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Perfectly Acceptable Substitute

January 11, 2009

It’s 5pm Eastern Standard Time and any good Pittsburgher is going through their pre-game ritual right about now. Perhaps they are arranging their Terrible Towel ‘just so’ in the back pocket of their ski pants – easy to grab and twirl regardless of the severity of their frostbite. Others are making their lucky dips while listening to the sportscasters discuss how the Chargers underperform in freezing temperatures.

What am I doing? Well, it’s 11pm in Belgium and I’m curled up on the couch reading. What would I be doing were I at home?

I’d be curled up on the couch reading.

Not that I wouldn’t have the Steelers game on in the background – I would – I just wouldn’t be paying all that much attention. The book gripping my attention right now is “Oracle Bones” by Peter Hessler (a narrative that, according to the cover, “explores the human side of China’s transformation from the ancient to the present”) and although I’m just a few pages in, I’m completely riveted. It’d take a touchdown to pull me away.

Which is just further proof that when people are away from home they often find themselves nostalgically yearning for experiences they’ve either never had nor enjoyed. Kind of like the ‘you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone’ sort of thing. But different.

The best example in my case is the Steelers. When I’m at home, I can name major players and maybe even a few key statistics. But this knowledge comes more from the environment than any initiative on my part. My season ticket holding family, my Mike & Mike obsessed mother and my “you CAN’T wear a Randle El Jersey to a game! What are you thinking?!?!'” sister (btw, I was thinking that the jersey was black and gold. what’s the big deal?). But when I’m away? Be it Cleveland or Belgium, I find myself taking an inordinate amount of pride in anything Pittsburgh related – Heinz ketchup (which I hate and haven’t tried since I was like 4), Andy Warhol, bridges, three rivers and, most importantly, the Steelers.

Last night, on the eve of a playoff game, I was beside myself  bemoaning the fact that I wouldn’t be able to watch the Black and Gold. I went to bed convinced that no matter how nice Belgium was to me on Sunday there was no way it could compete with a seat on the couch next to Kelsey (she’s the one that explains the plays & rules to me)…

And then I woke up. And remembered we were meeting friends for Brunch. And things started looking up…

We walked into the brunch place – an unassuming Creperie in the middle of what looked like a 70s era college dorm complex. Big on concrete  and short on charm. The door jingled shut behind us and we found our friends seated at a wooden table, their heads buried in what looked like 15 page menus.In fact, they were 20 page menus. Filled with every kind of crepe you can imagine (they had, no joke, 8 different honey crepes. Rhodedendron honey. Tasmanian honey. Provencal honey. amaaazing!). 8 different kinds of coffee beans. 12 different kinds of hot chocolate. What seemed like 200 beers. Long story short – over the next 2 hours, I sampled 6 of the 7 different crepes ordered and each one was more delicious than the last (although I was partial to my banana, vanilla and chocolate crepe). Honestly, I can’t think of a better substitute for tailgating at Heinz field with the cousins than spending a relaxing morning with fantastic food and people.

Quick Details on my new favorite Crepe Place:

Name: La Creperie Bretonne

Address: Place des Brabançons 1A, 1348 Louvain-la-neuve

Highlights: An extensive, exhaustive crepe, hot chocolate, tea, coffee and beer menu. Approx. 10 Eur/person for drinks and crepes.

Stuffed, we all parted ways to do the things you do on Sundays – like nap and pretend to clean the house. At least that was our plan until a gorgeous snow-covered park caught our eye on the drive back and we decided to go for a winter hike/photo hunt. i.e. I walked through the trails while Boyfriend took pictures with the fancy camera I got him for his birthday.  Serene, peaceful and surprisingly fun. Nothing but the crunch of snow under your feet and the occasional giggle from children sledding. A lovely winter afternoon.

A few of the pics from the “photo hunt”:

Once my feet (I was sans socks and wearing myleather kitten heeled boots) were sufficiently frozen we called it a day and headed back home.

But. As so often happens around here, we were struck by yet another picture-worthy scene on our drive back. One of the lakes around Leuven had frozen over and the entire neighborhood had turned out to take advantage of the Belgian rarity (the cold front we were experiencing is a definite exception. Last year I witnessed maybe a half inch of accumulation the entire winter.)

Parents pulled children on the retro wooden sleds that are the preferred mode of snow transportation here (there isn’t a single plastic or neon sled to be found in the whole country! It’s awesome.) Ladies in their Sunday finest pushed babies along the ice in strollers. Children cleared snow to make ice runs for sliding that resembled what we used to do along the hardwood floors in socks.

I’m fairly confident that if anyone called in “sick” today it was not because of depression but the chance to have fun with their family in the snow…

From Snowy Parks and Icy Lakes

Parents and kids and fun.

From Snowy Parks and Icy Lakes

Care for a boat ride?

From Snowy Parks and Icy Lakes

Boyfriend trying to be like the little kids and slide across the ice run.

5 seconds later he wiped out.

From Snowy Parks and Icy Lakes
From Snowy Parks and Icy Lakes

The swans took over the little bit of the lake that had melted.

To end our day of documenting, we watched the sunset by one of the monasteries near our house…

From Snowy Parks and Icy Lakes
From Snowy Parks and Icy Lakes
From Snowy Parks and Icy Lakes

All in all, a perfectly acceptable substitute for watching the Steelers game at home 🙂

One Comment leave one →
  1. mom permalink
    January 12, 2009 1:29 am

    Our Steelers won convincingly today! Now, I fully expect you to set up a video chat with us next Sunday so that we can set the computer right in front of our television and you and Lou can join your sister in watching the Steelers defeather the Ravens. Lou needs to learn what a winning team looks like. Sorry, I will miss you both because I will be at the game waving my Terrible Towel.

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