Wow, after celebrating my first two years from moving from the states in mid-July, I finally got outta dodge! Full disclosure…this is a long post. And is mostly meant for our own personal diary of the trip, and may be only mildly amusing to a few of you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
To step back a couple of weeks, I finally received my Carte de Sejour (my residency card). After 8 trips and over 840 kilometers to the Préfecture in Perigueux (the government center for our department), I finally got it! Through six nail-biting months, it’s been a true test of patience to experience first-hand what it’s like to be a stranger in your country of residence. I’ve had to remind myself more than a couple of times that that was on my wish list for living as an expat—having experiences outside my comfort zone—but we persevered, never got upset, always jumped through the requested hoops, and finally got there.
So I could finally travel. And Theo’s long-time friend, Wastl, gave us the perfect excuse for a trip, inviting us to help celebrate his 65th birthday and his retirement at a wild bash at his house in Germany. And so the planning began. We decided to go for a week, and booked a flight from our local airport in Bergerac to Brussels Charleroi, where we rented a car and drove the short rest of the way. We had to find someone to stay with the dogs, so I registered with TrustedHousesitters.com. Had a handful of great applicants in the first 48 hours and chose a local American couple. They were the greatest folks we could have ever dreamed of. The dogs are missing them already! And we have become fast friends as well. BONUS!!!
So last Friday we set out for my maiden adventure (of course, Theo’s been to the states twice already…) I was hungry for a little culture. Don’t get me wrong, I love the small-town life we’ve adopted here, but after two years, yeah, I needed some action! Our host had arranged for us to receive special treatment at a great restaurant on the Rhein when we rolled into Bonn and we really enjoyed our dinner and a few Kölsch beers.
He also arranged a great little hotel for us just a short cab ride from the party. Bad Godesberg, a district of Bonn, is a stunning city full of old mansions, mature trees, and beautiful parks.
The party, held at the host’s fabulous villa, was a complete hit. Although we didn’t know many people there, it was so easy to mingle, as most people spoke at least some English (for me). It was a beautiful evening for a party. The buffet was amazingly vast and each dish was incredibly gourmet and delicious. Forgot to take pictures, but it was unforgettable! Beverages were flowing the entire evening, with Theo and I drinking probably more than our fair share of French Champagne. We got silly at some point and started taking photos of each other, then the dessert guy grabbed the camera and took some shots. So fun!
Then the band set up and we danced our butts off. It’s been too long since we’ve been out shaking our booties. We had such a good time! Thanks to Reinhard and Katya for a beyond-awesome time!
We got some good shopping satisfaction in Bonn and had tons of laughs along the way!
Then we were off to Theo’s hometown, Bad Breisig. Stayed in a hotel right on the River Rhein’s edge, so we could hear the waves on the rocks all night—so nice.
Took a trip up to the ridge where Theo’s parents’ ashes were buried in biodegradable containers to give back to the forest. Very peaceful and moving.
Then we were off for three days in Brussels. Stayed in the BEST boutique hotel right downtown, Le Dixseptième (real luxury at very reasonable rates!) We had been to Brussels before, but didn’t soak it up enough. And like I said earlier, we craved a dose of ‘city’ vibes.
Loved, loved all the street musicians, window shopping, crazy gorgeous architecture, the Stella Artois, and even the obligatory French fries. Loved wandering until our feet ached. We definitely got our museum fixes as well. Theo obliged me by accompanying me to the Royal Museums of Fine Art. My target was the Old Masters collection, but since it was ‘free admission’ day, I dragged him all over the place! Was drooling at the paintings and sculptures from the 15th to the 18th centuries. Also hit a special Magritte exhibition.
The next day, I indulged Theo by surprising him with a visit to Autoworld. But I had a great time too, seeing these vehicles as works of art. Theo is so knowledgeable about everything, we just HAVE to find an automotive outlet for him in retirement.
I’ll leave you with a variety of fun shots from the trip…