Monday, June 25, 2012

Lazy Summer Days and Our Next Big Adventure

Summer has been plugging along here. The days are getting longer and longer. It's not uncommon for me to look outside and assume it's only 6 or 7pm when it's really almost 11. It's very disorienting but also nice to have the extra hours in the day since the weather is (still) so unpredictable. Yesterday it was rainy, windy, and dark all day until around 7pm when suddenly the sun began blazing through the windows. I just never look at weather forecasts anymore because they are rarely accurate. On any given day you always need four things: 1.) Umbrella, 2.) Light, waterproof jacket, 3.) Light sweater, 4.) Sunglasses. You might use all four accessories within the space of an hour.

The past few weekends have been very low-key. We took the train to Maastricht on Saturday to see the festivities surrounding the Andre Rieu concert. He's an extremely accomplished violinist, composer, and conductor. It's a huge event when he comes back to perform in his hometown of Maastricht.

"Andre, World Ambassadors. Music, the
Universal Language." Check out the

American flags!
The city was incredibly crowded and the excitement was contagious. We quickly made our way to the Vrijthof. It had been completely transformed into the perfect concert venue. Large stadium lights were set up and ready to spotlight on Andre Rieu and his orchestra. Hundreds of simple, black chairs were meticulously lined up and arced toward the stage. All of the cafes were crowded and anticipation filled the air. We arrived at around 2:30, only an hour and a half before all of the cafes were being cleared out to make way for those with reservations to sip wine, eat, and listen to the music floating from the square. We didn't have tickets this year but I hope to be sitting in one of those chairs next year!

From there, we went to a different cafe, this time with river views. A friendly woman greeted us outside and we told her we wanted to try the beer tasting. She nodded, smiled, and went off to fetch her husband. He proudly appeared at our table and, in a booming voice, said, "So, I hear you want to try my beers. This is true?"
"Yes!" we exclaimed. This was becoming quite the production.
"Very well. It is six beers accompanied by little snacks. I'll bring the first."

Truly bizarre.
And so it went, for several hours. The samples were generous and most of the beers were pretty hefty. The most interesting thing that happened during this liquid lunch is that I was telling my husband a story about one of my high school teachers when suddenly an American school bus pulled up on the street behind us. 'Florida District Schools' was written on the side. In my Belgian beer-induced state of mind, I thought for sure I was dreaming and that my teacher was going to step off the bus and greet me.

By the time our 'tasting' was finished, so were we. Well, we should have been.

To another bar we went! This time we met up with a friend. And when you meet a friend at a pub, you can't have just one beer. A couple hours later we were toasting each other and the bartender was happily regaling us with the story of his life and explaining why he doesn't want to marry his current girlfriend. So I guess this is what you do on the night of the Andre Rieu concert, if you don't have tickets.

We had to take it easy yesterday (understandably). We went to Tongeren to meet up with some friends for antique/oddity browsing and for one other extremely important reason; to seek some advice from them about...

We will be leaving later this week for the destination of my dreams. We'll spend five glorious days staying in charming bed and breakfasts, photographing all of the sights along the Ring of Kerry, and driving on the wrong side of the road... and car. I think it might be necessary to bring the video camera for this vacation.

On to Irish adventures!

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