Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
For the opening, they brought in the professional Big Boy, a tight-rope walker who made it from one side of Ladeuzeplein to the other, over the heads of a buzzing crowd, ending at the University Library steeple. No less than 200 meters, and with, I’m sure, quite a wind, up there all alone. In the introductory announcement, they laid all his cards on the table – Michel Menin, in his mid-60’s. He had done tight-rope walks more than 500 times, a true veteran. H. leaned over later and commented - It makes it all a little more boring to say he’s an expert. They should have told us he was an accountan who just discovered this new hobby after his retirement, and after he learned to manage his severe tremors, less than a year ago! I did plenty of nail-biting anyway.
My sister, at some point, wondered aloud if New York had anything like this – fun and cute, community-grown and community-oriented. I smiled. I don’t know, but it seems a bit unreplicable, even (or maybe especially) in the Big Apple. Authentic to my small, charming home.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
It's the little things that make life here different...
A little wine tasting with your groceries? Don't mind if I do.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The U.S. is big. Huge. And it’s a driving country. I know people from Ohio who hop in their cars every winter and drive to Colorado for the skiing – practically in one sitting. People who have driven literally all alone from the California coast to Tennessee without so much as a shrug. People in Philly with a little place on the coast of North Carolina. Ten hours’ drive. For a long weekend. No problem.
When H. proposed driving down to Corsica, my eyes got wide and I shook my head slowly. What? Drive? Are you serious? It must be, like, twenty hours. Through the entirety of France? That’s just not doable. It turns out, as Google maps showed me, it’s more than doable. It’s doable in a day. Well, friends, we did it. We left after work on Friday and drove to Strasbourg, then completed the trip the next day, between the mountains of Switzerland, heading down to Italy, through the rolling hills of Tuscany (if we squinted and waited for a part in the bushes, we could actually see the Leaning Tower of Pisa!), and finally to the port town of Livorno, where we (and our little two-door car) caught the ferry at 8 a.m. the next morning. And the drive, quite honestly, was beautiful. And doable.
Everyone talks about the differences in mentality when it comes to distances between Americans and Europeans, but the fact that southern France is reachable in a mere day still comes as a surprise – and strikes me as a romantic luxury. When we got back, our car dusty and ready for a break, H. nudged me and smiled. This opens up so many possibilities for travelling! he said. Prague is probably the same distance by car! He knows I’ve always wanted to visit Prague. And do you know? It’s even closer.
Monday, April 25, 2011
We drove down – wasted no time and left on Friday after work. For some reason, as the ferry brought us into the port of Bastia on a spectacularly sunny day, the short boat ride over from the coast of Italy, I was surprised at how incredibly beautiful it was. The whole island is just one amazing landscape after another, a patchwork of very small mountain towns that seem to be built into the green landscape, cascade off the jagged cliffs and nestle themselves into the nooks of valleys.
Driving in Corsica is not for the faint at heart. The roads twist and turn around the edges of the mountains, and, if you go fast enough to keep up with the natives, you’re flung from one side of the car to the other over and over again until you stop resisting. But every turn, every bend and every passageway, offers views that will take your breath away.
We went on two hikes while we were there, up and down the mountain ridges, explored hidden beaches where the water was so blue and so clear it makes you ache. The weather was not hot enough for bathing suits, but it was perfect, nonetheless, sunny and cloudless, with a breeze that kept the shady areas cool. And we did swim, once. We couldn’t stand not to, since we were there. We changed into our bathing suits the car and ran into the cold water. Goose bumpy and paddling to warm up. The tourist city of Calvi leaning over to us close by, rising off a mountain ridge, the color of sand, like the beach climbing vertical.
It was a lovely, lovely vacation. The weather held out for us, and on our last day, after our final half-day hike was over, it started to rain. We left the island in fog and rain, and drove back to a surprisingly summery Belgium. For now, after such a wonderful week, I feel like the sunshine is following us.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Later in the evening, after even more wine and beer, that same short, moustached man leaned over to us once again. This country's great for expats, he said. We live in an expat neighborhood here. We have a great community. In fact, you're practically the first true Belgian we've met! An expat neighborhood, I imagine, full of iron-gated houses and large, green gardens. They shake their heads when they discuss Belgian bureaucracy, and speak loudly to the postal carriers to compensate for not knowing French or Dutch. And why should they learn, after all? For many of them, this is stop number four or five on an endless string of relocations, a fleeting arrangement that will surely fold in on itself if they make any drastic movements towards permanency.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
We'll put that on the back-burner I said a few days ago to a man who sometimes apologizes for his English. Blank look. No. Scratch that. We're putting the breaks... Let's try to make it as simple as possible. We're putting this on hold...Stopping this for now...
It'll snowball... I might write, before deleting it and taking an extra minute - how else would I say it? It might become an issue...