Sunday, April 6, 2008

Zythos Beer Festival, Moving to new Apt, Easter, general info (Feb 26 - Mar 24)

Sorry it has been such a long time since I have last blogged, but I have a good reason! We have not had internet access since February 29, so basically ever since we’ve moved out of our temporary housing. We actually still do not have it at our new apartment, but I was able to go to Deloitte’s office today with Shannon since today is considered a Belgium holiday (Monday, March 24) and thus no one is here except for a few dedicated workers! I’m hanging out in one of his coworker’s offices catching up on my emails, world news and our financial business. Anyway, we hope to have internet installed in our new place by early April. It appears that it takes a long time to hook up internet here according to our relocation agent.

I’m going to back up to March 1st when Shannon and I, along with some of coworkers, ventured to the small town of Sint Niklaas, Belgium for the annual Zythos Beer Festival. There were just over 50 different breweries and around 250 different kinds of beers to try. Everyone bought a glass and tokens and then chose which beer vendors they wanted to go to. We liked most of the ones we tried and ended up buying a few bottles to bring home. Here is the link in case you're interested in learning more about the festival.

Here's a little background on our housing situation. After we moved out of our temporary housing on February 29, we moved in with one of Shannon’s coworkers and stayed in their extra bedroom for a week because our new apartment didn’t have electricity along with a few other problems. We were a little frustrated because we had notified the management company/agent around mid-February that we had planned to move in March 1st, so we would need electricity along with the apartment cleaned and other issues dealt with prior to that date. However, I may have mentioned how customer service is not a top priority here, so these issues were not dealt with until the week of March 10. Thus, Shannon and I were finally able to move in during that week. We had already paid rent on February 29, so you can see that we were anxiously waiting to move in! Our shipment from the U.S. arrived on March 7, which I was quite thankful to see! It took around 1 1/2 months from the day our house was packed up in Lincoln (January 18) until the time we were notified that our stuff had arrived in the port city of Antwerp, Belgium the week of March 3rd. It was very interesting watching the shipping company unpack our 2 huge crates. I was praying that nothing was destroyed on its long voyage. Since most of the apartment buildings / houses are several stories high here, moving companies use an exterior lift to get items up to your apartment through your windows. It was quite scary watching boxes, furniture, ect... go up the unstable lift which consisted of just a platform with no sides. Since Shannon was at work, I had the liberty of telling them where to put everything along with supervising their actions. They were a nice group of Dutch movers; though, they weren’t the most careful with our stuff. I almost had a heart attack when I saw one of our bikes fall off the lift around 2 - 3 stories. Of course it was my bike, so I won’t be riding it anytime soon! I personally walked up all the mirrors, paintings and frames to our apartment for fear of them flying off the ’exterior lift’. A few other items of ours were roughened up, but we’ll just turn everything in to insurance that was damaged, so it should be fine.

We continue to furnish our new apartment since we didn’t bring over all of our belongings from the States. During the first week of April we will be receiving a dining room table, 6 chairs, 2 cabinets and a washing machine from a lady off Yeah, no more going to the Laundromat! Since Brussels is such an international city, there are several expats coming and going selling their stuff accordingly at relatively low prices. Also we will be receiving a couch from IKEA in April. For the time being, our dining room table consists of a card table and chairs and our living room furniture consists of a lazy boy chair and coffee table. We are waiting on hanging up any decorations in our living room / dining room until we get all of our new furniture situated. Several of the walls are concrete, so Shannon bought a drill the other day and some masonry bits and of course some other tools because he misses all of his back home! Thus, we continue to gradually settle in to our new place as we try to make our new home more comfortable! I almost forgot to mention, we bought a bed for our extra bedroom. This is in addition to our air mattress and couch, so pack your bags and come and visit us!

I hope you all had a nice Easter. We attempted to go to a French Cathedral, but went too early because they had changed the normal schedule of services and were having a special Easter service with the Portuguese an hour later than normal services, so we decided not to attend. Then we went to a Dutch Cathedral with one of Shannon’s coworkers an hour later because his friend new someone getting baptized. By the way, this cathedral was considered one of the Royal Family’s churches, so it was very nice. We went to a mini ’drink’ reception at the Deacon’s house after the baptism ceremony which was all very interesting. We also saw The Royal Crypt which is where all the Kings and Queens’ families are buried (magnificent tombstones)! Later on in the day, we ventured out to the Atomium, which is a giant, silvery iron molecule with escalators connecting the various "atoms" built for the 1958 World Fair in Brussels (we didn’t wait in line to go inside, but eventually we will). There are a few other attractions by the Atomium such as, Mini-Europe, BruParck (mini themepark / water park) and a huge convention center. Yesterday, we also road tripped up the Belgium coast checking out small ’villas’ that would be fun to visit in the Summer.

We’ve been having extremely strange weather lately; it actually has snowed the last 3 days here! Normally it never snows here, only rain! (not much accumulation, just some flurries).

Before I let you go, here is something to make you laugh and probably think I’m a bit too conservative. Since I didn’t want to spend an outrageous amount of money by going to a hair salon / hairdresser, also known as a ’coiffure’ in French, I let Shannon test out his skills on my hair. I told him I only wanted a trim, so around 1/2 inch, and he ended up hacking off 2 - 3 inches! After getting over the initial shock, he actually ended up making it look pretty good, apparently he thought I needed more than a trim! He wanted to do layers, but I told him he wasn’t at that level yet!

Moving in to our new Apt in Brussels

Snowed at Easter - view from our Apt

The Atomium - built for 1958 World Fair in Brussels

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