Thursday, June 18, 2015

C'est Fin


It's over.

I just wanted to post an update blog on the last two months of my time in Brussels and elsewhere.

Since my last post I have had my parents here and my girlfriend, who I am with at the time of this post. Before continuing, I feel it is necessary to say that there are some missing accent marks on many of these non-English words. I apologize in advance.

Seeing my parents was indescribably relieving. When I saw them in the airport I wanted to cry. As an only child, they are my closest friends. So you can imagine how much I missed them. For the two weeks they were in Europe, they rented and apartment. Because those two weeks corresponded with the spring break of my university, I was with them the entire time. While most of my friends were traveling and relaxing, I was working at the European Parliament for my internship. Luckily, the apartment my mom booked was an 8 minute walk from the Parliament. I was able to walk through Parc Leopold every morning to the office. It was SO convenient and pretty, since it was spring and just beginning to warm up.

We were able to travel on the weekends while they were in Brussels. The first weekend we went to Paris. It was a bit rainy, but that didn't stop us from doing a crash course in Parisian sightseeing. We skipped the Louvre and Versailles, but hit almost everything else. My favorite experience, by far, in Paris was the Catacombs. Despite the two hour wait, the experience was incredible. I tried to take a bone for my roommate, Garrett, but chickened out. We ate atop the Centre Pompidou at a great restaurant, where I tried caviar and cognac for the first time. I'll keep eating caviar, but that cognac stuff I'll stay away from.

The next weekend we went to Haarlem in the Netherlands. A much better place to vacation in the Netherlands than Amsterdam. We went to see the tulips at Keukenhof Gardens, only to find out we were there a bit too early. Nonetheless, the gardens were beautiful and there were still plenty of early tulips! It made mom happy, she loves flowers :). We went to an old museum (fifth oldest in the Netherlands) which was right next door to our 17th century apartment right on the canal. There was also a great market that we went to in the old town square in the shadow of the cathedral turned protestant church. We had the best stroop waffles and fresh squeezed juices. To help clear his shelf, a man selling pastries gave me an offer I couldn't refuse and ended up with WAY too many pastries.

And for the final weekend that my parents were in Europe, we went to Barcelona for my mothers birthday weekend. We only made it after missing our orignial flight and spening too much for another. The stress got to mom and made her sickly. I felt bad for her and there was nothing we could really do. But once we where there it was all better! WE  LOVED BARCELONA. We went to several works by Antoni Gaudi, including La Segrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and La Pedrera. It was fun seeing dad in these places. He had studied these things and now finally as inside of them. In fact, he was fun for that reason during the whole trip. He pointed out so many things I never would have noticed about the architecture in different places. On mom's birthday we sat our on the wisteria covered balcony connected to my room and sipped mojitos (the best I've ever had). We then went to the best dinner I have ever had for her birthday meal. Just a sampling of the fare: Frozen Passions Fruit mojitos made with liquid nitrogen, sweet corn tacos with foie gras  and mole ice cream, and a curry of tuna skin and flesh with a "lightly tangy consomme. In total it was a 16 course tasting menu with wine parings for each course. It was phenomenal.

We also spent the weekdays in Brussels. I went to work at the Parliament, they got to play and go to Bruges one day. I would come home and we would go eat and hang out around Brussels and in the apartment. We ate Indian food quite a bit at a place called Spicy Grill! Ha! It was a blessing to have them with me for those weeks and it was one of the happiest times of my life thus far.

Since then my girlfriend has arrived and we travel to Norway, Hungary, Turkey, and Greece. I would write about this, but it isn't part of my study abroad experience. But going to these places was one of the coolest things I have ever done. Unfortunately, I dropped my phone in water and lost most of my photos from my five months abroad. Still thinking of ways to recover them, but that explains why there are no photos on this post.

These last months have made me realize how special all of this was and how sad I am for it to be coming to an end. The people that were on the trip were all great and the trips that I had amazing. I am ready to be home, but I will miss Europe.

Until next time,