So we got back on July 1st from our week at Mara Lake which gave us only a few days to get ready for our big trip to Europe. We got everything done on time, but it was a bit of a rush and we wanted to make sure that we wouldn't forget anything. The 4th of July was a big day for us as we left for a 4 week trip to Europe. We would spend most of our time in Belgium, but we would also spend 12 days in Switzerland. My mom and uncle would pick us up at the airport in Amsterdam as that was where we would land. Last year when my aunt and uncle were here they told us that they would pick us up and drive us back to the airport if we decided to visit Belgium as we did so much for them when they were in Canada. That was nice of them to suggest and to hold their word to it. Okay, here follows a short report of our 4 weeks in Europe:
*Friday & Saturday - July 4 & 5: Michael’s friend picked us up around 1.30pm as we had to be at the airport by 2.00pm. Our flight would leave at 4.55pm and they like you to be there about 3 hours ahead of time. There was quite a line up at the Martinair counter. So, by the time we got our tickets and went through customs and such there was only about 1 hour left before our flight would take off. Our flight left a little later than expected, but it was only delayed with about 15-20 minutes. We arrived in Amsterdam on the 5th of July around noon, they are 9 hours ahead of us in Vancouver. It was sooo good to see my mom again and my uncle too of course. Finally we’d be on a holiday in Belgium and not for an emergency. By the time we got to my mom’s place it was close to 4.00pm. My aunt was at my mom’s place and she had set the table for us with some tasty sandwiches and such. It was so good to see her again too. By the time we finished eating and caught up on some chatting it was about 7.00pm. My aunt and uncle left soon after and Michael and I were so tired…so we decided to go to bed as we were up for quite some time already.
An aquarium at Vancouver Airport and some views during our flight
*Sunday - July 6: We slept until 7.00amthis morning, that’s almost a 12 hour sleep. We felt ok at that time and didn’t feel too much from the jetlag. Today my brother and his family would come to see us, as they would be leaving to Switzerland on the 10th of July and we would be leaving on the 12th of July to Switzerland. It was good to see my brother again, it had been 4 years and wow the kids have grown so much. They’re not kids anymore but full grown teenagers. Jessie turned into a real pretty looking young lady. And Gert…my goodness he grew so tall and turned into a real good looking teenager. Well, we got some tips from them about Switzerland about the toll roads and such if you go through France. It was a nice afternoon.
Michael and my brother enjoying a yummy piece of cherry pie!
*Monday – July 7: We didn’t have a car yet, so it was kind of a bummer that we couldn’t get around. My mom lives in a very small village and there not much to do. We did go for a walk in the area and in the afternoon my cousin Veerle invited us to go to Maastricht in the Netherlands with her for an afternoon. She works there and knows the city quite well. Sure, we’d love to do that. She picked us up and we went to Maastricht. The weather was quite nice and it was a beautiful city as we saw it in a different way than most people do. At one point we had to run for the rain, so we decided to go have a drink in a café somewhere. Oh yes,a nice beer tasted good at this point. After that it cleared up again and we went for another walk through the town. Hmmmm, what’s that smell…it were “Luiske Wafels”, warm Belgian waffles with pearl sugar (little hard pieces of sugar) and with a bit of icing sugar sprinkled on top of it. Michael wasn’t going to pass on that one…he loved it! After that we stopped for some grocery shopping and we took my cousin out for dinner at a restaurant near my mom’s place called Chopin. Hmmmm, the food was delicious! After dinner we stopped by at Veerle’s sister place Marijke. They build a nice house and she wanted us to come by and see it. It was nice to see her again too and the 2 kids. The little one has grown so much, she was only about a year when we saw here last. What cute kids!
*Tuesday – July 8: My good friend Maarten had promised us that he would take us to the car rental place. We discussed this on msn before we went to Belgium. He was off most of the month of July so he wanted to this for us. He would come and pick us up around 2.00pm to go to Luik (Liege) where we would pick up our car that we had reserved via internet. Well, it was great to see Maarten again and so nice of him to take us to the car rental place. We brought our GPS from Canada as we had loaded the European maps on it as well and it took us right to the door. Our car was a Renault Megane hatchback with 4 doors and it was a diesel…thank god because gas is soooo expensive in Europe. The diesel is a bit cheaper and a tank lasts a lot longer. My mom was with us too and on the way home we just drove through Liege for a bit. Once we got home we had some dinner and after that Michael and I went to Bokrijk, a nice park not too far from my mom’s place. We walked around in the park and played on the playground...hehe, it was fun. We were just like little kids, but oh well why not. That was that for today.
*Wednesday – July 9: Michael was awake at 6.00am and the first he said to me was that he felt like a big hamburger and fries…hahaha. I guess his stomach was still thinking Vancouver time as it would be evening over there now. We lied around for awhile and got up around 8.00am. Since we had a car now we went to the bank with my mom to pick up her Swiss money and this way she could pay some bills as well. After that we went to the shopping mall in Genk. We had a quick visit at Johan’s, a friend of mine who has a candy store in the mall. It was nice to see him again. He is doing well and I am glad for him. Michael wanted to go to the sport store as it was “Solden” (sales) again, which is a big sale in the summer. He bought a few different shirts that had a price we couldn’t resist. We had some lunch in the mall at the Quick (something like McDonalds) and Michael’s dream of a burger and fries was fulfilled. We walked around in the mall and went to have a look at the new part. Lots has changed and many new stores were added. I bought some nice summer shoes at the C&A for a good price. After all that we did our grocery shopping at the Carrefour and off we went home. In the evening we were invited at my aunt & uncle’s for dinner. The kids were there too with their husband’s. We watched some old film that my uncle took when they were in the Interlaken region in the 80’s, it was nice to see what we were going to visit ourselves. We had a wonderful evening with them and enjoyed our time.
*Thursday – July 10 & Friday – July 11: On these days we didn’t do too much. We went for some more shopping on Thursday, we went to Wijnegem…a big mall near Antwerp. It was a nice morning and we wanted to visit the city of Antwerp, but when we were halfway on the road it started pouring rain. So, we decided to go to the mall instead which was fun and we saw many interesting stores. We bought a cordless phone for my mother so she can take with her if she goes outside or something. On Friday we visited with my good friends Maarten and Joke as they bought a house in Tessenderlo about half a year ago. It’s a nice place and it looks beautiful, I am sure it will look even better once they are finished with the last bit of renovations. We had some of my mom’s friends visiting us and having a chat and we also got ready for our trip to Switzerland. We helped my mother in the garden, cut the grass and got it all cleaned up before we had to go to Switzerland. Tomorrow would be our big day as we would leave for Switzerland until July 23/08.
Please read my next post "My life in Canada (July 2008)...Part 2" for the rest of the story!