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I’m pretty awful at this, huh?

October 1, 2008

For the amount of time I spend in the car and at work drafting entries in my head, you’d think I’d actually put some of them online. I’ve tried about 97 different “i haven’t written because ___ ” sort of intros but they all were pretty lame. I guess my only excuse is that I’ve been out living the expat lifestyle rather than documenting it. And boy has it been fun. But now – now it’s time for a bit of virtual scrapbooking.  After all, one of the primary reasons I began this little site was to keep track of all of the experiences I have while I’m here.  Something I can look back on in a few years and go “Oh that’s right! I did that…”

So… where to begin? I guess I’ll start with this past weekend and work my way backwards from there…

FRIDAY

Friday I got off of work at the beautiful, daylight-filled hour of 6:00pm (18:00). Picked Boyfriend up from his office and zipped straight into Leuven to meet up with some of BF’s friends for dinner. As always, it was a fairly eclectic group as we were joined by one Indian, two Belgians and a Ukranian (all men but for moi). I would say that this was a great change of pace to have such a culturally diverse group, but if anything it felt routine somehow. I mean, I honestly can’t remember the last dinner I had in Belgium that featured less than three different nationalities. (I can’t begin to tell you how cool I find that!) Anyways. We ate at this little spot in the Old Markt called ‘De Rector.’ A reliable little place that has quality food – pastas, steaks, stews and sandwiches – for 7-12 Eur and incredibly friendly waiters. The kind of place you go to relax and unwind at the end of the week without breaking the bank. Where you can sit and enjoy the night without interruption. Which is exactly what we did. Until 11 or so we just sat and ate delicious pasta, drank a few of Belgium’s finest beers, discussed the best ways to deal with being chased by cows and camels in India, solved the world’s engineering problems (I was obviously a HUGE asset to that particular conversation) and watched the Old Markt fill up with local revelers. The night was capped off with a cone of ‘Speculoos Ijs’ (like gingerbread ice cream but better) from the little creamery in the Markt and a screening of The Three Amigos (BF’s pick) from our couch.

Really, a perfect Friday night.

SATURDAY

Saturday was great and terrible and amusing. Sunny and 60F, we thought it was the perfect day for a drive to Germany. Under the guise of ‘furniture shopping’ we decided to head to Porta in Aachen, Germany. Described as a classier version of Ikea, Porta was a welcome surprise. 5 floors of furniture and accessories at reasonable (though not Ikea) prices mercilessly free of the oppressive Saturday crowds found at the Swedish megastore. Although we didn’t find the end table we were in search of, we did come away with a great mirror for the living room and had a delicious lunch of some sort of spicy German meatloaf with potatoes, coffee & dessert for just 14 Euros!

It felt like a wildly successful day until midway through the drive back. Everything was going fine – windows down, radio up, enjoying the scenic drive – until a Policeman on a bike pulled out in front of us and directed us to a turnoffs. It looked kind of like those park/rest areas. Except there was a police station instead of a rest station. I immediately started to panic.

How fast were we going? Were we pulled over for speeding? OR, were we pulled over because we were driving with a mirror that ran the length of the car and literally blocked Lou’s entire view of the rightside (I had been telling him when/if it was okay to go into the right lane, when to merge, etc.). Not exactly safe. But was it illegal?? Was there a fine for transporting too-large objects in a Mini??

Fortunately (or unfortunately) we had been caught by a well-run speed trap. 2 bike cops & two car cops were rotating people on and off the highway. By some miracle the cops didn’t even mention the giant mirror. Just said we were going X km over the speed limit for a fine of 115 Euros (uggggggh). What was interesting is that he had me hop out of the car and walk to the other cop where I could give my information and pay. (I guess my bike man was off to catch more speeders). Since they thought we were tourists (I think it was our horrrible Dutch) we were expected to pay the 115 in cash on the spot. Since we didn’t have more than 5 Eur on us, the cops were about to escort us to the closest ATM for prompt payment when they asked our address. Upon hearing that we actually lived in Belgium they tore up the payment papers, took my license number and explained that we could expect a ticket in the mail. Interesting.

It was so well organized I almost forgot we were in Belgium. So efficient. And the income they were pulling in? I could have sworn we were still in Germany. Anywaaaays. After an expensive 20 minute detour we were (slowly) on our way back home.

Where we had a wonderful lamb steak in a red wine and rosemary reduction with a side of whole wheat tagliatelle. (a new Britt specialty thanks to page 120 of the Joy of Cooking)

SUNDAY

Nope, weekend didn’t end with Saturday. I had SUNDAY off as well! We spent most of the day relaxing and doing laundry before deciding to check out this pet store that was supposed to have kittens for sale. (I’ve almost talked Boyfriend into agreeing to let a kitty cat into the apartment!)

We spent at least two hours looking for the stupid store and were about to hop on the highway back to Leuven when we stumbled upon a little castle. A Castle! We walked around a bit, took some pics and, although we never found the store, declared that the entire trip was a success!

Check it out:

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Castle from the front. I’m standing on the bridge that goes over the MOAT!

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View of part of the courtyard.

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Turret.

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Moat w/ another bridge.

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Road to the castle.

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View through the trees.

From Falling in

Me and Mickey, my Mini parked in the castle’s stables.

SO. IN summary, my first post-busy season weekend in Belgium was lovely. Definitely the kind of thing I could get used to…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Christine permalink
    October 3, 2008 3:47 pm

    you didn’t find the kitty store??? oh you should–you two need a furry friend 😉

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