Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Belgian Thanksgiving

This year for Thanksgiving I made plans to go to Leuven, Belgium to see my sister Mary and her husband David who are studying in the university in Leuven. I made these plans in July and was so excited when the day finally arrived to board a plane headed for Belgium. This trip was exciting because I was able to spend good quality time with Mary and David but also because I was able to turn my phone of for 9 whole days!! My job requires that my phone pretty much be nearby 24/7 so 9 days phone free was a vacation in itself!
So here is a quick trip summary since I didn't post any pics while i was gone:

Saturday, Day 1:

Landed in Brussels and took a train to Leuven where Mary greeted me with the lovely sign in the train station. I somehow managed to not even be the slightest bit jet lagged..
I toured Louven with Mary and then we all saw Hunger Games Mocking Jay Pt 1 with some of their American friends. It was awesome. You have to go early and get your tickets and reserve your seats. Yes, reserve your seats. Which I actually think is a great idea. They also had like a full candy store inside the movie theater. I was pretty much my favorite movie theater ever. 

Sunday, Day 2: Trip to Antwerp!
Sunday we took a train to Antwerp and walked around the city all afternoon. It was so fun. The train station there is ridiculous and I must have taken at least 10 pictures of it.

true love

It was really fun to have David and Mary know where they wanted to go and what to go see. We ended our trip with an amazing Indian food meal. It was so delicious. 

Monday, Day 3: Skool dayz
Mary and David are both in school currently. David has finished one masters in Philosophy and is working toward a second. Mary is working on her masters in education. So they were busy with class during my trip which meant I was able to sit in on a couple of classes. Monday I went with David to one of his classes and got to experience grad school Belgian style. The university they are at is full of international students and it was pretty fun to get to now be able to picture what they tell me about. 

Tuesday: Day 4: Education Conference
Mary had a very cool mini conference on education on Tuesday in Brussels so she took me with her. During the morning we sat through the conference and then after lunch it was time to shop! She took me to this kitchen store that was so adorable. It was called Dille & Kamille and I lived there, all my things would be from that store.. Then we went on a walking tour of the city and got THE best hot chocolate I have ever had (sorry Grove Park Inn). It was literally a chocolate bar melted in a glass of milk. 

Later that evening back in Leuven we went up into the central church bell tower for a twice a month bells concert.  It was really cool! Classical music mixed in with a little Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. 

Wednesday, Day 5: Spa Day
Wednesday was the day that I went and spent for the first time in my life an entire day at a Spa. It was glorious. Let's just say it was very Euro and clothing was optional. I leave it at that..It was so relaxing. I read more there in a day than I think I have in the past year and everything was perfectly relaxing and not that crowded which was a plus. I am so thankful for that day. 

Thursday, Day 6: Not Thanksgiving
So while everyone in America was celebrating Thanksgiving, Mary and David were busy with class and work. We kept making jokes about how at least all the stores were open for shopping! So I spent the morning hanging out and then walking around a bit and just some general hanging out! Mary also introduced me to Belgian Waffles..o my deliciousness. Crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside and so cheap. 

We spent the whole evening skyping with family who were celebrating Thanksgiving. Thank goodness for Skype.

Friday, Day 7: 
On this day I slept in and then went to class with Mary. It was really fun to get to experience a little bit of what her daily life in class is like. The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent hanging out with David and talking about about the last 15 months in Belgium. We also played Pandemic, which is my new favorite board game.

Saturday: Day 8: Feuxgiving
Saturday  was the day we celebrated Thanksgiving! They invited the same American couple that we went to the movies with earlier in the week to come and join us. We went all out! Here is the menu. It was uh-mazing and everything was made from scratch:

I even brought over things to make green bean casserole with. Mary made an apple pie from scratch and we had the best appetizers. We spent the afternoon/evening playing Ticket to Ride: Europe, Pandemic and laughing and telling stories. It was so much fun and I definitely did not want it to end because this meant my trip was coming to an end..

Sunday, Day 9: The Return
Sunday came too soon...I woke up really early, said my goodbyes and made it back to the airport. Thankfully I had a window seat for the 9.5 hr direct flight to Atlanta. I watched so many movies I lost track. But I made it back and then had to drive home to Asheville in the awful Thanksgiving traffic. But I didn't even care because going to Belgium was so great.

I wish I could have spent weeks hanging out with Mary and David. My family is currently living all over the world and that gets tough at times. I miss the days when we were all living under one roof and in the same town. But I am thankful for things like social media and skype that help make the world a little smaller. 

I spent the whole week missing Mary and David and wandering through the streets of Belgium. Can't wait for my next visit!

We finished!!...a month ago

So this post is a long time overdue and somehow I did not take the time to do a final wrap up from the marathon so here it is! Short and sweet:

WE FINISHED! And not only did we finish..but we finished together. Jenn, Leslie and I without knowing all wrote this same goal down together and stuck in on the 'goal' wall in the race expo the day before the race. It was so awesome.

Race day was amazing! It was so cold and windy. But once we got started and headed over the first bridge the excitement pretty much made the cold not even matter. Leslie, Jenn and I kept a great pace and got to enjoy taking in each neighborhood in the city! Here are a few pictures from the race!

Pre race selfie with the NYPD

Verrazano Bridge Selfie!

 Mile 13 feelin fine!

This last photo was taken what we deemed the 'zombie walk' out of Central Park. I ended up in the med tent due to a severe quad cramp in the last few miles but after we met up we still had to walk over a mile to get out of the park. It was more of a shuffle. But we were still super fired up!!! Once the cobwebs cleared my head it was so fun to realize what we had just accomplished! I couldn't have asked for a better team to run with. It has been a month and I miss our Saturday morning early runs and the excuse to get together all the time and talk about running! 

Jenn's husband, Kyle also ran and absolutely killed it! He started and finished far before us so when we finally met up we had plenty of stories to tell each other. 

After the race we took a few days to enjoy NYC. The first day involved a lot of waddling around with sore legs but by the second and third day we were feeling great! It was so much fun to spend some time just exploring the city.

I am so grateful for this experience and all that it brought along! Thanks to all of you for being a part of it with me!