Thursday, June 29, 2006

Faz Favor

Back on terra firma inBelgium and straight into moving already. We signed a contract today and will be moving mostly over the weekend (although tom is at werchter on Saturday and I am there on Sunday... - you only live once!)

Have posted a few pictures from our holiday - but hope to put the rest on ringo on the weekend or sometime next week.

1. In the middle of the many steps at Bom Jésus - a bit cathedral just outside of Braga (in the north of portugal) with a fantastic view of the city.

2. Tom in a typical side streeet of Porto - NB: NO TOURISTS! I have found my paradise! (Such a bloody hypocrite tho...) So many of these teeny tiny, narrow streets have oodles of families living in them, but they all seemed to party very loudly and laugh a lot during the lunchtime hours: such a warm, feel-good sound.

3. Something a bit out of the ordinary - nothing scenic, but quite bizarre. If you can see well enough, there are 2 ladies here completely dressed in black. All over Nazaré (on the coast), the fisermans' widows all wore black and wandered the length of the beach (many with walking stick in hand) selling dried fruit/nuts/clams.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Not so light reading...

I cant fit the entire length of the page in my site, so you will have to copy and paste the address in 2 halves.

This is what has happened in Antwerp since we have been on vacation. Sadly, once again, we will be dealing with racist pricks when we go home. Yes, when someone implies that the only reason something occurred is due to the background of the person, I call that a racist remark from a racist prick.

On the road again...

Last post from our vacation (probably)...

We ended up spending 2 nights in Nazaré (in favour of going to huge, far too touristy Lisbon) and went to the lovely little pub we found from the night before and downed a few ports while watching the Portugal vs Holland match. As you can imagine, the streets were ablaze after that victory and we made a few friends out of it! Oh forgot to mention, we did head down to Sintra (via Coimbra and Obidós - the latter having a specialty cherry liqueur which is served in chocolate cups - mmmmmm yummy!)

We drove to Guarda the next day (highest settlement in Portugal) - close to the Spanish border, and enjoyed some more local cuisine. This time I had Bakalhou com ..... (something) which was like a potato bake but including cod. but before the meal, we were given some of the local specialty - a very unique type of sheep cheese. The fat content is somewhere between 50-65% (so you could feel the layer thickening on the roof of your mouth!) but I thought it was pretty yummy.

We decided to head to spain today (currently we are in Salamanca) for the match between Spain and France - then tomorrow we will head the final 100km north to Valladolid before we head home :(

Have totally fallen in love with the lifestyle here - everything is about making the most of life in Portugal. They have such a strong sense of national identity and are so proud to be who they are. Every house is old, rundown and tiny (yet charming, cozy and bursting with life) yet everyone has a plasma flat screen huge TV. We have not been hungry here for one minute - food and drink are a very important aspect of life also - not how little you weigh, or how your hair is cut. Although coming from 'friendly' Australia, these people are far more genuine, and am so glad I have had the opportunity to have met them. Definitely have to come back...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sao João Festival

Finally back on the internet to update our journey.

Day one (as mentioned earlier) was spent in Vila Real, where we ate at the local restaurant in the caravan park - and made friends with the owner (who took great pride in knowing German) so since Tom could understand him, he kept pouring us Port after port. Then to top the night off, we received a 50% schnapps. That definitely helped us sleep!

Stayed somewhere in between, but have forgotten the name already - Vila do Condo or something like that -just north of Porto on the sea. Fantastic food (always bucket loads of fish) and lovely people who spoke some English!

Next day, we headed up to Braga for a look around, then headed down to Porto and stayed on the other side of the river in a village known as Vila de Nova Gaia (actually, this is the home of Port Wine) in a seaside caravan park. I was lucky enough to talk the bar owner of the camping ground to turn the TV onto Australia Vs Croatia (despite the Portugese having an obvious preference to watching Brazil play...) Was so nervous, and was joined by a bunch of French pensioners on the caravan vacations and had a nice time with Tom aiding in every way with communication!~

Then- yesterday. I have found my favourite place in the world. Porto... the city is exubing with charm, character and kindness. Although it is built on an excrutiatingly painfully steep hill, it helped with the fitness! We booked ourselves into a lovely little hotel, then walked through the city, across the river (back to Vila de Nova Gaia) and decided to make the most of the Port! We paid for one tour, then made our way through about 8 other port houses, tanking ourselves up for free (all the tourists do it) and decided we are fans of the Tawny Port aged 10 years from Quintra de Nova. And now know all details as to how to make it! Then, we just sat on the river and waited for the festivities to begin: 23rd of June is Saint Johns festival and for some reason, everyone walks around hitting themselves on the head with toy hammers and there are festivals all over the street. It was bigger than any new years celebration I have seen in Australia! And so much more peaceful. At one stage, we were close to a big stage and surrounded by a young family, so tom picked up the 4 year old, and I picked up the 1 year old and we started dancing together! Incredibly fantastic atmosphere.

We are on our way to Nazare tonight via Coimbra (where we are now - the student city of Portugal) for a quiet night on the seq again. Have so much more to write but will update another time!

Will post pickies when we get home

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Hi all - have arrived safe and sound in Portugal and are making the most of the warm lifestyle! Have seen some of the most beautiful scenery in my life - right in the top of the country, between the spanish border and Braga (where we are right now). We are heading off to the sea tonight and camping there for 2 nights before heading a little south to Porto for its national hammer festival on the 23rd of June.

Have already encountered crazy Portugese drivers, and put our non-existent Portugese to the test, but am simply loving everything else.

Craziness in the town sqare qt the moment - Portugal Vs Mexico, and the entire city is watching it - all in appropriate attire! Quite a site!

But, we are off to another castley thing now, so will update more later. Just one word to elaborate on from last night... Port (and actually another word - hospitality!)

Friday, June 16, 2006

I've got too much life, running through my veins, going to waste

Robbie Williams has finally been witnessed in person by me! What an exciting evening... We departed nice and early to ensure a parking place and a quick bite before the concert. So, we pulled up, stepped out (34°C) and there were millions of Fries stalls with the choice of either steaming hot fries or hamburgers (here this means the offle stuff which caused the mad-cow problem a few years back on a bit of bread with ketchup). so I opted for the fries with tartare sauce option. We all wolfed these down (we being Tom, Inge, Mother in law and myself - quite a lovely little family affair), and then plodded along to King Boudewijn stadium. This was originally built as a football stadium which holds 55000 people, but deemed unsafe for football - but for some reason it's ok to hold a music concert there (which holds more when the middle is full...). We rocked up (ha, pun) just in time for the end of the opening program (cant remember the name of the group, but quite good), and waited for the middle program (yes, robbie appears to be so big that he has a before, and middle program...) The middle program was Basement Jaxx - which was really exciting! Two huge black women who can sing the arse of most people (with boobs bigger than my head by the way) but they provided a fantastic warm-up!

After another half hour break, Robbie finally entered after a display of fire-works and fire-balls being thrown into the sky. I have to admit, I dont really like any of his new music - but I just wanted to see the show, and hear some of the old music. He even did a tacky old Take That number, and I dagily sung along! Nice that he also mingled with the crowd, inviting any boobs to be shown. Mine stayed snug in my shirt, but, if i happened to be in the front row, Im not sure they would have stayed there (hi dad!!).

Anyway, show ended, we strolled back to the car - around 11pm. Expected a traffic jam for around an hour, so that was no surprise exiting the carpark. However, didnt expect the extra traffic jam around the Brussels ring, nor the road blockage between Brussels and Antwerp after midnight. So, all four tired, hungry and cranky of us had a lovely ride home hearing the midnight news, the 1am news, the 2am news, and Tom and I were even blessed enough to hear the 3am news after we dropped the other 2 off. So our trip home was approx 4 hours. Kinda enough to ruin a night! BUT, the show was great!

Gonna get home to pack - off on vacation soon, and we have to put our entire appartment in boxes asap!

Monday, June 12, 2006

It's Raining Hombré

Another jam-packed weekend, with little time for anything in our poor run-down apartment! With the temperatures soaring above 30°C, the parties and festivities are everywhere, with us tagging along... Friday night found me sharing a few drinks with some colleagues, until around 10pm, while Tom was having a kick around with some friends (yes, World Cup fever has hit hard here...) and I biked my way home, in broad daylight around 10pm, nicely fueled up with the aid of red wine. Arrived home alone at half past ten, still ready to party, so polished off some of the Vodka we store for special occaisions. Then camped myself up for the gay-party in the park (about 10 crawling paces from our front door). Tom came home, had a quick shower, I hoarsely babbled on about nothing to Phillippe (our inviter) and we headed out. We caught the last half hourish of the 'show' which I wasnt at all prepared for! I had no idea there would be a tranny show with ladies with boobs and beards singing cliché gay songs in Spanish. I dont think you have really lived until you have seen 'It's raining men', and 'Im walking on Sunshine' by men in a dress! What a show!

Shortly later, (because I stupidly started drinking water due to the heat), I had my dip. Stupid, stupid woman!! So, then sneezed myself home (allergies were also rampant!) and decided that I needed to tell someone about the fun night I had just had. Lucky for Emme, she didnt pick up, but my poor mother did! Sorry mum!!

Saturday, we were to play Squash at 8.30am - I chose the path more suited to me, and sprawled myself out in bed - trying to ensure minimum sheet touchage to ensure minimum sweat, while Tom did the saintly thing and went to squash! Silly man!!

Then Sunday, sweatily rode to a barbecue - 10-15km away - now have a beautiful tan line across my front, from the handbag I was holding! I call it my stylish stripe.

So that was it - need to cram studying for the remaining few days before my exam on Thursday (and have Robbie williams to see tomorrow night....)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Smiling, with your mouth to the ocean

Yes, another weekend awaits us here in Belgium (only a couple more to go this year!) - and it has started out with too much crying. My colleagues and I attended the funeral of the son of one of my bosses, and I couldnt hold back once they started playing music. I never wish to see my colleagues and bosses crying together again.

But, the rest of the weekend is yet to come. Tom is busy playing Korfbal (dont even ask what this is - only Belgians and Dutchmen understand it!) all day while the mother in law and I go shopping for some furniture. This can only end up being a long, expensive exercise, but for some strange reason, I still get some sort of pleasure out of it!

Nothing else really to say at this point in time - just thought I would update and let you know that everything is fine.

One final thing for my little sister: am a little baffled about your decision, but hope everything is fine. xxx

Thursday, June 01, 2006

So I left you...

Sorry for little posting this week - the work atmosphere here at histogenex has not been particularly fantastic this week - one of my bosses lost his son suddenly this week (who happened to be the same age as me) - and since it is a little company, we have all been quite hit. Dont know what to expect in the near future. I cant even pretend to imagine how difficult it must be to lose a child - just starting a life for himself - just when you think everything is ok...

Without any intention to stereotype, I have seen/heard of more people dying here in the last 2 years than I had in the rest of my life in Australia. I am aware that as you grow older, these things become more evident, however, I really dont know if it is ever possible to get used to people dying young. Every single person I have met here, lost at least one friend PER YEAR while they were still in 'de middelbare' (age 13-18). I am still coming to terms with Sally Urquhart dying last year, but it appears that if I am to live here much longer, I must train myself that 'these things happen'...

Until next time (and hopefully a nicer blog...)