Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday in Oostende

OK - last day in Oostende. Since this is (almost) my last blog for the vacation, I want to sum up some impressions that need to be preserved for posterity. I will attempt (and probably fail) to be brief. I am determined to get back to blogging my life, by golly!

1. I ate hardboiled quail's eggs and kumato (sort of a brownish tomato) in a salad. Both were good.

2. Zander had his first taste of wine as there were free samples, as you can see, just sitting out at kid-level, in the supermarket. (He hated it so much he almost puked)

3. Our apartment had a scary, doorless elevator that we got to ride. Yet another country that lacks the anal safety regulations of the good ole USA
4. I got confused enough (where the hell are we?) to learn the difference between:
a. Flanders - This is a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France, and the Netherlands.
b. The Netherlands - This is a country that is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
c. Holland - This is a region within the Netherlands
d. Dutch - This is one of the languages they speak and also what the inhabitants of the Netherlands are called, sometimes - other names include Hollanders or Nederlanders if you want to muddy the waters even further.
e. Deutchland - this is another name for Germany where, BTW, they don't speak Dutch - they speak German. Of course, I know I will forget again - so here it is for future reference.

5. FYI - here in Belgium, they use negative numbers for parking garage floors. None of this P1, P2, P3 crap. Let's get real folks, you are going underground, the floors should dang well be negative.

This is how my blogs would be if I had a life:

Here are the kids, they are playing on a pirate ship playground.

It was fun for them.

I can't do it folks....

So, as you probably realize, all this traveling is more our idea than the kids. We decided to let them take the lead for our last day. Each picked an activity to do.

They all wanted the beach. So we did that first. We had planned on riding a large family bike, but it turned out we could only do that on the weekend. Instead, we walked along, attempting to avoid soaking and spent lots of time collecting shells. There was a certain spot near the docks where they were so thick you couldn't see the sand for the shells. We searched for 'special' ones but Griffin most definitely found the winner - a first for me, a starfish. We were all so excited. He has a real talent for finding treasures. I remember he found a horseshoe crab shell last summer when we were on Long Island. Unfortunately it was far too fragile to transport so we left it behind. We then walked out on the dock and enjoyed the breeze and the chance to watch the ships one more time. Afterwards, the kids wanted to play in the sand. I was freezing (having foolishly left my jacket behind) and ended up huddling in a sheltered corner with Griffin's change of pants on my head (no folks, that's not a fun European fashion statement). Since I had the bag of shells with me, and time to kill, I got creative and made this. I think of it as a shell cathedral. I wanted to leave it there for future tourists to enjoy but Callie insisted on gathering up all our hard-won treasures.

Then we did Callie's choice - a trip to a candy shop. (Sorry no pics) We only let them fill their bags 1/3 of the way with whatever varieties they wanted--it really was still a lot of candy. What could be better? Then we headed on over for Griffin's choice - a ride on a trolley. He begs for nothing else in each and every place we travel. As you can see, he was mightily pleased. We just took a short round trip. It was interesting because we got to ride a bit out of town and see Belgian suburbs (they look just like French suburbs if you ask me). The drop off spot was right next to another section of the beach (although not quite as close as the ad). We also got to observe, for about 15 minutes, a small colony of wild rabbits hopping around in the forest accross the street from the trolley stop. They are so fast and yet, when they stop, we often couldn't locate them in the grass or weeds.
Once we got back home, we decided, since we hadn't been able to go on the bike, that we would bowl a game. It seemed only right when we had been sleeping over the lanes for almost a week. We all suck but it was fun - Griffin was especially cute and Zander even got a strike (using the, invented by him, of course, backwards granny style method). I am always frustrated by how badly I suck at bowling since I've been doing it since, like, birth or something. My mom used to be in a league when I was small and I remember ALWAYS bowling with my Aunt Pat when she lived with us and when she would visit. It seems you should improve the more you practice, but my game has only deteriorated in past years. I remember a time when I was sad if I didn't break 100. Now it's if I don't break 50. My score this time - 46! (and yes, that included 1 strike). I believe this is the only picture in this vacation with all 5 of us - just look closely at reflections and you'll catch us all!

To bed early once again - tomorrow is head for home (stopping in Luxumbourg along the way).

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