[The Update] Belgium and Horses #28/29


Oh, the past week! Where do I even start? I'm sure some of you already know this, but I have a flatmate that's from Belgium and joined at the hip, partners in crime, I spent the better part of the week staying at his place while visiting the village.

I'll back up a bit. While it wasn't my first time taking the Eurostar by myself, it was the first time I had to figure out local transportation by myself. After arriving in Brussels and my French ability limited to 'Bonjour! Je suis désolé. Je ne parle pas français' it took me a bit of fumbling around to figure out which train would take me to the station where my friend would pick me up. Weirdly enough, I guess I looked like I knew what I was doing as there was this lovely couple that came up to me asking for directions in french. 

I was on the station platform, waiting for the train to come. All this while, I was reading on my kindle, headphones in, looking like I was perfectly at ease, while panicking inside, hoping that I won't get on the wrong train or miss my station because my French ability was handicapped to asking people to sleep with me (blame Moulin Rouge!) and my Dutch wording was non-existent. The whole train ride was me sitting on needles as well, but it paid off as I hopped off on the right station to see my flatmate waiting there. We waited a bit for Annie who was joining us from Brogue with her friend before driving back to his place. It's been a while since I've been in a car, and I know this will sound strange to those that drive on a regular basis, but it's a luxury. There was a lot of laughs and catching up on the way, and I probably didn't comply to traffic safety rules when I scared him by suddenly getting over excited upon seeing horses and cows. I told you, city girl right here.  We dropped off the luggages at his place, bonded with his dog, said hi and chit chatted with his mum with him translating when my limited Spanish ability wasn't sufficient and had the most yummy strawberry tart and raspberry pie ever! The afternoon was already amazing, but it got even better when we made way into the forest just behind his house. His mum is the sweetest person ever and made sure the flatmate brought out the hiking shoes for us and made sure that we had enough to wear. 

The flatmate was not kidding when he said that he lived by the forest. A 5 minute walk and we were already surrounded by massive pine trees and fallen logs. It was so nice to feel the damp humidity of the woods and the sound of the leaves crunching under our shoes. There were a couple of times when I had to balance myself after insisting to cross the small stream on a small log, and almost losing my footing when making way down a steep slope. We got to a dense patch of the forest where the flatmate instructed us to run zigzag if we were unfortunately chased by a wild boar. Fortunately, the wild boar I managed to get a second's glimpse of was more into hiding then making us exercise. We also came across a herd of deer that started strolling away from us when we made too many leaf-crunching noises. We moved a couple meters in front of them and waited. We waited. And then we started making clicking and whistling noises, all in vain as the deer just stared at us like we were mad. At one point, the flatmate made a Bambi reference and the deer started moving away. We blamed it on him not remembering Bambi's mother had died and he just made a face at us before claiming that it was simply because the deers were already bored of us. 

A lot of hipster photos were referenced as we continued the walk in the forest and my favourite part of the trip was when we came across the field where the flatmate's neighbour kept his horse. I used to ride for several years before stopping due to an incident, but my love for horses was still strong. The horse, probably bored, came over immediately after I clicked my tongue and a good 10-15 minutes was spent with me bonding with the horse before Annie and the flatmate tried to drag me away. The adorable sweetie kept following me to the edge of his field and stuck his head out, watching me walk away. It was a heartbreaking sight and if it wasn't for the two people dragging me away, I think I probably would've gone back. 

A normally one hour walk took us a good 2 hours and when we got back to his house, his sister had dropped by to visit and welcome us, and his dad was finally home. Us four visitors and his family gathered in his backyard where we chitchatted over beer and crisps/chips while waiting for dinner. Some of you might know this, but my flatmate is a brilliant cook. He always said that what he made couldn't compare to his mum's cooking but it was hard to believe. That was until dinner when she made the most amazing turkey with a mustard sauce and croquettes and salad. His dad, who has ridiculously good taste in wine and beer, served delicious wine to accompany and compliment the meal. Needless to say, four days later while I'm typing this up on the trip back to London, I feel like I've grown a good jean size or two. 
My standard of good food has been significantly raised after staying at his house for a little over a week. Sunday breakfast was chocolate fondue with good coffee. And I kid you not, apparently this is a regular sunday thing going on in this household! After mucking around and waiting for digestion to kick in, we made way to the nearby national reserve for a long walk in the moors. It was so nice to just enjoy the quiet and nature, things that years of being a city girl has me being a stranger to. 

It was starting to rain a bit on the last stretch back and we were belting out Disney songs as there was no one near - him in French and me in English. After a quick baguette run and the most delicious carrot and leek soup that I've ever had which his mum claimed to be 'just' a soup, Annie and her friend decided to take a nap. Which resulted in me and the flatmate gaming away the afternoon. They woke two hours later to find us shouting creative profanities at the tv screen before deciding to join us in trying to defeat thong-man with a big clumsy panda. If that didn't make sense, then don't worry, you're more likely to be sane. We were fed by another surreally delicious meal made by his mum and several cups of good wine later, I was already a bit too tipsy to make sense. His parents had already retired for the night as they had to get up early, so me sitting in the corner of the kitchen, trying to speak to the dog with logic luckily wasn't seen by them. I had slumped to the couch and cuddled up with as much of the throw pillows I could get before using Annie's lap as a leg rest where I tried not to drift asleep while watching episodes of Desperate Housewives or end up trying to carry out conversations with the characters. I was constantly reminded of how silly I was the night before the next day, and well, I was happy. Things were good. And what do you mean you don't try and carry on a conversation with the tv characters even when sober? 
if you want a workout, that's 800 steps for you to climb right there. 
captain obvious tour guide example: 
Me: what's this?
Flatmate: um...a really huge piece of wood. 
We spent the last full day I had there in Liege where we had Liege waffles sparkled with cinnamon, tried out the local shots (which were so good but so strong in alcohol). His sister joined us midday, showing us around the city and explaining the history behind some of the buildings. She had to leave early, and while on the hunt for the Thai curry ingredients that Annie was going to make for dinner, the flatmate gave the most captain obvious answers to histories of statues and buildings. When we finally got everything we needed, we went back to his place and scrambled to finish making dinner before his parents arrived home. Annie made Thai curry that was always a big hit in the flat and not able to cook, I made chocolate chip cookies with crushed walnuts. Luckily, his parents both really liked the food that we prepared and went in for seconds after asking for the recipes. While waiting for Annie to wash up, the flatmate did his Tarot card reading thing and not going into specifics, but if it turns out to be true, which I hope it does, the following 12 months is going to be amazing! 

The last morning was spent belting out songs and arguing over which version of Let it Go was better as we sorted out our luggage. After sending off Annie and her friend who were both continuing their journey to Germany, the flatmate and I went back to his place where we chit chatted while watching episodes of Desperate Housewives before I had to leave. 

Now, at this point, I was feeling pretty confident with my luck on this trip. I even managed to get off at the right Brussels stop on the train (there are three okay?). But I should've known that of all the travel obstacles, the Eurostar would be my Achilles heel. If you don't know what I mean, you can catch up with my adventures with the Eurostar here. But after unsuccessfully trying to get in the gate and three people checking my ticket to find the reason behind the 'glitch', I realized that my ticket was stupidly booked for the day after. It was an awkward situation, I mean, I could've traveled 2.5 hours back to the station and have the flatmate pick me up, but I had a thing that I had to get back to the next day, so basically, the only choice left for me was to purchase a ridiculously overpriced last minute ticket on the same train 24 hours early, and sending an international text to my mum in the middle of the night to explain why there's an additional purchase on her credit card that could probably buy an organ on the black market. At the moment, I'm on the Eurostar back home to London, so fingers crossed, no more glitches. *knocks on wood* The current talley: Eurostar 3, me 1. We need to even this out. 

I do apologize for getting this update up late, but I guess you can already tell I was a tad too busy having fun with the woodland creatures and indulging in good food. Also the bad wifi connection didn't help either. All in all, this trip was a good one. No, it was a fantastic one. His parents have already invited us back for another trip soon if we're still around in the summer, and I'm definitely looking forward to going back. It was a much needed break before going back to hitting the books. 

That was a massively long post. Kudos to you if you got through that all! How was your week? Any trips you're planning lately?  
post signature