Here, There, Everywhere


Today we went to France for a shopping trip.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but Piet’s dad bought a new car, and sold us his old one, so we finally have a car now. Granted I still can’t drive a stick shift, so it’s more like Piet has a car for the first time in his life, and I just have a much more convenient method of bulk grocery shopping on the days he has off.
But either way, it has certainly made some things much, much more convenient for us. Like shopping outside of Gent, or buying enough cat food/litter to last longer than a week or two. Obviously we still use public transportation to get to the city center or the train station, but if we want to go to Ikea to pick up storage bins (we’ve begun and put a big dent into the daunting task of cleaning up and clearing out the top two rooms, where we’ve been doing 95% of our living the past 3 years), or to France to see if we can get some better prices on baby items or certain groceries, we don’t have to worry about whether or not our car sharing system will have a car available, or to be back by a certain time, or having too much to carry, etc.

Anyway, my mom always chuckles when I say “we’re going to France to shop” or “why would I pay a fortune for Gaviscon in Belgium when we can just go buy some in Holland” because, duh, when you’re from the U.S, it’s pretty much unheard of to cross national boundaries for the explicit purpose of grocery shopping. But when you live in Belgium you’re about an hour drive from 3 or 4 other countries (France, Holland, Germany, Luxemburg) and when a bottle of Gaviscon goes for 11€ here, it can definitely be worth the drive to France, where you can buy 2 bottles for less than 5€.
Or where you can find twice as much variation in foods and drinks.
Or bottles of good champagne for 5€.

And when you get absolutely sick and tired of everything being speculoos flavored, there’s nothing like a trip to France, where everything is cassis flavored. I loooove me some cassis.

I find it strange to see people casually drinking carafes of wine with their meals (in France), but then, I still find it odd to see people drinking pints of beer with their lunch in Ikea (in Belgium). I imagine that’s because the US has retained a relatively prohibitionist attitude over the years. Either way though, wine and beer still definitely beat the buttermilk that seems so common and popular in the Netherlands. Blech.

If we ever do decide to move to America, I’ll miss the ability to culture hop that is inherent in living in a tiny country in Western Europe. France is so different from Belgium is so different from the Netherlands is so different from Germany and we can experience a totally different culture in a weekend; a day trip even.

You can’t really get that living in Pittsburgh, unless you count people in Ohio not knowing what chipped ham is or people in Philadelphia saying “hoagie” instead of “sub.”

Oh, and totally off the topic of this shopping trip, but on the topic of the title of this post, I also wanted to mention, before I forgot, that Piet and I will be leaving Saturday for a weeklong trip to Istanbul. Piet used to spend a lot of his summers vacationing in Turkey and was determined to take me there at least once before we had a third little traveler to worry about, so a few months ago we decided to make our last vacation destination sans baby to Turkey’s largest city.

I’ll try to spare you the details of how my already abnormal anxiety over flying has gone off the charts and how I obviously won’t be able to drug myself into oblivion in order to not rip an armrest off the plane if there’s any turbulence.

But I’ll be sure to try and post once or twice and eventually get you some pictures.



4 responses »

  1. I think culture hopping would have to be my favorite part of Europe. It’s my dream someday to buy a little cottage in England or Germany and hideaway there.

    Hooray for a car! Have fun in Istanbul.

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