On Monday, my son got his first stamp in his passport. It was a long day full of planes, trains, and lots of footwork! Exhausting and wonderful all at the same time. We arrived in Verviers, Belgium after some very smooth flights and baggage claim. Customs even went well. I'll never forget Jon Michael's face as the lady stamped his passport. After getting off the last plane, we grabbed all our luggage and carted it to the train station and got on one train. Then we got off and switched to another train, still lugging our luggage. The final and hardest part of the journey was after the train arrived in Verviers, Belgium. We had to drag our luggage through the cobblestone streets on a 20 minute brisk parade. It was pretty hilarious when I think of what the Belgians must have thought about our wacky parade. We were very glad to get to the facility.
We pretty much just dropped our luggage off and then were taken to an Italian Pizzaria around the corner from the facility. It was a charming place down an alley. It was decided that we would pay so many Euros per person and they would keep the pizzas, coke, water (plain and sparkling) coming. They brought out an appetizer that was a yummy little ball of something. Then came the pizza with a sausage type thing, cheese and boiled eggs. Then followed margarita pizza with several kinds of cheeses and crushed tomatoes. The third pizza was an unusual salute to the Americans with tomato sauce, FRENCH FRIES covered in cheese! The last pizza had little sliced hot dog things on it. As strange as it all looked, it was marvelous. The kids ate until they couldn't hold anymore and we took about 6 leftover pizzas back to the facility. The rest of the evening was settling in. Debbie and I went to the grocery and got supplies for a snacky healthy type dinner including some of the best pears I've ever had. We had fruit, cheese, bread and sliced carrots and celery with Ranch dressing (we brought the powder with us for our American kids). We all slept well that night. Oh, we also tried to make the kids stay up long enough for an orientation session which I'm not sure the tired kiddos got much out of!
Day two had a half day of classes and then we left with our packed lunches for a short train ride to Aachen, Germany. We saw the Cathedral of Charlamaine. Absolutely beautiful stained glass! We also walked through a Medieval gate. Pictures to follow on Facebook! We got back in time for Debbie and I to make our first full meal. Breakfast is always fresh baked baguettes, cereal, yogurt, etc. For dinner we had Alfredo pasta with grilled sausages (that was the meat on sale!), salad with homemade vinaigrette or Ranch, and lots of baguettes.
Today we had another half day of classes, packed lunches and took off for Namur, Belgium. We hiked up from the bottom to the top. All 218+ stairs, not counting the many steep inclines that weren't even steps. And then we went all the way down those stairs and inclines. I feel like I'm doing the Biggest Loser workout! It was beautiful, though at the top. Then we ate at a small restaurant known for their desserts. They stuck us in the back, only brought enough water for half the table and then never came back to the table to get our dessert crepe order. It was crazy! Another mad dash, slightly lost, back to the train station. We arrived home in time for tea time.
Many apologies for the length of this first actual trip post. I had some catching up to do. More to come later! Caio!