The Christmas markets of Luxembourg City were one of the first things I wrote about upon arriving here, so I felt compelled to bookend my one year anniversary by celebrating them again. They begin popping up around the end of November, so as not to sicken residents of the season months before it even arrives (see US shopping malls for comparison). They decorate a city which tends toward the grey and gloomy this time of year with light and activity, they fill the streets with festive shoppers long after normal shops have closed, and they have introduced me to the wonders of gluhwein and gromperekichelcher (which has taken most of the year just to learn how to pronounce).
We traveled to London two weeks ago for the Doctor Who 50th celebration, but all but one day was spent with friends doing non-Geek things. We toured some of the city on foot, checked out an amazing Christmas market on the Thames, and saw Book of Mormon. So it was not entirely touristy, but I still had my camera attached at my wrist and annoyed everyone with the amateur photo taking. So here is another slideshow, because your holidays wouldn’t be complete without it.
As a blogger who posts a lot of travel photos (the 21st Century equivalent of forcing your friends to watch your vacation slideshow) and vegan recipes (who doesn’t love those?), I am clearly quite in tune with the kinds of things that excite the interests of the public. So heed my warning here: If you are not a fellow geek or at least geek-friendly, then this will hold no interest for you. This is all about Doctor Who, the most amazing science fiction franchise of all time. Suck it, Star Trek!
The week prior to Halloween, my partner and I discovered there is an amusement park outside of Brussels called Walibi. The park was having a Halloween celebration, complete with zombies and “haunted” houses. We are both roller coaster fanatics; he has an appreciation for zombies and all things Halloween, so we couldn’t resist. It was also another excuse to get out and see more of Belgium. As an added bonus, half of a couple we have befriended here used to live in Brussels. They agreed not only to accompany us and show us around the city, but to drive as well. This trip was fairly impromptu, and–as a result–our goal was to have more of a relaxed exploration of the city. And also to drink beer.
For a year now, we have been just a few short hours away from some stunning Belgian cities (and even more stunning Belgian beer). However, I am ashamed to say that–other than a short stopover on our way to London last Christmas season and a few trips to Arlon for their Ikea–we haven’t really explored Belgium. So this past month, we began to rectify that, starting with a leisurely train ride and a long weekend stay in Ghent. The stay was originally to have included Bruges as well, but we ended up liking Ghent so much that we spent our entire weekend there. Those considering less obvious European travel destinations may want to give it a try; it has the culture, the castles, and the cathedrals. It has a 12th Century abbey. And did I mention the beer?
Sometimes I forget that I’m no longer a competitive debater (a high school activity I adored, but which sadly ended more than 20 years ago), and will spend more time than I care to admit engaging with total strangers about random topics (usually about religion, politics, or cooking). As a self-involved blogger, I sometimes find it necessary to post some of my rants here. Go me.
Sorry about the two month absence, guys (and by “guys” I mean “three people who actually read this”). Writing a blog is a lot of work, and sometimes I feel like I need a break. I recently started a new full time job, and being back in the corporate world has forced me to spend large chunks of free time relearning grammar and vocabulary (allegedly “calendar” and “impact” are now verbs, but “ask” is a noun. I digress). I have also been opting for studying French instead of spending hours of my free time writing a blog that only my mom might read. This allows me to speak entire sentences before the locals get impatient and speak back to me in English.
In any case, my partner spent around two months in July and August away from home, and part of that time he was in Amsterdam. So we opted to spend some time there. Again. I didn’t mind at all. Word to any friends or family who want to visit: I never mind visiting this city. I find something new about it to enjoy every time I’m there, so I will never tire of it. So if you want to put it on your list of must-see cities when you visit (and you must, or I shall be very cross), I will not mind. Here are the highlights: