Monday, November 14, 2011


I can now say that I have been to three countries in a month-and-a-half! Our new friends who sold us the desks offered to take us to Belgium to look at antiques and drink some great Belgian beer. The weather was extremely foggy yesterday (Sunday). We were hoping it would eventually lift but since it did not, our view of everything we passed looked as if it were rising out of the mist. It was also incredibly cold.

Our destination was only an hour away and we passed through Holland quickly. We spent a couple hours at a market in Tongeren. I was amazed by how many vendors and shoppers were out-and-about despite the weather. I suppose they are accustomed to these murky winter days.

After browsing for a while we stopped at a pub to have beer and pommes frites. As usual, I was not disappointed by my beer and the french fries were amazing. They are cut like our steak fries but aren't greasy, soggy, or too crispy.

Our friends took us to another great source for antiques after our snack. We spent almost an hour there. The pieces of furniture were so great. They are like nothing I've ever seen at an American antique shop. Some of the items for sale were from monasteries and Spanish villas; incredible!

We were hungry for a real lunch by the time we were finished with our second stop. We went back to the market and enjoyed the most savory mussels I've had! And of course, more beer. A self-guided tour of a breathtaking Catholic church was the icing on the cake for our perfect first visit to Belgium.

I took lots of photos but will unfortunately have to share them with you later since I'm on a public computer until we have Internet at home.

Today was my first time driving alone. The GPS coordinates for the base were input incorrectly. This led to me to listening to Blanche say, "Turn right on... road." This "road" took me to a defunct gate in the middle of nowhere. I pulled off the road and navigated to the address of our guest house since I know how to get to the base from there. 15 minutes later, I arrived at the guest house and proceeded to the base gate.

While living at the guest house, the route we took to base was officially for only bicycles and pedestrians. But if you are a resident who lives off the path, it is my understanding that you can use that path to go to main roads (driving slowly, obviously). We saw many other people (Germans) doing this in the month we were at the guest house and were never once told we could not.

Today I approached the main road from the bicycle path and was confronted with construction. I decided to turn around and go back to the guest house and try to navigate a different way. As soon as I backed up, a man walking his dog pointed at the sign, glared at me, and yelled something in German. Probably something to the effect of, "You idiot! The sign forbids cars!"

Almost to the point of tears, I turned back around to face the construction. I inched forward and suddenly one of the trucks moved and I realized the road wasn't closed after all. The construction workers gestured for me to move forward onto the road and I was so grateful I almost blew them kisses.

I finally reached the familiar fortified gates of the base and was thrilled to see things I know. My happiness was quelled when I had to drive around for 10 minutes in order to find the family readiness center. At one point I was driving through the Italian portion of the base, but I finally made it here.

Hopefully I will arrive safely back in Tuddern before the day is finished. It is only 11am. I can't imagine what other adventures await.

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