After we got home from London, we unpacked and settled back into our apartment by cleaning out the fridge of the perishables that perished. It felt good to be back and it helped that the sun was finally out so the day got quite warm. We enjoyed ourselves. The next morning as I was getting ready to go to school, my teacher texted me that she was sick so I spent the day lounging and pretty much doing nothing. It was great! Unfortunately, that teacher is now heading to Norwich for four weeks so I will once again have to work with a substitute. But I have high hopes that it will work out all right.
I’m also signing up for a Spanish course that will last from February until June. It will take place two times a week and I think it will help me fill up my time with something productive. I’ve been practicing my Spanish by listening to podcasts and using workbooks but I have still been a bit frustrated learning Spanish because of the common use of Catalan in our schools and on the streets. But I am quickly learning to differentiate the two languages and picking up more and more as I do that.
This past weekend, Andy and I flew to Belgium to visit with one of his very best friends, Fred. Andy met Fred in high school because Fred was on an exchange and they’ve been good friends ever since. To save money, we flew into Madrid first and then caught a flight to Brussels. We didn’t realize that Fred lives about an hour outside Brussels in the countryside but he was kind enough to drive and pick us up. When we arrived, we found ourselves in a gorgeous farm home that was renovated five years ago. We have a bedroom on the third floor to ourselves with a fabulous skylight.
Fred and his girlfriend Leslie made a delicious fondue dinner for us that first night using a hot plate of sorts and individual pans that we filled with cheese, cornichons, mushrooms and meat for the meat eaters. We also had really tasty Belgian beer that I had been looking forward to for a long time. That night, Andy and I went out with Fred to a town about 30 minutes from Fred’s house and partied with his friends until after 3 am on a very bust street filled with bars and clubs. As we were leaving, a big pack of policemen ran down the street and then when we were walking to the car, we saw at least four different police cars rush toward the craziness. I have no idea what was going on but there were for sure enough drunk people around to cause problems.
The next day, we took a road trip to Germany (about 30 minutes away) and visited the town of Aachen. We ate doughnuts in the rain and wandered around looking in the windows of all the shops. We also went to the cathedral where Charlemagne is buried in a gold coffin. The cathedral’s ceiling was covered by bits of tile mosaic and some of the pieces were real gold. It was an impressive place and I snuck a few photos. Because of the rain, we stayed inside on Sunday and only left the house to go to the bakery that smelled divine and I got my first hint of the famous Belgium chocolates while I drooled over the treats. We left with only fresh bread to make sandwiches for lunch. The baguettes in Belgium are definitely the best I have had thus far. As it rained outside, we stayed in and watched the movie Cars and played guitar hero, tennis and bowling on the Wii.
On our last day, we went out to a classy Italian restaurant and ate big bowls of delicious pasta. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a vegetarian option available but the waiter was more than happy to create a dish for me that turned out wonderful. The next day, Andy and I spent about 12 hours traveling including a 6-hour lay over in the Madrid airport but luckily Andy brought his computer so we watched movies and in between I jumped around the terminals and stretched out. It was actually more pleasant than I thought possible. We made it home by 8:30 Tuesday night and got back into our routine.