Roundtopping in Belgium

I never thought I'd say it, but I have had my fill of antique-ing and junk digging. Whew. We have been to a LOT of second-hand shops in the last few days trying to make our new apartment a home. Check out this rainbow we saw at one shop!

After shopping on Saturday, Michael and Blanca took us to a friterie for mitraettes, these huge sandwiches with a big sausage that is then covered in french fries. Again, WHEW! The biggest, most unhealthy thing ever. Pretty good, though:)

On Sunday we went to Daisy's race, and Clay got to break in the camera. Belgian style, of course, which means wrapping it in a trash bag to keep the rain off :)

This picture is for my family so that they know that Stormie really isn't so bad afterall. Can you imagine how bad this dog must stink? It was so much bigger than the picture makes it seem.

This sign made us laugh today. Not many people put up a sign warning strangers that there dog is indeed VERY nice. No need to worry, just come on in. The dog will LOVE you. Not much of a theft deterrant.

After making some purchases, Michael and Clay had to unload it all onto the street- I was praying the whole time that a bus wouldn't come and tell us to move in French and we would have to just stand there looking American and confused.

Here's the table and chairs we bought for FIVE Euro! Take that Roundtop! (Can you tell I am sad that I missed the retreat?)

We also got a mirror and a little pink trunk (to use as a coffee table).

Here is Clay at his new desk. He loves it. That man loves having office space.

Here is Michael showing us how Belgians move in furniture- through the window! Later this week, we are going to try to get our bed and some big appliances up to the 2nd and 3rd story windows of our building. Apparently this is done all the time... not in America, therefore I am very nervous. What if our mattress swings through our downstairs neighbor's windows??

After shopping today, Blanca stopped at the bread machine- how wonderful!! Fresh bread in a vending machine!

And that is all for now :)


We have an apartment!

So exciting! We chose Apartment #2! Yesterday Myriam came with us to talk with the landlord, and everything was taken care of smoothly. Our lease begins on Wednesday, but he gave us the key yesterday so we can start cleaning and moving things in! It is funny to think of "moving" because all we really have is clothes. Our 8 duffel bags should be on the road again soon :)

Today we are going with Michel and Blanca to check out some second hand shops for furniture. I am really looking forward to this. I love antique/junk hunting. I can't wait to see what we find.

On another note, last night was really fun. Daisy and Brent had some young couples over from the church, and we had a good time playing cards and the Wii. It was great to meet some new people and hang out.

A happy weekend to you all! TBC ladies, have fun on your retreat. I wish I could join you!


Thursday's musings

I am loving how much you guys are loving the apartment hunt :) Seriously, it makes me so happy. It makes me feel like we aren't an ocean away. Thank God for the Internet!!

Allow me to introduce you to Sofia, the 17 month old we live with. She is the cutest little Belgian-Colombian you have ever seen. Here you will see her unloading the tupperware cabinet as she does every evening while Blanca is cooking dinner. Isn't it funny how all kids are the same?

Also funny is how happy we were when Clay discovered that there is wireless internet somewhere near the living room, so we now have internet at home!! YES! We just have to scrunch up really close to the wall behind the couch to get signal :)

Yesterday, we went with Brent to Liege where we could attend language school. There is another session beginning on April 20th, but we would be jumping in kind of late. We'd have to work really hard to catch up. I kind of feel like we already ARE catching up in so many ways that this one more thing wouldn't be so bad :) We have a little time to decide.

And a final observation. Instead of child size mannequins (which are scary enough) most stores here just use baby dolls. Ok, THIS baby doll pictured below is the exact one that I had (and STILL have somewhere) when I was little. Funny, but made me kind of sad. Think, all this time my doll was in the U.S. being loved while this poor little Euro-baby had to work for a living. Another reminder that life is soo not fair.

(Jumping into a new culture makes one's musings somewhat strange. Pardon.)


Apartment 4

Apartment 4! Okay, I am going to come out and say that this one would be a stretch. It is pricier than the others and at the top of our price range. It is a 2 bedroom so I thought you would be interested in seeing it. (If you like reading about more than just an apartment search, I apologize. It is consuming my world at present.)

This is what you see upon entry. The doors are kind of dorm-like, don't you think?

The kitchen. We would need to buy a stove and oven, plus a fridge. (This is a common thing here in Belgium, I think because landlords get tired of tenants destroying their stuff, which also seems to happen commonly. How do you "destroy" a fridge?)

The living room, which is huge! Truly, it is the largest we have seen (except for the mondo- long one, apartment 1, I believe). Good lighting and good windows, too for blocking out street noise.

This is the view from the kitchen to the 2 bedrooms. Clay is in the little one we would use as an office.

This is the bedroom- so big.

Little cute bathroom. Very clean but small.

The toilet is in a little room to the right of the bathtub off the main entry. Again, kind of dorm-like.

And there you go! This apartment is a 2 bedroom, as you can see, and would work well for giving Clay office space. However it is more expensive than the others that we have seen, and not in our 100 % favorite location (though it IS across the street from Brent and Daisy which is fun. The boys already talked about rigging up a string and can phone system)

It seems the apartment hunt may be over for now. We have begun the process of getting a lease for one of the apartments below. Which one, you ask? I am waiting to reveal it until it is official... And I also like to humor myself that there are really people out there waiting on pins and needles to find out where we will be living for the next two years :)

P.S. The weather has changed. It is no longer sunny and bright in Huy. Today there was actually hail bouncing off the street! Spring seems to be in denial, however, for the sky behind the hail was blue. Here I am yesterday regretting not having my big coat. We call this photo "Texas meets Belgium." Enchantee.
Ok, one more apartment to be seen today. I will post pictures tonight when we get back from Huy. I love all of your comments! This is so much fun :)


Apartment 3

We saw another place this morning. Here is the street it is on.

You walk up those stairs from the front door and there's a landing between the bathroom and the bedroom.

The wardrobe is staying but everything else is moving with the current tenant.

The bathroom. The sink has a cabinet! Plus it is a bigger sink area than the others.

Can you see the glass wall thing that would fold out around the shower? This is a bonus for Clay. The bathroom is also very clean and light.

The living room.

Little dining room between the kitchen and the living room. We could curtain off a portion of it for Clay's desk and equipment.

The kitchen has a stove. Very nice.

So there you go, Apartment 3. Tell me your thoughts :)


And just for fun...

The coolest car ever.

Apartment 2

This is the street the apartment is on. It is also the view from both the living room and the bedroom. (For those who know, this is the one by O'Malley's Pub)

These windows are really big and a nice view

The kitchen is really great. Bigger than some of the ones we have seen and just a nice set up. We would need to buy a fridge and an oven/microwave combo.

This pantry is under the stairs and right across the entry from the kitchen. It is less dingy than it looks in the picture. It is really big as far as what we have seen.

The bedroom and the bathroom are upstairs but the bathroom is separate from the bedroom which is good for visitors. Bright paint and an interesting poster in the bedroom but it's all cosmetic.

The sink and the toilet are new (huge plus). He also said we can paint (which is good, bc the colors throughout the apartment are very vibrant and we would probably go more neutral)

The washing machine would go right there by the toilet. A tight squeeze but it would give the toilet more privacy :)

The tub needs major cleaning but I can do it :) The wall needs repainting too.

This is the view out the kitchen and the bathroom (nice big windows that open)

This is a little nook off the bathroom, and it's a little gross, BUT I think it could be something cool. Not sure what, but I'm up for it.

Ok, these are the 2 apts we have seen so far that are the best. We have seen 4 others, but they are not worth picturing. Cigarette smelling, too small, or too much work (an entire kitchen to buy- everything!)

Anyways, we see another one on Monday, so cross your fingers :)


Ok, to come you will see some pics from our apartment hunt. Some of the things that we are accustomed to as Americans has been challenged so bear the different culture in mind as you cast your votes :)

The main things we seek in an apartment are:
-space for Clay to do his video work
-clean bathroom (or atleast one I can make clean)
-cool view (why not?)

Appartment 1

Ok, this one is the 4th floor, converted attic. It is more of a loft space. Nice and long.

View from the other side, with opening from bedroom showing.

This is the bedroom on the second level. There is no complete wall so it is kind of open to the bottom level.

The hook up for the washer is to the right of the hot water heater. We have found that it is usually in the bathroom, occasionally in the kitchen of Belgian apartments.

Squeaky clean bathtub. A shower curtain would be a challenge though, because of the slanted ceiling.

Full oven! Big open space.

The windows are all slanted, so no direct view, but if you stick your head out...

One other downer is that since the staircase (70 steps!) is so narrow, the only way to get the furniture up is through the window, 4 stories up!! Could be pricey to rent the cherry-pickeresque truck that I think we would need.


A new day…. I confess that yesterday was the most difficult we have had here. The newness and the “differentness” of it all were just really apparent. We came back to Blanca and Michael’s house and crashed. Then at dinner, things really turned around. Those two are just so welcoming and comfortable. They also have tons of experience with learning another language so they can really empathize with our struggle to communicate in French. We are so thankful to God for placing us in their home.

So, an update on what’s been going on.. On Tuesday we just walked around Huy with Amy. We looked at cell phones (which we have now, hurray! When I got my first text message, I almost cried. I had a friend!! ☺ ), and scouted out apartment locations. That night we had a little party at Brent and Daisy’s for St. Pattie’s. It was a good time to start getting to know our team.

Check out Daisy's kitty, Tigre! He hangs out in the flower box right outside their window watching pigeons. He is so funny!

Yesterday we set out across Huy for some exploring. The weather is perfect! Sunny and perfectly cool.

When we walk the streets we look for these orange and black signs that give some details about the appartment.

I especially enjoyed the flower section of the farmer's market.

Mom, this pic is for you. That yellow purse is just like yours. It made me laugh :)

We also had some great Chinese food with Amy. Isn’t it amazing how comforting food can be? In the afternoon, Amy started calling all the apartments we had found, and we have 2 appointments today! I am really looking forward to looking. It is so fun to see how people live in different parts of the world, and I can’t wait to see all of these apartments. It’s not like in the US where you go to a leasing office and choose which floor plan you want. Each and every location here is a different layout, with different pros and cons. I can’t wait!