Nicky and Matt’s Wedding!

Saturday was the wedding of my friends Nicky and Matt! It was the most causal wedding (well reception, the wedding was sneakily done before everyone showed up) I have ever been to (when someones grandma changes into shorts, you know its a casual affair). It was out in the boondocks of Wisconsin on a relatives farm and it really was over the river and through the woods. It was 90+ with a beautiful breeze, which was good as it was all outside. There were tacos for dinner, a DJ playing songs that everyone knew (including the couples dance ‘Rainbow Connection’ by Kermit the Frog), s’mores in lieu of a cake, dancing under the twinkle lights, and camping. It was a great wedding!

Vine (yes, I know the video is at an odd angle) first dance to ‘Rainbow Connection’ by Kermit the Frog

 


 

Friday, July 12 – Brussels

Friday, July 12

 

Morning Start

–Breakfast at Marriott Courtyard Hotel.  Hours: 6:30-10:30 AM.

 

Daily Event

–Lecture and interactive discussion with European Muslim Network members.

–Site: Muslim Network Headquarters, Brussels.

–Address: Trois Arbres 16b, Brussels Conference room at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel

–Directions: TBA.

–Time: 9am

–Dress Code: Business attire.

–Speaker: European Muslim Network Member Mr. Mohammadou Tanko.

–Topic: Prospects for the Development of a “European Islam”.

 

After an interesting talk by Mr. Tanko, it was off to Bruges for the day. Numerous people had mentioned to me before I left on my trip how beautiful the city was and how I had to visit. So after some debate over where to go (London was in the running for a while, as was Luxemburg), Bruges it was. We drove, so it only took a little over an hour and it really is a beautiful city. We walked around the city, took a canal boat ride, had dinner, and did some shopping (hello chocolate…). Despite the cold, overcast day and the extreme back pain I was in (which I have now had for over a week), it was a good day.

 

Tuesday, July 9 – Brussels

Tuesday, July 9

 

Morning Start

–Breakfast at Marriott Courtyard Hotel.  Hours: 6:30-10:30 AM.

–Meet in lobby at 8 AM for departure to European Union Economic and Social Committee Headquarters.

 

Daily Event

— Visit to European Union Economic and Social Committee for briefings and discussions.

–Site: European Union Economic and Social Committe Headquarters, Brussels.

–Address: Rue Belliard 99, Brussels.

–Directions: Metro to Maalbeek Station.

–Time: 9:45 AM.

–Dress Code: Business attire.

–Speaker: Charis Xirouchakis, Head of Unit for Visits and Publications.

–Topic: An overview of the European Economic and Social Committee.

–Topic: Economic, Political and Social/Cultural Development and the European Union.

 

 

We had a fantastic talk this morning at the European Union Economic and Social Committee by Mr. Charis Xirouchakis. Then it was off for lunch at a Turkish cafe and a walk by the Royal Palace of Brussels and Park Bruxelles aka Brussels Park. Once again the weather is hot and sunny and I have now been sunburnt in 3 European counties (Germany, France, and Belgium).

Monday, July 8 – Brussels

Monday, July 8

 

Morning Start

–Breakfast at Marriott Courtyard Hotel.  Hours: 6:30-10:30 AM.

–Meet in lobby at 7:30 AM for departure to European Commission Headquarters.

 

Daily Event

–Visit to European Commission for briefings and discussions.

–Site: European Commission Headquarters, Brussels.

–Address: 18 Rue van Maerlant, Brussels

–Directions: Metro to Maalbeek Station.

–Dress Code: Business attire.

–Time: 9 AM.

–Welcome and Introduction by Mrs. Isabelle Van Keirsbilck

–Speakers: Mr. Ludo Tegenbosch, Directorate-General for Communication “The European Commission – the State of the Union” and Mrs. Janice George-Mac-Cormack, Information and Communication Assistant, Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection “The EU’s Humanitarian Aid Policy”

–Topic: An overview of the European Commission.

–Topic: Continuity and change in the transatlantic relationship.

 

An interested talk at the European Commission brought us into Brussels via bus (we have now traveled by train, plane, and automobile, plus taxi). Then it was off to explore Brussels and the Great Place for lunch and some shopping of the chocolate truffles, books, and lace variety. Hmmm truffles…

 

Sunday, July 7 – Paris – Brussels

Sunday, July 7 – Paris – Brussels

 

Arrival in Brussels 

–Students arrive in Brussels and check in

Hotel Arrangements for nights of Sunday, July 7-Friday, July 12

–Meals: Breakfast provided every morning.

 

Sadly today was my last day in Paris. A visit to the Musee d’Orsay was attempted, but do to the huge crowds we were not able to go in. Let that be a lesson, do NOT go to Paris in July or not order tickets ahead of time. So it was back to the hop on and hop off bus for a quick drive around Paris, a walk by the Eiffel Tower, a stop in the local pastry shop, and then off to the train station for the train trip to Brussels, Belgium. The Thalys train was wonderful, but I hurt my bad back again putting my luggage in an overhead rack. We were up in 1st class, had huge seats, got a snack and beverage, had free Internet, and they had made arraignments for a taxi. Then off to the hotel. Another long hot day.

Saturday, July 6 – Paris

This morning was the Louvre tour! The tour was “Skip the Line: Louvre Museum Walking Tour including Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa” by Viator and it lasted around 3 hours. The crowds were crazy! People everywhere. While there were lots of people in the building, our tour had 4 people, plus the guide and that includes me! So a great size group. The Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory were amazing! So much more beautiful in real life. Next up we had lunch and I tired for the first time ever: escargot! They were gross, so I will not be trying them again. Lunch also included French onion soup and creme brulee. Then it was off to Notre Dame Cathedral, but we did not go in, as the lines were too long. Next stop was the Shakespeare and Company bookstore where I got yelled at for taking a photograph 🙂 and I bought a few books. A bus ride on the get on, get off bus tour was up next and then dinner and gelato. A long, hot day (yes, I managed to get sun burnt in Paris), but a fun one. Here are the first set of photos:

Friday, July 5 – Paris!

Arrival in Pairs via train! Found our taxi, only to be in the taxi a few minutes before it slammed on its brakes and I went flying. I had a seat belt on, but the seat was not latched property and I went flying. Checked into the hotel, did some laundry (you know your an adult when you do laundry on a Friday in Paris!) and then headed over to the Eiffel Tower for a ‘Skip the line’ Sunset Tour at 8pm via Viator. The tour was very good and the Eiffel Tower is wonderful! The tour went to the second level, but I went further up to the top level, which was amazing and had an incredible view of the city.They were also selling champagne to toast your summit to the top of the Tower, so I just had to purchase a glass. The crowds were insane and skipping the line was the best thing ever!