Monday, June 29, 2009


(I might get in trouble for this...)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Porte de Namur Street Party

For the past 2 days there has been a massive street party, right outside my window. Streets blocked off, the smell of grilling meat, masses of people, mostly Congolese, swirling through the neighborhood. It's been quite something.

There have been bad parts, deafening music, mostly African (I assume West African), one song blending into another for hours and hours. Fighting our way through the crowds, Miguel and I lost each other on a number of occasions. Having to keep a close eye on ALL belongings, moreso than usual. Also, the fish they grill smells like the salt fish in the stores around here, like fish that's been dead for a long time...

There have been interesting/funny parts. Looking at knockoff bags (sorry, I will not buy a Gussaci bag, no matter how "authentic" you claim it is), interesting outfits and some fun music. Just tonight they played "Beat It" and as we watched out the window, a guy on the street started dancing, the actual choreography, MJ's choreography! A crowd gathered almost immediately, and began clapping and cheering, and then, offering money. All of these people, waving 5, 10, 20 euro bills at him, not unlike one would do at a strip club (not like I know about that from experience...) and he took the money! Apparently it's a sign of appreciation.

I have to say, there is MAJOR respect for famous African Americans here. Obama is practically idolized, and it seems there is some serious appreciation for Michael Jackson here. So maybe, just maybe, we're not so different after all.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Picture of the day...

This is what you can do with cupcakes and googly eyes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Warning, it's a long one!

I'm now back in Brussels (have been for a week) after my trip home to the US and my mini-break in Dublin and London.

It was such a treat being back home, especially since I hadn't been in 5 months! My room, my house, my family, my friends, nothing had really changed. I did notice a few odd things though: For starters, my bed seemed very high and the toilets seemed low. I tried many times to race up the stairs to where my room is, to no avail. I always tripped on the last step or two, it seems my legs/feet forgot how many there were. Getting back into driving was easier than I expected, and not nearly so nerve wracking as I was prepared for.

I went into Washington, DC a few times, and felt as though I was seeing the city through different eyes. It was clean and inviting. Familiar, but fresh. It made me look forward to moving back there eventually. I think part of the change has to be in some way related to our wonderful new president, Mr. Obama. This was the first time I had been in the country with him as president, and it made me feel very proud, and more patriotic than I have been in years.

Two weeks passed very quickly, and then it was time for "The Great Schlepp." I packed my bags, one big, one small, and was driven to the airport by my parents. After checking my luggage (not too heavy for this flight) I went to my gate. Imagine my joy when I found out that my Aer Lingus flight had scheduled a last minute stop in Boston on the way to Dublin. This was just dandy, especially since on the way to DC from Dublin we had to stop in Shannon because something was wrong with the plane. But oh well, so Boston it was.

We gained quite a few more passengers there, including 2, who took the seats next to me. I was in the middle row where there are 4 seats, and this was a mother and child, and they took up the remaining 3. They couldn't leave me one freakin barrier seat. So I immediately started building up my grudge against them. The woman asked me if I would be willing to swap seats with her husband, who was in the row behind us (after I finished watching my movie, she suggested). I agreed, since he had an empty seat next to him.

So this sparked a conversation between us, and it turns out she wasn't SO bad. She and her husband were American, going to their house in Ireland. She had taken a sleeping pill and brought with her a thermos of white wine, which she had gotten from a post-security airport restaurant. She seemed quite tipsy as it was, and offered me a couple glasses, which, how could I refuse? She basically told me her whole life story (having adopted her daughter from Russia, how she didn't really like the American world view, etc.) before passing out. I never did swap with her husband, both were asleep before I could get back to my movie and finish it.

We landed in Dublin a few short hours later, and surprisingly, getting through the passport check/customs was a breeze. I then found Siobhan's dad without too much trouble, and we were on our way to their house. We arrived, and I was famished and exhausted. He grilled me a couple rashers of bacon, I made some scrambled eggs, and we had some toast and tea to go with it. It was just what I needed. I then retreated up to my room for a good couple hours of naptime.

I spent the majority of the rest of the day watching tv and hanging out, waiting for Siobhan to get home from work. When she did get home we had a light dinner and went to see a movie, Last Chance Harvey with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. It was a nice movie, though nothing spectacular.

The next day I took the bus into town and caught a glmpse of this odd jacket on the guy in front of me. It looks like it would be ideal for a motorcyclist, but he was riding the bus... Anyway, I spent the afternoon wandering all over Dublin, listening to random buskers and then meeting up with Miguel's Aunt Joan and cousin, Maureen. We had a drink in a cafe, chatted, and by then it was time for me to go meet Siobhan and get home. We got a ride from her sister, which was very nice, and then decided to have a girly night in. We got some popcorn, some Rock Shandy and a copy of Bride Wars. We also brought her dog, Bob in to watch with us. He kept staring at me, and his stare was not unlike the dramatic chipmunk on youtube.

Early the next morning we were off to London! We got a taxi about 7:15am, picked up Bronagh and we were on our way! I miraculously didn't have to pay anything extra for my luggage and we made our way to McDonald's for the breakfast of champions, and then to the flight.

We arrived in London Heathrow, and of course, the Tube was down because of a strike. One painfully expensive cab ride later, we were at our hostel! (which was right by St. Peter's Cathedral) We went to a cheap place for some lunch and hunt out back at the hostel for a few hours. Hey, we were tired! We then got all dolled up to go to dinner and the Britney Spears concert. To those of you who are judging me right now, I fart in your general direction.

We had some good food at Ye Olde Cock Tavern (no joke). I had fish and chips, and we all shared a pitcher of some cocktail I can't remember. Then we were off to find the bus that would take us to the O2 stadium (fuckin tube). It took a year and a mitvach to get there, by which time we had missed Ciara. Eh, no big deal. Brit Brit was the main attraction. Too bad our seats were in the last possible row!We could still see (in was a concert in a round) but not well enough, and there was no big projection screen (big mistake O2). Still, it was a fun concert!

We got lost on the way home and wandered for about 45 minutes before getting back to our (very nearby) hostel where 2 other girls, Emer and Mairead were waiting for us. We had a chill night so we would be rested up for the next day. The Tube was back up and running, but we decided walking was better, and so we wandered all over the city before returning to the city. The girls went to see Avenue Q (which I had seen) and because I didn't have a lot of money, I stayed in and had a nice evening in. (I was still jet lagged, after all.) I did go out for an evening walk to take some pictures:
The next day we walked all the way down to the West Bank, saw loads of street performers, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, etc. I'm afraid those pics will have to come later, seeing as this is already the longest blog entry in the history of the world. And no, I have never exaggerated in my entire life. I hope you managed to get through this post, if you have, congrats! You win!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

So I'm back in the States and have been for 2 weeks now. I'm back in Europe on as of Tuesday and back in Brussels as of Saturday the 13th.

I've had a good time being back, I have grocery shopped (and ate) to my heart's content, watched a bit too much tv, seen lots of friends,
attended one wedding...

and have seen 3 movies (thus far).
-The Soloist- wonderful, moving, true story
-The Hangover- hilarious, silly, entertaining
-Drag me to Hell- scary, funny, campy, wonderful
And tomrorow I'm going to see Up (the new Disney/Pixar film).

I have also done a good bit of shopping for "necessities." It's been a good time, but I'm looking forward to my triumphant return to Europe (and to Miguel). And now it's less than 4 months to OUR wedding, how crazy is that?