A European Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, even though we are living in a country where Thanksgiving is not celebrated, we were able to in spite of many obstacles, prepare and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We have so much to be thankful for!

-We are thankful for the US Military Base, which allowed us to shop for American Thanksgiving staples you can't buy here, like a Turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and cornbread

-We are thankful Jess knew how to cook a turkey, which is not an easy task

-We are thankful our families back home shared all their recipes and advice for us girls cooking our first Thanksgiving dinner

-We are thankful our giant turkey fit in the oven, and that we were able to find a way to cook our American size portions in a European kitchen

-We are thankful Jill and her family opened up their house to all of us crazy Americans

-We are thankful for all the friends we have made living in Luxembourg

-We are thankful to be living so close to so many other Americans who make this feel like home

-We are thankful to have the ability to purchase and prepare a meal so large that it couldn't be finished by 12 people (10 of which are athletes) and we are very thankful for Thanksgiving day leftovers.

-We are thankful that after 5 years of dating, 1.5 years of engagement, and 3 months of being married we were finally able to spend our first Thanksgiving together! Every year in the past we have been in different cities, states, or countries due to basketball.

-We are thankful for the amazing meal and celebration we shared with all of our new friends!

A Day in Brussels, Belgium

Nathan had a midweek day off so we took a short drive up to Brussels; the city of french fries, beer, chocolate, and waffles. Seriously, could they possibly pack anymore good things into one city? We sought out to try the best of all 4, and see some of the famous landmarks, all in a days time. 

The trip took about two hours, and we drove straight to Maison Antoine; a famous friterie. We knew it was going to be good by the crowds of locals surrounding the small food stand. In case you are wondering, a friterie is a small kiosk or restaurant whose cuisine is centered around french fries. (Can you believe they have a word for that? Can you believe we don't have these in Texas!?) Although they had a pretty large variety on the menu, every customer ordered the same thing. A paper cone full of french fries, topped with your choice of sauce and served with a tiny fork.

Europeans really like mayo on their french fries (like in the picture above.) Nathan and I both opted for ketchup instead. 
Nathan with his cone of Belgian french fries

I also ordered a hot dog, which came on a baguette. So European.  

The line around Maison Antoine 

Five children, all with a cone of french fries
This place was pretty good, but for being the most famous friterie in a city that is famous for french fries, I was a little underwhelmed. I expected the french fries to knock my socks off. And they were good, just not great. However this place was pretty authentic, so I will blame it on my American taste buds because Belgian french fries are different then American french fries both in texture and taste. 

Up next, a little sight seeing. We visited the famous Atomium, as well as "Mini Europe" which is a park featuring replicas of all the famous landmarks across Europe. So basically, we have seen it all, we can pack up and go home. (Kidding, of course)
The "Atomuim." A famous landmark museum and lookout tower (inside each ball!) 
Bird's Eye view of the grounds of "Mini Europe" 
Then we were off to the Grand Palace area. This area of Brussels definitely had a 'Times Square" feel. The streets were filled with shops, restaurants  bars and tons of tourists. This area was my favorite of the day and I would love to spend more time here. The area appeared to have some pretty impressive shopping, and some of the most amazing bakeries I have ever seen in my life. Not to mention the dozens of  dual chocolatier/macaroon shops. Anyone with a sweet tooth would be in heaven in this part of the city.
The Grand Palace. Lit up and breathtaking at night. 
Belgian Chocolate, and Belgian Beer. Check and Check! 
We topped off the night with what we believe was a very authentic Belgian dinner at T. Kelderke which consisted of beef stew, more french fries, mussels, and mashed sweet potatoes. Mussels in Brussels sounded like a good idea when trying to eat like a local, but turns out mussels are kind of gross.

The best part of the entire trip was the Belgian Waffle we had from a street vendor for dessert. I could have skipped all the other meals we had in Belgium and just ate these all days. I could skip every meal in my foreseeable future and eat nothing but Belgian Waffles all day everyday. These things were A-MA-ZING. 
My Belgian Waffle, hot and smothered in milk chocolate. 

Where the Heck Are We?

Upon telling people we are living in Luxembourg, the response I receive most often is, "Oh, Germany?" Followed by a very close second of, "Is that in Belgium?" Which led me to draw the conclusion that our friends and family have no idea where we are living. Not that I am one to judge. I honestly couldn't have pointed it out on a map before moving here. But in my defense, you have to be really paying attention to spot Luxembourg on a map.

So here are a few fun facts about where we will be residing for the next 6 months. Beginning with clarification of the point I brought up earlier: Luxembourg is not in Germany or Belgium. It is in fact its own tiny country located between Germany, Belgium, and France. 

When I say tiny, I mean really tiny. It is the 20th smallest country in the world. Driving from one end of the country to another would take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes (according to Google Maps). So, thats probably about the time of your morning commute in Houston. The population of Luxembourg is about 600,000 and the capital city is Luxembourg City. We are residing in Ettlebruck which is about the second largest city outside the capital. 

It is a tri-lingual country and the 3 official languages are Luxembourgish, German, and French. So when locals are speaking, not only can I not understand what they are saying, I can't even figure out what language they are speaking in. Luckily everyone we have met so far also speaks very good English. 

Luxembourg is famous for a few things, mostly financial related. It has the highest GDP per capita in the world. It is home to notably low unemployment, and notably high minimum wage. So along with all of that comes a high standard of living, and very happy inhabitants (rated one of the safest, and happiest countries in the world). You may have also heard of Luxembourg because it was a major location in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII. And Radio Luxembourg was apparently a pretty big deal back in the day.

One of the things that makes us most excited about Luxembourg is the close vicinity to other major European cities. When living in the wonderful but humongous state of Texas, we drive for hours to arrive at another major city in Texas. But here we drive a few hours in any direction and arrive at an entire new culture. The cities of Brussels, Paris, Cologne, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Zurich are all reachable in a shorter drive then the trip from Houston to Dallas. 

And it will be our happy little home for the next 6 months! Ill be updating the blog frequently with stories of our survival and exploration.