Awesome Amsterdam Adventure (Part 3)

So I realized after thinking on it that our last (part) day in Amsterdam wasn’t really eventful at all. We got up, finished packing, ate breakfast, hopped on the tram, took a bus at the station, stopped, took a subway, and were back at the Park + Ride Arena before we knew it. When we went to pay for our parking we had to stand in line for a bit. When we got to the booth the women told us we had to pay at the machine… thanks. We were all pretty tired, not really having got that much sleep the past two nights. I looked at a little more scenery on the way home.

And here we have one of the thing the Dutch are known for - windmills! Sorry it's a little grainy...I zoomed in, took the picture, zoomed again, and cropped. It was pretty far away ūüėõ

We got home around lunch time I think. Or maybe it was after. Bah. Either way we did some laundry and chilled and figured out what we were doing that night. There was a fair type deal in Gembloux, which is the city where Val Ou (Jean-Go’s fianc√©) went to university. They had asked us before Amsterdam if we wanted to go. They had all kinds of ride/games for the kids and lots of food and beer! There were also these different coloured shots – that I can never¬†remember the name of – that I was supposed to try…but I forgot. I did try a dessert of fried balls of dough smothered in icing sugar. Lisa and I shared them. Yum ^_^

Yum ^_^. Icing sugar and fried dough.

Gembloux was the first time I saw the plastic cups they have for the beer. The heavy-duty re-usable plastic cups that if you bring back you get back your 1‚ā¨ deposit. They’re everywhere where there is a lot of beer outside. We used them at the 24h Velo in Louvain-la-Neuve as well. I got to keep one and my family took home a few. They say Jupiler on them. That was my Dad’s favourite of the Belgian beer he tried. Jupiler is your basic beer. Really common…not really crazy flavour wise. Your basic beer.

So that was that. It was a good end to a good three days. Now I can say I’ve been to Amsterdam!

Val Ou, Jean-Go, and friends in Gembloux.

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It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere; 24H Velo comes to a close.

Remember when I was talking about the 24h velo in Louvain-la-Neuve? Well, it’s a race. There are teams and each member takes a turn riding through the city. It goes all night. Except for the folklore bikes; the one’s all decked out and decorated. Those stop from about midnight till 5am. There are prizes for things like fastest time (regular and folklore), best decorated, and all that stuff. The morning after, when things are finishing up and the race is coming to a close there’s a concert in the main square. This serves the purpose of either keeping awake – or waking up – the people who stayed up all night or just really late partying it up. And let me tell you, it’s still a party the next morning. We got there around 11:30. The beer tents were going strong. Which brings me to the point of my title.

I drank 3 beers in just over an hour. They’re not large, but not tiny either. I think I would say less than your normal sized North American bottle. Let me tell you, I was tipsy. Maybe it was under an hour. I just remember looking at my iPod and seeing that it was only 12:35. I wanted to text my sister, but didn’t want to wake her up. I was thinking it was hilarious that I was already tipsy before noon and then thought of the song ‘It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere’ and decided it was alright. It’s not every day I do this right? Turns out it was 5:35pm in Bangkok. Back to the first beer; it’s tradition to chug the first one. Oh boy. I’ve never done this before with anything other than water. Maybe pop when I was really thirsty and it was there, but never because I was actually trying to chug it all down. It’s really hard! It took me so much longer than Adeline and before I could even start I spilled some on my jacket :P. Adeline said the first time is always the hardest.

Then we got another, except this time I tried mine mixed with Pop. It has a name that I forget (for the 2nd time today) and I wouldn’t know how to spell it though it starts with an M. After we were properly supplied we made our way to the stage where the concert was starting. We managed to squeeze through so we were fairly close. I kept taking mini videos and my goal is to edit them together. I know, I know, I still have to do that with the folk dances :S. The performer today was Allan Th√©o. I guess Adeline was saying that normally for these concerts they get ‘have-been’s’, but that this guy was a ‘has-not-been’. I think he really only had two songs that everybody knew. He ended up doing them twice. They’re kind of catchy actually. Although in the one he switches back and forth between English and French in the most awkward of ways. That’s they way it seems to me anyway. I was still pretty reserved – I’m not usually one for big crowds like this; beer, cigarette’s, (even some pot), music so loud you can feel it pounding in your entire body – but then I got into it a bit eventually. I realized I’m never going to see any of these people again, and even if I were, does it really matter what I look like dancing around if I’m having fun? The answer is no, but I still have a hard time of it. So this is Allan Th√©o in the 90s with his song ‘Emm√®me moi’:

It was actually pretty fun. The atmosphere was pretty charged considering most of the people there had probably been up all night. No classes for them today. ūüėČ And the crowd really got into it with the 2 songs they knew! Everyone was singing along. I think that’s why they choose who they choose for this concert – so that everyone will know the music and sing along! That’s my theory anyway. Here he is again, but this video is from a concert in June, so this is what he looked like today. ‘Lola’

After the concert – it wasn’t that long – we grabbed another beer before the lines could get really long. That’s when I really started to feel it. I had only eaten two small oranges (uh, clementines….? I honestly can’t remember right now) for breakfast and it was past lunch time. That’s when the crazy idea to text Lisa came upon me, but I was alert and aware enough to know it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea. And I thought of the song and chuckled. We managed to get right up to the barrier they had made so the bikes could pass by while they said all the thank you’s and gave out the awards and stuff. Finally we had to leave because we had to pee so bad! I didn’t see that many cool decorated bikes…I don’t know if they just hadn’t got there yet or what, but I got pictures of a couple so that’s alright.

We ended up going to Pizza Hut for lunch. I got a plain old pepperoni pizza. It’s been so long since I’ve had pepperoni on my pizza, I was so excited! It tasted just like the Pizza Hut at home (not that I got that often). We were both pretty tuckered out. I had actually been up till after 1am talking to a friend on MSN. We got home and about half an hour later I went to pick up the boys. Adeline and Greg went out tonight so it was just the three of us. I gave them baths, we ate, Sylvain fell asleep in his chair, and Bastien played while I put Sylvain to bed. Now they’re both all tucked in and quiet. Mom, Dad, Lisa; he still remembers your names. I said I was going to miss him when I go home and he said ‘well, Sue and Lisa, and uh, and Mike will be there so you won’t be sad’. He’s too smart for his own good. Like this morning on the way to school I said I was afraid of the Halloween decorations on this one house (they totally went all out and they have a witch hanging from a tree with spiders and webs – think the witch from Disney’s Snow White) and he said in a very matter of fact way ‘Holly, you don’t need to be scared, they aren’t real’. Good for you Bastien. ūüėÄ

So the 35th year of the 24 Heure Velo in Louvain-la-Neuve was a success! At least the parts that I experienced seemed to go well. I’m glad that I could go and be a part of it even if it’s generally not my scene. And now, I hope you all enjoy this video and as we become full¬†ensconced¬†in Fall you can all wish you were Alan Jackson on that boat.


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Carnaval de Binche (the long version)

Where to start? I guess a little bit of history would be good. The figures you see above (and in 2 of the pictures yesterday) are Gilles. Adeline said that to become a Gille you must 1) be male, 2) either live or be born in the city of Binche, and 3) it’s passed down from father to son. Adeline emailed me a couple of links that I looked at for more info, and she said this “It is actually declared¬†“Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity “by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). on the 2003/11/07”. That’s what I was trying to describe yesterday, but was having difficulty with it.

There are actually 3 days to the Carnaval; it goes from Sunday-Tuesday, with the most popular day being Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday). The Gilles start marching in the streets around 3-3:30, always accompanied by drums and musicians. They throw blood oranges at the crowds of people who gather to see them.¬†Protective screens are put on all windows/doors/signs of houses and business to protect¬†them from the oranges. If someone climbs on a ledge or something to get higher, the Gilles throw the oranges VERY hard at them because it makes them angry that people try to cheat at getting oranges. Those things can hurt when thrown hard. There was one point in our walk where some people in an apartment were giving the Gilles the finger, so the Gilles were launching oranges at them, trying to get them above the screen and at the people. This resulted¬†in raining¬†oranges (and subsequently orange juice). Luckily Bastien wasn’t hit on the head by falling oranges (Adeline and I were a few times, but it’s all part of the experience) and we both got juice in our hair. An orange did fall into the stroller I was pushing (with Bastien in it), but he was leaning forward so it just kind of hit the stroller instead of him. It was the closest thing I had to catching an orange. Well,¬†not exactly. I almost caught one earlier, but at least the stroller orange we got to keep.

The outfits of the Gilles are very intense.¬†The torso and ankles are stuffed with straw and there are little bells around the wast and on the feet. Thank goodness for pictures because I would not do them justice. One thing I don’t have a picture of is this certain yellow flower that was very prominent on people’s hats and things; it’s called the mimosa. We weren’t sure of the significance of them, but according to this website Adeline showed me the flowers are given by men to their wives, daughters, and friends. Many people were dressed up in costumes. It was really cool. It’s not like Halloween at home where just the kids usually dress up (unless it’s a special Halloween party), but a lot of people really get into it! Maybe I’m wrong, maybe more people than I think dress up, but I just don’t notice…*shrug*.

I apologize because this post is all over the place! I’m trying to make sure I get all the important information, I just hope in the end it makes some sort of sense!

Ok, so the Gilles throw the oranges into the crowds. Another thing they do is hand them to little children. We collected 11 and the majority of those were because of Bastien! At one point Adeline took Sylvain out of his stroller and put him

in this carrier on her chest. It was SO LOUD with all the music and the drumming and the people…but he was just smiling and looking around. Eventually he did start to cry, but I think that was just because he was hungry.

Another thing I tried was two different types of Binche beer. I know, I know, I mention beer a lot. It’s not that I actually drink that much, it’s just that there are OVER 400 TYPES OF BELGIAN BEER!!! Doesn’t seem so bad now, eh? Anyway,¬†one of them was a raspberry flavoured beer. It was really good. Only about 3% or 4%. So not very strong. At this point the largest part of the crowd (with the Gilles) had passed us, so we had much more space to¬†maneuver¬†the strollers. Even so, it’s hard with a plastic cup in your hand! I couple times I put it between my teeth so both hands were on the stroller and one of those times the stroller hit an uneven patch. Of course this caused the cup to move and spill beer up my nose and on my hair….beer in the nose, SO not pleasant. Even if it was raspberry flavoured!

Oh! The hats. Those big feathered hats. They weigh about 5 kilos (11 pounds) and cost about 3,000 euros (takes about 80 hours

to make one hat….250-350 small feathers to make the 12 large feathers of the hat. Last night Greg was asking why some had colour and some didn’t. If I remember correctly, Adeline said that the white hats were new. Each year you died a bit of the feathers. So some have one colour, some have many. We were lucky because yesterday was absolutely gorgeous! Sunny and about 15. If it’s sunny they wear the hats, if it rains they don’t (for obvious reasons). You’ll see both men and boys, all sizes of Gilles, but remember…no women!

I do have a couple of videos I took. I’m going to try and edit them a bit (because sometimes it’s just the crowd you see). I was pushing a stroller, walking through a tight crowd, and trying to take a video all at the same time. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I kind of just moved my camera around and hoped for the best!

It’s definitely hard trying to get through the press of people with two strollers, and there were a few times I almost lost Adeline, but it was definitely worth it, and maybe someday I’ll get to go back!

There was also confetti. A lot of it. Apparently Bastien doesn’t like confetti on him or his stroller. While Adeline was getting the beer he stood up and tried to brush all the confetti off the seat before he’d sit down again. ¬†It was funny. Also, after the Gilles and crowds had passed, it looked like some sort of stampede had gone through. Which, I guess in a way, it was!

When we got home, Adeline made me juice with one of the oranges. Blood oranges are red inside. The one I picked look like it was half and half. The taste is bittersweet, like grapefruit, but different. I don’t really like grapefruit juice, but I didn’t mind this.

Carnival celebrations with Bastien’s school.

There’s a time in Belgium called Carnival. Kids get a week off school, there are all kinds of celebrations, and everybody dresses up in costumes. This year the school holiday is March 7-11 (which also means I don’t have class on the Monday). So it’s kind of like March Break, but they also get two weeks off in April! Tonight we went to a place in Wasseiges (like a community center) and had a Carnival celebration hosted by Bastien’s school. It was very, very hot and very, very loud in there. There was a DJ and a lot of screaming kids. As well as silly string EVERYWHERE! Speaking of silly string, Adeline got a can out and was spraying it at Bastien (who did not like that at all) and then I took a turn at Greg…I wasn’t aiming for his face I swear! I got him right in the left eye. Thankfully he was wearing glasses which protected him somewhat from the danger that is silly string.

For supper we had Li√®ge meatballs and fries.These meatballs were better than the one’s we bought from the store (last week maybe?). They’re very filling. You get two with your fries, but I couldn’t even finish all of mine! Almost, but not quite. Adeline had this Cherry beer (which was very interesting…in a good way) and then later we all had a Leffe blonde (see meatballs).

For the first years’ at school they made lady bug costumes. Red t-shirts with big, black dots painted on,¬†antennae, and these little shakers that were red with black spots. The second years’ were Egyptian¬†Pharaohs,¬†and the third years’ were wolfs (they had masks). Bastien was going to be Buzz Lightyear tonight (and he looked adorable in the costume), but he was so tired from school that we put him to bed for a nap and he changed his mind and wanted to be the ladybug from school. Adeline was a gypsy, Greg, a jedi (with blue¬†light-saber!), and I was a pirate…I guess. That’s what I was going for anyway. I’m not very original, and it’s what I came up with based on what I have in my closet. ¬†Oh, and Sylvain was Tigger. He has these little tiger-striped pants and a zip-up hoodie with Tigger on it and the hood has little ears.

It actually wasn’t until recently that Halloween became a big costume thing here. It used to just be at Carnival (if I remember from what Adeline told me) that people would dress up. And dress up they do. Not just the kids either! It was neat, but loud, and hot. I’m not even big on loud events when they’re for my age group! It’s a good chance for parents to see each other and talk while the kids play (or in this case run around or dance). It will be great for them when the boys are older, because Bastien didn’t want to go play, so we had both kids with us the whole time. When the boys are older, Greg and Adeline will have a chance to visit with the other parents more.

They also had these masks on the tables. ¬†–>¬†

**For everyone who is finishing up Reading week, I hope it was great!¬†Restful (unless you’re part of Opera Laurier, no rest for them) and productive. For those of you looking forward to March Break, I hope it goes well. And for those of you who don’t get a break around this time of the year…I’m sorry. But I still hope you’re having a great time right now!

Who really needs a title anyway…

Last night Adeline and Greg went out for a Valentine’s Day dinner. I can’t even remember if I mentioned that yesterday, my head hurts so much. Maybe it’s because I was up watching T.V. till 3am and was still awake at 5. I ‘napped’ this afternoon, but I didn’t really sleep. Let’s hope I can sleep tonight.

Greg’s Mom and Dad came for a visit. They brought Bastien another backpack, but a much smaller one this time.

This post will be more about pictures than words, I’m all out right now.

This is the picture frame I got for my birthday. –> ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

<– This is what my sitting area looks like now.

This is a picture of my now cleaner desk and the shelf that Greg put up for me today. –>¬†

<– This is that Peach beer I had the other night.

This is the beer that Adeline and Greg had that same night. –> ¬†

Rapunzel? Or Tangled?

Either way I want to see the movie. Not much to report today. I went to the Friterie to get fries for supper tonight (all by myself!). It’s just down the street. And of course Sylvain is as adorable ¬†– and chatty – as ever.

So today I spent some time on my old friend Computer. I would say it moves glacially slow, but with global warming, these days, glaciers¬†are melting pretty fast! Faster than my computer at any rate. It’s had a good run. 4.5 years now, and as I understand it, for a general run-of-the-mill (non-mac) computer, that’s decent. I was doing some ‘research’ on Zachary Levi (Chuck Bartowski in ‘Chuck’) just to see what else he’s been in. Turns out he is the voice of Flynn Rider in ‘Tangled’. Also, he has an amazing singing voice! He sings a duet with Mandy Moore in ‘Tangled’ and he also sings a duet with Katharine McPhee called ‘Terrified’. It’s an awesome song. He’s pretty cute, but I will say I’m almost more attracted to his voice than his looks (tee hee hee). I have a new celebrity crush (:b). I haven’t had one in a while so I would say I’m due.

Last night after writing my post I watched the movie Avatar: The Last Airbender with Adeline and Greg. I also tried a peach flavoured beer called Peach Mel Bush. I have a couple of pics, but I don’t feel like hooking up my camera at the moment, so I will post them some other time.

Birthday Extravaganza!

Here is the promised birthday post! I’m excited, are you excited?¬†

Yesterday started out as any other day. But at breakfast it was different! I got a CD (‘Circle’ by Scala and Kolacny Bothers) and a picture frame that has these ribbons that hang down and have little clips to clip pictures on it. I’ve already created something with a bunch of pictures – my first Belgian bricolage! The CD is a women’s choir and it’s got songs like ‘Ironic’ by Alanis Morissette and ‘Use Somebody’ by Kings of Leon as well as some original songs written by one of the Kolacny brothers. It’s really nice, I like it a lot.

Once Greg was off with Bastien, I went online and watched some YouTube videos and listened to my new CD. Around 10 I lay down to have a nap (I was up till 2am in the morning…part of it was because of my cough and the other, well, maybe I was excited I don’t know :D). I ended up finally falling asleep and waking up around 1:15! Crazy. Then I had lunch and spent the afternoon getting ready. I wanted to look nice for my birthday dinner you see. It’s up to you to see if I succeeded! After picking Bastien up and coming home for a bit we went to Louvain-la-Neuve for dinner. We went to this Italian restaurant called Le Fellini. I had the Pizza Carbonera (I think that’s the one it was…), but I translated part of it wrong. I was all excited¬†because it said green peppers…or so I thought! It was actually green¬†pepper CORN! So I spent most of the dinner picking them out >_<. I was also intrigued because it said there was bacon (normal, ok) and…egg. I thought I would try it out. This is what I got (breakfast and dinner all in one!):¬†

Needless to say that is one pizza experience I will NEVER forget! During dinner I got another surprise; a webcam! This was from Adeline’s mother. Thanks Sybille! So if anyone has Skype and wants to video chat, let me know. ^_^ The pizza was quite tasty (without the pepper), but I couldn’t even finish it all…and no doggy bags. The funniest part of dinner was when Bastien discovered himself in the mirrors. Adeline and I were beside each other with our back to a mirror and we were sitting in a corner. So Bastien (who was across from me) was able to see himself in 3 different mirrors depending on which way he moved. He was thrilled! He kept saying ‘there’s 3 of me!’. It was very cute.

So dinner was awesome, but now it’s on to the really fun part of the evening. Now, you all know me. Except for the occasional wedding (it was one time, gimme a break!) I partake in the social event of drinking rarely. Now before you get excited/disappointed, I did not get drunk :P, but I did experience 4 beers. Or rather, 4 different types of Troll beer. We went to the brewery because¬†Adeline (who used to work there) told me about this ‘taste-testing’ you can do on your birthday.

You have to show your ID to prove it’s your birthday (he couldn’t find my D.O.B. on my license at first and it freaked me out for a second…then I showed him where it was) and then you get to try the La Rafale for FREE!¬†It’s 4 beers (the entire thing is 0.5L), 2 blonde, and 2 amber.

Beer #1: Curvée des Trolls. 7%, smooth and nice.

This is the beer that I had last week (was it really only last week?).

Beer #2: Ambrose-Temps. 5.5%, a little more bitter than the first. This one I could tell was weaker, but I didn’t like it as much because of the extra bitterness it had compared with #1.¬†

Beer #3: Bush 10%. As you can see, this one had more of a kick than #s 1 & 2. It was also a blonde beer like the first. I liked this one.

Beer #4: Bush 12%. This last beer (like #2) was an amber beer. Stronger and much more bitter. I felt it in my nose! I didn’t really like this one. My favourites were #s 1 & 3. I may not be a Gentleman, but I definitely Prefer Blondes* beer. Insert witty musical reference here, er, there.

It was a lot of fun trying those. And it’s a good idea really. If you don’t know what kind of beer you like, this lets you try different kinds in small sizes. Greg got one too, and he tried to tell me to drink it in the opposite order, but I’d been¬†forewarned¬†by Adeline and there were numbers on the tray…and he thought I would fall for that! And he kept trying to get me to chug them…I’m not sure if he’s such a good influence! I’m kidding. He’s great! And he was just joking with me…I think ;). Remember I said Adeline used to work at this Brewery/Pub? Well, she used to be able to carry 10 of those trays at once! Empty of course, but still impressive. It was good for Bastien because he was able to be as loud as he wanted and no one would mind :D. Him and Greg kept making silly/scary faces, it was very entertaining. It was a great end to a great evening. The Pub trip wasn’t planned, but sometimes those things are the best. We weren’t sure if they still did it for free on your birthday, but we thought we’d check and I’m glad we did because it was fun and not something I’m ever going to get to do again.

So I’m not sure if the post itself was very interesting, but the pictures are I think. I had so many I wanted to include, but I just picked a few of my favourites as a treat. Thanks for all the birthday wishes I got on Facebook and through email (and snail mail, thanks Laura!). This post is up so late because I was responding to all of those!


*Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is the name of book,¬†a musical and a 1953 movie starring Marilyn Monroe for those who don’t know. I can’t tell you what it’s about, I just know the title! There’s a sequel to the first book titled But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. I thought that was sort of interesting.


Yes that’s right. You all thought that Belgium was most known for its chocolate (which, I guess, at least in Canada, it is), but what you might not know is that it’s also known for its beer. Jean-Go tells me that there are about 1000 different types of beer here. It’s served cold and each type/flavour/whatever has its own glass. I tried one tonight and it was actually quite good! It definitely went down easier than the beer at home. The beer was called Troll. The best way to drink it (and all beer) is in a glass. My glass had the Troll logo on it. And no, I wasn’t at a restaurant or a bar, this was at home. Greg told me that Belgians usually all have a favourite kind and just drink that. I guess it might take me a while to find mine! Jean-Go also says that each beer actually has its own temperature that it tastes best at. Obviously because you can’t have a fridge set to different temperatures, they’re all just the same cold. I also had wine with dinner last night, white wine. We had lots of cheese as well! More to come on wine and cheese around January 15.

Today they took me Louvain-la-Neuve, a university city about 30 minutes away from my new home town of Wasseiges. We walked by the only Subway that Adeline knows of in Belgium. They said that the only fast food chains from North America are Subway and McDonald’s, but there’s a Belgian chain that is quite good (although I can’t remember the name. I’ll get back to you on that). This city is only about 30 (?) years old, and was basically built around the University. It is only in the last little while that the number of regular citizens out numbers the number of students living there (sort of remind anyone of Waterloo with the two Universities?). Anyway, we went to the mall there (which is also the only large size mall around for a¬†while) and I bought shoes! They’re really cute. I wanted the black one’s, but there were none in my size so I went for the tan. Before going to the mall, Adeline, Sylvain, and I stopped at her other brother’s house. That’s Charles, he’s the one that gave me the panda beanie toy when he was in Canada….almost 14 years ago! I met his wife and they were both very, very nice.

I also played with Bastien for a while today (which was hard because of the language barrier). He’s the most articulate 2.5 year old I know! I feel like he might think I’m ignoring him when he talks to me, because of course, he doesn’t understand that I don’t speak the same language as him….yet! He has the most amazing laugh.

So, to end, while France has amazing wine, Belgium has great beer! So does Germany, but I hear they drink theirs warm and I don’t know if I could handle that. (Greg was very adamant that cold beer is the only way to go…having only had Canadian beer cold or semi-warm, I have to agree). Also, having tried one kind of Belgian beer (and I’m sure I’ll be able to try many more), Canadian beer will be lost on me. Not that that’s a bad thing or that¬†I drank that much in the first place. Don’t worry, I’m not going to drink that much. One, once in a while isn’t all that bad, and I’m experiencing culture!


Well, I guess that’s it for today. A few firsts, there will be many more.

Signing off,



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