A Day Out in Antwerp, Belgium
Anna, of the Home & Away Annas, has been a big part of the MFest gig from nearly the beginning. That's almost a two year blogship (that would be blog+friendship). In fact, I think her comment count is next in line after ours. This blogging world - such a great collective. The way it opens up the world and you start reading and exchanging ideas about places all over the globe from people who live and work just like you and then you all start traveling and sharing it with each other and you're seeing even more of the world and its just this spiral of cool. That's the part you can't really explain to non-bloggers. In some ways, you know more about these friends than those that don't put paragraphs to their daily lives or holiday excursions. And when your blogfriend comes into town from Moscow, meeting up feels like old friends.Let's get to it. Anna came to Brussels for some swanky business conference complete with red carpets and champagne cocktails on the canal last weekend. We met for dinner and drinks Friday evening after she and Justin got off work and what we needed to do was show her what Brussels is really like. Because, c'mon. We don't do fancy here. We do patios and beer here. When we finally found each other in the midst of several fairs going on in downtown, it was like two years bottled up into hugs and squeals and we didn't know what to say until the beer tasting flight landed on our table. It's fair to say we never expected to fall for each other like we did. It's funny how your blog personifies you, each reader taking from your words a perspective of their own. It's all really cool, to be honest. I tend to come off more sugary sweet writing about The Adventures of J&A (heh) than Anna who is smack dab in the middle of Russian politics making her blog an outlet for Russian culture and leisure. She's this mix of elegant and sassy all rolled into my favorite combination. We sat, filling each other in on the stories that don't make the blog, completing the perspective. I am dully into politics and here Anna is with her strong and, much appreciated, polite views. She made me curious to hear more, no small feat. You should check out her posts on Crimea. It's beautifully written and nowhere near what conjured up in my head when I thought of that name.Sheesh. Where were we? Dinner. Viva M'Boma. For some reason, perhaps somewhere between the two year reality and the tasting flight, the three of us felt it necessary to try new, exotic meals. It should be noted that J ordered a plate of organs. And for the sake of tact, I won't mention the obscenities flying around our table. We left a little scarred and a little closer that night.But! The actual highlight of her visit was the girls trip to Antwerp on Sunday!We took an excruciatingly early train in. Okay, fine. It wasn't actually that early, but it should be known that I don't wake up early for many people these days. I've thoroughly taken to my two-year holiday here.The rain was looming. The streets were empty. We found ourselves lost, chasing pretty steeples, and then managed to mosey back to the main path. We never made up our minds which was more adorable. There were cops directing tiny street corner crossings and a bandstand at the main square prepared for a full-on festival. Apparently, we'd get to witness a marathon.One of my favorite moments was when we spotted an open store with decidedly higher quality clothes, a rarity on a Sunday in Europe, respectively. Before we knew it, pieces were flying in the dressing room and the saleslady couldn't keep up with her packaging neatly of our items before we'd throw her some more. I don't remember the last time I had that much fun shopping and had someone to collude with that we absolutely needed that white skirt and, 'oh!' that scarf. yes.' The sun was in and out and we found a patio spot under this incredible cathedral (below). We made excuses under both rain and shine to stay put and enjoy another round of Belgian beers. Almost convinced Antwerp was a crazy town, we lucked out and Anna got to cross Waterzooi off her Belgian to-do list. We seriously went to way too many restaurants for this Flemish town to not know what Flemish dish we were asking about. Isn't she a beauty? And she's a great dancer to boot. Yep. We danced in the streets. Multiple times. I just can't with this day. This day was so much fun.Actually, these photos came out way different from how I thought they would with all the gray and damp and between the puddle-soaked sandals and shopping bags turned into water buckets. It was quite a day! We didn't do much at all, but it was utterly fantastic.Thanks for being such a rock star, Anna. I'm ready to play again.