13 July 2009, Monday
This morning started out like all others, with a nice breakfast. Breakfasts here in Belgium are a little different than what we are used to at home in the United States. The assortment of choices could be compared to what we would have for lunch, yet we all are enjoying the subtle differences between the cultures. This morning we were offered an assortment of breads and rolls (your Auntie Heidi’s favorite is one of our daily choices), several different cold-cut meats and cheeses, fresh preserves, peanut butter, chocolate sprinkles, yogurt, and fresh fruit. We are offered quite a spread each morning, and love to select different things each day.
Following breakfast, your Nana and daddy hopped into the car with Marcel to go to the bank to cash some traveler’s checks just down the street at the local bank. Unfortunately, small banks no longer cash traveler’s checks, so they headed off to Antwerp to a much bigger bank hoping for better luck. Unfortunately, again they were told that the bank no longer cashes traveler’s checks. The trio was told to visit a small kiosk around the corner, which they did and finally they had success! I am not sure when the banks over here stopped accepting traveler’s checks, but this is rather disconcerting. Daddy did not have all of our traveler’s checks with him, so I am hoping that the next time we need to get some money we won’t have this much of a hassle… this time we know just where to go.
Today Marcel had to work, and there is a rather interesting story attached to his interesting job. In the back of Marcel and Melanie’s house is a warehouse that they used for their former business. They sold various condiments, pickles, pickled vegetables, French fries (fritters), and small frozen meats to local French fry stands and small restaurants all over northern Belgium. Marcel’s favorite aspect of the business was driving the van for deliveries. He loved that part of the job because it gave him the opportunity to travel all over the countryside, driving from town to town. A few years ago though, it was time for Marcel & Melanie to retire, so they sold the business. Though retirement was nice, Marcel missed the traveling around the countryside making his deliveries. So, he soon looked for another opportunity to do just that, only part-time, because after all, he was retired (he did enjoy some of his relaxation and freedom from a constant schedule).
Soon, the prefect job came calling, and he jumped at the chance to be working again, delivering and driving through the countryside. His new job entailed driving from little farms, picking up a package and delivering the package to another farm. The contents of the “packages”… pig semen. Apparently, pigs are pretty big business out here, but the little farms are unable to do the “job” themselves, so… Marcel is the middleman. He loves his new job because just like the first, it gives him the opportunity to travel all over the countryside, driving from town to town. It might be a strange job, but somebody’s got to do it!
Now, back to our day. Later in the afternoon, after Marcel was finished working, we packed up some things and piled in the car to drive to southern Belgium were we will stay in a nice little cottage for a few days. The drive took us about two hours and was simply gorgeous. Of particular interest was the definite dividing line where the Flemish speaking northern Belgium gave way to the French speaking southern Belgium. I never realized that there was such a definite dividing line, but on the road with the road signs, it was very apparent. Just before we arrived at our destination we stopped at a fritter stand to rehydrate and eat a little snack. Although we didn’t end up eating dinner, we did enjoy a nice appetizer of fritters and sausages (yes, Papa Shoo, we thought about you!). They tasted wonderful and were just what we needed to recharge our batteries for the rest of the trip south.
We eventually made it to our destination, a little town called Wibrin, which is located close to Houffalize. Wilbrin is a quiet farming town in the middle of the countryside. In the backyard there are large pastures and forests in the distance, not a house in sight. We are staying in an adorable little house with enough beds for all of us to sleep comfortably. It is simply gorgeous, quaint, quiet and peaceful. Just the place to enjoy a few days. After a delicious dinner and a gorgeous sunset, you and Nana went away to the cute little room that you two are sharing during our stay here. Lucky little you, having a slumber party with Nana… don’t keep her up too late!
Here are a few more photos from today...
Two cool freeway structures in southern Belgium,
Lights through the tunnel,
Negotiating with Nana and Melanie what you would like to eat and drink,
Hanging out at the friture store,
Your mommy and daddy at the cottage,
You and daddy in the back yard of the cottage, wow how beautiful!
Love you little girl,
18 hours ago