Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Learning French....

Bon jour! I started my French lessons last week! French is a very difficult language to learn and to speak! I am taking classes at Berlitz (which happens to be located on my street) and so far so good. I am taking private lessons so I am not in a class with anyone else. I am so self-conscience about speaking the language that I knew I would not do well in front of others. I sound ridiculous!

When I arrived last week, the instructor jumped right in and started speaking French immediately. I was a little lost (obviously) but managed to pick up on a few words since I took a few lessons before I left Memphis (thanks Katie!!!).

I hope to get in a couple of lessons this week before heading to Budapest next Monday. Wish me luck!

Here are a few of phrases....in case you want to learn a little with me:

Bon jour = Hello
Comment allez-vous? = How are you?
Au revoir = Bye
Merci = Thank you
Good evening = Bonsoir

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm Coming Home!!!!

In October for a little visit (and a little work)! I booked my flight today and will be arriving on October 5th! Yahoo!!!!!!! I will be home until October 21st.....just in time to have a pre-birthday bash!

By October I will have lived in Brussels for 6 months already...can you believe it? One quarter of my time here will be up! WOW...I better get movin' and cover some ground!

Although things seems to be slow right now...the next couple of months are going to be quite crazy! Here is a run-down (in case you are interested):
  • I leave on August 6th for Budapest, Hungary returning on August 12th.
  • My friend Jennie arrives on August 19th for 2 weeks when we will be stomping across Paris, Brussels, London, and Edinburgh, Scotland! She leaves on September 2nd.
  • On September 14 I am going to Normandy, France for the weekend on a tour with the American Women's Club.
  • During the week of September 17th I will be leaving on a 2 week adventure to Paris, Milan, and Frankfurt for work returning September 28th!
  • Then, leave 1 week later on October 5th for Memphis!

I am tired just thinking about it!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Maxie's First Belgium Haircut!!

Maxie and I have lived in Brussels for 3.5 months now and Maxie has not been groomed since we arrived. While I was in India, Pam did take her for a trim but not a lot was cut off! Anyway, her hair had gotten out of control and was beginning to get matted. It had gotten so bad I had to get the scissors out and take care of it some.

As with everything in Europe, getting an appointment here is very slow....especially when it is vacation season. I finally was able to get Maxie in this past Friday and boy did she get groomed! Check out her before and after pics!



It is a little shorter than what I like...but it was so bad the groomer had to go this short! It is not too bad considering by the time she will need another trim we will be back in Memphis and she can get the "Maxie Cut"! (PetSmart has named a cut after Maxie...isn't that cute??!!)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

You've been at the computer too long when...

you get a look like this peeping through the railings....

Walk Around the Block

I love my neighborhood!!! I am not sure I have said that enough! I absolutely love my apartment and my neighborhood! I want to pick up my apartment and place it right smack in the middle of Memphis and call it home! Oh, that would be just awesome! Something tells me I will not be able to find a house as much as I love this apartment and the unique character and charm it has! (No pressure on my real estate agent in Memphis to be looking for something just as awesome!!)

Part of the reason I love my neighborhood so much is because of the lakes. I live in the Place Flagey area of Ixelles, Belgium! I am sure that means nothing to you if you are reading this from back home! Sorry! Anyway, there are 2 lakes right by my apartment that I love to walk around. The view is unbelievable and it is such a great walk! There are always people out and about walking, running, strolling, sitting, picnicking, etc. It is the best part of the neighborhood (in my opinion).

As you know, Zsa Zsa is with us for about 2 weeks. I have tried to walk Maxie and Zsa Zsa every day the weather is nice. They are the CUTEST things you have ever seen walking together! You would think they have been walking side by side their entire lives! I get the biggest kick out of these two and they get a lot of stares as we walk by! It is just adorable!

Check out the views of our walk around the block...

Maxie & Zsa Zsa:

The lakes even have ducks and geese! Maxie likes to bark at them as we walk by...I think she is just telling them "Hello duckies! How are you today?"!!

Our walking path!

More views:

I hope you enjoyed our walk around the block as much as we do!!!

Happy Independence Day Belgium!!

Today we celebrate Independence Day in Belgium. After many years of territorial wars and religious disputes, Belgium gained independence from the Netherlands on July 21, 1831. Leopold I was chosen by the people as their ruler and a constitution was drawn up to recognize the newly independent land. Belgium was involved in World War I and World War II, but has remained an independent country. The current leader is King Albert II.

Belgium was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. It has prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the European Union. Tensions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy.

I find it interesting that in the Flemish areas of Belgium if you try to speak French you are frowned upon! The mutually accepted language is English! YAY!!!! Oh and by the way...I am about to start taking French again! Bon jour!

Happy Independence Day!!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Budapest, Hungary

I have to be honest and say I feel like I have not done anything exciting enough to post updates lately. Sounds silly...but true! However, I have a lot of activities coming up...so I am justifying it by resting up and doing some research on my upcoming trips! I have also been doing a lot of dog-sitting! I had Reese (JR & Carrie's pug) this past weekend. Now I have Zsa Zsa back for 2 weeks! Maxie is enjoying all of the company!

The week of August 6th I am heading to Budapest, Hungary! I am so excited because it is a place I have never been! We are only going to be there for the week but we are staying the next weekend to get in some site seeing time! Did you know that there is not a city named "Budapest"? It is actually 2 cities separated by a river. One city is named "Buda" and the other one is "Pest". I am not sure which we will be staying in...but this should be fun!

Just in case you need a geography lesson to see where Hungary is...see below!

Jennie will be here August 19th and we are heading to Paris, London, and a couple of cities in Scotland! I am sooooo excited about her visit and counting down the days...30 to be exact!!!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Best Friends!

Sorry for the delay in posting updates....but I have been trying to get caught up on some sleep since my mom and cousin left. I went to bed early every night last week and I do not think I am completely rested up! I need some energy! I am sure it has something to do with this crazy weather.....it was in the 60s today and, of course, raining! This past weekend was gorgeous....mid-70s and sunshine!!

Maxie and I have an exciting week! I am dog-sitting for my friend Pam who is in the States and her husband is traveling. Zsa Zsa arrived last night and will be here until Thursday! Then, Reese (JR and Carrie's Pug) will be here Friday to Sunday! Maxie is going to have so much fun playing with her little friends!

Check out her and The Zsa! Can you pick out which one is Maxie??

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summer in Brussels??

It is July 3rd here is Brussels, Belgium and the temperature outside is 55 degrees! Can you believe that? I keep forgetting that we are in the middle of summer over here until I look at a calendar. I am used to Memphis weather and it being in the mid 90s and high humidity! Although I do not miss the hot weather, it is still very weird for me to wear Fall clothes in the middle of Summer! I want to wear my flip-flops and I can't!!!!!

Check out the 10 day forecast on weather.com (http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/tenday/BEXX0005?from=36hr_topnav_business) and see what I am talking about! It is unbelievable!

Also, it has rained here almost everyday! I arrived in April and the weather was gorgeous...sunny skies and mid 70s for almost a month! I kept wondering why everyone complained about Brussels weather....that is, until now! Supposedly we set a record in April with over 34 days without rain! I think we are making up for it now. It is so weird to see sunny skies one minute then a dark cloud comes out of no where...and the rain comes! Let's hope it starts to warm up a little before Fall arrives.

Monday, July 2, 2007

My First Visitors!!!

I have been in Brussels for about 3 months now and I finally got to host my first visitors! I was SO excited to see Mom and my cousin Kristen! Dad did not receive his passport so was unable to make the trip. We were very sad not to have him with us, but he will get here eventually! It was good timing for Mom to be here considering Maxie had her paw surgery on Saturday and I needed help holding her down to the post-surgery treatment I had to do!! Mom has not seen Maxie since April....and I think she misses her more than me....so they were both excited to see each other!

We had such a good time hanging out, cooking, eating, watching movies and seeing the sites! Kristen is 12 now and this was her first trip to Europe! Needless to say...she will be back! She was so fascinated by all the history and had a million questions that I could not answer. She also loved all of the shopping and chocolate, of course!

After Mom and Kristen recuperated from jet-lag we hit the ground running! We took the train to Paris and spent a couple of days playing tourist. Mom insisted we take Maxie to Paris...and I, of course, agreed...so Maxie got to experience Paris with us! Mom and I have been to Paris before but it was Kristen's (and Maxie's) first time! We left exhausted but she got to see everything they wanted to see and we also got to eat at my favorite Italian restaurant. Here are a couple of pics:

Once we got back from Paris we spent a day recovering in Brussels then headed off to Brugge. We loved Brugge!!! Compared to Paris, it is so quiet and calm! We took a carriage ride through the city! Brugge is known as the "Venice of the North" due to canals flowing through the center of town so we also took a little boat ride through the canals. We had a ball!

Once we got back from Brugge we went and saw a few things around Brussels. We all really enjoyed a place called Mini-Europe! It contains a walk through the countries of Europe and miniature replicas of famous sites in each country. It was really cool and quite a learning experience for all of us! Here are a few pics of some of the most famous!

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France:

Flower Carpet in the Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium:

Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy:

Big Ben in London, England:

It was so good to have Mom and Kristen here and I miss them already!!!!!