We are on House Hunter's International Tonight!

Loving the beauty of Bruges, Belgium
Checking out some scenery in Roeselare, Belgium with the HHI film crew
We made them do our signature pose
Tonight is the night!

Chris and I had such a great time (such fun) filming a House Hunter's International episode detailing our move from Serbia to Belgium and our apartment hunting experience. We filmed for four full days in between Serbia and Belgium, and we were able to involve so many of the amazing friends that we have made along the way. We can't wait to see our friend's faces on TV! This episode was filmed quite a while ago, so it will be interesting to see the finished product. 

Anyway, on the west coast, HGTV will show our episode at 7:30pm and 10:30pm tonight. In Kentucky, our mugs will be on TV at 10:30pm and again at 1:30am. Get all of the exact information here. Feel free to tune in!! You may be seeing the episode before we do since we have to record it and watch it on Thursday morning. 

The Statesman Journal in my hometown of Salem, Oregon also wrote a piece on us. Read that article here if ya want. 

Thanks for reading (and watching). 
Lana and Chris McCoy

Want to see the episode? I posted it here


{Sneak Peek Istanbul}

Hagia Sophia at night
I turned 30! 

Actually, I hit the big 3-0 at the end of September, but this season in our lives has been a whirlwind that seems to finally be calming down. Sort of. It is just starting to sink in that I've hit that age when most women freak out about wrinkles, job security, settling down and babies. I have the wrinkles, but the other things are so far from my mind these days! Chris and I had been planning a birthday trip to Istanbul with two of our dear friends from Belgium since sometime in June. All of a sudden, we were thrown a curve ball when the opportunity to move to Regensburg, Germany popped up. It was not an easy decision, and we talked it over and over together. After a couple weeks of weighing the pros and the cons, Chris accepted and started the new job a week before our scheduled trip. Needless to say, instead of spending my time researching restaurants and scenic look-out spots in Istanbul, I was frantically packing, and cleaning, and turning off utilities and breaking the apartment lease. 
There never is a dull moment for this little expat family!


Doesn't Mallorca Sound Wonderful About Now?

Towards the end of May, we booked a spur of the moment (stupid cheap) Ryan Air flight to Mallorca, Spain. I told Chris that it would be a delayed present for his 28th birthday; but let's be honest, it was more of an excuse to escape a miserably long Belgian cold spell. Spain had also claimed a special place in our hearts and a prominent spot on our travel calendar after a trip to Barcelona (If you're interested, find some of our Barcelona info here, and here). 

I think there was still snow on the ground as we boarded a flight bound for Spain's largest island. I had heard about the neighboring party island (Ibiza), but the only reason we chose Mallorca was because there was a direct flight from Brussels to Mallorca for less than an Italian dinner for two (Italian is about the cheapest sit down dinner option you'll find in Europe). My type A-must-research-every-detail-of-a-trip-to-a-new-city-personality sort of took a vacation, and I threw planning out the window! I mean, how hard could it be for us to get down to a beach, lay out our towels, and relax on the warm sand?!

I learned my lesson (again), because what we wanted and what we walked into were so completely far off from each other!

 At the airport, we caught the local bus #21, and within ten minutes we were walking into the lobby of Java Hotel. Our accommodation was right in the middle of Playa de Palma, and while the hotel itself was newly remodeled and reasonably priced, the long stretch of beach outside of the hotel was less than relaxing! What we had wanted was a slow couple of days sprawled out on the sand followed by seafood dinners at beach front restaurants. What we actually got was this:


Antwerp(en), Belgium

Antwerpen has the prettiest train station that I think I have seen in Europe!
We always get asked what our favorite cities are in Belgium, and the answer always starts out the same. First and foremost, we are in love with Bruges. The preserved medieval city seems almost too beautiful to be real life; it feels more like a movie set than a place people actually call "home." As soon as I saw Her, I knew that I wanted to live close to Bruges (check out Bruges herehere, and here). So, yeah, Bruges would be our #1 place to visit in Belgium, but then of course there are other fantastic cities like Ghent and Antwerp that cannot be missed when visiting the land of strong beer and rich chocolate. 

Antwerp (English) - Antwerpen (Dutch) - Anvers (French)

When visiting Antwerp, it's not uncommon to see the city spelled all three different ways, but the most often used version is the Dutch one. According to legend, Antwerpen got Her name after the mighty giant who used to demand a toll for passage into the port city. Those who refused to cough up the money would pay by having their hand cut off and thrown into the river. Eventually the money-hungry giant was killed and his own giant hand cut off and thrown into the river, thus giving the city the name "hand-werpen" ("to throw" in Old English). Eventually that evolved into the modern day name of Antwerpen. You'll see hand statues and hand illustrations all around the city if you keep your eyes open for them.

Chris and I enjoyed a lovely weekend in Antwerpen checking out a few local restaurants, meandering through annual fall festivals, sipping sangria at the city "beach," and getting acquainted with Belgium's second largest city. While Antwerpen is not as visually stunning as Bruges and Ghent, it does have an artistic vibe that invites one to stop, relax, and stay a while. 

Planning a trip to Antwerpen? Here are some of our city notes:


Westvleteren Trappist Brewery Belgium

Pic found here.
Summer 2013 has come and gone, and I find myself with an ever growing list of adventures and experiences to blog/journal about. I have been so caught up in the moments that I've forgotten to properly documented the memories. The end of summer also marked another milestone in this grand little adventure that was supposed to take the McCoy family from Kentucky to Serbia and back again in three years time. Isn't it funny how life never really seems to go as planned?! Our international journey has not followed anyone's predictions, but we sort of like it that way. Chris and I have been living and working overseas for two years and four months; and in that time we moved from Kentucky to Subotica, Serbia (as planned), and then from Serbia to Roeselare, Belgium (not planned, but welcomed), and now we find ourselves in Regensburg, Germany. . . . absolutely not planned, but we figured we had moved before, and we could do it again!

What's one more move to shake things up a bit? 

Chris and I have been officially living in Regensburg, Germany for about three weeks, and everything is still so new. Once we feel a little more settled and 'normal,' I plan to document the process of our most recent move. In the meantime though, there are so many other things that I need to catch up on! 

First things first - Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren Brewery in Belgium

While living in Belgium, Chris and I were lucky to live 40 minutes away from one of the most famous breweries in the world. For beer enthusiasts, the mere mention of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren makes you salivate. For everyone else, don't worry, I'll fill ya in on some of the basic details. 


The Belgian BBQ

There is so much to love about Belgium! 
After a year in the land of chocolate, waffles and exceptional beer, we've come to realize that there's so much more to this country than one reads about in travel publications. Chris and I are so happy with our decision to live in Roeselare, because we were quickly embraced in this small, not-at-all-touristy, city. We are happy here, and we've met amazing people who have included us and made us feel at home. Aside from the obvious Belgian delicacies, here are a few things that we have come to appreciate about our second European home: 

{The work/life balance}
If you work on a Belgian contract, it is actually illegal to work more than 38.5 hours a week. Illegal! For all of our friends working 60+ hour weeks in America, this must seem like a vacation every day of the week! Of course there are people in Belgium who do work overtime, but in general, people value their time away from the office. On work evenings, young professionals meet up for a drink on a terrace, families stroll through the park, and in the summer there are fairs on the Market Square and events to fill every evening. It just seems that Belgian families spend more quality time together than in America. That's just my observation.  

{The bike culture}
Of course there are European cities (like Amsterdam) that have a more vibrant biking culture, but in Belgium, it's also acceptable for young and old people to scoot around on bikes. There are no school busses in Roeselare, so kids ride to school on bikes. I remember being jealous when high school friends received Mercedes or Hummers (seriously?!) for their 16th birthday. I think I am going to send our kids to a school where everyone rides bikes. Even the mail man delivers the mail on a bike! It just seems healthy to get to where you're going on a bike. 


The Grand Canal Party in Roeselare

The Grand Canal beach party in Roeselare, Belgium. Photo credits here
Several weekends ago, Chris and I experienced The Grand Canal beach party in our land-locked, Belgian home of Roeselare. It initially sounded suspect, but naturally, the McCoy's are always up for new adventures. Niekie (my first Belgian friend), rallied her posse to come out, enjoy the sand, dance the night away and support a great local DJ who just happened to be her hubby, Tim. It didn't take that much convincing to get Chris and I there. 

On the other side of the tracks, in the tired, industrial area of Roeselare, we walked through an arch built entirely out of wooden pallets and we completely forgot where we were. The set up was brilliant! Belgians are really great at capitalizing on their summers, and The Grand Canal beach party was a perfect example of just that. A wall of several thousand wooden pallets encompassed the make shift beach, restaurant, bar and DJ area. For two months in the summer, parties and events take place here when the weather is favorable. 

I love those moments when you blindly walk into a new place and feel immediately at ease. It didn't hurt that we were enjoying the balmy, Belgian evening with a big group of friends. What a difference a year can make! I remember walking through Roeselare as a complete stranger; watching people greet each other on the street, and stop at sidewalk cafes to kiss each other on the cheek. I wanted so badly to walk past someone familiar, to be recognized, to feel valued, to be known. A year later, I am being greeted everywhere I go, I am being kissed on the cheek and I am no longer a stranger. 


Tyne Cot Cemetery Belgium

Pops at the Tyne Cot Memorial Cemetery in Passendale, Belgium
They made it! 
Finally, Chris' grandparents, his aunties, Elizabeth and Christy, and Christy's son, Jake, made it to Europe after two days of dodging tornados in Atlanta. They missed London, but thankfully they didn't miss out on their entire vacation. "The stranded five" arrived into Brussels several hours before we were scheduled to arrive in Belgium.  It was impossible to switch our tickets, and I felt a little anxious about them arriving into Belgium without Chris or I there to welcome them. I called our friend, Bert, and without hesitation, he offered to do whatever I needed to help make "the stranded five" feel a little bit more comfortable. What a blessing it was to have Bert there! Our family made their way from Brussels to Roeselare, and in our little city, they found Bert with a box of Belgian chocolates in hand ready to welcome five weary, stinky, American travelers.

After such an ordeal, naturally, their luggage didn't arrive with them. It was promised that the luggage would arrive the following day, but in the meantime we had plans! We washed the clothes that "the stranded five" had been wearing for two days straight, ordered pizza and just enjoyed being with family for the evening. Everyone was relieved to finally be together as planned, and at the end of the evening, the weary travelers were more than happy to retire to comfortable accommodation at R&Breakfast. 

In the morning, we were accompanied by five of our Belgian friends to the Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Passendale, Belgium. The cemetery is built on the important western front of the First World War and is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. It's quite humbling to walk through the museum and the graves themselves and try to grasp the complete devastation of the landscape and such overwelming loss of life. 


London With the McCoys

Mom and Dad McCoy in London, England
For almost a year, Chris and I had been planning a grand European adventure with his entire family. After countless Skype-planning-sessions, and way too many hours scanning Trip Advisor reviews, the European ininerary was set, hotels were booked, vans secured, restaurant reservations (for 11) made, and train tickets were booked for nine of Chris' family members. Everything seemed to be perfectly planned for their first trip to Europe. . . 

Well, everything that is except for the TORNADO! No one really planned on that happening! When the day finally came for the family to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, Chris' parents, brother and Claire (Chris' brother's girlfriend) made their way to London to meet up with us. The other half of the family had purchased Delta flights out of Atlanta, and that's where the little problem of the tornado happened to be. Weather is a funny thing that no one can predict or control, but she sure does have a way of completely derailing well planned trips in no time. 

There was nothing that anyone could do. It was just one of those major travel mishaps; the sort of mishap that Chris and I have never experienced in our two years of galavanting through Europe. I so wish that it had not happened to Chris' dear grandparents, his two aunts and his cousin . . .  but it did. "The stranded five" waited around for two days in the Atlanta airport without luggage and without very much sympathy from Delta. One Delta member even suggested they purchase new tickets to London or just give up and go home. Finally, a sweet ticket agent took pity on them and rerouted them through to Belgium. Once "the stranded five" finally got to Europe, they had missed their whole trip to London. 


The Moments We Don't Want to Forget

{ Where has this summer gone?! }

It seems that just yesterday I was unpacking our summer clothes and wondering if our sweaters and rain boots should still be easily accessible. Suddenly, the glorious sunshine seems to disappear just a little bit earlier each evening, our mini fan isn't getting quite as much use, dinner on the terrace requires a light jacket, and I'm beginning to wonder where I packed those sweaters and rain boots. I'm so not ready to say goodbye to summer. 

For all of the rain and freezing weather that Belgium experiences, when summer eventually rolls around, it's easy to forget the miserable winter that was. Like proper Belgian's (are we there yet?), we packed as much as possible into our first full summer in Roeselare. Chris and I were so busy simply enjoying the season with friends and family, that this little blog was harshly neglected. I just realized that there are several months that haven't been documented at all, and I must get back to blogging because I too quickly forget the details as life rolls on. 

{ Here's a mini recap of our Belgian summer }


Eating Our Way Through Barcelona

Barcelona kisses in Placa Reial - "Royal Plaza"
 Slowly but surely, spring has slipped into a mellow Belgian summer, and the days have gotten longer and longer. Western Europe is reporting one of the coldest spring seasons on record, and they aren't predicting a freakishly long, hot summer to make up for the extra wear and tear on our boots and rain coats. As soon as the sun makes an appearance, Roeselare's sidewalks erupt with smiling shoppers and the terraces are full of friends meeting over aperitifs and coffee.

By early May, Chris and I were totally over waiting for that occasional sun break, so we booked last minute flights and headed south to Barcelona. I am finding that summer is the hardest time for me to blog (for many reasons), but if I don't write about our trips, I quickly forget all of the fantastic meals that we had, the places we stayed and the adventures that we shared. Barcelona became one of our favorite summer spots, so I expect to get back some day and I want to revisit a lot of the restaurants that we discovered.

Chris and I met up with our best friend, Reece, and we were lucky to get a really great rate at a B&B right on the beach, Bed and Beach Barcelona Guesthouse. The location was perfect since the guys really just wanted to relax on the beach, and I had the flexibility to easily get into town and explore on my own. In my last blog, I posted about my relaxing day exploring Park Guell. There is so much to see and do around Barcelona that you could probably spend months in the city and not even scratch the surface!

We got a lot of food/drink recommendations from Reece's coworker who spends loads of time in Barcelona. We tried almost every single place that she suggested, and we were never once disappointed! Megan, if you ever read my little blog post, thanks a million for taking the time to share some Barcelona love with us! Below is a list of the restaurants and bars that we loved. I don't want to forget these places, and I would love to pass on some (of Megan's) information to others who are planning a trip to the lively city of Barcelona!


{Park Guell - Barcelona, Spain}

After a hectic month full of House Hunter's International filming and ridiculously cold Belgian spring weather, Chris and I decided to book a quick weekend getaway to sunny Barcelona, Spain. At least we were crossing our fingers and praying for a tad bit of sun! I think we would have been happy with anything other than the average spring temperatures of 6 Celsius/43 Farenheit! (Of course, the year we move, Belgium has the coldest spring in 44 years! Thanks Belgium!) Well thankfully, Barcelona did not disappoint! We basked in the warmth of the sun every afternoon we were in town.

We met up with our great friend, Reece, and the three of us booked an apartment at Bed and Beach Barcelona Guesthouse. The Guesthouse is about 15-minutes (by public transport) from the center of Barcelona; but as the name suggests, it's right on the beach. The owners were incredibly helpful, the apartment was clean and remodeled, and the price was super reasonable. It's a place we will absolutely book again!

Since we were literally staying right on the beach, the boys were hesitant to leave their sandy retreats for city sightseeing. I decided to leave them one afternoon and take a bus up to Park Guell. I am so happy that I made the trek! In my opinion, Park Guell is a must see when visiting Barcelona. The boys would disagree with me since they were content playing frisbee and sunbathing on the beach, but I spent a good three hours at the park and I could go back and do it all over again. 


House Hunter's International - Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, Chris and I finally made our way back to Serbia! After a year abroad, Subotica, Serbia had become our first European "home," and the sleepy city had found a way into the repertoire of our story. Our time in Serbia changed us so much that it is hard to put the lessons into meaningful words and sentences. I know that we will always remember our time in Serbia with fondness and deep gratitude. Over one too many cups of coffee, our group of friends said goodbye to us by focusing on the memories we had created in Subotica. The year had been full of picnics on Lake Palic, themed dinner parties, football and Frisbee games, sunny bike rides, family Slavas, and cultural home-cooked dinners. When Chris and I moved to Belgium in September of 2012, we promised our Serbian family that we would come back to visit as often as work and money allowed.

The truth is, the first six months in Belgium passed quickly. Transitioning into life in Belgium took longer than I had initially expected, and Chris' job proved very busy. I still feel like I am in a state of transition here, but I'm slowly finding my place and purpose in this new world. Getting back to Serbia was like a breath of fresh air - it felt like I was going home and waiting anxiously at familiar coffee shops for friendly arms to wrap me in a warm embrace. I remembered first stepping foot on the Korzo (main walking street) in Subotica, every face was the face of a stranger and every coffee shop was unfamiliar and new. What a difference one year in a new world can make, and how easily we can adapt if we allow ourselves to live openly and transparently. 


Remembrance Day in Roeselare, Belgium

As May 4th approached, the city of Roeselare started preparing for an event. The center of the city (de Grote Markt - or Large Market) was emptied of cars, and food carts, bistro tables and stadium seating filled the vacated spots. I asked the owner of Cafe Mustache (our favorite little bar here) about the upcoming event, and he mentioned that May 4 was a day of remembrance. He also casually stated that bands from all over this region would play during the event. 

Silly me! I had such a blond moment! I heard "bands" and instantly thought drums, guitars, and catchy beats. Naturally, I passed the misunderstanding onto my dear Hubby. Chris and I walked into the Grote Markt with absolutely no idea what day was being "remembered" and expecting to hear local rock "bands" from around the region. The "bands" were not there for entertainment, but rather they were marching bands playing tributes to the memory of fallen soldiers. 

We were a bit confused about May 4th considering Remembrance Day or Memorial Day is celebrated in November in several countries including Belgium and America. I decided to ask a man wearing paratropper fatigues and standing next to a large US army vehicle. Turns out he wasn't American but rather a Belgian army-vehicle-enthusiast/mechanic who had purchased the American war truck and restored it. He informed us that May 4th is a day to remember the soldiers who were lost in World War II, and that similar events were taking place all over the Netherlands and Belgium.


Back at It!

Well, hello there friends and family!
I almost forgot how to post on my own blog! I've been away a little too long! Oops-y-daisy! My mother phoned up the other day and said, "Honey, is everything okay? I have been checking your blog every single morning, and you've been slacking. Are you certain that everything's peachy-keen over there?" 

{Mom's are just the best aren't they?!}

Mom's comment got me thinking - is everything indeed "fine" in our expat-adventure? Contrary to what our mothers may think, we have not been away on an exotic month-long holiday, we're not pulling our hair out because of another sudden move, and fortunately we aren't rotting away in a foreign prison. We're still living in the quaint Belgian city of Roeselare, and we're enjoying the sweet (and slow) transition of winter turning into spring. Life is starting to feel a little more normal these days, and maybe that's partly why I haven't posted a whole lot recently. While there are still a million things to explore in our new world, I have been doing my very best to soak up the moments and enjoy BEING where I am. 

I am also being forced to learn a bit more about patience. Hard, but perhaps necessary, lessons. 


Our First Serbian Visitors!

Marko and Lela on the shopping street in Roeselare, Belgium. 
Remember Marko and Lela from Subotica, Serbia? They were our first friends in Serbia and they sort of adopted us into their big group of friends. Looking back on our year in Serbia, I don't remember feeling seriously homesick (except for when my first little nephew was born), and I know that Marko, Lela, and the community that they invited us into, were the reason we so easily adapted to our first home abroad. Chris and I truly feel that we have a grasp on the history and culture of Serbia because we were treated almost as locals for an entire year. Six months ago, we left Serbia, and through tear-filled goodbyes, Marko and Lela promised that they would come visit once we settled into our new home in Belgium . . . 

Well, they came through on their promise! We had Marko and Lela to ourselves for a whole five days! Chris and I were so excited to simply just be with them again and to share bits and pieces of our new adventure with them. Of course we made them sample all sorts of chocolates, cakes, waffles, frites (fries), and specialty Belgian beers. We took them to our favorite restaurants and cafes in Roeselare, and I will include those pictures in the next blog. 


Salzburg, Austria {Gondola Ride}

All the boys crammed into the Gondola in Salzburg, Austria. 
This post is a continuation of that one time I crashed "guy's weekend." 
{and . . . It may not be the last time because I had a blast}

After we broke the rules at Neuschwanstein Castle, our big group piled into the borrowed "mom-van" and headed for Salzburg. Now, that is one stunning city! Unfortunately, the weather wasn't exactly cooperating on our first morning in town, so Reece decided we should try to get above the clouds by visiting Untersberg, the highest mountain next to the city. 

About 15 minutes after leaving Salzburg, we pulled into the Untersberg gondola parking lot. The Alps loomed all around us, but heavy clouds interrupted our upward views. We paid 20 Euros per person, pushed ourselves onto a crowded gondola, and silently prayed that the angry clouds would disappear once we reached the summit. A dense white fog obstructed our view for most of the 10-minute gondola ride, but just as we summited, the sun appeared and the sky was the most magnificent shade of blue! Suddenly we felt a burst of energy and a lightness of spirit. It's amazing what a little sunshine can do for  you, eh?!


Neuschwanstein Castle

Be jealous - I spent three days with these handsome fellows. 
Chris and I booked a pair of spendy tickets to Munich, and met up with Reece on the other end.  The three of us have seen quite a lot of Europe together this past year: Krk, CroatiaVienna, Austria  - Cologne, GermanyWeltenburg Monk Brewery, GermanyVarious German beer festivals – and Venice, Italy, just to hit a few highlights. I typically book a suite or a room with a roll away bed for Reece, but this trip was an entirely new way of traveling for me! I threw my controlling tendencies to the wind and didn't plan a thing (and it was one of the best trips), and as you can tell from the picture above, rather than a travel group of three, we were a, won’t-all-fit-into-one-car, pack of six!

Five guys + one girl = I totally crashed guy’s weekend, and subsequently stayed in my first European hostel! Guy’s weekend was awesome. . . . the hostel . . . well, I guess it was everything I had expected. I had not expected very much. I will leave the details up to your imagination. 

Chris and Reece graduated from the University of Kentucky and three of their (awesome) classmates flew out to Europe for a week of city blitzing (seeing as many sights as possible in a very short period of time).  We effortlessly picked Stu, Kirk and Ben up at the Munich airport, piled into a borrowed “mom-van,” told the guys they could drink in the car (as long as they weren’t driving - sorry Reece), and set out to see the first sight on their blitz: Neuschwanstein Castle. 


Where to Eat in Rome

I simply adore Rome! 

(You can read about past lovely trips here and here) One of the things you must find when visiting such a nostalgic city is good food. Well good food and of course, a cozy little cafe where you can slip in unnoticed, blend in with the locals, and sip on a glass of house wine or chilled limoncello. Trust me, you want to get away from restaurants that beckon you to come in and offer "tourist menus." Find that little hole in the wall with creaky doors and dusty, exposed brick ceilings. Or, if you happen to know someone who has been living in Rome, follow them around for the weekend! That's what we did, and Ben introduced us to some wonderful restaurants and local bars. 

Here are my food notes from our February trip to Rome:

We had breakfast twice at the Bakery House ROMA. Their food was so fresh and it was reasonably priced! We each paid under 10Euros for coffee and a sizable breakfast. My favorite meal at the Bakery House was their eggs benedict with ham and asparagus. I couldn't leave without trying one of their homemade cupcakes too. I know, I know, breakfast of champions! It was totally worth it! 


"When in Rome"

Perhaps I should rename this post "Ben in Rome" because our fantastic guide, Ben, treated us to two days of non-stop sightseeing, limoncello, coffee and Italian pizzas! After working in Rome for a couple years, Ben sort of owns the city! I have to say that it was refreshing to walk around and actually see the sights as opposed to having my nose buried in a map. Rather than pick a restaurant based on a random recommendation, we confidently followed Ben into his favorite cafes and hole in the wall trattoria's. On this trip, we were followers, and Ben made sure that we saw as much as possible on our short weekend in Rome. 

 I had visited Rome in July with a couple of our friends from Kentucky, but unfortunately Chris' job kept him home. Boo. This time around, I was not about to take the trip without my hardworking Hubby! I knew that all of the books and shows surrounding ancient Roman civilization would spring to life once Chris saw it all in person. It took two short hours to fly from Brussels to Rome and since I was familiar with the route from the airport to Termini Station, we had no problems finding Ben's metro stop. 


Me and the Babas.

English = Grandmother or Grandma (or whatever nickname your family uses)
Russian = Bubushka (or "Baba" for short)
Serbian = Baka (or Baba can also be used)
Dutch = Grootmoeder (or "Oma" for short)

Chris and I are three weeks into our Dutch lessons which means that we can now have very elementary conversations.Now we know very important facts about our classmates:

Where are you from?
Where do you live? 
How do you get to this Dutch class? Auto, bus, by foot, by plane?
Are you married? 
Do you drink beer?
Do you have children?
Please repeat the question. . . . 
I am sorry, I don't understand. (Important to know.)
I am sorry, I only speak a little Dutch. 
What language(s) do you speak?


Amsterdam in the Snow

Lucky for us, Chris and I did quite a lot of pre-trip planning before our wintry weekend in Amsterdam. Last year, I learned my lesson when my dreamy Prague trip turned into more of a frustrating nightmare (for lack of planning on my part). 

Feel free to read about that lesson learned, but now, onto our successful Amsterdam trip. 

After an easy drive from Belgium, we parked our car at the Sloterdijk Park and Ride, and took a five minute train ride into Amsterdam Central Station. Just a little trip-planning note: it is super expensive to park your car in Amsterdam (our hosts said you could expect to pay around 100 Euros a day), so the most economical option is to find one of the several Park and Ride locations on the perimeter of the city. We parked our car for a day and a half and received free train transfer into the city center all for a whopping 10 Euros!


Spreek je Nederlands?

Wat is jouw voornaam en familienamm? 
{Lana McCoy}
Dag Lana. Hoe gaat het (met jou)?
. . . 
Begrijp jij het?
Begrijp jij het?

. . . . 


2013 - We Welcome You!

From our (Oregon) family to yours - HAPPY NEW YEAR! Enjoy every adventure that 2013 brings your way!
 Thanks for the awesome picture, David
After almost a month of holiday hopping around Kentucky, West Virginia and Oregon, we're back in Europe. What a wonderful whirlwind it was to see so many loving and familiar faces. It was a breath of fresh air, although, I have to say that I despise living out of a suitcase! Being in the States was life-giving, but for the first time since moving to Belgium, we felt at home as soon as we walked into our apartment here. We were jet lagged and flu(ish) for the first week or so, but excited to get back into the swing of life in Europe. As we welcome a new year, we're excited to embrace new friendships, exciting opportunities and unforeseen adventures. We always remind each other that we want to live this life like a bestseller and love people that we meet along the way. I could not imagine doing life with anyone besides Chris; he is my absolute best friend and my perfect complement. Thanks for reading and have a blessed new year!

Just a few of my thoughts on the new year: