Monday, January 29, 2007

Don't miss this promotion!

Promotion promotion, don't miss this promotion! If you now sign up for a (snail) mail forwarding service in the Belgian post offices, you pay for 3 months and you get 4 months! Don't miss this brilliant deal. 4 months for the price of 3 of splendid mail forwarding.

What the hell? what stupid type of promotion is that? I mean, I am happy with it, but I don't get the commercial logic of it all. It's not like people will change their moving plans because of this promotion. Either you need the service (and then you pay for it) or you don't need the service. So isn't it just a waste of money for the Post?

Quest through moving boxes

I needed my customer number for the water company in order to finalise my move. No problem, I had moved all last invoices of suppliers with me in a box "mail to keep".

So I head downstairs to the pile of cardboard boxes in the basement to move them all from one pile to another. But no one had the text "mail to keep" on it. Grrrrr.
A bit pissed off already I go upstairs to see whether maybe the 2 lonely boxes in our bedroom would have the subbox "mail to keep" in them. Obviously there it was. Naturally I would first move a whole pile of big heavy boxes in the basement when it was already sitting in our bedroom. Murphy's law huh....
But the subbox "mail to keep" did not have any recent invoices in it. What? I am so sure I had them with me.

All grumbling and cursing I come downstairs when I say Jan that I lost that last invoice and that I somehow need to figure out my customer number when he replies "oh invoices? there was a pile of them on the table here, I put them down below on the shelf in your notebook". So after a long and frustrating quest for my invoice, there it was closeby the computer all along.

Gosh, how frustrating. I am already looking forward to my next quest to find of my stuff (notice lots of irony in my voice!)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

State security issues

Once more about the lecture on Friday, I forgot to mention that I heard that some agents of the state security were present as well. What?!? Some spies or what? I guess not since they notified their presence to the organizers.

I first thought that this was terribly insulting for the moslims.... are they showing up whenever moslims gather?
Or maybe they fear a reaction of local racists?

Or do they screen any religious gathering now? Do they fear the interreligious dialogue or they don't believe it was about interreligious dialogue.

I don't know if I think it was a good thing or a bad thing that they show up anomously on those things or not. Does it improve our countries safety? Or is it an insulting and unnecessarily intervention? Is it really necessary that they do this? How are they supposed to decide which meetings are potentially suspicious and which aren't? How many people would be employed doing this as a job: going to meetings to check out who is there and what is being said and done? Wouldn't non-public meetings be much more dangerous? Am I offended because I would think Christian gatherings should be automatically peacefull and open-minded and without need of 'monitoring' by the government. Shouldn't they go and spy on real potential terrorists?...but who are the real potential terrorists?

Pff I am confused about this matter. I had never really realised that Belgium actually has an active state security agency. Didn't think I'd ever encounter them in my life. Now I wonder how often we've already been in the same room? Weird, very weird.

Empty

Announcement to my (ex)neighbours:
you can park in front of your garages again. Thank you for leaving the space to us today, we appreciated it very much. You may also put back your little cupboards in the hallway again since we are not struggling with big pieces of furniture down the stairways anymore and we do not risk bumping into them anymore. There really is nothing to move down anymore, my appartment is empty!

Oh...and could you please put the 3 boxes of old paper and the garbage bag outside next Friday? I put it in the little storage under the stairs.

Thankx a lot!! Bye bye

Friday, January 26, 2007

Camping in an almost empty appartment

It's bedtime for me! Just wanted to say I am heading to my matress on the floor now to have a good night sleep for the last time here in my appartment in Ghent.

Hopefully if all goes well, we've moved all big pieces of left furniture down in the van tomorrow by noon and by tomorrow evening it should all be in Leuven where we can start to reassemble stuff.


Good night to you all!

Jesus in the Koran and Mohammed in the Bible

That was the title of a lecture I just attended in Ghent, given by professor Anton Wessels from Amsterdam. We regularly come together with a group of young Christians (catholics) and in this international week for unity among Christians and religions we went to this lecture for a change.

I was quite excited about the subject and hoped for a really interesting speech that would bring some new ideas in my mind. But it actually left me with a bit of a hungry feeling. The topics were touched but weren't quite satisfying. The professor surely gave us some food for thought and it was interesting to hear how moslims interpret and see some parts of the bible different than what we do. A bit confronting to hear your obvious interpretation of something challenged.

But the professors seemed to be on a mission to proof on all topics that in the end the bible, thora and koran were all the same. He did this with jumps in his logic that I could not keep track off, or he just waved by a point without truly explaining it. In the question session he irritatingly responded with long stories that made you wonder after 10 minutes in what way the explanation was in fact an answer to the question.

But I was also annoyed by fairly open reactions of some catholics surrounding me, disagreeing a bit too openly to points that were a new interpretation of our religion. I had the feeling that they were just a bit too defensive. (I must say in our discussion afterwards that they did see nuances though, but I still didn't like their grumbling and head shaking during the explanation).

Despite those irritations it was an interesting evening. I really enjoyed the fact that more than 100 people had showed up and that it was visibly a good mixture of young and old, catholics and protestants and moslims, ...
And afterwards we did have a good internal discussion. I am not sure if the professor truly wanted to suggest that we should almost just abandon in our traditions and prayers all contractory points and only keep the common shared points. I think difference should not need to be problematic and that keeping only the common factors might be a loss for both religions. It's in fact learning about the different point of views like we did tonight that can get us a more open mind and view our own religion with different eyes, without having to abondon our own specific views and traditions. The professor did not seemed to want to touch and acknowledge the fact that there are differences and it should indeed not be the main focus in a interreligious dialogue. Nevertheless we will always be different and that makes the cultural world mozaik more interesting, no? As long as we treasure these differences from both sides with respect and understanding.

So all in all, it was a good evening with good food for thought :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blogging: a new family tradition??

I did not see this coming at all , but apparently the blogging bug has been contagious in our family.

Here's Jan's new Leuven-London picture blog!!!!!!! Go and check it out.


:)

6 weird things about me

Haha the tagging habit is spreading in Europe too and I got tagged by Betsy in Germany. Wow quite a challenging one. I have to think about this one!

1) I don't like chocolate....

No seriously, I mean it. I don't like chocolate. Those people do exit although we are very very rare! I did not like it since I was a child and I still don't like the taste or smell of it! Walking by the open door of a praline shop in Belgium is not something I enjoy. Oh and I can assure you when you go out for dinner somewhere....98% chance there is chocolate in the desert. Grrr.

...don't spread out the news too much. I wouldn't want to loose my Belgian nationality ;-). Just kidding.

2) I learned to swim under water with a snorkel! I had found my sisters snorkel on vacation and I was floating circles under water in the kiddies pool when my dad decided I really had to learn the swimming movements along. And so I did. Only going above water and keeping my head up there was much more difficult and not fun at all! I still prefer to hold my head under water a few strokes until I lift it up to breathe.

3) People that just meet me for the first time think I am quiet....hihihi what a joke when they get to know me better. But honestly, I do need some adjusting time to feel at ease and to open up.

A recrutement company discouraged my courant company to hire me because I'd be insufficient "assertive" for the job. My boss currently is relieved they did not take someone that was actually labeled assertive by that agency. They wonder who they'd have gotten then.

4) I can read books and get totally addicted to them and finish them in 3 weeks. And I can read a book over a period of 3 months.... it simply depends on the book.

5) I totally feel the need to capture all my "good moments" in life on pictures. I joke with my friends "if I don't have a picture of it, it must not have happened...at least not in my memory". I am a nostalgic person and I totally enjoy watching those pictures again over and over again. Having them at random coming by on my screensaver is wonderful and often beats watching the tv screen a bit further!

I seriously consider putting the negatives of my pre-digital period in a fire-proof save somewhere.

6) I find handkerchiefs (not the tissue ones) comforting and relaxing to rub in my hand.



Pheewww, finished the list. Now I tag Allie and Lisa

Snow?

In the last 2 months, winter was not really around, but today I saw a couple of snowflakes falling down. They were probably lost and ment to fall down somewhere else because there were so few that they could not make the landscape white at all. But I cannot say anymore that I did not see any snowflake this winter! And I already had to scratch the ice of my windshield 2 days in a row! So maybe we'll get some winter after all with a lot of delay.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Welcoming doorbell

When I came home last Saturday with my car full of moving stuff, the doorbell was very welcoming for me. Where in the past it had only Jan's name, this is what I saw....


...Sweet gesture. Thankx

Monday, January 22, 2007

Dishes

If you add all the pots, plates, cutlery and cooking utensils of one well equipped house...
with the pots, plates, cutlery and cooking utensils of a well equipped appartment...

you can cook lots before you ever feel the need to do the dishes !!!! ;) .... or we could start a catering business.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Packing up


With the great help of my sister and brother-in-law, we packed up all my belongings in Ghent into boxes and unscrewed all furniture, while Jan was finishing the floors in Leuven on the first floor and in the basement! Wow , what a team work. Needless to say we got a lot achieved this weekend!

Today all the boxes and already some smaller furniture got moved in our cars to Leuven. So far so good, it's going fairly smoothly but it is very very tiring. I feel exhausted.

3rd attempt, good times

With one day of delay, some of my friends (who miracously hadn't planned anything on a Friday evening) came over for a last dinner evening in my appartment in Ghent.

It was a calm, relaxed but cosy time together. Our attempt to empty the vodka bottle failed so I still had to move it, but the inventory on the wine bottles recorded one bottle less to move. I hope that my combinations in food weren't too weird in my attempt to empty the freezer a bit more, but I don't think anybody left with a hungry feeling, on the contrary!!

And more important, it had been way too long that we had done this , so it felt so good to catch up on so many things on friends. Up to the next time in Leuven, since that definately was the last dinner in Ghent! Very strange, it did make me sad when everybody left.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cancelled house cooling party

Tonight was going to be my house cooling party with some good friends hopping by for some snacks and drinks. I was really looking forward to it as a last thing to do before I start stripping this appartment.

But it wasn't supposed to be and that was a big disappointment to deal with:
Jan is stuck in London because the Eurostar does not ride anymore (powerproblems in France) and the other guests are either ill or do not dare to drive through this storm. I totally agree. Driving through the "biggest storm" since 4 years just for fun is madness. I honestly probably wouldn't do it either if I were on their side.

But this was not how I had pictures my last evening here. And I totally was not ready to start packing tonight. Or to spend this goodbye on my own.
Pff tough. Disappointing. I must admit that I cracked tonight.

But I am better now... Watched "De Mol" on Dutch tv lazy streched out in the sofa, I prepared a little bit of dinner for myself ...and the good thing is, I changed my plans for tomorrow and so did my friends and they are coming over tomorrow evening. yeaaay. And Jan will come over as well for the evening in between helping his dad in Leuven. So I am still going to have my house cooling party tomorrow.
Great! Thanx guys for coming anyway!!!!! Good friends huh :), they saved my evening.

Peak concentration at work

My thoughts and conversations this afternoon at work:

"wow, look at the trees out there in the corner, they really bend over" "yeah and they say the worst still has to come" "Yeah I parked on the other side of the parking lot, but there are still cars closeby the trees. If they fall over , they will hit some cars"

....(work work)

"what did they say in the traffic information: a truck blown on its side in Beernem. You must be kidding" "how can a truck be blown over?" "well it's big and if it wasn't filled..."
[type on msn to Jan that truck has blown over]
[check traffic information on the internet: amazed by the number of trees reported to have fallen on one of the highways]

...(work work)

[check traffic information again to see that a new fallen tree or object or accident is added every 5 minutes]
[check the traffic map to see how many incident icons are already displayed]
[point out to colleague on my screen how many incidents are displayed]

...(work work)

[check traffic information and compare with info just given on the radio again]
[hear that ship has sunk in the Channel and that in Zulte a roof has been blown away]
[stare at bending trees at parking lot again ]

...(another attempt to work)

Fire truck drives up parking lot and 3 firemen jump out....Now we all stare out of the window what is happening. They go in and out with an chain saw.
"oh I didn't notice our roof has been blown off"
"hihi, our CEO must be hanging on his embrella risking to fly away"
...
Somebody walks in to tell us that the firemen are cutting down a tree in the inner square of the offices.
...
[I walk to the fax at the reception and take a quick glance to see indeed the firemen sawing down the remainders of a tree ]
"Geez what happened"
"oh it's a tree that was already dead, but now it has fallen"
...
(try to work but fail my attempt)
....
[notice that firetruck leaves again]
[check traffic information again on the internet. More fallen trees on the highways]
[calculate how much delay I'd probably get when driving home and when I should really leave]
[realise lots of people are leaving offices early]
[Madou crosspoint in Brussels closed down for traffic since pieces fall down from the new Madou office tower there]
"oh cool, the peak of wind gusts will be between 5 and 6 PM. That's just when we'll be on the road" "yeah I have to leave at 5 as well. Fun fun fun"
...

[listen to news bulletin at 5PM on the radio and catch something of Eurostar that does not ride anymore to the UK]
[warn Jan and search quickly on the internet what is happening....will he be able to come home tonight?]

In the mean time I urgently had to leave the office if I didn't want to rush on the road.
Do I need to say that I didn't quite get a lot achieved this afternoon? Lessons learned: I have a concentration problem when there's a big storm outside.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Last homelike evening in Ghent

For as long as possible I have tried to keep my appartment "home". Sometimes to the frustration of Jan I have not yet moved any big visible things to Leuven: my barchairs are still here, my big baskets next to the sofa, the bedside lights, the Matisse posters on the wall, etc...

Don't get me wrong, I did already pack and move things partly out of need (last months I was 85% of the time in Leuven already) such as cosmetics, toiletries and most common clothes, a couple of books, etc... But I already have started to move things I am rarely using here anymore: toaster, mixer, ironing equipment, excess towels, shoe cleaning stuff, the video, .... But they are all things that were hidden inside my cupboards and their disappearance isn't so visible. All the things that make me feel this place like a cosy home are still around, including some clutter and paper piles still here.

Once I start taking away chairs, cosy lights, decorations, CD's and radio, ... I know my appartment will not be "home" anymore. I'll slowly turn it back into a stranger that is alienating from me. And that is not something I am looking forward to. I always had that feeling already when packing up a hotel room or a shared room on a youth camp: even after a brief stay of only 10 days, your clothes and other stuff have unconsciously received a place and have defined the room. A slight feeling of sadness always grows then as the room becomes unpersonally "clean" and empty again because it marks a goodbye of good times.
But I am getting now urgently to that point that I need to make a move. From Friday morning onwards, I have to and I will stuff my car with as much as I can and move it without pitty or regret a 100 km eastwards. Before I do that, I have invited my best friends for a "cooling down" party. I just had to invite them for a last time over in my very own spot. I can't explain that, but I need this kind of goodbye. And I didn't want to do that in an already half stripped appartment. On my first invitation, nobody could come (last tuesday) which disappointed me a lot. Fortunately tomorrow, a couple of friends will be able to hop bye. So that's cool! And good for emptying the freezer a bit more (and maybe some bottles?).

So on my last day-to-day evening here in Ghent, I keep catching myself to think "oh maybe friday I can already stuff those 2 chairs in my car....and the CD's should go...how am I going to pack that vase". The stress is definately coming, the thoughts about the move are always around. So maybe it is not a very normal relaxing evening here anymore either, but still a little bit. I don't know when I'll dismantle this PC in the corner desk of the living room, so I don't know how often I'll still type here. But this is the spot where I started my blog and where I have been chatting with so many of you. Don't worry, in Leuven I don't lack internet or PC access as you've noticed in the last months, so I'll remain online.

Ok, gotta go and pack at least one box tonight if not I am getting stressed here. And I notice I am kinda rambling away without much structure in my head anymore. All kinds of things cross my mind know which I need to remember to do. Aaaah. I wish I could skip the next two weeks.... Or maybe the next 6 weeks (when I hope finally to have the wardrobe and dressing ready to actually unpack the boxes and hopefully create structure in the chaos that will be in Leuven).

Sigh...what a hassle.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Thinking Meme

Apparently in North-America it's quite popular to tag your fellow bloggers with questionaires to get to know each other better. Thanks to Allie, I cannot escape the phenomenon, so here's my list.

1. If you had to choose one vice in exclusion of all others, what would it be?

Hmm the list starts tough... I don't really know what vice means. "habit" says Allie on msn. Bad habit says the online dictionnary.

Snoozing, don't think I can stop snoozing. I simply wake up very gradually, opening my eyes does not mean I can immediately walk into balance or think or remember what I am supposed to do when I get up. Realising that I need to rush in the morning not to be late usually only comes after being up for 30 minutes already :p. I used to even have the bad habit of getting up and after 10 minutes crawling back into bed to snooze, but that I have not done anymore in the last years.

2. If you could change one specific thing about the world, what would it be?

Tolerance and empathy, if the entire world could be tolerant and empathic for all the different cultures, religions, etc.... there would less wars, we could abandon third world debt more easily maybe, we would maybe be more willing to truly fight poverty, etc...

Very nice ideals huh...maybe I should first learn to tolerate drivers that drive on the middle lane or software users not following the instructions and screwing up as a result, ...

3. Name the cartoon character that you identify with the most.

Well Goofball became a nickname after Goofy. When I am really tired, I can get quite goofy: giggling, silly jokes, cracking up over nothing, bumping into things, .... But that only happens now and then. There also exit a cheerful, grumpy, stressed out, .... version of me.

I also love Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. I envy his imagination , I love the humor, I love the exaggerated situations in which we do recognise ourselves a little bit (either on the parent side , the babysitter, Hobbes or Calvin himself).

4. If you could live one day in your life over again, which would it be?

Gosh? Lot's of them....all the good ones: vacation in Spain with my parents, my sister's marriage, the day Rotary told me I could go to Canada in their exchange student program, days of school theatre in high school in which the entire school lived to a huge peak of friendship entrepreneurship and adrenaline together among all students and teachers, RYLA, ...

5. If you could go back in history and spend a day with one person, who would it be?

Hmm, I don't think I'd be immune to the many diseases that were around then, and I'd be afraid to be caught in the many conflict and dangers that were around then. Otherwise, I love to learn about history so I should not miss that opportunity if I ever get one.

I am thinking about meeting Ghandi or Sappho or Leonardo Da Vinci or .... Jesus himself, why not, if that was possible?

6. What is the one thing that you lost, sold or threw away that you wish you had back?

I can't come up with anything now, so I probably don't miss it that much (anymore).

7. What is your one most important contribution to this world?

Realising that my modest existence is not going to change the world, only the exisistence of my close friends and family.

8. What is your one hidden talent that nearly no one knows about?

It's so hidden even I don't know about it :p. But it's there!! Waiting to pop-out!

9. What is your most cherished possesion?

My handkerchiefs... I have tick often rubbing one, ... I get nervous not having on in my pockets or in my purse.

10. What one person influenced you life the most when growing up?

My sister....my big sister who had promised before my birth to take care of me....so she taught her babysister at 5 years all the major music groups that were around. No childish music for me but Doe Maar (including posters!), Boy George (a boy that wears make-up like a girl!), U2 (my pink stuffed rabbit is named Bono), The Simple Minds (my stuffed dog that I received when Griet came back from Switzerland when I was 7 was named Jim), David Bowie, ...
She took me to my first concert of the Kreuners in the Brielpoort when I was 13. I was the only one in my class going :p. She guided me in the world of youth organisations, ... she took me to youth prayer meetings, ...She babysat me and let me stay up too late. We had great tickle fights.

11. What word describes you better than any other?

Ellen

I tag Lisa and Julia and Betsy

Winter?



Is this going to be our winter?
It's tooo grey (only on 2 days we had a bit of sunshine so far in 2007), it's too wet, too windy and way too warm.

I never complain when it is too hot in spring, summer or fall, but this rainy grey weather isn't much fun.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Week of the soup

This week is the week of the soup. Yummie. Had some good undefined one out of the freezer today, although I am pretty sure it was a zucchini/pepper mixture.

At work we can win a soup book but there is a question: how much of the daily recommended portion of vitamin C should be contained in your main meal of the day: 25%, 50% or 75%? I have no clue: anyone? (sorry have been too lazy tonight to google it).

Ironing atelier

Last year Jan and I had built up a big backlog in ironing to do, so now I really always want to keep up with the fresh laundry pile. I don't know how long my resolution, (which is not truly a new years resolution, it's just a regularly recurring resolution) will work out.
But since this weekend the race has become a little bit easier on me. We already moved my ironing board and iron from Ghentbrugge, resulting in 2 boards and irons in Leuven.

.... so tonight Jan and I held a little ironing session together, each with our own board next to each other. It makes a big difference in the speed that the pile disappears and it gives you the feeling you are not doing a boring job alone. Although we were both very concentrated so not too much chitchat going on.

You know what: Jan even irons faster than me! I'll just have to claim that then I do it a little bit more precisely.

Lengthening of days

Today I left the office early and it was still light outside! It felt weird not to drive in the total darkness.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Homesick

Pfff I hate goodbyes. I am so not good in them. I do not get used to them. They are so tough. I always loose the fight against tears.

I am homesick for Canada. I miss Lisa. The house is too empty right now. I am sitting in the sofa here where yesterday Lisa was still typing her e-mails next to me. The inflated mattress needs to be deflated. There is no more pink Hippo on the table here! There is still good goat cheese left that she bought on the market!

I wish we could continue our good conversations together. I wish we could hug again very soon. I wish we could try on our newly bought make-up together and do girlish stuff together as before. I wish I could hug all my other friends and family in Canada.

This morning after Lisa left , I had to go to work and I had the feeling I came from another planet. After a week not listening to the morning radio, not watching tv, ...the familiar programs sounded weird in Dutch. I was still thinking in English.

In the last days so many memories came back, so many familiar faces showed their face again in my mind, so many people of whom I wonder how they are doing.

My sister has a big glas cup from her exchange "I left my heart in Alberta". Well, I definately also left a piece of my heart in Canada. I wish I could clone myself so that I could live on both sides of the ocean at the same time. Because don't get me wrong.... I also really love living in Belgium. I am not unhappy here. But I'll always miss Canada.

I have to think about the times that I did a spam carving contest in Calculus class, that I chuck a can of root beer over my head during the "Impaired Olympics" at school with the other exchange students, that we went up to the elementary schools to get children's drawings "think of me" on the paper bags of the liquor store, I remember my first attempts of skiing in Kimberley, my Greyhound busride to Trail, my visit in Fort Mc Murray,..... The day that I spent up with the avalanche patrol team up the summit, I remember fishing on the lake, washing dishes on the senior's camp in Salmon Arm (central BC), I remember doing homework with Lisa, learning the internet from Mark, travelling around with the exchange students.
I went with my slideshow and presentation about Belgium to all Grade 5's in the valley even up to Kaslo and a douzen of local organisations. I had a little stand in the fall fair in the Rec center.
I sold raffle tickets at the doors of Overwaitea for Rotary. I loved going to the hockey games. I saw Showboat in Vancouver. I went to the TALK youth camp. I remember so many teachers at PCSS each with their own personality. I did the brewery tour at the Kookanee brewery (little did I know then that I'd start to work for a brewery.... for the competitor of Kookanee/inbev).
I love the incredible beauty of the Rockies, and of Kootenay Lake.
I went goldpanning in Canyon and found some gold dust! I played the flute with Rita during our graduation ceremony and we went on a bandtrip in Idaho. I hiked up and down Grand Canyon. I ate for the first time chili con carne, corn on the cob, hamburger helper, Kraft Dinner, corn nuts, hot dogs grilled in the free nature, .... I slept for the first time in a tent outdoors. I learned to speech in public. I was Herod's wife in the Christmas play. I learned to iron my own clothes. I went to a drive inn movie theatre. ...

Gosh I tell ya: I had an incredible and busy year and I met through all these numerous activities very incredible people!

I guess I am very homesick for Canada right now and I miss all the people that were so nice to me and made my exchange into an incredible unforgetable experience 10 years ago. I miss my host families! Thank goodness we live in a global world with internet, msn, skype etc... so that I can stay in touch. But it's not 100% the same. It is still so much nicer to actually meet each other again even when it's very tough to say goodbye afterwards. Very tough.

So please, come and visit again!! And a keep a spare room for when Jan and I will return to the west.

Belgium through the eye of a foreigner

When having foreigners over, I always proudly want to show them around. We have a tendency to show our big monuments...our cathedrals, our major pieces of art, our squares, belfry towers, abbeys and beguinages.... Those are the treasures of our old historical cities of which I am so proud.

But every time I am amazed by what my guests pay attention too ...things I had never truly "seen" before, things I walked by. They can be an eyeopener for ourselves. I remember Mona and Rusty paying so much attention to 'a stupid home for elderly people'...but every time I walk by now, I give it a closer look as to see why it was so special for them. :).

Lisa also truly has an eye for details in our society and street images that I just walk bye... Some of her pictures are really neat. have a look.







Guiding Lisa in Gent

Even though I will soon move, I found it very important to show Lisa around in my appartment in Ghent and to go downtown once more in the city that I so much love. I am so glad that she actually came over just before I moved, rather than just after. I know there is nothing special to my appartment, although it is very nice....but it has been my spot for almost 3 years ...and I wanted to share it with here. With too many potato ships in our stomac we hit the trams and went downtown for a good walk after which we were rewarded with a self-cooked meal.


showing the fortress downtown Ghent: het Gravensteen

the gothic/ rennaissance cityhall of Ghent

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Canadian girl meets with Belgian families and their toddlers

Either a great seeing again after 10 years, either a first encounter.... But hopefully not the last time!!!





Guiding Lisa in Antwerp


10 years ago Lisa had been here in Belgium on an extremely brief 48 hours in which we have cramped visiting the big city of Deinze (oh yes!), a tour with the highlights of Ghent in the evening , a visit to Bruges and a hightlights tour of Brussels (partly by car) before she had to go back on the Thalys to Paris where the rest of her class was on a schooltrip.

So ...Antwerp was missing on her list of great Flemish cities to see. After a long lazy morning, after all traffic jams around Brussels had dissolved, we drove north to " 't Stad".

St-Anna tunnel

After a stop in the St Anna pedestrian tunnel unther the river Scheldt, a look at the river from the north, a look at the fortress "'t Steen" and the townhall, we came in the cathedral that was almost deserted! A very enthousiastic guide that was supposed to start a free tour in Dutch, adopted us for an English tour out of lack of other interested people in the cathedral at that moment. For more than 90 minutes he showed us around, borrowed a flash light of a colleague to show a hidden sculpture in the shade on the pulprit (representation of Africa on the backside for those of you who are interested), gave us details of his favourite wallpaintings hidden in a corner, about Rubenses masterpieces and on the side also the dates of the marriage of his 2 sons in the next 2 years, wondered if he could play "God is a DJ" on the organ (he knew the group was Faithless!), .... Hmm very weird guide in a way but he sure was passionate about his cathedral!

By the time we were back outside, it was getting dark, but we did make still a very good walk all the way to the Diamond and Jewish quarter to get a glance there of the diamond fairs and koosjer stores. Our feet were extremely grateful to be back in the car in the direction of Leuven!

Guiding Lisa in Leuven

Enjoying the nice weather on Sunday (is this supposed to be winter or is it still fall or already spring???), Jan and I guided Lisa through my soon to be hometown: Leuven. I felt very proud to show her some of the nice spots!




shopping for some fresh food on the market in Heverlee on sunday morning





Visiting the Biguinage of Leuven, a Unesco protected site

One of the old city towers

The gothic cityhall of Leuven

The abbey "abdij van 't Park"

Monday, January 8, 2007

London museumwonderland


Thursday was a fairly good day out in London and I enjoyed the change of the guards in the sun just while Lisa was landing on Heathrow. We however had both a very short night, so the rest of the day was limited by some catching up time, resting and going out for dinner.



Lisa could also enjoy still a little bit of Portobello Road in the sun the next day, but unfortunately then the weather gods gave up on us. But that is ok, we both turn out to be Museum lovers and we both actually read all the information hanging up. As a result we both move slowely but more or less at the same pace through a museum.(whereas with Jan, he disappears out of sight within 5 minutes and finishes a hall in one third of the time I need....so I end up visiting on my own in reality ). But not so with Lisa: we are great museumbuddies!

So Tate Modern floor 3 was great: Magritte, MirĂ³, Dali, ...and other surrealists, Rothko, Pollock and his wife, Bacon, Picasso, Braque, ... and many many more artists that I have forgotten now (sorry men!). Yummie yummie what an artistic feast but after a day of walking in London 3 hours of wandering in front of paintings, it's quite tiring on the feet. (and closest tube station is St Pauls....or were we mistaken?)

The mizzering rain of Friday turned into pouring pouring rain on Saturday; Even after a short walk, we were soaking wet. Fortunately the Design Museum near the Tower Bridge kept us busy until we had to get ready for the Eurostar.

Meeting point

Heathrow Express ticket office, 4/1/07 14u Paddington Station:

We needed no red rose or folded newspaper or any other visual code. Much to our both relief and stress, Lisa and I found each other without any problem into a big excited hug.

Funny how we are so used to mobile phones. "yeah, I'll see you there in that area around that time" without specifying too many details . If you don't find each other, if one is a bit later, you just give a call nowedays. But meeting Lisa could not work that way since her mobile phone would not work here and we still had to get her a UK Sim card. She had my number, but I'd have to simply wait for a phonecall from her. And that made me stressed about meeting her.

But coming up the stairs out of the tube, she was immediately in my sight. And the catching up of memories and stories could start as well as some tourist explorations together! :-)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Lisa is coming

Lisa R. is coming to London tomorrow . She should have gotten on the plane in Vancouver by now! And I am going to London tomorrow as well. Yihaaaaaaaaaaaaa

In need of vacation

I worked 2 days already this year!! Pheeew how tiring. I think I am going on vacation again for a week. Good plan no?