I started weeding through my trip photos from September a few days ago because there are some really wonderful ones I wanted to share. I ended up splitting the side trip to Berlin into a separate post because there were just far too many!
We started out our trip in Tienen, which is where Bruno grew up and where his parents still live. They live on a lovely acreage on the edge of the city with a beautiful garden that we were lucky enough to have some nice late summer weather to enjoy.
Solar panels are all over the place in Belgium, it's great!
This is in the center of Tienen, there are so many beautiful old churches and buildings. Even though Europe seems more "normal" to me after a few visits, I only went for the first time a few years ago and still can't help but fawn over the buildings like a proper tourist!
Next, we went to Berlin for a few days, which you can read about in this other post here... Then we were in Brussels for two full weeks! When we extended our trip, we made sure we had a huge chunk of time in Brussels so Bruno could have proper time to catch up with his friends without rushing around. I'm so glad we were able to do this!
The Brussels trip got off to a rocky start - the AirBnB place we'd rented was really grimy and really loud (I didn't realize how busy and party-central the city center would be!), and long story short we ended up deciding to cut our losses and go stay at Bruno's apartment further out. Boy, were we glad we did! We ended up arriving very late on the Friday night, and hoping beyond hope that there was water and power on there (as nobody had been living there in a while), only to find that one of the guys who Bruno had let stay there earlier in the year had left the place in a horribly filthy state.
After a day we got the hot water turned on, and we ended up spending the entire weekend (with the help of Bruno's mom) cleaning the place from top to bottom. Not ideal, but we sure were glad we didn't wait till the end of our time in Brussels to discover it, as we had initially planned.
This is at the laundromat by Bruno's apartment - we had a lot of laundry to catch up on, I and lost and then found one of my favourite socks here.
This is the view from Bruno's apartment - you can see the Atomium (the silver structure in the middle on the horizon) which lights up at night and looks really cool, it's from Expo. And look at all the solar panels on the building at the bottom!
I started having what I thought were severe allergies from the dust we'd stirred up after a couple days, and was kind of miserable, so we picked up and moved to a friend of Bruno's apartment near the train station... sadly the allergies were actually the start of a pretty bad cold that laid me out for a good ten days. I ended up sleeping a lot and spending time admiring the chickens one of his neighbours below had, while Bruno packed in a ton of friend visits. In a weird way, I was kind of thrilled at the end of the trip that my biggest health challenge had been getting a cold, like everyone else, rather than my usual issues which I did amazingly well with - good little body!
This is Piet (below) the friend we stayed with, with us at the train station where he stopped by to see us off (he works for the national railway, right next to the station and helps the trains not to crash each other!). Piet deserves special thanks for taking us in last minute and for far longer than we planned to stay, and putting up with me and my sneezing all over! He was the "hostest with the mostest", and we watched a whole bunch of Star Trek together and I got to play his brother's Hammond organ which was super fun. I was glad to be able to make the most of the time even though I wasn't feeling well enough to go out on adventures for a good chunk of time.
Backyard chickens at a condo!
Pretty, old buildings next door.
A quick snap of the Basilica Van Koekelberg on the way to friends Ben and Katrijn's for dinner.
And a cute hotel...
At the end of the second week, I finally was up for little adventure, so Bruno and I went into the city center for a bit. Everything is old and beautiful!
This stone star is in the courtyard of the city hall building and marks the center of the city.
So, of course we stood on it.
Finally, we wrapped up the trip with a couple days back in Tienen, and a quick weekend trip to Oostende on the north coast of Belgium with Bruno's family. I was admittedly running out of travel steam by this point in the trip, and spent a lot of it napping, but the city was beautiful which made up for it, and I know everyone appreciated having some extra time together.
Windmills on the drive there...
The view of Oostende looking south...such beautiful churches.
And looking northeast to the water
And just like that, the month was over! I thought it would feel really long, but it flew by. We hopped on a couple trains (one a fast train, yay!) and made our way to our outgoing flight from Amsterdam (we had to do some tricky travel planning to be able to extend our trip from 2 to 4 weeks without breaking the bank...good ol' Air Transat). Trains are so fun, Bruno clearly agrees.
My little feet took me all over the place, and packing an enormous amount of my supplements and medications, as well as doing some intense food planning and shopping really paid off. Aside from getting that cold (which a lot of people seemed to battling since it was back to school time), my little body did amazingly well. I think I'm slowly getting better at this overseas travel thing - I learned late in life so I'm still figuring out how to do it in a way that works for me.
Best of all, Bruno got some serious quality time in with his friends and family, and that's really what the point of this trip was. I feel so lucky that we were able to go for such a long trip, and thankful that everyone took such good care of us - especially when almost none of the trip went as planned. Apparently plans are highly overrated, but don't try and tell that to this girl scout!