Maiden Voyage

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!

Finally legal!

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!!!

Mmmm, Kölsch…

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.

Beautiful streets in Bad Godesberg/Bonn, Germany.

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.

Getting silly with all the bubbles!

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!

Shake it, don’t break it!

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!

No no no no no. In the day, Theo would have given his left nut for this suit…

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.

View from our balcony over the Rhein.

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.

Burial tree.

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.

Old Masters Museum, Brussels

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.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda.                                                                                                                                        Theo regrets not buying (and keeping) this Dino 246 Ferrari instead of his first Porsche in 1974.

I’ll leave you with a variety of fun shots from the trip…

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This entry was posted in American Expats in France, Belgium, Bonn, Brussels, Expat Blog, Germany Travel, Traveling in Europe. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Maiden Voyage

  1. David Sambrano says:

    Hello Euro-Cindy!

    Hooray for you and the great news on your residency! And that very cool suit Theo would have wanted…..tres chic and tres Todd! He LOVES it!

    Hugs to you both from Shasta-Hanchett Park!
    David & Todd

    p.s. Todd will jet for France on Sept 10th. He’s taking his folks to Paris and the South of France for their 50th! I told him “bon chance!” as I will not be along for their fete.

    • thecindy@mail.com says:

      So nice to hear from you, David. I’ve been following your and Todd’s travels as well, taking inspiration for our bucket list. Now that we have a source for reliable dog sitters, traveling will be so much easier for us. So much to see and do. But we also just love being at home. Can’t wait for you guys to come for a visit…I can only imagine the stunning photos Todd could take. I see the shots in my mind, but don’t often stop to take a pic. How wonderful for Todd to treat his parents to a great French trip, but how tragic that you won’t be able to take part! Love to you both and thanks for being in touch.

  2. Bruce & Jan Adams says:

    That sounds like an amazing trip. Happy you could get away for the fun. And very happy to hear that you got your residency card, Cindy. Love to you both and we love reading about your adventures.
    Bruce & Jan

    • thecindy@mail.com says:

      It was really fun to get away after all this time. Had a blast. But it was also so great to get home again…

  3. Yvonne kleijn says:

    That sounds like a great trip! Thank god Theo did not buy that suit though?

    • thecindy@mail.com says:

      Indeed! He did come home with half a suitcase of new clothes though. Lucky guy…

      Your girl trip looked great too. Can’t wait to hear all about it! See you soon?

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