And we thought our election was bad

Our September ad-Frenchure is over, but here are a couple of short, yet significant codas to round off the trip. The first of these is the our stay in Belgium at Jenny’s parents’ place.

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Although Jenny and I helped out with the Federal Election, we didn’t stick around long enough for the results; we didn’t know which government we’d be coming home to. But if you think Australia’s got it bad, spare a thought for the Belgians. I won’t embarrass myself by pretending that I have any idea about politics, and instead refer you to this article on Wikipedia. Suffice to say that the country hasn’t had an official government since June.*

Not that any of this had any bearing on our trip. We gladly sank back into a semblance of domestic life:

Um, what do I do with these "egg" things again? Do I... juggle them?

Home made Croque Monsieur and frites - the potatoes came from a local farmer!

And a rare treat… video! Flippin’ fantastic:


But our Belgium stay wasn’t all just staying at home. No, the week that we spent there was punctuated with several activities. The first of these was a visit to the town of Leuven. We were invited over for lunch by Stefan and Wilma, good friends of Jenny’s folks, and afterwards they gave us the tour:

At the table with our gracious hosts

Stefan either used to be a chef or owned his own cafe, I forget. But he makes an amazing endive quiche (one of his specialties).

More of that crazy intricate European architecture (and of course, out of frame, there's construction going on).

Up close. The figures are just replicas; the originals are being stored inside for safekeeping!?!

The inside of a church. Talk about your high ceilings.

This whole thing is carved out of wood (though not from a single piece - that'd be ridiculous!)

The locals call this "the longest bar in the world". It's frequented mainly by students from the nearby university. Figures.

Some Transformers hiding out. Don't worry Constructicons, your secret is safe with me! (But seriously, what is that steam blasting thing?)

"Oh look, it's a botanical garden!" <cries>

A flower.

Another flower.

Trick question. Nope, flower.

My brains. (Yes, they actually set up a faux desert environment inside a greenhouse thing)

Next on the agenda was a family lunch with Jozef’s other children. This was our first time meeting our brothers and their families, and as with every gathering where young children are involved, it was a noisy, messy, hectic and fun-filled affair. Just don’t ask me to remember their names!

Frederik and Manuel. We were dead nervous about meeting them but they turned out to be really nice.

The kids obviously doing something cheeky, and don't they know it!

And last, but by no means least, Jozef and Suzie treated us to dinner at the classy Geuzenhof restaurant:

We were the only ones there that night, but there was a wedding party in the function room next door.

A tasting plate on the house. One of them was some kind of curry.

My entree, a shrimp... thing.

Another entree, also shrimp. There's only 2 kinds 'coz everybody had the same thing except me.

Surprisingly, Jenny ordered a meat for her main... and (really) enjoyed it.

I had the sea bass - not of the mutated, ill-tempered variety.

Parents had the set menu with goose for the main. I found it a bit tough, but the potato things were ace.

Amazing desserts from the set menu, except we were too full to have any.

The black triangle things are Cuberdons - a specialty from the town of Gent.

And that, in one post, was our stay in Belgium. It’s was a particularly sad and poignant occasion because Jenny’s parents are selling the place and downsizing, so the next time we visit we probably won’t see this house again. I mean, even though I’ve only been there twice in my life (and Jenny not too much more than that), it’s still “home” – you know what I mean?

We had such a relaxing time right throughout our two weeks in Europe, and as unlikely as it sounds, we weren’t really looking forward to the fast-pace, high intensity rush of Hong Kong.

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* Another interesting point of comparison was the fact that when we arrived “home” to our parents’ house in Belgium, the local government was in the middle of undergrounding the TV cable. I could wax lyrical about how efficient the whole process was, and draw similarities with the NBN and why its opponents are barking up the wrong tree, but I’ll spare you.