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Bienvenue

 

 

We’ve finally settled in enough to where I can get this blog rolling, but now I fear I have too much to write. So I’ll first lead off with some highlights of our first three days as expatriates in Brussels — with the promise I’ll begin updating more frequently (with shorter posts) from here on out.

 

For you readers with short attention spans, you can skip the writing and go straight to the good stuff (photos!) if you’d like. I won’t be offended … Jenna usually took that approach when reading my magazine and web site (j/k … sort of).

 

> Travel/arrival/etc. … outside of getting a combined 3-4 hours of sleep, the travel to Brussels could not have been better. Flights were mostly on time, customs took literally a couple minutes (and I thought they were leery of Americans?), and the taxi was waiting for us right outside the baggage claim. I guess my French accent is better than I thought. I simply said “bonjour” to the driver, and he immediately launched into some hard-core French. After I told him I speak “un peu” (a little) French, it got quiet for the duration of the ride.

 

> Corporate housing … the location is what we thought we wanted, but we’ve now realized being in the middle of everything means just that. We hear Bourne Identity-like police sirens every hour on the hour, constant honking, and construction is all around us. We are close to countless restaurants, bars and pubs, a huge indoor/outdoor mall, and all the main tourist sites. That’s all well and good if you’re here for a week, but Jenna might have a breakdown (and I won’t be far behind) if that’s our daily life for the next two years. Which leads me to …

 

> Permanent housing … we have an appointment with a relocation specialist this coming Friday, so we hope to have a place picked out soon. We’re looking at neighborhoods (not that these names will ring a bell or anything) such as Etterbeek and Uccle. These still have the city feel but are far less crowded and noisy, at least from what we could tell on our Metro ride their today. There is a glorious park in Etterbeek we ran in today — ideally we’d live somewhere near it.

 

> Don’t have a destination wedding in Brussels … it’s fine for the couple, but not for the attendants. At least from the one wedding procession we saw. Walking through a crowded market street on Saturday, we came to a street corner where everyone was staring in one direction. A bride and groom strode by on a tandem bike, both in their traditional tux and white gown. The people trailing on bikes, however, were quite untraditional. Everyone was nude. And as I told my parents, judging from the procession, this was the second or third wedding for each of these newlyweds. I’ll just say that the crowd was not comprised of all the beautiful people.

 

> Tourist sites … before this trip, I rarely heard Brussels mentioned in European travel discussions as a must-see destination. It makes me wonder how incredible other cities will be, because Brussels is truly a dazzling spectacle. The most famous site in this city, Le Grand Place, offers a site you’ll never see in the states (again, pictures below). The restaurants are plentiful, and most of them have patio seating offering incomparable people-watching. 

 

The architecture of the neighborhoods is probably taken for granted by the locals, and in a year or so I might do so as well, but at this moment I’m just amazed that these aren’t museums — these are homes, and have been for hundreds of years. (I guess it’s obvious my European travel has been pretty limited up until this point of my life … I’m sure most of you have seen similar sites before).

 

> In closing … I’ll admit I was a bit shocked (make that quite a bit) when we first got here — as was Jenna. If this were simply a vacation (or holiday, as the Euros call it), I doubt we would’ve felt that way. But knowing this is our new home, walking through the crowded, unfamiliar streets, hearing unintelligible languages, pointing, like primitives, to things we want to purchase — it was all very much unsettling and uncomfortable. 

 

But our attitude and outlook has improved steadily in less than three days, so much so that we truly believe we made the right decision to leave behind our friends and family (as well as my job) to live Le Vie Belge (the Belgian life) for the next two years.

 

> On to the good stuff … 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My last time in Dallas for a while.

My last time in Dallas for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

Little did Jenna know that airplane TV monitor was the same size as the TV at our corporate apartment.

Little did Jenna know that airplane TV monitor was the same size as the TV at our corporate apartment.

Jenna didn't waste any time adapting to the Belgian culture.

Jenna didn't waste any time adapting to the Belgian culture.

 

 

 

 

It's like the state fair and fried things ... if there's chocolate on it, it can't be bad.

It's like the state fair and fried things ... if there's chocolate on it, it can't be bad.

 

Jenna threatened that if I don't get any kind of job soon, she'll put me to work with this dog.

Jenna threatened that if I don't get any kind of job soon, she'll put me to work with this dog.

 

This is actually quite amazing ... the dog just lays there for minutes with his head resting on a stool. Well I think that's amazing.

This is actually quite amazing ... the dog just lays there for minutes with his head resting on a stool. Well I think that's amazing.

 

 

Perhaps the second-most famous site in Brussels (and most famous statue): The Mannekin Pis. Wait till the next photo.

Perhaps the second-most famous site in Brussels (and most famous statue): The Mannekin Pis. Wait till the next photo.

 

 

Yes, the statue is that small. But for a tiny kid, he sure takes in a lot of liquids to go that long each and every day.

Yes, the statue is that small. But for a tiny kid, he sure takes in a lot of liquids to go that long each and every day.
Le Grand Place ... we plan to take Jenna's Nikon out here on an early sunny morning to get some better photos. This place is pretty remarkable.

Le Grand Place ... we plan to take Jenna's Nikon out here on an early sunny morning to get some better photos. This place is pretty remarkable.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Guy Shaw
    June 28, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Jake, this is a great start and I can’t wait for the next update!
    Dad/FIL

  2. Leslie Bendt
    June 28, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I honestly believe you made a good choice. Consider it an adventure, one that you may not have the opportunity to later in your Shaw years. It runs parallel to when John and I decided to move to Florida. We ‘physically’ left friends and family almost 900 miles away, and at the same time we also improved the travel economy! See, you are actually helping the US economy too. (Graham humor rarely rests- as you know.)

    Send more pictures- keep the blog rolling, and cheers to chocolate, love and adventure. May you be blessed with all three in your early days.

  3. Trey
    June 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Hey guys. Glad to have more family on this side of the pond now. Looking forward to reading more about your Euroadventure together. Let us know when you are coming to see us and hopefully we can swing some kind of trip there in the future. Love you both and am so happy that you are finally here.

  4. kyle bainter
    June 28, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Just read this waiting for my flight to detroit to take off and contemplating making a change of plans and booking the next flight to europe. what a blast.

  5. THE BONS
    June 28, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Great pics and I know you are going to have a great time in Brussels. What an adventure and TOM and BONS will be there in 25 days. Good luck to Jenna at work,

    MOM
    MIL

  6. Cuong & Elaina
    June 28, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Hi former roomies!

    The pics looks pretty cool! I am glad to see you guys got there safely. We miss you and can’t wait to see you in a few months. Cuong and I are excited to have some really cool tour guides!

    We need to figure out a time to ichat. Knowing Ms. J, she has been sleeping for the last 3 hours!

  7. Andrea Reynolds
    June 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Hey guys… LOVE the blog. I am so excited for you two. Keep it coming! I love hearing about this stuff.

  8. MOM/MIL 2
    June 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I love reading this over and over. It’s Monday afternoon (there) and time for more!!
    Can’t wait to hear about your first day, Jenna. I love you both

  9. Melch
    June 29, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    You guys are living in a fairy tale – eat it up because the two years is going to fly by! Oh – and make sure you figure out where all the other Americans in Brussels will be gathering for 4th of July celebrations, I bet that could be a great place to meet friends!

    Miss having y’all close, but we’ll fix that next summer with a hop over to visit y’all! : )

  10. Weck
    June 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    “Bourne Identity-like sirens…” Priceless.

  11. Chris Smith (C-Biscuit)
    July 1, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Keep the updates coming. Like Joel, I enjoyed the Boerne Identity reference (It put me there for a minute). Take care.

  1. May 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm
  2. June 7, 2015 at 11:41 am

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