I guess I should just mention on my blog, in case anyone is confused, why I am all of the sudden posting pictures of California instead of Europe.
My shortest explanation possible (because it seems to be quite confusing and complicated to everyone I have met recently haha):
While I was in Brussels, I received my official invitation to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer, with the United States Government, in Madagascar starting in February for 27 months.
It is one of my biggest dreams come true, but there is a lot to be done to prepare! I have returned to the states for two weeks to attend a slew of medical appointments and finish mountains of paperwork.
I will return to Brussels to continue heading east across Europe on my bicycle for 4 months in September!
It was hard to leave my bicycle and Europe, but it is for the best reason imaginable so I feel like a jerk to admit that it made me sad.
And there are definitely worse places to come home to. These two weeks have turned into a “Hug and Beach Tour” of California. I wasn’t expecting to see so many of the people I love so soon!
I love San Francisco, I love the beach, and I love my friends. It’s ridiculous how crazy my life is, but it don’t think it could ever really get better than this! (Unless, of course, there was a handsome and intelligent Scandinavian man by my side to accompany me along the way…just saying).
Have a wonderful day everyone :D I’m sending California Love your way, wherever you are in the world!
Lucky in Lucksembourg
I would probably not have had time to go to Luxembourg if I hadn’t been re-routed and dismounted from my bicycle for a few weeks to take care of Peace Corps/Madagascar paperwork and appointments.
I was kind of stuck in Brussels and I needed to get out!
I took the train to Luxembourg and I was so happy that I did. It is absolutely beautiful. It is pretty much a fortress surrounded by a forest. I really enjoyed walking around the ramparts and along the river through the trees.
The hostel I stayed at was wonderfully clean and nestled amongst trees next to a canal. It was idyllic.
Everywhere I turned looked like a fairy tale -Hence my first photo, the magic of Luxembourg with my new unidragon Thornberry! (And people think travelers don’t have copious amounts of free time! Psh).
I spent my second day walking around with a fun American girl I met and then we took the train back to good ole Brussels again. I feel like I live here….
My only negative experience was when my new friend and I went to a Luxembourgish restaurant so she could try some of their food. I wasn’t too hungry so I ordered tomato soup.
It tasted funny but I didn’t think much of it until I was close I finishing it and pulled a chunk of ground meat out of my mouth. There was meat in the tomato soup!
I am the world’s worst vegetarian. I could swear there was a green V next to the item on the menu…and who the heck puts meat in tomato soup! It was also the cheapest item in the menu…
I was slightly traumatized but I will survive…I guess.
I’m still happy I saw Luxembourg.
Brussels Breakfast Club
When I left London with my bicycle less than two weeks ago, I knew that the adventure ahead was going to take me into the complete unknown. I knew that there would be no way to predict what each day would bring and I would have experiences I could never imagine ahead of time.
But I am not going to lie, I still had a pretty good idea of the structure of what my adventure would be like. I kind of had a route planned and I knew that each day would involve cycling, meeting people, having fun, facing challenges, and finding somewhere to sleep…somewhere along the way each night.
Never, ever -ever- did I imagine that my bike ride would quickly be put on hold so I could fly home to California for two weeks…
I will be flying round trip from Brussels on Sunday so that I can take care of the mountains of paper work and medical appointments I need to complete to serve as a Peace Corps health volunteer in Madagascar, next February.
I also spent much of this week in Brussels in front of my laptop reading many documents and looking at forms.
The Peace Corps is my dream come true, but it is a big deal. I will be (happily!) committing 27 months of my life to service and it is not as easy as just stepping on a plane -a lot needs to be done to prepare.
Although I can multitask on my bicycle sometimes: dancing, eating Nutella from the jar, reading a map etc… all of this Peace Corps stuff is really hard to do while riding. So I have dismounted…for three weeks.
Even though my bike tour is being interrupted for the absolute best reason possible, it has still been hard for me to accept.
I was having a blast for my five free days rolling across Belgium. I was really looking forward to the route I had planned through the Netherlands and northern Germany towards Berlin. My bike had become a part of me. Not only was I physically and mentally capable of this crazy idea that I’d often feared I was not good enough for -I was loving it!
So there I was, a few days ago, back in Brussels at the same hostel where I had originally begun my journey and received the news that I was officially accepted to the Peace Corps the week prior…yet feeling like I had failed for some reason.
I know! It’s crazy! I am like a horribly whiny child complaining that someone took away my pony to give me a unicorn! But still, I guess I have a lot of big dreams. Some are bigger than others, and I can’t live all of them at once. All I can do, is take care of business to make them happen in whatever way possible -which might require some up-rooting and re-routing here and there.
I am a mature adult. I can handle this. I will resume my ride in September. (…as the cold weather slowly creeps across Europe….) It will be okay.
Many people who have visited Brussels will tell you that it is not the most exciting or beautiful European city. And yeah, it is not my favorite, but I appreciate Brussels for becoming my temporary home (or “homent”= home of the moment).The hostel was my house for the past week. I had my food in the kitchen, I had a routine at breakfast. I could find everything in my room when I arrived late at night and the room was dark and filled with sleepers. My butt was imprinted on my favorite chair next to an outlet in the common area….you know. It was home.
It turns out, that I was not the only one waiting around in Brussels for one reason or another. I met quite a few people at the hostel who were “stuck” in Brussels as well (sometimes it was by choice).
The group of us formed a family. We were all from different backgrounds, and going in different directions. Despite our differences- actually, thanks to our differences- we became the Brussels Breakfast Club.
There was Giulio from Turin, Italy. He was traveling around and was filled with hilarious stories. He had studied abroad in Minnesota, USA for six months with a lame family and was forced to eat frozen pizza for most of his meals. A crime against humanity and Italy.
There was Miriam from Portugal who was a wonderful chef and decided after traveling for a bit, she wanted to work at a restaurant and live in Brussels for a year or so. She was staying at the hostel while she organized her new life.
We were often joined by a French girl who was also traveling around.
We became so affixed at this hostel, we even had time to conjure up a nemesis. (Okay she was mostly mine). She was a 41-year-old lady who would sleep during the afternoons and would not talk to us when we tried to be friendly. Until one day she came up to Miriam and me to scold us for being on our computers all of the time instead of traveling and exploring Brussels because we “don’t know how to live!” Before we could explain to her that we were only in Brussels to get work done, not necessarily to travel, she walked away. Then she returned five minutes later to repeat her same rude comments and run off again.
Jeeze woman, way to rub it in. All I wanted to do was get out of that lobby and “live” but sometimes there is work to be done!
Anywho, Miriam was able to find a nice room to rent in Brussels and graciously offered to hang onto my bike and cycling gear while I am in the US. Giulio, Miriam, and I dragged my stuff across Brussels to her place one night, where she cooked us a wonderful Spanish Tortilla and we continued sharing stories and exploring our cultural differences.
I did not really choose to spend so much time in Brussels, but of course it turned out to be a wonderful and rewarding experience. That is just the way traveling is. You can’t fight it. Everywhere you go has so much to offer you as long as you are willing to take advantage of opportunities and learn.
Brussels sprouts growth and learning just like everywhere else.
(Oh man, that one hurt…but I had to do it).
Thanks for reading!