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I’m starting my “Favorites of 2009” list. Now.

November 16, 2009

Yes, I realize it’s November.

And that my 2009 calendar has more than a bit of excitement left in the last page and a half. The final contender for Favorite Wedding doesn’t compete until December. And the Favorite Christmas Market finalists are still being setup.

However, I am downright AWFUL at this posting thing so, frankly, if I don’t start listing things now, they will never be documented. And you’ll be left with nothing but my favorite German reggae of 2009. And no one wants that.

So, for the first of the Favorites of 2009… drum-roll please…

Favorite [High School Era] Visitors: Tara & Melissa

Honorable Mention: Bridget, a friend from “nerd camp” (i.e. Governor’s school), who met up for dinner in Leuven and Joe, a friend of BF’s, that I never met but apparently slept on our couch for 2 days and was described as “a chill dude.”

Duration of Visit: 7 days, 6 nights

Places Visited: Brussels, Leuven, Bruges and Paris

Connection: Fellow Seneca Valley alumni, I met Tara the summer before 8th grade at basketball camp and Melissa, a neighbor of Tara’s, at the beginning of 8th grade. (8th grade. Over 10 YEARS ago! Decade plus friends. CRAZY. )

Winning Traits: They didn’t win because they were old friends. They were the clear favorites because….

– They brought me THREE cans of Libby’s Spiced Pumpkin Pie mix. And Kraft Marshmallows. (two impossible to find commodities in Belgium)

– They shared my excitement/love/fascination with the Leuven Bread “Automoots” (i.e. the bread vending machine outside the bakeries)

Tara & I admiring the Automoot outside of Paul Daubijn Bakerij

– They helped Lou & I sample some of our prized Westvleteren 12. And didn’t laugh at me when I explained how many calls I made to get the beer (100+). Or how many hours I drove for the pick-up (4).

Tara, Myself & BF with the World Famous Westvleteren 12

– They were amazingly self sufficient! Rather than make me feel horribly for having to work full days the week they were here, they explored over half of Belgium completely on their own. Walked into Leuven, took the train to Brussels, walked around Brussels, walked back from Leuven. And then walked some more at night when I met them for dinner!

Melissa in Brussels…. From Melissa’s Pics

– They rolled with the distinctly European punches. When we got word that the Belgian rail employees were striking in the middle of their visit (thus canceling ALL train service in the country. including trains to Bruges. the #1 place they wanted to visit.) they were super brave and drove me to work and THEMSELVES to Bruges. And back. Without incident. Amazing.

“I got this.”

– They saw more in Brussels & Bruges in two days than I have in two years!

The Mannekin Pis WITH clothes. I’ve never seen him so stylish.
Pierre Marcolini bakery. Again, bakery. Not store. Read: SUPER fresh.
They went to the to the top of the Bruges cathedral!
I really need to see the view from the top of the tower for myself….
They toured “De Halve Maan” Brewery.

– Melissa, i.e. MARRIOTT GOLD MEMBER, hooked us up with an amaaaaaaazing room for not one but TWO nights in Paris. As well as unlimited access to the Marriott Executive Lounge

Believe me, by Paris standards, this room was incredibly spacious. Downright luxurious.

note: If you EVER get the opportunity to travel with a “road warrior” (i.e. a consultant who racks up lots of points with hotel chains), TAKE IT. We may or may not have had 6 or 7 cappucinos in the executive lounge. As well as 7 or 8 desserts. 4 appetizers. And a bottle of wine. A piece. For free. mmmmmmmm….

– Since BF was in Dallas with our camera, they let me borrow cameras AND took 100s of amazing pics on their own (Melissa gets total credit for all pictures in this post). Haven’t seen Tara’s yet but I’m sure I will be blown away when I do.

Pretending like I know how to use Tara’s Canon. I don’t.
Tara getting what I’m sure is a fantastic shot outside the Eiffel Tower.
Playing Paparazzi.

Obviously, there was no competition in this category.

Instead, I leave them with one challenge: to outdo themselves by visiting next June!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2009 2:53 pm

    For your american food cravings: http://www.myamericanmarket.com/ delivers in Belgium and they have for example that Libby’s Spiced Pumpkin mix:
    http://www.myamericanmarket.com/home/canned-goods-soups/libbys-pumpkin-100-pure.html
    The delivery costs might be quite expensive though :-/

  2. Melissa permalink
    November 18, 2009 6:43 pm

    Love this entry!

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