It is time for another post. Since we last posted in December several things have happened. Work is going great, I am really enjoying everything I do and most importantly the people I am working with. In December and January my parents visited and we did some traveling. We did a 3 day weekend in Paris and then I went TDY to NATO for 30 days. I have to say that it is pretty cool walking into work everyday at a place that has so much history.
Towards mid February we made a trip to Westvleteren, Belgium and got 2 cases of the #1 ranked beer in the world (Westsvleteren 12). It is not my favorite but it is not bad by any means. Elizabeth on the other hand loves it. We have done quite a bit more traveling as well. We have seen Luxembourg, Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge), and we just got back from Budapest and then we did the Tulip festival outside of Amsterdam. The kids are getting pretty good at geography and are constantly asking if we can go to new places around the world. While in Luxembourg we were walking past an Asian family and Mark, out of nowhere, raised his hand and said konichiwa! The Japanese family absolutely loved it! They are getting exposed to so much that we could never offer if we were in the states. They are both doing well in school and their french has really excelled.
My motorcycle is coming together little by little. I have most recently ordered some parts from the Ukraine and then Russia. We also made a trip to the American Motorcycle Museum in the Netherlands and I picked up some parts there as well. I still have a ways to go but I am hoping for it to be drive-able in August or September. I have joined a motorcycle club and everyone has been very helpful with how to reassemble these old bikes. It is nice to see everyone that has the same interest in getting these things back on the road like I do.
Probably the most exciting thing that has happened to us not only here but while we have been in the foreign service is we had the opportunity to meet the president. President Obama shook Mark’s, Elizabeth’s and my hand and one of his aids took a baseball from Grace and me for the president to sign. It was a really special experience to get to meet our president no matter what your politics are and it is something that my kids will take with them for their entire life.
Most recently we just got back from Budapest, Hungary. I had a training there for a week and we decided to make a family vacation out of it. So Elizabeth and the kids went around and saw the city while I was in class everyday. Budapest is a totally awesome city. I think it is one of my favorite places I have ever been. Very pretty, so much to do, excellent food, and very cheap in comparison to Brussels. I would love to go back there sometime but there are just so many other places we have not been yet it will be tough to do while we are in Europe this time…maybe next time around.
Finally. we most recently went to Noordoostpolder, Netherlands where we drove around a 100km route and toured fields of tulips growing all over. It was beautiful and our Mark and Grace got to pick flowers and take pictures. It was well worth the 2.5 hours in the car to go visit something that only happens for about 2 weeks a year. Imagine what the cornfields in Iowa/Illinois look like but instead it is beautiful brightly colored flowers.
If you are still reading this you can tell that we are havinga great time and enjoying every minute of our journey. We are doing great, the kids are doing wonderful and we are looking forward to finding out where we are going next. We have a little bit over a year left in Brussels and plan on taking full advantage of our location. We still have Barcelona, Normandy, London, The Hague as well as one or two others we would like to squeeze in. We are also looking forward to several guests coming this summer and in the fall.
The Neels Family