Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pictures from New Orleans (yes, finally)

Finally I took the time to post some pictures from our stay in New Orleans and the way to Atlanta... Above a picture of the superdome where the victimes of Katrina were gathered.

View over the Missisipi from the top floor of our Hotel, Hilton Riverside New Orleans.

We arrived on my birthday and Alain surprised me with a bottle of champagne.

Later that evening we went on the swamp tour to check out the locals... the alligators.

Pictures of the swamp...

Above the remainder of a house that was hit by Katrina.

At dinner for my birthday... and blowing out the candle.

Hereunder the French quarter...

Of course... some statues of music players in the city of jazz

We went shopping in the French Market...
We took a cable trolley to go to the Garden district. In the garden district you can see beautiful houses and gardens of course.

Leaving New Orleans, we drove through

to get to Atlanta, where our plane took us back to Belgium on July 12.
On our way over there, we saw the swamps in between the lanes of the highway.
Axelle even spotted an alligator in them.

And this is the end of a beautiful roadtrip.
Pictures of Belgium, the house and my new car will follow later.


After a day of running like crazy yesterday, I'm proud to say I got my car home.
Since all the administration was not yet done, like the visit of the local police to come and check if we live in our house, it was a big problem to get the license plates.
Yesterday morning I received a phone call from the dealership to let me know that the papers for my car had also arrived (the car was already there since Friday). First stop was at the bank to get a certified check. Second stop the dealership to go and pay the car in order to get the papers so I could get to the insurance company. Lucky for us the insurance is handled by a good friend, but he could not get our license plate since we were still "living in LA". Yes, that's what was officially written down: not living on this address.
He advised me to go to the city hall to get a paper stating that I had requested to live again in the village Elewijt. So I did. They gave me a document "Model 2" which should have been enough. Next stop was the local DMV (about 15 kilometers from where we live). 11 people in line and when it was finally my turn, they told me that the model 2 was not enough to get the license plates.
With other words: a car totally paid for in the dealership, insurance taken care off... but no way I could go and get it because no license plates.
I was outraged and drove full speed to the local police station of my village. They were already closed (4pm) but I was very determined. So I rang the bell and they let me in after I explained what was going on (that I was already waiting for 14 days for this local police check out). They were very helpfull and promised me that the local police agent would come the same evening so I could go to the town hall again today to get the right paperwork.
But, I also forget to mention, the strangest thing about this was that they did not find any request for a house check, so they had to go and get a duplicate at the townhall.
To cut a long story short, townhouse blames the police for loosing the paper, police blames the townhouse for loosing the paper.... and who gets the "sh...t"? Exactly we do.
But, the police kept their promise... not even 2 hours later we got the visit and the "green light".
This morning my dad came to pick me up to drive around again... same stops: town house (where they also did the paperwork for my new identity card, only thing missing is a picture that I have to get to them), DMV and finally the dealership.
Once again went through the explanation of the automatic gearbox because it is slightly different from what we had in LA.
Very carefull not to hit anything I left the dealership and went for a fill up (60 EURO), so my dear American friends, do not complain about gas prices over there, because I have a small car.
I already went shopping at noon, because now I'm finally able to get around during the day.
Love my car, for those in Belgium, a OPEL CORSA ENJOY 1.2 (so a small engine) and am getting used to the automatic gearbox.

Other big news is that our container already arrived, not even a full month since departure.
Yesterday Alain got a phone call from the Belgian handler of our international move. They told us the ship had arrived yesterday in Antwerp and asked us for a whole bunch of papers. Yes, again paperwork. But I have to say that for this one I was well prepared, so by return mail they got all they needed. Now I'm anxious to get the container home of course... to unpack all our memories from Marina del Rey. Also to see "what" Tamzen and Jeff gave us as a goodbye gift, since they told us not to open it before it arrived in Belgium. Can hardly wait Tamzie...
I guess it will at least be another full week (maybe even more) before customs clear and Putters (the movers) deliver it.
I should say that that is perfect, because I'm not done with my painting and today it is so hot that I do not feel like starting that job (second part of our wall in the living room which I'm painting jungle green).

That's all for now my dear darlings... once I find that stupid cable to connect my camera to the pc, I'll post a picture of my car, my house and so on....

Love you all and miss you a lot.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What we have been doing lately

Last Wednesday, Gaby and her kids arrived after a very long drive. They got lost and had to ask for directions several times. Let's say that she did a lot of sightseeing... (lol).
Thursday morning at 7am the movers started loading the truck at Alain's parents and also went to pick up at my parents. They were done around 2.30, we were not of course.
Gaby helped me a lot to unpack everything, Rosette provided us all with a nice breakfast, Francoise (another neighbour) also joined us to help cleaning things... Monty was helping Alain to put furniture together.
By the time the day was over, we were very glad to be able to sit down and eat one of the many dinners my mom made lately for us.
The next day again another day of working hard and running errands because that evening Snjezana and Puska came here with Nina.
They arrived only around midnight... Next day we started with a nice breakfast and we went to visit Antwerp with them. Of course the rain tried to spoil our afternoon, but we had a blast running from shop to shop.
Snjezana prepared a nice meal and we had a very lovely evening...
Sunday was the "big" day, because our friends Kris and Nadine were having our welcome back to Belgium party. I did some shopping in the morning with Snjezana and at 2.30 we arrived at the party. It was so nice to see all our Belgian friends again and to present them to our LA friends. Everybody understood better why we loved it so much in LA once they met our dear friends.
Now they not only have our house to come to, but also a lot of places to stay if they would decide to come to Belgium once again.
Monday morning Gaby left with the kids, back to Germany... It was a sad goodbye, but maybe we'll visit her in Germany before she goes back to LA end of August.
Our other friends were into more sightseeing and so we went to the Atomium with them. This building was made for the world exposition of 1958 and is very special. Since it was our national holiday that day, it was very bad weather (it is almost every year like that). We dropped the plan of visiting the center of Brussels because of that and decided to have a nice afternoon at home.
Tuesday came way too quick and so we had to say goodbye again. As Snjezana put it: We are blessed to know eachother.
Wednesday and Thursday were days of painting outside for me, while Alain was already working and Axelle had playdates...

So much for this little update... the pictures and the rest will follow later.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Busy Busy Busy

Hi to all my readers... (wow, sounds important no?)
Just wanted to let you know I'm not posting right now, because our internet connection is not on.
I still need to post some pictures of our American roadtrip... pictures and text of our welcome back to Belgium party last Sunday... pictures from our daytrips with Gaby, Snjezana and Puska to Antwerp and to the Atomium in Brussels.

So... be patient and when I will be through my painting and cleaning, I'll make some time and update the blog!

Love you all...

Monday, July 14, 2008


Hi to our friends in Mariners Village,

First of all: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SNJEZANA… I know I already called you today, but still want to say it again!

Yep... we arrived in Belgium yesterday...
I wrote you all an email about that trip!

Today we spend some time on "administration"...
Around 10 am we were already trying to get registered in the village where we live. They wrote down our address and told us the local police agent will come and check that we live in our house (and sleep in it). So we told them not to come before this Thursday, since our furniture that was in storage in Belgium, will only be moved this Thursday.
When he gives the green light, we're OK for our new identity cards. Without these cards it will be extremely difficult to get our insurance for the new car and the licence plate (because no insurance - no plate!).
Anyway, we think we already found our way out of that too... Lucky for us the subscription to our health insurance went very smoothly. No troubles whatsoever... uninsured time, both of us will be insured immediately. That was a big relieve, because others told us already it was so difficult to get this done. Can you imagine if you would get very sick and would have to pay everything out of the pocket…
After these two appointments we had lunch at Alain’s parents and went paint shopping. We want to repaint one of the walls in the living room and were picking colours. Tomorrow we’ll try them on the wall and choose between “olive green” and “terracotta red”.
Later this afternoon we went to our neighbours Rosette and Monty. We had a lot of catching up to do. We enjoyed a glass (and more) of white chardonnay and at 4pm we had to meet the tenants who were renting our house.
It was a joy to come back in our house, to smell the wood (because it is made totally out of wood) and see how well our tenants took care of it. Thank you Wim and Manja.
Around 7pm we came back at my parents and enjoyed a nice dinner.

Tomorrow will be another day of shopping and maybe starting with the painting…
Thursday the movers will come and by then Gaby (my German friend from LA) and her two kids will have arrived.
Gaby came to Germany to visit her father end of June and will stay till end of August, so she offered to come and help us a little bit with our move.

That’ll be all for today guys… talk to you soon! Love you.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Terug in België

Ja, we zijn terug in Belgenland... Het heeft heel wat aangehad, maar bon... we zijn er geraakt.
De vlucht vanuit Atlanta verliep goed. Stipt op tijd vertrokken en in business class vliegen is toch wel een stuk "relaxer" dan in economy. Maar van slapen kwam voor mij en Alain weer niets in huis.
Axelle deed een dutje van zo'n 3 uur.
Vermits alles zo voorspoedig verliep, waren we ook tijdig in Gatwick, Londen.
Daar liep het dan verkeerd.
In Atlanta hadden ze onze boardingpass niet kunnen uitprinten voor onze aansluitende vlucht naar Brussel. Dus dat moesten we direct bij aankomst regelen in de luchthaven in Londen.
Daar bleek dat niet British Airways maar Brussels Airlines verantwoordelijk was voor het afdrukken. En wat bleek... er stond al een aantal mensen aan dat loket, maar er was niemand, maar dan ook niemand, te bespeuren.
We hebben daar op z'n minst een 20tal minuten gestaan voor we eindelijk iemand te zien kregen. Iedereen was furieus, want de meeste mensen hadden niet veel tijd voor hun aansluitende vlucht.
Vlug vlug door de security check van de handbagage en naar de gates waar een monitor ons meldde dat onze gate aan het sluiten was.
Wij dus rennen en rennen om nog tijdig in de gate te geraken.
Totaal buiten adem kwamen we daar dus aan (ik had mijn hakken al uitgetrokken om sneller te kunnen rennen) om te ontdekken dat ze zelfs nog niet begonnen waren met boarden.
Ronduit schandalig!
Toen we die dames er attent op maakten dat we onz ziel uit ons lijf hadden gelopen en dat dat eigenlijk de fout was van
a) hun collega die niet op haar post was
b) foute melding op de monitor
kregen we te horen dat het normaal is dat er staat dat de gate aan het slutien is, want dat is dé manier om de mensen daar te krijgen! LOLLIG....
Maar bon, het inchecken begon vrij snel na onze aankomst aan de gate.
De vlucht verliep goed en ook de landing was te pruimen.
Aan de bagagecarrousel liep het echter verkeerd!
Geen enkele van onze 5 stuks bagage kwam van de band af en een mijnheer van de luchthaven kwam ons melden dat het gedaan was voor die vlucht.
Ook nog andere mensen die van dezelfde Atlanta-vlucht kwamen, hadden hun bagage niet.
We werden dan ook nog naar het verkeerde "lost luggage" loket gestuurd om dan uiteindelijk als allerlaatste in de rij te gaan aanschuiven.
Toen het zo goed als onze beurt was, hoorde ik achter ons een andere carrousel aanslaan. Ik keek achterom en zag ons Axelle haar roze valies tevoorschijn komen, gevolgd door onze andere bagage én de "verloren" bagage van de andere passagiers. Van goede organisatie gesproken!!!
Met ruim een half uur extra vertraging konden we dus eindelijk onze familie en vrienden in de armen vallen, gepakt en gezakt als muilezels.
't Was dan niet vrijdag de 13de, maar het begon er toch serieus op te lijken.


Na een verjaardagsfeestje voor nichtje Julie bij mijn schoonouders, kwamen we dan bij mijn ouders terecht, waar we nu "doodmoe" rondhangen en seffens hoogstwaarschijnlijk snel in dromenland zullen zijn.

Tot schrijfs

Morgen begint de papierwinkel en de overdracht van de sleutels van ons huis...
Duim alvast dat het iets minder frustrerend gaat zijn dan in LA (maar ik verwed er niets op, als ik de blog van Marijke lees weet ik al genoeg).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nogmaals bedankt

Nog eens bedankt voor alle wensen die ik nadien nog kreeg voor mijn verjaardag. Ik had echter geen internet de afgelopen dagen (veel te veel geld) en dus kon ik niet aan mijn mails of aan mijn blog om jullie te bedanken.

Update Baton Rouge and New Orleans

Sorry for the delay, but we had no internet connection in our "fancy" hotel in New Orleans. Today we already arrived close to Atlanta, but here is the update (without pictures I'm afraid) of the last days.

Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana… this is clearly not reflected in what you see in the city center. Almost nobody there, a lack of restaurants and the ones that were there, were closed. So in the end we decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant, which by the way was an excellent choice.
The hotel was very luxurious and we got a queen and king treatment… yes we did.

Anyway, next day was one to go on the road again for our drive to New Orleans. We arrived in New Orleans around noon and checked in at the Holiday Riverside close to the French Quarters. I’m so happy we did not go for my initial choice of a hotel in Bourbon Street, because when we walked through that street in the evening it was very (yes very) noisy.

So what did we do on our first day in New Orleans. First of all we discovered our hotel. We are staying on the 27th floor, which is the executive floor. Because of our stay on this floor, we are allowed in the executive lounge on floor 29. On this floor we get breakfast, coffee and cookies all day long and hors d’oeuvres from 5 to 7pm. Not bad for my birthday treat.

In the afternoon we went for a swim and the water was very very warm. By 5pm we had to be at the swamp for our swamp tour. We had to drive 35 miles to get there, so we left a bit before 4pm. The tour was incredibly beautiful… it is amazing to see these alligators in their natural habitat. We saw a few big ones and a baby one. Although the baby already looked scary enough to me (lol), I managed to stay calm when the engine of our boat got stuck. I was thinking “this is just my lucky day… turning 45 and getting stuck in the middle of a swamp”.

Apparently it was not the first time the engine got stuck, and so the driver managed to fix the problem in like 5 minutes. After that we had no problems continuing the rest of our tour and getting back to the safe shore.
The tour continued for another 2 hours and the driver told us how he lost everything in hurricane Katrina. Indeed, when we were driving over there, we could see a lot of damaged houses and warehouses along the I10. But when you see how much water surrounds this town, it is no surprise that everything got flooded so easily.

A lot of houses and buildings have already been reconstructed, so it does not really affect tourism I have to say. In the French Quarters I have not seen damage up to now, so maybe that part was not affected?

Yesterday evening, for my birthday, we had a nice meal (French style) in a cozy restaurant. The waiter did not like the way Alain’s meal was cooked and offered a full round of deserts. I have to say the pork was maybe a little bit overcooked, but it still tasted very good… the round of deserts was very welcome though.

Today (Tuesday) we had breakfast with the city view from the 29th floor and we had to take care of some luggage issues. Now we are about to get ready to discover New Orleans French Quarters by day.

You’ll read all about this in the same post… but I write this post in bits and pieces…since I had no internet connection in this hotel ( I had to pay 15 dollars per hour of use, which we refused to do because that might have been included in the stay, since we did not book the cheapest rooms in this hotel).

New Orleans was SOOO NICE… a little bit of a European touch. LOVED it. But never go there in July or August, because it was also incredibly HOT. Temperatures during the day of 36 degrees Celsius and very humid… too much to be comfortable. We had a walk in the French quarters, saw some very nice little pearls of houses. Lucky Katrina did not ruin this district. Again we had a nice dinner, this time in another very old building.
Next day we went to the Garden district. Very big and beautiful houses with big gardens around it… not bad.

Thursday we left New Orleans in the morning and got stuck in traffic because of an accident just outside New Orleans. After that the drive was OK and we did not stop in Montgomery as planned but drove on till Newman, which is very close to Atlanta. We forgot (again) that we arrived in a new time zone… so again another hour to add. Now we are 3 hours ahead of Los Angeles.

Lucky we can sleep in tomorrow, since we have almost no driving left to Atlanta.
We still have some shopping to do tomorrow (need an extra suitcase) and we want to visit a few things in Atlanta. Saturday we need to drop off the car in Smyrna (North of Atlanta) in the Ford dealership. We have to be at the airport at 4pm since our flight leaves around 6.30pm.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Aan Martine, Karina, Kathy en mijn mama en papa HEEL ERG BEDANKT voor de lieve wensen voor mijn verjaardag. Jullie waren de allereersten...
Dit wordt voor mij zeker een verjaardag om nooit meer te vergeten, want op de planning staat morgen een boottocht door de waters waar de krokodillen zitten. YEP.
We gaan proberen de dag af te ronden in "The Commander's palace" dat een van de beste restaurants van New Orleans zou moeten zijn.
Meer daarover volgt.

Pictures Dallas-Houston-Baton Rouge

Even enkele fotootjes van de laatste 3 dagen posten...
Hieronder "skyline van Dallas"...

Axelle and Alain playing in the pool...
JFK Memorial - een open gebouw om zijn breeddenkendheid te benadrukken.
Below, the building from which he was believed to be shot.
See the "cross" on the street... that's where he got the second and final shot.
Twee kruisjes op de straat, dit is het tweede waar het fatale schot hem trof.

Dit treintje bracht ons naar Uptown Dallas. In Uptown Dallas you find a lot of restaurants. The trolley was free!

Next day.... drive to Houston and afternoon in the Nasa Space Center.
Control room
Impressionant niet?

Today, our drive from Houston (Seabrook) to Baton Rouge in Louisiana.
We saw some nice bridges.

The Henderson Swamp... one of the many.
Hereunder the swamp in between the lanes, where Axelle could detect an alligator.

My two darlings in our nice hotel room in Baton Rouge.

Trip Continued....

Two days to cover...
First July 4, because we stopped when we were going to the pool, but after some cooling down at the pool we went to the historic district.
It was a warm day, hot, very hot... so the first thing we had to do was to go for a drink (you know us).
After that we were going to look for the spot where JF Kennedy was killed. They build a nice memorial over there, very open to remind everybody how "open minded" he was. We could not immediately detect where he had been shot. Probably we looked a lot like "lost" tourists, because in no time a guy approached us and told us he would lead us to that spot.
He gave us some information, sold us a little map... we were happy, he was happy.... and that's what counts.
Afterwards we went to a steakhouse and had good angus beef.
The fireworks for the 4th of July, we saw them out of our window in the hotel. But it did not look that impressive to us (we're used to see more spectacular fireworks in Belgium).

Saturday morning (July 5) we continued our trip to Houston. After 4 hours of driving we reached the Nasa Space Center. At the entrance it looked more like a fun place for kids... lucky for us adults there was this tour (like the ones you have at universal studios). It took us to the control room and also to a big storage place in which they keep one of these big (and I mean big) rockets.
Anyway, it was an interesting afternoon and the evening only got better after a nice meal and a refreshing dip in the pool of our hotel. Our hotel was close to the Gulf of Mexico, in Seabrook (Houston)... first time since we left Marina Del Rey for us to see boats again.

Today, July 6, we spend again like 4 hours in the car, driving from Houston to Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is the capitol of the state Louisiana. But to be honest, there is not a lot to see here. The waiter in the hotel restaurant told us this is because most of the population is very Christian and so they stay at home (and maybe in church?) on Sundays. The drive was beautiful... we saw a lot of swamps and Axelle even saw an alligator in one of them. They build big bridges over these swamps and the I-10 goes over them... so it was kind of strange to see alligators in between the two directions (water in between instead of lawns).
Because it was so hot when we arrived in our incredibly beautiful hotel (Hilton) here in Baton Rouge, we decided to go shopping in the Louisiana shopping Mall (with airco).
The dinner we were served here, was the best lamb I had in some time and Alain said he had the best fish ever (but Nancy, that's because he was not there when we (Tamzen, Nancy and me) had the incredibly good striped seabass on your bbq.

Tomorrow, on my birthday, we only have a "short" drive of about 1 hour to New Orleans. Before we go there, we will go on a trip with an airboat on the bayou swamp... Yes, we want to go and see the alligators over there... (but from a safe distance).

Alain booked a fine hotel, the Hilton Riverside, in New Orleans for my birthday. Not a cheap choice, but since it was at my special request that we are going there, he figured this might be a nice birthday present, and it is!
In New Orleans we'll stay till July 10 in the morning. From there we'll continue our trip to Montgomery and after that stop we'll go to Atlanta, where the trip and our US-adventure ends. (snif)

Axelle is getting impatient... she told me several times she wished it would already be July 12. Of course all the driving is not her favorite part of the vacation. It was however a perfect way to end our stay in the US.

More news later...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence day road trip


To all our American friends in Marina del Rey: Happy Independence Day.
We had a 2hour drive from Wichita Falls to Dallas today and so we arrived around noon. I'm writing a small post before heading to the pool (not as nice as our Village pool, but it will do). No pictures today, since (as I was told many times before) not much to see in Texas.
Talk to you soon... maybe from Houston, our next stop.

Vandaag is het hier Independence Day, hoewel we er eerlijk gezegd nog niet veel van gezien hebben. We hebben op 2 uur tijd de afstand tussen Wichita Falls en Dallas overbrugd en dus kwamen we hier al rond de middag toe. We mochten gelukkig al op onze kamer. Na een kleine lunch zijn we nu dus klaar om naar het zwembad te gaan. Het is nog wat te warm om al in het arts district te gaan rondlopen, wo'n 35 Celsius.
Dus badpakken aan en afkoelen... da's de boodschap en dat gaan we dus ook doen.

Morgen rijden we verder naar Houston en daar gaan we proberen om naar het Nasa Space Center te gaan.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pictures Amarillo to Wichita Falls

Again... driving in Texas, Alain loves the little windmills, so I decided to take a picture of those. What we also see a lot are trains... very long trains... is our container on one of them or did they ship it out of the San Pedro harbour?

Pictures trip Albuquerque to Amarillo

Nothing new to see... so not a lot of pictures. Sorry... As we were told by a lot of people, Texas is not the most exciting state to drive through.

What are those cars doing in the middle of the field? And up?

Pictures Gallup to Albuquerque

First thing we did leaving Gallup, was visiting the El Morro National Monument. This was a little detour, but it was worth it. Unfortunately my camera batteries died on us, so we do not have a lot of pictures of this park. Especially not being able to take pictures of the inscriptions on these rocks made me really p.... off. (If you know what I mean).

After check in in our hotel in Albuquerque, which I do not recommend to Tamzen (who is going there in August), we drove to the Sandia Peak Mountain (pictures hereunder). Tamzen I'll write you an email with the name and address of the hotel you should not get when you go there.

We got stuck on top of the mountain, because due to the thunderstorm they did not allow the aerial tramway to function. We were forced to have a piece of cake after our dinner. By the way Tamzen, the restaurant on top of the mountain (not at the base) is very good and not over expensive.
See the rain falling down miles away? A few hours later we were in the middle of it, still on top of the mountain.
Enjoy the view of Albuquerque from the top of the Sandia Peak Mountain.

Pictures Kingmann to Gallup

As promised in the previous post (in Dutch), I will post some pictures now. It has been a fantastic trip up to now. Today the trip went so smoothly that we have enough time to spend at the pool and to post some pictures on the blog. Today we drove from Amarillo to Wichita Falls... our gps told us this would be a 5 hour drive, but I think they had it wrong since we arrived in a good 3 hours of driving.
So here we go with the pictures from the trip between Kingmann and Gallup

Yes indeed, we had thunderstorms and rain on our way to Flagstaff

Flagstaff was indeed the nice little town my mother said it was (she visited like 20 years ago).

On our way we visited Sunset Crater. Here we could see dried lava and how the lava stream had come down the mountain. Very interesting... and also so hot over there it was hard to stay outside for a long time. So we just did the short walk instead of the long one.

Again at Sunset Crater.

While we were at it, we also visited the Moon Crater. This big hole in the ground is made by a meteor a long time ago. Amazing how big this was... Inside the museum we had a show that explained a lot about meteors, so Axelle got some idea about how this had happened.

When we almost reached our destination, we came accross this big rock formation, Window Rock. Amazing isn't it?