Yesterday Belgium celebrated the name of my street — okay, not the street or its name (Onze Novembre), but the date since it commemorates the day WW1 ended on paper.
Most stores are closed on Sunday, so a friend and I planned a shopping day for Saturday. We had it all planned out, meet for breakfast, hit Ikea (yes I AM a glutton for punishment), the mall, other household stores, etc., etc. It was going to be our apartment decorating day. What we found was locked doors and Ferme signs all over the big-chain establishments.
Belgium takes its memorials serious, so employers take heed. Who wants to shop on a day off anyway? I wasn’t happy about this at first, but we strolled on down to a cafe I assumed would be open since it caters to English-speaking folk (although of course they’ve got the French down pat too). Hahaha a coffee house named after Texas and run by a southern man, who I’m assuming is from Texas. I love going to local places, and, for the most part, I’m all about imbibing in the local flavour and saving my Americanisms for when I’m home, but this weekend I needed to have my first cup of coffee where I didn’t need to point and pantomime, and it was awesomeness.
Turns out a lot of privately owned places were open. The Belgium bakery two or three doors up from the Texas place was also open, and I’ve been told that place is wonderful too (so it’s on my list). When we finished eating, we stopped into what we thought was a wine shop to learn it sells only beers. The owner is a lovely woman who works hard to find the right beer for you. We ended up spending quite a bit of time there and got some Christmas shopping done. If you’re ever in Mons, stop by Cave a Biere on Rue d’ Havre (a street that juts off the Grand Place, Infotel hotel is on it — everything else I mentioned is there too). Something tells me I’ll be a regular at this little speciality shop/bar.
The Fromagerie was also open, so heck yeah Mama bought some specialty cheeses. I love that I live in a place that has stores dedicated solely to cheese — with bakeries to boot. My two biggest weaknesses (well besides wine) have their own stores!
The Grand Place was loaded up with carnival rides and games for kids, so despite the rain everything smelled like roasting sugary goodness, which makes you hungry no matter how much you already have in your belly, so we ate again at a little place off some other road. That one wasn’t as great as our other stops, but we still had a good time.
We even got lost and ended up at the park near the Belfry, which has beautiful views of the city. I purposefully have not gone to any of Mons’ main attractions, The Belfry being one of them, because I’m saving touring those with Joe when he arrives. But woo hoo there are so many hidden gems in this city that I get to discover.
Soooo, my rainy Saturday didn’t earn the cube shelves I want for my living room, but it turned out way, way, way better. Later on today, I go to another friend’s house for curry pumpkin soup and more goodies — yeah, I know my buddha belly is never going away.
As for all the other stuff going on: my furniture did arrive last week (woo hoo), my cable/Internet did not (boo hoo), my car still looks great parked waiting for its tags, it’s getting chilly and I’m loving winter fashion, work is still great, my apartment is coming along (will post pics when I’m finished decorating), oh and I got to visit my relatives in Germany last week. I LOVE that all I have to do to travel is walk to train station, get to airport, land and then hop on a train again — it’s so, so easy. LOL although, lugging a suitcase up the cobblestone hill that leads to my place is a bit of a cardio workout.
So all is well, and my weekends are booking up with all sorts of holiday festivities, and then before you know it I’ll be home baking cookies and sipping bevies with my kids, Joe and Arizona friends. This year is flying by!
p.s. my crappy old phone (it’s a 3 in its series) has been annoying me forever. It’s insane, I know, but I’m wasting my hard-earned euros and buying the iPhone X soon —— soooooooooooo, better pics will be posting in the near future.