Wednesday, May 18, 2011


One of our profs here, Philippe, is from this town in the southern half of Belgium called Namur. Namur's about 2 train stops from Ottignies, the "big" gare (train station) 6 minutes from Louvain-la-Neuve. Pretty much if you want to go anywhere from Louvain-la-Neuve, you hop a train to Ottignies (it's probably a 6 minute ride) and switch at the station there. It's slightly smaller than North Charleston, and has a river and a citadel. As a treat, Philippe took us to his hometown and showed us around, because he's such an awesome guy! Prepare yourself for a bajillion pictures.

This is a part of the Citadel. I have no idea which part exactly it is, but it's part of it, hahaha. We had to climb a bajillion steps up a mountain to get there, so by the time we arrived at the top I was way too out of breath to pay attention to those kinds of things.

The city of Namur, as seen from on the Citadel. Chouette, isn't it? (that's French for "cool")

We also visited the citadel perfumerie. Why is there a perfumerie in a citadel, you ask? I'll tell you. The guy who started the perfumerie needed a place to keep his fragrances cold while they were in production. It gets really expensive to rent out industrial freezers, so why not just buy a space in the side of a mountain that's pretty much the equivalent of a wine cellar? Smart guy. That's Mike and Eliana, by the way. It looks like a warm, gorgeous day outside, but it was actually a freezing gorgeous day.

Nick, Karen and I had lunch at a little café in the town square while everyone else was lame and went to Pizza Hut. This is Karen here with her orvalette, a traditional Belgian dish. Orvalette is pretty much the same thing as tartiflette (a traditional French dish with potatoes and cheesy sauce), only they also put in BEER GRAVY. Needless to say, I ended up eating half of Karen's plate.

This is St. Aubin's Cathedral, a giant baroque church that WE DIDN'T GET TO GO IN. Do you know how sad my heart was? Y'all know how I love churches.

And here is Nick, sitting in the King of Fools' throne. Karen explained to us the deal about the king of fools: they crown a new one every year at some festival, and that's his throne. On the back of the seat of the king of fools is a statue of this guy Nicolas Bosret. Coincidence? I think not.

Namur is cool. It's quiet, it's cozy, it's got good food. What's not to love?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Back to Deutschland!

When we came back from Greece, we flew in again to Germany, which meant more time spent invading Nick's house. This time we mixed it up a bit and brought Karen along. We only stayed a day, but oh what a marvelous day it was. Actual showers and actual beds and POPEYE'S. Yeah. Nick's dad brought us Popeye's from base. I had never had Popeye's before and I was skeptical (as I am about every chicken joint that is not Bojangle's) but it was good. Oms noms noms.

We had a bit of an adventure at Nick's. There's an adorable baby goat that lives next door named Bobo that takes it upon himself to come frolic on the patio and play with the dog and eat Miss Lisa's flowers. He also likes to get in the house.

Yes, that was just an excuse to spam you with baby goat pictures.

We also went to the eiscafé down the road before getting on the train back home! Eiscafé = German for "ice cream parlor". Lots of fun ice cream was had: I had amaretto ice cream, Annie had curaçao ice cream, Karen had a banana split, and Nick had SPAGHETTI ICE CREAM MOST AWESOME THING EVER. No, it is not spaghetti flavored ice cream; that would be gross. They serve the ice cream in a way that makes it look like spaghetti noodles, and then they put strawberries or some other variety of red fruit on top to make it look like there's tomato sauce on top. It was super cute and we should import this to America.

All of us at the eiscafé!

And then Nick dropped us off at the station and we came back to Louvain-la-Neuve. Wee!

Yes, pretty much this post was an excuse to post pictures of baby goats.

Next up, Namur!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

En Grèce!

Hey guys! I am made of fail, I know, but here's part 2 of the Spring Break series, entitled "En Grèce" (which means "In Greece" in French)!

We flew out of Frankfurt, Germany to Volos, Greece, and from Volos hopped a bus to Athens. The group parted ways there: Anna, Megan, Nick and Grace went to Skiathos, and Annie, Karen, and I went to Santorini!

It's a 7 hour ferry ride from Athens to the port at Santorini. When I say "ferry" I mean "big freaking cruise ship". I have never been on a boat before and promptly freaked out on the inside. Y'all saw Titanic; don't play games/look at me like I'm crazy. Pretty much if your method of transportation is not a car, I don't trust it.

That's the island of Naxos, as seen from the deck of our boat. Naxos is still a good 2 hours from Santorini, so we had a while to go after this.

On the island we stayed in the touristy town of Perissa at Anny Studios, a really cool/pretty hostel run by an American guy from California.

That's our hostel! There were marble steps in front of our room. It rained one morning. I wore flip flops. Do you know how disastrous that was? I couldn't sit down comfortably for 2 days. It was sad but hilarious (in hindsight).

Fun thing about Perissa: BLACK SAND BEACH. By sand I actually mean "pebble", but WHATEVER.
Welcome to paradise, right? That first day, we got to the hostel, ran to our room, changed into our swimsuits, and promptly fell asleep on the beach for like 4 hours. Words cannot express how black I was when we woke up. Yikes.

A lot of the places on the island were closed because we weren't there during tourist season, but all the restaurants were still up and running. Let me just say: Greece = CHEAP FOOD. I was so happy. A plate that would have cost me €12-14 in Louvain-la-Neuve cost me €7 in Perissa. Thank you, terrible Greek economy! You saved my pocketbook from certain death. Below is a picture of Karen with one such plate.

On the day before we left the island, we went up to Oia and Fira, the two main tourist cities. They're the ones where all the buildings are white with blue circle roofs! SO PRETTY. I'm not even going to talk about it; I'm just going to post pictures.


Fira is also forever endeared to my heart because I found €20 on the ground there.

The view at Oia

If you can be unhappy in Oia and/or Fira and/or on the general island of Santorini, then you just need to go on ahead and end it. I'm a pretty grouchy person, and even I was like, "SO PRETTY WANT TO STAY FOREVER." Pretty much all the place was missing was a herd of unicorns.

We left the island (sadly) and went back to spend a day on the mainland in Athens! Again, I won't talk: I'll just post pictures.

FUN FACT ABOUT GREECE/ATHENS IN GENERAL: there are random orange/lemon trees EVERYWHERE. They're just on the side of the road, chillin', growing fruit. Don't believe me? I have proof.

See the oranges?

The Acropolis!

The Parthenon! There was a little kid behind me; his dad was trying to explain to him that the Parthenon was very very old, and the kid goes, "...why hasn't it broke yet?" Bahahahahahaha

And here's a picture of the Alps from our plane back to Germany!

Greece is a blast in a glass. I like it!

Updates are going to start picking up. I only have 12 more days left here in Belgium, and there's a lot I want to cover. Check back soon/often for more junk!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring Break part 1

I'm late. I know. But I'm always late so y'all should have expected as much.

The first stop on our Spring Break Tour was Börnsborg, Germany, where Nick's family lives. It's in a quiet little corner of Germany; to get there we took the train from Louvain-la-Neuve to Luxembourg, got on a bus at Luxembourg,and his mom picked us up at the station in Saarbrücken, Germany. There's all kinds of rolling hills and greenery around their place; it's really gorgeous and when we got there we took a walk.

Pretty, isn't it? We chilled out that night (travelling sucks, btw), and ate a lot and watched tv in English. Not even gonna lie, it was kind of nice.

Nick's family went on vacation to Spain shortly thereafter, so for the most part we had the house to ourselves. One day we sat in the house literally all day in our pajamas. Another morning, Nick got up, fired up the grill, and made us Bavarian breakfast (i.e., sausage and beer) which we ate out on the patio.

I want to say that particular beer was cristal weissen (I'm pants at spelling German). It was the noms, and it took me until we left that afternoon to finish it. We drove out to the Japanese garden! The Japanese Garden had just opened and not everything was blooming yet, but it was still gorgeous. The gift shop had tea cups that said 茶 on them which I found funny/snarky because 茶 reads "cha" which means "tea".

The next day was Homburg for shopping and castle ruin exploring!

After having my camera for the better part of 7 years I've finally learned how to work it to take awesome shots like that last one. Win!

It was pretty cool. There was also a tower that Annie and I tried to climb up, but we got to the top of the stairs and it was roped off. Thanks, Germany. Thanks.

After that, it was on to the airport to get to Athens!

I like Germany. I pick on a select few of my friends all the time because they're OBSESSED with the place (I'm looking at you; Patty), but having gone there myself I now am forced to take back SOME of my teasing. Not all of it. Not even half of it. More like 1/5 of it. But I'm still taking some of it back. Take what you can get.

Next time, it's Greece!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Χριστός Ανέστη !

The title of this post says "Christós Anésti", which is "Christ is risen" in Greek. Our Greek bros that we met on the ferry/cruise back to Athens taught us that that's how they greet each other during Easter times.

That being said, Happy Easter! Hope all y'all had a great day; I know I sure did! I did jack diddly squat, literally. I woke up, went to the grocery store, and spent the day watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Side note: that was my favorite movie as a kid, and now I'm watching it (at 21, mind you) and it's TERRIFYING. Seriously, SCARY.

We had Easter dinner round mine tonight, which was fun! I made (i.e., bought) crepes and ham, but I also made (as in, from scratch, by hand, etc.) béchamel sauce, which, if I say so myself, was delicious. I didn't have nutmeg (it was super expensive at the store), so I substituted cinnamon and it was just as good, if not better. Who's a culinary boss? I am.

Easter dinner! Eliana brought the vegetables, rice, and made the deviled eggs. Mike brought the wine and the Coke (and dessert, which is not pictured here), and Karen brought the beer. We will talk about the beer in a moment. See my sauce in the pot? Yayaaa.

Belgium has a lot of hang ups about beer. For example, you can only buy beer from one of the trappist abbeys once every 6 months, and it's illegal, literally against the law, to pour a beer into a glass that's not the brand's glass for that particular beer. You can't pour Chimay into a Rochefort glass, or Leffe into Guillotine. That being said, they also like to have fun with their beer, by which I mean there are beers for certain holidays. Every brand of Belgian beer I've run across has a Christmas beer (available obviously at Christmas time), and apparently there's Easter beers too! Karen was awesome enough to bring us the Leffe Easter beer for Easter dinner, and it was delicious. I'm a little biased though; I like Leffe best of all.

Aw yeah holiday beer yeah! That's Karen in the back :]

All in all, today was a good day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What? Tease!

Hey guys! I'm back from my bajillion day long vacation, feelin' all refreshed and lookin' all tan (read as, "darker than I've ever been in my life") and what not. I've been travelling for 2 weeks none stop, pretty much, and, needless to say, I've got a lot to talk about and even more pictures to show. I'm pretty sure I have upwards of 300 pictures from Greece and Germany, and since I definitely can't do all of those in one post here's what the plan's gonna be:

1. Easter post tomorrow
2. Germany post Monday or Tuesday
3. Greece post Wednesday or Friday

Here's a little teaser so you know what you're in for:

The Japanese Garden at Homburg

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Be jealous :p

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I made it!

I've made it to Greece! I'm currently fending off Mosquitos in the port café we're passing the night in before we catch the ferry to Santorini in the morning, but whatever: I'm here in one piece.

So Greece. The countryside is beautiful. The water's really beautiful. Athens? Sketchy. Sketchy looking and dirty. We think we may have found the nicer part of town on the train, but there was no time to investigate.

The ferry tomorrow is out at 7:55 in the morning, and it's SEVEN HOURS LONG. I will try not to cry. Y'all know I don't do water. After that, though, it's 4 days of beach and sun and wonderfulness. I'm excited.

Things I've Learned:
1: Greek food is cheap
2: Greek food is delicious
3: Greek food is filling
4: Greece is diverse. I've seen more different types of people here in 7 hours than I have in 4 months in Belgium