Day Twelve: The schedule.

7:46AM: Where am I? What time is it? %**&%$! 
Forgot how to set alarm on new phone, wake up twenty minutes late. Rush through a shower anyway, you’re all welcome.

8:25AM: Breakfa…just kidding.
Forgot to buy soy milk too.

8:40AM: BONJOUR pain au chocolat.
The market on my block is dangerously full of pastries and cheap wine, and nearly all markets have a delicious homemade bread section. I just went for the cheapest (.60 euro) option, obviously.

8:45AM: *bip* *bip* *bip*
That’s me playing the absurd, midi-tone-filled game on my cell phone on the metro. Did I mention the phone cost 20 euros?

9:02AM: *bip*
That’s just the elevator. I’m on time-ish. Wait though, how crazy is this? The elevators aren’t enclosed!

9AM – 100PM: …
If you think we’re totally silent for four hours you’re nuts.

100PM: BONJOUR brie.
Lunch is jasmine rice with melted brie and breakfasty potatoes. There were also some leftover sweets from yesterday’s work picnic. I’m going away for the weekend so it’s leftover city for me. I also take a trip to the mall, again, during lunch. I need a blanket, okay? It’s cold, and I don’t want to sleep in my jacket anymore.

100PM – 600P: …
Crunch time, I actually am pretty quiet. There’s a Monday deadline and I might be away for the weekend.

600PM: Special boyfriend!!
Skype date time 🙂

615PM: I didn’t eat enough unhealthy food today. Let’s remedy this.
Two of the interns and myself hop on the metro to “The House of Haagen Daazs” to visit my roommate working there. Almost five euro to sit on the terrasse with one ‘boule’ of ice cream! That’s ball (like, just bigger than a golf ball), not bowl. But caramel cone explosion is SO GOOD.

730PM: Must. See. Gatsby.
No, not tonight. But on the long walk back to the metro, we pass a big theathre and it’s still showing… and I haven’t seen it! (Trishy, I hope you didn’t wait for me.) Now here’s the big question – what language will it be in? (Turns out it depends on what theatre you watch it in.) We’ll be back next week.

800PM: *bip* *bip* *boop* GETOVERHERE!
Metro. Not playing Mortal Kombat, but that would be funny, right? No? Fine, whatever.

830PM: Saiddd one two princes kneel before you, that’s what I said now…
Cooking dinner. The radio plays the WEIRDEST STUFF here, switching between that and French singers. Dinner was spinach and ricotta tortellini (fresh, obviously, because it’s cheaper) with peas and carrots.

845PM: Salut, comment s’est passée ta journée?
Roommate #1 back from Haagen-Daazs. I’ve been trying to work on my French with them. Some days are more successful than others. “I would have rather” was a tough one to translate. Facebook says it’s roommate #2’s birthday, so we whip together a chocolate cake in the microwave. She’s too clever.

1036PM: I don’t think she’s coming home… oops.
Sad cake on the counter. Almost time for another skype date with boy, and then with mom, and then zzzzz.

Note: This is not a typical food day for me, haha. Which just makes it all the more important to remember when I’m dreaming of cheap French cheese and fresh German ice cream.

WAIT WHAT? HAAGEN DAAZS IS AMERICAN?? I feel lied to.

In other news, shout out to my bestie in the whole wide world who is not turning fifty today. Happy birthday anyway! (And wish I had thought to send you an AARP card you old lady.) Miss you like crazy KG!

sistah from another mistah

Day Eleven: Le Chat Noir

Have you ever tried Meetup.com? I’ve used it once before back home, and I’d rate the experience 6/10. I had a much better time with the people I came with rather than meeting people who shared common interests. I decided to give it another go in Brussels, as they have an expat group meeting at the Musée d’Ixelles. My expectations were:

– To meet some young expats. American a bonus but not necessary.
– To meet someone to trade “can you BELIEVE they do that here!” stories with.
– To trade said stories in English.
– To enjoy some lovely art in the most cultured corner of the world.

See, the thing about expectations though…

– I was the youngest person there by psh, twenty years.
– I didn’t meet a single American. They were all European expats that I overheard talking. Which, like I said – bonus but not necessary.
– But in fact I didn’t meet anyone at all, as the group dispersed to take in the museum at their own pace. Which meant, if I so chose, I could walk up to someone and say HI my name is, and they’d be all, 0_o ?? becuase they might not be with our group.
– I didn’t hear a single person in the museum speaking English anyway.
– The French labels describing the different paintings were in way more advanced language than I have at my disposal. I found a packet that generally described why the rooms flowed the way they did, and why the Belgian artists were breaking from the traditional French styles, so I read that as I walked along.
– French artists, I’ve got your back. Matisse, Manet, Gaugin… infinitely better in my (however uncultured it may be) opinion.

Literally. Look at this thing. Who? The what? No.

Anyway, I appreciate what Meetup does, and maybe I’ll try it with des amies in the future. And it was cool to see some Toulouse-Lautrec pieces, the original Chat Noir, and posters from Jules Cheret, so thank you for that Ixelles. (You’ll recognize these Moulin-Rougey pictures from… every college poster sale.)

But I think I’ll stick with exploring the parks of Brussels this summer for now!

king leopold

king leopold II

Day Ten: I lose my tomatoes.

Across the street from our office is a park, which will simultaneously bear witness to prostitutes, young professionals walking (quickly) to lunch, parents pushing their kids on swings, teams of boys playing football, and little old ladies carting prams behind them. It’s quite the microcosm of diversity. One end is a man-made pond (using that definition loosely), and at the other is a playground. But in the middle… well, I’ll let you guess. Ready, set, go.

jenclinton/06252013

During my lunch break today, another intern and I went for a walk to the big Carrefour supermarket nearby. She needed supplies to bake cookies for tomorrow’s work picnic and I went along for moral support. I only brought my wallet, which was smart because I ended up picking up some cherry tomatoes, mozzarella (CHEAPY), and a basil plant for these little dudes. Trying to pick out a wine that would satisfy a diverse group of Europeans was a daunting idea, so I went for something simple. Turns out we “found enough bottles in the office kitchen” to obviate the need to buy some anyway – LOVE you Europe.

Now one of the things I expected about Belgium, along with the rest of this continent, is the heightened sustainability and environmental awareness. They keep their food waste to a minimum at home, have much better public transportation, and live in smaller spaces. Belgium was one of the first countries to implement marine spatial planning (my favorite, of course), and its neighbor to the north, Holland, can claim the title of “the original cool” partly because of their old-school use of windmills. I love that video, by the way, they totally won me over and I’m coming over to say hi.

Belgium’s recycling system is elaborate – different color bins/bags for different materials, they don’t couple outdoor trash bins with recycling ones, and have these Dugtrio looking things placed around the city to collect glass – but different colors go in different bins. Take me back to single stream!!

One of the sustainability features I simultaneously admire and get annoyed as heck about is that there are NO FREE PLASTIC BAGS. I mean it. They’ll charge you 5 or 10 cents, even when you realize after you paid that you forgot your reusable bag. The cashier will ring you up through the register again, no matter how long the line is. Not that I know from experience or anything, of course… anyway. So today, I didn’t even bring my purse to carry things home in, and I refused to pay for a stupid bag. I carried everything back to the office in my arms and ended up feeding cherry tomatoes to happy pigeons by accident. Guuuuh. I heard someone holler “TRISTE!” as they rolled everywhere, and I’m like yeah I get it, it IS sad, thanks for staring. I may also have been eating lunch and walking and talking at the same time. AKA I deserved it.

I tried to make myself feel like less of a tourist by dropping my bags when I got home, turning around and walking to the market a few doors down for a baguette and a bottle of red wine. It worked… and I didn’t drop a thing. I’m okay with happy pigeons, but not intoxicated ones. I think they’d be really sloppy drunks.

If you think reading about Europe & sustainability is cool (if you’re not my mother, I assume that why you’re here, haha), you should LOVE reading about Guatemala & sustainability! One of my friends and former interns is blogging about his summer in Central America putting his environmental engineering degree to good use. Read it here: http://skysetsail.tumblr.com/

Day Nine: Coffee.

I drank it. (What!)

Monday was fine.  We had a late afternoon work meeting on islands and climate change, so I needed to rally. It worked in my favor though, because we had company at our apartment after work and I wasn’t able to nap like I wanted to anyway. One of my roommates works for Haagen-Dazs, so she brought us home Liege waffles.

OhmyGOD the Liege waffles.

Instead of the sugar-coated ones I had, there are literal sugar cubes baked into this kind so that every bite feels like you’re crunching a spoonful of sugar. I mean that it in the best way possible? We put chocolate, pineapple, and strawberries on them (which is totally illegal, you’re supposed to eat them plain) to make the Belgian flag… photos to follow, of course.

I wanted to share some of the pictures I’ve been editing of my walking tours of Brussels (click for better viewing). Enjoy!

parc royal

parc royal

royal palace gardens

royal palace gardens

grand place

grand place

grand place

grand place

 

 

Day Seven & Eight: Playing tourist

After settling all my affairs Saturday, I hopped on the metro and let myself wander without a map throughout Brussels. There was a music festival going on this weekend, so if I stumbled into some live music – lovely. If I found a museum I wanted to try – probably better, because it’s raining again. And if I find waffles, you know what’s going to happen there. Just by following the sounds of music and random groups of people* I ended up smack dab in the middle of tourist country, Brussels.

I can’t even tell you the names of all the things I saw – I really do need a walking/biking tour to understand the rich history here. (Fun fact I did learn is that Belgium recently broke Iraq’s previous record for length of time existing without an official government in place. Ha!) At one point I managed to stumble into this gorgeous plaza with intricate, soaring buildings all around me. Statues and gilded pillars studded the facades, and people all around me were walking in slow circles with their camera above their heads. (What did we do before panorama mode?) I asked the nearest British tourist to please not laugh at me and tell me where I was – I had found Grand Place! (Don’t ask me what that means, though. Not yet.) I took pictures in zooms of three to show you some random details.

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Surrounding Grand Place are lots of famous chocolate shops, lacemakers, and countless restaurants. I stopped in one for a drink and chatted with the waiter trying to rope people into the restaurant. His 20-something friend stopped by, another waiter, and when he found out I was American, he bellowed, “OBAMAAA!!!” which of course made me happy. He asked me to come to his restaurant so he can make me a plate of mussels, and I could kindly please take it to “meester president obama” because he would be so honored to have the president eating his food. Don’t know how far past security I could get but hey, the thought counted.

Other major Saturday accomplishments included securing a local phone, my monthly metro pass, and walking around so much I was icing my ankles all night.

Sunday afternoon, I met two of the other interns for the market at Garde du Midi. This is the market I went to, very first thing after arriving in Belgium. I saw more of it this time, from the clothes to the wallpaper to the cutlery demonstrations and, of course, oh lordy the food. The expense for onion and garlic surprised me but I also got a pineapple and some bananas anyway. OH and those naan wraps, thank you anonymous internet tipster that told me find them. In the market there’s one really long booth close to the bridge where you can order custom-made naan wraps.  I got one with chevre, olives, artichokes, figs, sundried tomatoes, and an olive/pickle/celery mix. If it wasn’t so darn filling I would have had two. I also tried their tea – supersweet but the hot drink was good for a drizzly day.

Next I wandered around Avenue Louise, one of the shopping areas, afterwards. The Chanel store is looking very scottish-kilt-meets-grune-meets-80s-makeup-mannequin these days. We dropped into a super great cafe for lattes in the afternoon too, Workshop, and traded travel stories and baby pictures on Facebook. We also found some wonderful live music – I highly recommend you listen to some Gaëtan Streel. For different songs, he sounded like Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol, Jack Johnson, and Marcus Mumford. After our adventures, I trekked back to my new apartment, pineapple in tow, and learned the history of my new residence.

Which means… new house tour coming soon! In the meantime, here are some pictures from my two days of walking through the capital of Europe.

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*Yes, I did that. I look less like a target for thief-ing when I’m in a group, and if I hover just far enough back the group doesn’t notice

PS – If you want to read something much funnier than I will ever write on expat living… please please PLEASE read Oh God, My Wife is German. I was peeing my pants laughing at his wedding tips and the story of getting a haircut by a Turkish man in Germany.

Day Six: The three signs.

Happy weekend, kids. Let’s talk spirituality, shall we? (Seems like the only natural follow up to yesterday’s American table dance.)

My religious upbringing was Catholic, as was my university. I hesitate to use the “spiritual but not religious” tag that a lot of Americans use now, because it’s not quite true – I still love the community and camaraderie that you feel when church gets it right, though my beliefs have a bit more mixed in than before.  I believe in karma (see: yesterday’s episode with the waffle/whipped cream disaster), but I also believe God is very much here… in all things. Jesuits FTW.

So as I was visiting an apartment today, I heard God loud and clear three times in the course of fifteen minutes. Let’s start with the third and move backwards.

Sign #3
I turned the corner after leaving the house and stumbled upon a Greek food market, and I needed dinner. When I went in, I was greeted by an adorable old man, with eight round serving trays displayed in front of him. He was selling hand-made miniature pastries, each featuring different nuts. I had just come off of a full hour conversation in French so I decided to keep going, and I asked about his food. I taught him the English translations of pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts, and he assembled a tiny tray for me. He handed it over with a laugh, looked me square in the eye and said, “Tu vas rentrer demain, je te le promets.” You’ll come back tomorrow, I promise.

Weird, because that was the plan if I moved in. Demain.

"comme des oiseaux!" i said. like birds! (now i know a nest is 'un nid.') those are peanut eggs, to give you an idea of scale.

“comme des oiseaux!” i said. like birds! (now i know a nest is ‘un nid.’) those are peanut eggs, to give you an idea of scale.

Sign #2
The sweet French girl giving me a tour was in the kitchen trying to show me how the microwave works. It’s additive, rather than only being able to type in the one cook time. When she typed everything in and she pressed enter? 111.

Weird, because that’s my lucky number.

 

Sign #1
This was certainly not part of the online tour, but it just became the best surprise of all. Off the kitchen is a walled off garden (I can actually get in!), and at the end was a little shed. As we stepped outside past the roses and the benches, she asked, “Es-tu catholique?” I gave her a strange look as she pushed into the shed, and crossed herself. Oops, not a shed. It’s a shed sized chapel! I’ve never seen anything like it. It wasn’t much bigger than this.

gibbsbuilders.com

The chapel was made of cedar, so inside smelled… well, heavenly. The light fixtures were made of palm fronds, and there were fresh roses laid under the crucifix. I was sort of at a loss for words, in both languages.

I had justified my current living situation as a sanctuary from work and the noise of the city, but when I looked closer at the city, I found the real sanctuary waiting for me inside.

Just weird.

Day Five: ohmyGOD the waffles.

I found it again: the one sign in Belgium that says something about America. No ‘Eat American cheeseburgers!’ or ‘Buy American cars!’ Nope. This is what we’re known for.

america: you will never get dis.

america: you will never get dis.

On the walk after work today, another intern and I had an in depth conversation about sex workers. She’s from Amsterdam, and goes to school in Massachusetts. It came up because there’s a group of prostitutes that congregate on our street. One of them told me to VAMOOSE today, as if I could walk any faster than I was past the drunk old men watching them ANYWAY.

Amsterdam, red light district and all, did not prepare her for the American prevalence of strip clubs! Not even just how many there are, but how okay we seem to be with going to them, especially at our age. And to clarify, she said that’s not how we’re known, so I felt good about that. True confession, I’ve never been. Probably never will. I think they’re sleazy and nothing about it is amusing, so it’s not exactly on the bucket list. Therefore I was a bad person for her to ask about strip clubs, but I assured her that not all Americans are lap-dance happy. At least one of them isn’t anyway, haha.

Aside from all the sex talk, I hit a serious high and less-serious low today.

HIGH!!!

une gaufre avec de creme fraiche. OK FRENCHIES explain me this. who picked out noun genders? who decided there is something particularly feminine about waffles?

une gaufre avec de creme fraiche. OK FRENCHIES explain me this. who picked out noun genders? who decided there is something particularly feminine about waffles?

For the love of God and all that is holy. These. They’re like waffles on crack, baked to perfection and then cemented with a sugary coating, BEFORE you put chocolate or whipped cream or cherries on it. I will never buy frozen waffles again, thank you for changing my life in some small way Belgium.

Full disclosure: A few minutes later I tripped in my new shoes on the cobblestones and all the whipped cream slipped right off and into a puddle. Karmic payback for walking out of H&M earlier, when I was supposed to help this lady in line behind me with her BOGO deal by buying things together… long story. Sorry, lady. I lost my creme fraiche if it makes you sleep better.

‘Low’ didn’t get any pictures because it was me wandering around the city again, with a full bag of groceries*, my laptop bag, and my purse; then not only did it rain on me, but I was only fake-lost because my bus stop has been closed for the summer. GAH. So I had to ask for directions so many times, and when they spoke in French back I only half understood, hence the wandering. Thank the lord I met this wonderful bellhop on Bld du Jardin Botanique – he spoke French and English perfectly well, and he was somewhat delighted at my Franglish. (Is that a word? It is for this summer anyway. Englench is ugly.) I nearly hugged him when I left, and as I walked away three old ladies walked up to ask him directions too, haha. You did a good thing today, sir.

I was a minor stress case when I got home and I was a bit teary so I called boy and he helped me. (Thank you.) We’re going to solve these problems, and soon! I will (duh) keep you updated.

*At the grocery store part deux (I could only carry so much), I found another brand I recognized… Babybel! They also had Boursin, and “La vache qui rire”… Laughing cow. 🙂 Hopefully some of you learn some completely useless French phrases as a result of this blog. I have a problem with cheese, also, if you didn’t notice. I got some frozen vegetables to make a frittata (a la Mai, thank you for the idea and delicious dinner before I left) and some chicken, which is wrapped in these weirdo individual plastic boxes.

Oh well, I won’t be starving! Just lost.

More pictures from the day:

Day Four: The supermarket.

On the bus ride home today I realized just how completely my life has changed in ten days. I went from essentially having a 2 bedroom apartment to myself in the woods, to sharing with six people in a house in a neighborhood I’ve been told not to hang out in alone. I had a car and access to all my money; now I have public transit and a very small sum I’m making work for as long as possible. My shoes are pretty much all useless, my back hurts from carrying everything with me, and still, I’m happy. I very much feel like an outsider, but seeing the similarities between all the different cultures is a good reminder. Like hearing a little kid yelling at his mom in Arabic, and she responds in French, and I still understand exactly what SIT DOWN WHILE THE BUS IS MOVING / NO GO AWAY means in either language.

But the supermarket. Guys. I’m lost.

I didn’t take any pictures inside today, but I did take pictures of my loot. (Bought, not stolen… Don’t worry, no international arrests.) The first supermarket I walked in, I literally recognized two brands of food: Ben & Jerry’s, and Philadelphia cream cheese. Think about how big Stop n Shop, Shaw’s, Big Y are… and then to see NONE of that here. (It also freaks me out that Palmolive is a major shampoo brand here – dish soap much?) It all came to 23 euro something and please don’t make me convert it because my bank account cries a little when I do.

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Tomorrow is finding Zara. Seriously. Jeans were a horrible choice today, for so many reasons. Mainly, it’s toasty. Especially on the bus. (I took the wrong one for a bit today too. Dammit. Need to figure out the monthly pass thing! But I might need passport photos and everything? Ergh. Research for tomorrow.)

Now I’m going to go make dinner, even though 745PM is EARLY, according to this crazy continent, because Tommy V told me I could.

Day Three: I use French.

It was just about the picture perfect day for weather today. You know when Miss Rhode Island describes her perfect date? June 18th in Brussels.

I packed up my things in Ixelles and took the train to work again. (Thanks Jess and Frank! You’re saints, both of you. Drinks on me very soon.) I need to be better about carrying my camera around on work days – the Trone station here looks JUST like the Harvard stop on the red line. I can’t get over the similarities between Boston and Brussels sometimes. Except Boston gets voted worst dressed, and Brussels definitely would not.

There was a lot of reading to get done today, and I continued my preparation for the European islands meeting on Thursday. One of the other interns said we should all do some field work by each picking an island to visit, I think it’s genius, haha. The list of EU Overseas Countries and Territories is pretty much my DREAM list of places to visit, minus that whole Antarctic thing:

  • Anguilla (UK)
  • Aruba (NL)
  • Bermuda (UK)
  • Bonaire (NL)
  • British Antarctic Territory (UK)
  • British Indian Ocean Territory (UK)
  • British Virgin Islands (UK)
  • Cayman Islands (UK)
  • Curação (NL)
  • Falkland Islands (UK)
  • French Polynesia (FR)
  • French Southern and Antarctic Territories (FR)
  • Greenland (DK)
  • Mayotte (FR)
  • Montserrat (UK)
  • New Caledonia and Dependencies (FR)
  • Pitcairn (UK)
  • Saba (NL)
  • Saint Barthelemy (FR)
  • Sint Eustatius (NL)
  • Sint Maarten (NL)
  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (UK)
  • Saint Helena, Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha (UK)
  • St. Pierre and Miquelon (FR)
  • Turks and Caicos Islands (UK)
  • Wallis and Futuna Islands (FR)

saw it/want to see it real bad. (I’ll be checking one off later this year!)

After work, everyone went out for a little happy hour down the street. I ordered my wine… in French! I was so proud of myself. Annnd then the guy responded in English. Really? It was that bad? Sigh. I stayed there until about 830. I really like the whole team we work with, it’s similar to the feeling I had in New Orleans when I felt like I had found my community. Similar career goals, similar interests, though there is great diversity in the paths we took to get here and our home countries. And one of the girls made me feel better when she said she was surprised I had never been here before since I dress so European (hilarious, because living out of a suitcase and not having access to things like my hair straightener make me feel sloppy… but I have been making an effort to dress well.)

After a bit of panic about how exactly to get all my luggage moved at one time (that hadn’t happened since going from the car to check in fifteen feet away), I finally called a cab. The driver started spouting in French about the weather and ‘oh, vos valises!’ I couldn’t catch most of it, but I wanted to! So I finally said, en francais, que j’arrive hier a Bruxelles, et je dois aller a mon nouvel appartement. “Aahh! Americain!” But I didn’t let him let me off the hook so fast, and I told him I really need to practice. So we did! I told him about my job and school, and he told me all about my new neighborhood, the landmarks, how the car’s not usually his… halfway through he realized he never turned on the meter. So much for those expensive taxi rides in Brussels! I gave him a crazy tip but he literally wouldn’t accept it. I know tipping protocol is different over here so I did what he told me, and took some money back. haha

I haven't mentioned this yet but Brussels is HUGE on comics. They're painted everywhere, and there are a few museums dedicated to them as well.

I haven’t mentioned this yet but Brussels is HUGE on comics. They’re painted everywhere, and there are a few museums dedicated to them as well.

All that to say I’m finally settled in my new place! No pictures yet, I got here late, but the garden! The skylight! The storage! My roommates! I didn’t have the chance to get to the food store so my lovely Italian roommate Marta cooked me an Italian dinner as soon as I arrived. Too sweet.

Tomorrow will be food shopping, and cranking out more work on the islands. Who’s up for a Skype date tomorrow night? 🙂

Day Two: Que Sera, Sera

First day of work! I showed up just on time, after figuring out the (fairly intuitive) train system. After a ten minute administrative setup, it was into the first all hands meeting and piles of reading… including a textbook written by my supervisor, on the economics of biodiversity. It was GREAT. No seriously. I totally nerded out. I’m looking into payments for ecosystem services and reform of harmful subsidies to start. I love the people I’m working with, the subject, the ability to jump into side projects…which I did. Islands of Europe! (How many do you think there are? No cheating.) I’m excited to be contributing so soon.

We took a quick walk to the supermarket for lunch – I recognized almost nothing in the store. They had Ben & Jerry’s though, which cracked me up. Half baked and chunky monkey! Tomorrow I’m going to walk in the other direction and pick up a new phone, I think I can get one for 20-30 euros at Media Markt.

i feel that way when i make money too.

i feel that way when i make money too.

I haven’t had to use my French too much, except when ordering food and when my luggage showed up at work. The airport worker who dropped it off didn’t speak a word of English, which I haven’t had to deal with yet, and everytime I struggled to understand his French, he giggled at himself and said “Aaahhh Englishh!!!” It was endearing, haha. I think he asked if I’d tried the beer yet. (I haven’t.)

Another minor struggle I’ve had is with the clothes! I can’t even believe how well dressed everyone is, always. Never mind sweatpants and sneakers, I hardly even see jeans on the girls! Granted I’ve been living right across from the Parliament, you don’t really see jeans on the Financial District in Boston either, but man. I’m in trouble. I brought two skirts and three dresses, but they’re almost all really relaxed and flowy, while the dresses here are mostly structured and very Ann Taylor (but times 100 on the fashion score). I found an H&M nearby (scratch that, there’s three on one street), but I’ve been warned their sizes and prices are way different than in the US. We’ll see what happens!

sorry he's blurry, i wasn't confident enough to be a creep.

sorry he’s blurry, i wasn’t confident enough to be a creep.

One thing I didn’t mention about my trip to Garde du Midi yesterday was the little old lady who started yelling at someone these horrendous things in French – turns out they were trying to swipe her money. I’d been warned about that too. What I hadn’t been warned about was the elderly man who would hand truck a homemade karaoke machine onto the metro and start singing ‘que sera sera’ to everyone, just for kicks. He had to stand right next to me. I almost laughed out loud but he was so earnest.

After work the weather was spectacularly beautiful, so I dropped my bags and grabbed my camera to explore le Parc Leopold. Little parks like this dot Brussels all over, and they’re full of people picnicking, walking dogs, and, well, making out when it’s not raining, haha. The mix of glass Parliament buildings and the dense trees and gardens made for some beautiful pictures. I also ordered a coffee-flavored gelato from la Place Jourdan on the other side of the park. Success!

Tomorrow I’m moving to my new apartment. I have a garden, AND a washer/dryer! Miracle of miracles.