We have really started to settle in to the Belgian culture. Elizabeth just mentioned that this place is really starting to feel like home. Just in time for us to find out where we are going next, right? At first it was very hard to find food we liked and especially to something that wasn’t crazy expensive. (2 pizzas, two 2-liters of pop, and a beer cost us around 65 Euro or $90 from Pizza Hut). Since then we have set out to go to more Flemish restaurants and eating local Cuisine. i.e. Moules (Mussels). Mark and Grace love vol-au-vent or biscuits with chicken and gravy, and we have recently found some of the best pizza I have ever had and $40 can feed a family of 4. So it is safe to say we like it more and more here in Belgium.
We have not been traveling outside Belgium too much this past couple months. We have really been trying to see as much as we can locally and engulf ourselves into “local life” The few short trips we have done are:
Something that we have wanted to do but have been putting off was a tour of Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge Tour). We finally made it on my birthday this year. WOW!!! It was very moving to go see foxholes and hear stories how the Americans liberated Belgium during WWII. The memorial is stunning and the entire experience was quite surreal. We got to see actual foxholes where soldiers were “dug in” facing off with the German forces. (Grace was quite scared there were actual foxes in the holes) With the anniversary of the war coming up this year we will definitely be back here.
Mechelen Belgium is quickly becoming one of our favorite spots. It is a Flemish city and it was founded in the 3rd and 4rth Century around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. There is great shopping and feels very quaint and not overrun with tourists except for us.
We visited Villers Abbey which was formed and built around 1176, then abandoned in 1796 during the French Revolution. It was a great day trip and we ended up getting some cool pictures. Definitely worth checking out if you are ever wandering the Belgian countryside.
We also got to experience the flower carpet that is displayed in Grand Place every other year in Brussels. We went down there every day for 4 days straight. It was truly amazing. This year it was to commemorate “50 Years of Turkish and Moroccan Immigration in Belgium” and it was more impressive than I ever thought it would be.
Other local events that we have been doing…I won 3 cases of beer from one of my favorite breweries, 3 Fonteinen. I submitted a photo of the kids supporting the Red Devils soccer team and got the most likes on Facebook so I won some outstanding beer. Good deal right?
Work is going well. I organized the display of a 1942 WLA WWII Harley Davidson to be displayed in the embassy for the month of June and some of July. There was a nice little appreciation ceremony and it was great to display some of the awesome military vehicles that are available here.
Probably the most exciting thing that has happened to us is that we found out where we are going next. This figures since this post is all about us settling in and living in the Belgian culture. I cannot tell everyone enough how much we are going to miss Belgium. We have truly made some lifelong friends here and experienced some amazing things. So without ado, The Neels Family will be living and blogging from SEOUL, KOREA!!!! This was Mark’s number one place he wanted to go since he believes we can get as much sushi as possible there. This is a wonderful post for experiencing culture and the most important thing we were hoping for is that it is safe and has great schooling. Career wise it looks great and there will be plenty of awesome travel and opportunities to experience another culture. This, in the end, is why we do this.