkins! Yum yum.
While sitting at our favourite cafe pub Excelsior, this happened! I wish I could tell you who the fur men shaking bells were, but all I know is when they finished performing the masks came off, fur stayed on, and they found their spot in the Grand Place and drank beer with the rest of us. This is Mons: Past and Present; Paganism and Christianity all meld together and enjoy a good beer when the sun is out (which has been quite a lot actually)!
I’m slammed at work the next few weeks, and then I’m off to visit the grand baby, but I’ll try to post more frequently again. And, Badger is ticked at me for not putting the woof in his blog, so I’ll work on that soon as well. Until then Happy Autumn!
A view of the backyard for my new apartment complex. Flowers, stone walls and green … lots and lots of green!
Hello from Belgium! I’ve been busy, busy, busy. I would’ve posted something sooner, but, well, I’ve been busy. The few times where I had a moment to write, I was torn about sharing my good stuff while shit was happening elsewhere. August has been a whirlwind of “wtf.” But, in between the “is this really happening again?” and the chaos of devastation, there’ve been moments of people putting themselves at risk to help strangers. As always there’s this mix of good and bad — I want to type balance, but let’s face it shit aint balanced right now.
I am so incredibly fortunate to be living my life, and nothing terrible has happened to me, but the wrongdoings in the world are very visible, especially in Brussels. I now go to outdoor concerts with military men and their weapons walking around for protection (and I am grateful for it). I’ve been asked to leave a park while security did a sweep. It’s surreal to get off your train to see fatigues and big-ass guns casually strolling by. That said life is certainly not taking a back seat. Parades, festivals, restaurants and pubs are still belting out their fun, and the necessary added watch manages to blend in. It is what it is. In the villages and smaller cities you don’t see this, but the police are there doing their thing, and I imagine everyone is more vigilant than any of us were what feels like a long time ago.
I wish I could say I’ve been going to a lot of the fun stuff, but right now I’ve only managed to fit in a few outings — thanks to a visit from Shannan and Ian and the new friends I’m meeting here.
Half the time I feel like I’m running a marathon backwards because there’s so much to do for the new job, the new bits and pieces of immigration, etc., etc. The other half I’m in awe by where I am. I cannot wait until Joe and Badger join me and we explore together (plus by February things should be way calmer for me). There is so much to see and do — and eat and sip!
Until then I’m settling into my new job, country and all that goes with it. It’s overwhelming, it’s stressful, and it’s full of lovely surprises. Again, people who were complete strangers to me a month ago have stepped in to save the day more times than I can count. I feel like I’m making another batch of life-long friends.
When I want to quit, throw a temper tantrum and scream “I can’t do this!” Someone pops in to help me figure whatever out. It’s going to be a very good life here.
I love my school — yeah, yeah I know I always love my school when it first starts, but this one is different. I love the international aspect. Students and staff have lived around the world and the mix of accents and languages in the hallway is music to me. As a newbie I’m intimidated, but everyone assures me I’ve got this. So, I trick myself into believing I do, and whalla! my classes have been going well. And then the day ends, and I realise “oh shit, I’ve got a lot to get ready for tomorrow.” InshAllah (will eventually learn its French equivalent) it’ll all be worked out by second semester, and I’ll be ahead of the game a bit.
A pic of my room before school started. I have my own classroom again! WITH lots of shelves and storage and moving whiteboards and my own teacher laptop and printer and books and woo hoo! My teacherly self feels whole again.
I’ve been lucky that I’m staying at the same hotel as another couple (who remind me a little of Joe and me — I’m thinking we have lots of fun times ahead of us), and I’ve been riding to work with them, so I haven’t had to worry about getting a car yet. We’re in our hotel studio apartments until Oct 1 when they move into their new apartment, and I move into mine. Sometime before then I’ll get my local drivers licence and buy a used car and deal with another country’s version of DMV (another thing on my life to-do list that I didn’t know I needed to do).
I’m excited about my new place. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted it because it doesn’t have the exposed beams or brick walls I’ve seen in adverts for other places, it doesn’t have a private backyard, and, well, it’s not what I was envisioning at first. BUT, it’s actually a pretty darn awesome place. First off it’s huge with three bedrooms and an office room (which I plan on turning into a closet), it has two balconies that overlook a lovely garden, it has a storage cellar and a garage, it has marble floors and huge windows, and there’s an elevator that can bring us up to it — whew! for those days when I just don’t want to lug groceries up the stairs like I did in Al Ain. And, it’s smack dab in the middle of Mons. I can roll down the hill into the Grand Plaz, which is this place:
Internet pics again. I haven’t had time to take good pics.
This is the street in front of my apartment (those second story windows that jut out I think are mine):
So, yeah, I’m excited about it. And just to show off my balcony view again, here’s another pic of all that green
I’m meeting with the landlord next week to inspect the apartment before we do the lease signing, so I’ll take more interior pics and post when I get a chance. There is also a park for Badger right down the road. Badger is also going to like hanging out at the cafe bars with us. I’m telling you we’re buying that dog a beret and wellies for his paws. Pics will ensue.
Meanwhile back in Arizona, Joe is training Badger to get used to his kennel for his long flight, and finishing up last-minute stuff on the house, so it can finally go on the market. It’s been a long time coming, and we’ll both be happier when it and the last of our debt is gone. At the same time it’s sad saying goodbye to the house I raised my children in, but I’ll just drown it out on the balcony.
Of course there’s tons more to share, but I’m hungry and a coffee cafe is wooing me, so time to get dressed, explore my new town a bit, eat and then come back to do lesson planning. I’m going to get ahead one way or the other!
Au Revoir! I promise to post more pics soon.