Rain or shine, a day-trip to Ghent is good.

We’ve been in Belgium now only two weeks and I’m already feeling the push to start traveling. I mean, Europe is so vast, how on earth will we see it all in just three short years? And what if for some reason we’re only here two years? The struggle is real.

We’re starting small with a few day very manageable day-trips. Fortunately for us, living in Brussels means that there is SO VERY MUCH to see and do within an hour or two car drive. So saturday morning, we headed to Ghent, Belgium – just an hour and a half from home.

14862469706 5fe3e6e4fd Rain or shine, a day trip to Ghent is good.

A few things worth noting. This was our very first “adventure”, and I learned a lot about family travel in Europe in just one attempt.

1. Just because it’s sunny at home when you leave does not mean it will be sunny and warm at your destination. We worn shorts, t-shirts, ect. heck, I packed sunscreen. The reality was that it was cold and rainy the whole day, even though we were just 90 minutes up the road. Next time we all leave the home with sweatshirts and rain jackets, at least packed away in the car. Oh, and an umbrella or two would have been nice.

2. Have a plan that includes where to park. Sure, I planned what we were going to do, and where we were going to eat, but knowing where to park trumps everything else on the agenda. Learned that one the hard way.

3. Take enough cash. Unlike the US, where you can plop down your credit card for almost everything, that’s not the case here in Europe. More than a few times we’ve tried to pay with our card, only to be told they take cash only. Michael learned this the hard (and embarrassing way) a few weeks back…

14905321143 2394b28373 Rain or shine, a day trip to Ghent is good.

Ok, on with the day.

Like I mentioned above, we dressed ourselves and our four children totally inappropriately for the day. Michael and I had hoodies (which we rotated through the kids), but everyone else was dressed as if they still lived in hot and sweaty Indiana. The plan was to visit Gravensteen, a medieval castle located right in the center of the city – but with the tourist crowds and the cruddy weather, we decided to skip it and just seek shelter instead. Moving on was probably a good choice, although I know Gage would have really gotten a kick out of the tour, given his current fascination with swords and anything medieval (emphases on the “evil”).

14885119642 1249af7b93 Rain or shine, a day trip to Ghent is good.

Seeking lunch felt like the perfect next step. And since eating in Europe with six people is almost always a budget-bender, we headed to a place called Pizza Gulhan, known for not only their affordability but quality as well. You guys, best idea ever. Perfect for kids, amazing food, and our family of six walked out of the place completely full for only 25 euros. And yes, we even had a couple drinks.

14698845708 60ab1e68d7 Rain or shine, a day trip to Ghent is good.

Soft eggs on your pie? Go for it, you won’t be sad. At the end of the meal, the kids were treated to Turkish Delight (with mixed reviews, Paul scarfed it up), and Michael and I enjoyed complimentary after-dinner drinks of some unidentifiable orange dessert liqueur. Whatever it was, gimme moar.

14862469876 158fc60863 Rain or shine, a day trip to Ghent is good.(holding it up like it’s the freakin’ Lion King or something)

Since it was (still!) raining, after lunch, we decided to call it a short day and head back to the car by way of Ghent’s famous graffiti alley, Werregarenstraat. The kids were impressed, and maybe a little bit inspired too.

14885443045 e32d3394cd Rain or shine, a day trip to Ghent is good.

Overall, it was a bummer that it rained on our fist attempt at European travel, but we still had a blast. We will be back, probably sooner than later, and hopefully the sun (or at least dry weather) will be on our side.

Moving out, moving around, and finally moving in.

So much has happened since I last blogged that I don’t even know where to start. And quite honestly, I’ve very much considered not starting back up. Just, you know, moving on and chugging forward with life undocumented. It could happen.

But who am I kidding – like a reoccurring itch you just can’t scratch, I’m back. First things first – WE MADE IT TO BELGIUM about a week and a half ago.

The kids (and cats) did amazing on their first ever flight which just happened to be transatlantic. I had a lot of anxiety over the logistics – to say we had a lot of spinning plates in the air would have been a gross understatement. Because when 2 adults are responsible for getting 4 kids, 2 cats, 11 pieces of checked luggage, 6 backpacks, 4 car seats from one end of the globe to the other, what could go wrong?

 14866905842 f95994cae1 Moving out, moving around, and finally moving in.

Nothing. Nothing went wrong and I’m not even kidding – the almost 24 hours of travel went as well as could be expected. The next week or so we spent staying in a small hotel apartment in the heart of our new town, getting ready to move in and set up shop and making good on our promise of waffles and chocolate.

 14864781794 51e8862c11 Moving out, moving around, and finally moving in.

Our sea shipment (think semi-truck) filled with our very important personal crap (which I packed 1000% too much of) arrived this past Tuesday, and after all this time living like nomads, it was time to move in.

Welcome home, baby Paul. May this be the first house you will probably remember.

14864782334 2e605a7a54 Moving out, moving around, and finally moving in.

It took a crew of six men 4 days to move us out of our home in Indianapolis, and a crew of 4 Polish student-manboys a full working day to unpack us into our new place. And by move in, I mean they brought everything into the house, took the bubble wrap off the big stuff and ran a box cutter over the boxes, for us to unload at our leisure.

14867227045 ed4c431481 Moving out, moving around, and finally moving in.

But we’re getting set up and trying to make this new place feel like us. Today, I did my first couple loads of laundry (which was challenging, considering I don’t understand French and am apparently not as intuitive as I thought) and even drove for the first time ever here in Europe to get groceries for the week and it only took me two hours in the store. You guys, I meal planned – which is a huge step in the right domestic direction. And last night we pilgrimaged to the Holy Grail of shopping, to IKEA, because our feelings felt like occasional lighting fixtures and Swedish Meatballs.

That being said, even though we have literal piles and piles of chores to do, I’m not in a hurry. I figure the kids go to school in a few weeks, and then it will just be baby Paul and I every day, so organizational details can wait. First up is working on culture shock with things like chocolate croissants and glasses of cheap French wine.

Lazy morning and warm afternoons are taking priority.

 14680607039 3304dbc6e4 Moving out, moving around, and finally moving in.

(front yard view from second story window)

 
14872249443 87876c1572 Moving out, moving around, and finally moving in.

(dining/living area, one day post-bubble wrap)

I hope everyone had an absolutely awesome summer, I really can’t believe how it’s basically over already. When we were kids, didn’t it last forever?

While we waited for our things to arrive here in Belgium, we spent a few weeks doing crazy things like white water rafting – horseback riding – mountain peak summiting in Colorado with our cousins, cottaging on the lake in West Michigan, and long days hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Maybe someday I’ll blog about those pre-Belgium days. Because they were blog-worthy in their own right.

Guys, thanks for checking in and following along as our family transitions. Hopefully in these next few weeks and months we can find a rhythm that makes sense. I’m excited to share the good, the bad, the embarrassing and hopefully the downright ridiculous side of expat living.

Tomorrow we’re headed as a family to Ghent, Belgium on our first ever daytrip. Wish us luck and follow along for some real-time micro-blogging over on Instagram. Cheers!

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