Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rowdy Americans

I got just exactly what I needed last night - a bunch of rowdy Americans!!!

I really needed a fix of American style bravado, slap on the back, good to see you kind of atmosphere. During an orientation to this post I met other Americans outside my co-workers who also work in Brussels. Me being my normal talk-to-everybody self wrangled an invitation to join some others for a Friday evening out. We met other Americans and some locals (and not so locals) who also know how to be rowdy.

It was so very enjoyable and has gone a long way toward making adjustment to this post easier.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Permanent Home

I was moved into my "permanent" home today. Funny how that word has such a different meaning for those who move every couple of years.

All kinds of chaos ensued with trying to coordinate two sets of movers - one moving me and all the things I've collected, and another delivering my first small shipment from Abu Dhabi.

I have to say I absolutely love my apartment. It is smaller than my home in Abu Dhabi but not tiny by any stretch of the imagination. Much more in keeping with a modest home in the States. The kitchen is small, but looks to be efficient. I've got 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a very nice living/dining area with a great balcony. I found that I have a storage "cave" in the basement/parking garage that is about 12x12, so I even have room for Christmas things.

Apparently home burglary is a big thing here, so there are all kinds of security.

Best of all I am very close to public transport and the trip to work is easy and not too long.

Monday, August 23, 2010

American Political Scene Aug 2010

I admit to being busy with my own life, but I have been paying attention to what is happening to my fellow citizens at home. Some of my dearest friends and family are dealing with serious consequences as a result of a government that no longer abides by the restrictions placed upon it by the Constitution.

I cannot write enough to express my disgust with the current state of affairs, but I did find a couple of articles written by others.

Click the links below:
LA Times
UK Telegraph

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Arrived in Brussels

I have finally arrived in Brussels, even had a few days in the office.

Unfortunately, I'm having a much harder time adjusting to the time change than I did in Abu Dhabi. I'm not sure why, but I do know I am simply exhausted, so I've been sleeping quite a lot.

I do feel as though I have stepped into a storybook with all architecture of the mostly short buildings (8 stories or less) , narrow streets and of course, most people are speaking French-therefore, I'm a little disconnected from it all.

I miss Finn Sisu all the time, but his absence is particularly acute now. I know he would have absolutely loved this place, this experience. I miss my partner~in~crime who could always make me laugh and shared my twisted sense of humor. He would be be laughing about the fact that the only English we can find on TV is infomercials selling ABtronix, portable paint sprayers, etc...and we'd be watching it!!

I suppose it will take a while to get used to this little city that has been described by my colleagues as a little wacky, but then it's just another adventure.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I landed this morning in Brussels. Arrived around 8:30 in the morning. Picked up by one of my coworkers and taken to a furnished apartment in the city.

There is no phone in the apartment. There's no food in the apartment. Everything on TV is in French. I have no euro. Don't know where an ATM is located. Don't know how to navigate the city and, of course, I don't know French.

There is a bed and since I pretty much have nothing else to do...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Road Trip

I just spent the most fabulous four days motorcycle riding in North Georgia and the Great Smoky Mountains with 4 awesome ladies!!!

I am inspired, refreshed and wholly invigorated.

The women I rode with were very supportive and encouraging for this new rider. Riding in a group provided more protection and helped me to relax. Their counsel was patient and their instruction valuable.

We hit Chattanooga where we were hosted by wonderful friends and ate like kings, then rode to Gatlinburg (getting soaked on the way) where we stayed in an old style motel (and ate like kings).

It has been 10 years or more since I was in the Smokies and I must say I feel like I visited heaven, it was almost a religious experience. I LOVE the area and think that if I had to pick one place to stay for the rest of my life this would be it.

Leaving Gatlinburg we headed into the iconic Gateway to the Smokies. I've been on this road many times as a child and as an adult. As a child I never understood why we would drive fast on the interstate for hours to get to this place and then spend days driving slowly around. As an adult I appreciated the serenity more, but on a bike...oh, my - what an experience, what a view.

We hit Clingman's Dome early in the morning. It is August but none of us took off our jackets.

As usual the mountain was full of the famed "smoke" that gave the range its name. I pity the uninformed tourists who brave the 1/2 mile walk, every step up a mountainside, only to get to the top, walk up the ramp to the 2 story tall observation tower to see...FOG. LOL. I've done it and won't be doing it again. Don't be fooled by national park pamphlets talking about being able to see for a 100 miles. I've NEVER seen it and I've been there in Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. I have been there when you could not even see the ground below the observation tower.

Oh, and that fog is NOT pollution. That famous mist on the mountain is a result of the rapid cooling of warm moist air coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. As it rises up to the top of the mountains the moisture condenses and lingers over the peaks.

Next we descended the other side of the mountain into Cherokee, North Carolina and headed for the Cherahola Skyway, another fabulous drive through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests. We stayed in Murphy, NC, where we did not eat like kings.

Our last day found us making our way down to Dahlonega, Georgia via Blairsville. In Blairsville we stopped at a little country store with the OLD gas pumps (you know the kind where the numbers roll up). We met locals who had their dogs with them and found all kinds of treasures. I bought red pepper jelly and another called Smokey Mountain Traffic Jam (combination of raspberries, blueberries and strawberries). The name is tongue-in-cheek because there are lots of traffic jams, after all the speed limits are 30-40 mph.

In Dahlonega we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a local cafe and perused the shops on the square before making our final way back to Atlanta. I learned that the actual journey is so much more fun when you are not in a hurry and can enjoy whatever you encounter.

Monday, August 2, 2010

250 Miles

You should be used to me doing unexpected things by now...I have bought and am now riding a new Harley Davidson motorcycle. I ordered a Softail Deluxe several months ago and finally got it, after taking a motorcycle safety/riding course.

No, I had never actually ridden a motorcycle (other than being a passenger) before now, but I've been on bicycles, ATVs and pretty much anything else that goes. I love speed and I love power (always have) much as I do though, I respect the danger the bike represents and I will treat it accordingly.

I've been riding for a week and finally got 250 miles on the bike. I am so looking forward to cruising the Smokies on my bike with friends before heading off to Brussels in late August. I doubt I will tackle anything like the Dragon's Tail, but the mountains of my home have much to offer with respect to pristine beauty, calming serenity and exhilarating vistas.