Monday, June 18, 2012

Good-Bye To Kleine Brogel

Well, this is it.  One last fond farewell to our lovely little base called Kleine Brogel.  We are really leaving Belgium.  I can't believe how fast the last three years have flown by.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to have been stationed here, and to live in such a warm and wonderful country.  I remember when we first got orders here, and I had to look Belgium up on the map to see exactly where it was.  (Geography is not my strong suit.)  One look and I was hooked.  Who wouldn't be excited to spend three years in the heart of Europe?  It feels like that was just yesterday.  And now it's all over.  I will miss the train trips, walking around the weekly markets in the Centrums of local towns, sharing cappuccinos, waffles and smiles with great friends.  I will miss the pottery and chocolate making classes with the ladies, where we might have talked a little more than we created.  I will miss traveling to amazing destinations that I'd only read and dreamed about in the past.  (Our trip to Ireland with the Smiths will be a memory I will cherish forever.) And there are so many more memories that I will hold in my heart.   Thank you to the wonderful ladies and gentlemen that we had the honor to be stationed with at KB.  You were our family while we were living such a long way from home.  And thank you to the friendly locals who tolerated our attempts at speaking Nederlands, and welcomed us into their country and community.  We will miss all of you.  Thank you to our friends and family who followed us along on this fantastic adventure by reading my silly little blog.  I still haven't decided if I will continue this tradition by starting one when we move to Florida.  I'll post a link on here if I do.  Good-bye lovely Belgium.  We loved being a part of your life, even if it was for such a short time.  Tot Ziens!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

 I've been really horrible about posting lately, and I'm sorry about that.  But in my defense, things have been more than a little busy lately.  In the last week or so, we moved out of our lovely home and into an apartment/hotel in another town near by.  We've come full circle once again, because these are the apartments that we staying in when we first moved to Belgium, 3 very short years ago.  This is a difficult move for me, because as happy as I am to be going back to our friends and family in the states, I'm sad to be leaving the beautiful country of Belgium.  I know the odds of us ever getting to come back here are pretty slim (practically non-existent), so I'm trying to take in and enjoy every last minute that we are here. 
 So here is our last week in a nutshell.  We went to a nice little carnival in Peer.  It looks pretty empty here, but we walked around a lot when it first opened, and the crowds came later in the evening. 
 I paid one last visit to my favorite antique store, Slegers-Heise, with some friends and shared a few laughs.  I really do love this place.  You never know quite what you will find there.  I really wish I knew the history behind this grouping, don't you?  By the way, you'll be very proud to know that I didn't actually buy anything there!  (Of course, the fact that my household goods are shipped and they didn't have any new scales might have helped a bit on that one.) 
 I attended a couple of local weekly markets with friends as well.  I'm going to miss these so much.  It's so much fun to walk around, buy fresh produce and other interesting items, and then have lunch in a small cafe and chat. 
 One last trip to Achel Abbey with friends as well.  Heavy sigh.
 I have started organizing our belongings at the apartment in preparation for our flight out.  I'm sure the airlines won't have a problem with our 700 pounds of stuffed suitcases.  Maybe I need to organize a little more. 
And last, but not least, I've probably gained 10 pounds with all the eating out I've been doing with friends this week.  (There is a waffle buried under all that ice cream and fresh fruit.  The fruit makes it a healthy meal, you know.)  I'm going to add a Belgian waffle maker to my Christmas Wish List.  My booty won't thank me for that, but my heart will.  It will remind me of my time spent here, and that will make me smile.  It's so hard to say goodbye to the friends that I've made here at KB.  There are some really fantastic people stationed here, and they made our Belgian experience just that much better.  One step closer to home.

Monday, June 4, 2012

She Creaks, She Sighs...Our Belgian House Says Good-Bye

We are completely moved out of our Belgian house.  It's exciting, but it's also very very sad. This house was our home for the last three years.  It's hard to let her go.  I ran a couple of errands and automatically headed back to her.  I was almost there when I realized that it wasn't my home anymore.  She was a big part of our lives.  I spent a lot of time in this house.  Just me and my friendly ghost.  You know the one.  He turned on the GPS occasionally when I brought it inside, slammed a couple of windows in the attic, and made a few noises here and there to let me know I had company.   I rather enjoyed my ghost.  It was all part of our Belgian experience.  I have many happy memories that I will be taking with me when we leave here:  biking and walking along the canal, parades through the centrum, listening to the bells of our beautiful church chiming out the hours of the day, getting pralines and hand made ice cream at Leonidas, and shopping at the local grocery store and bakery.  Those are just a few of the highlights.  There are many more.  We were blessed to have lived here.  Thank you to our wonderful landlord and the kind neighbors on our street who treated us like part of their community.  We will miss you.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Follow Me to Traben-Trarbach, Germany

 When you have a gorgeous three day weekend, you know you have to take advantage of it.  We decided to head to Germany one last time before our move, and do a little exploring.  Normally, my exploring is based on castles, but this time I wanted to just walk around one of the little towns along the Moselle River. A friend of mine recommended Traben-Trarbach, and we were not disappointed.  And guess what... there is a castle on the hillside above the town, so that's a bonus!  
 Traben-Trarbach is nestled between the hills, and lies along both banks of the Moselle River. Traben is on one side, and Trarbach is on the other.  The hillsides that aren't forest, are covered with vineyards. It's like something out of a fairy tale. 
 As an added bonus, they were having an antique car show along the banks of the river.  How awesome is that?  They had just about every type of vehicle that you can imagine.
 But this beauty was my favorite.  Isn't she stunning?  Couldn't you see me cruising around Ft. Walton Beach in this?  OK, I'd be too nervous to drive her, but I'd stare at her.  A lot.  I even told Russ that I would give up all my Polish Pottery if he bought her for me.  I expect them to deliver her any day now. 
 I picked out this little number for Jess.  It's the perfect car for a college gal.  When you're done driving it, you just put it in your pocket until you need it again.  The entire front of the car opens like a door so the driver can get in and out. 

 We had some fun taking pictures on the bridge.  Have you ever felt like someone was watching you?  Nah.  Me either. 
 And there is my patient and ever so tolerant hubby.  I'm not sure if he was admiring the view or pretending that he wasn't with the strange people taking lots of ridiculous pictures on the bridge. 
 We walked around the town some more, enjoying the beautiful architecture, and then it was time to head for home. 

 Check out this amazing view of the Moselle River.  This might just be the best view in all of Germany! 
 (I don't know why this picture jumped out of order, but here it is just the same.)

We had a fantastic day exploring beautiful Traben-Trarbach.  And we added another wonderful memory to our time in Europe.  Hope your weekend was just as great!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Said Good-Bye To Slegers-Heise ... Really... This Time I mean It

 I've been without a vehicle for a little while now, so I've been doing chores around the house and not much else.  On Monday, I took Russ to work so I could have the car to run some errands.  I know it sounds suspicious, but that's really what happened.  I had to pick up the kids dental records, some groceries, and a few other things in preparation for our upcoming move.  I finished quicker than I expected, so I decided to just swing by Slegers for one last visit.  All of my furniture has been packed and shipped out, so it seemed like a pretty safe idea.  It's not like I was planning on buying anything, you know. 
 I took one last walk around the building, admiring the antiques and wishing I had room for that lovely carousel. I was just about to leave when I saw it. 
I know.  I already have 4 scales (packed and on their way to the states), but doesn't it drive you crazy to have things displayed in even numbers?  And it has a big "B" on it.  It's like it was made especially for me!  What?  Only 30 euros?    Ugh!  I was standing there, debating purchasing it, when my cell phone started ringing.  Seriously?  Were his Spidey senses tingling?  Is he having me followed?  Long story short, he said to just go for it.  Worst case, I'll just mail it to our new base.  I mean, it's not like I can just pop back over to my favorite antique store and pick up another one, right?  Hmmm.  I might have to think about that one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sleepy Sunday On The Canal

 The teenagers were sleeping late and doing whatever it is that teenagers do, so Russ and I took one last walk along the canal and visited a couple of my favorite spots.  I hope it's not really our last walk on the canal, but as busy as things are getting soon, that is probably the case.  It feels like we just moved in, and hopped on our bikes to explore the area.  The last 3 years have flown by.  As excited as I am to be going back to the states, I'm so sad to leave our pretty little town on the canal. 
 No more bike rides with the kids.  No more jogging and walking along the paths.  No more stopping for ice cream to cool off while we people watch (and they watch us right back). 
One more chapter in our lives is coming to an end.  We're so grateful that we had the opportunity to live in Belgium.  This was something we had never dreamed was possible, and it will always hold a special place in our hearts. 

The Sezoens Rally

 With nothing left in the house to entertain us, Russ and I wandered around in search of excitement.  We didn't have to go far.  Around this time each year, Bocholt plays host to the Sezoens Rally.  The day before the race begins, all of the cars are on display throughout the centrum of  Bocholt.
 They pretend to be working on them, but there's more than a little showing off involved as well. 
After checking out all the cars on Friday, you can head back out there and cheer on your favorites as they race across the country side on Saturday.  What a great way to spend a lovely weekend in lovely Belgium!