New Season, New Place to Call Home

Same story, second verse: About a month ago, Nathan is contacted by a team in Malta. Never heard of it? Neither had we. Fast forward to 2 weeks later, Nathan is on his way! (I'll spare you the boring details of in between.) Fast forward 3 more weeks, and I am on my way, too!

A Few Updates from Lately

As many of you know, Nathan just underwent foot surgery. Not something you want to do, ever, but especially not as a professional athlete who's career literally depends on your feet. So, initially we were  a little shocked by the news. Nathan has had previous foot injuries. He is a self proclaimed "expert on crutches," and it has always been because of something wrong with his right foot. So when he hurt it playing basketball about a month ago, it wasn't that shocking. We just hoped it was nothing serious. One MRI and one phone call with a very brief explanation later, Nathan was told to schedule a day for surgery after the doctor's two week vacation. You can imagine we had a lot of questions, but they were not going to get answered until the doctor was back in town, which was surgery day. He was the best doctor in Houston, so we trusted him and did our best to patiently wait for our questions to be answered.

Mykonos, Greece, A Dream Come True

Greece has always been near the top, if not at the top, of my most desired places to visit list. Blame it on Uncle Jessie, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, or Niko Niko's, but I am hooked on all things Greek. So when it came time to choose the destination of our annual post season trip, I immediately started pushing for Greece. Luckily, It didn't take too much convincing. It just so happened I had recently introduced Nathan to Greek food. That combined with a quick Pinterest search of "Greek Islands" would be enough to convince anyone to buy a plane ticket. We knew we wanted to go somewhere on the beach. (6 months in Western Europe will make you want to get to the warmest, sunniest place possible.) Based on that, flight schedules, and TripAdvisor reviews, we decided on Mykonos. We had no idea at the time that Mykonos was basically the party capital of the world, but also, we weren't complaining.

As our time here in Europe is coming to an end, we are reflecting on all the things we've lived without for the past few months. Some of these we are proud of, we've broken a lot of bad and unnecessary habits being outside of America. And some of these we are longing for the moment we get back home. Either way, its fun to look back and think about how little things have made our lives over here so different then our lives back home. This is a little game I call, "3 Months Without."

In the last 3 months we have not.....

Gone through a drive thru

Barcelona, Spain: Biking, Beaches, and Bocadillos

In front of the famous Sagrada Familia, that has been under construction for 100+ yrs 
It took all of about a half hour into our trip for both of us to agree that Barcelona was one of our favorite places we've ever visited. The energy there is completely different then any other city we've seen during our time in Europe. Most of our trips have been to landlocked, cold cities with lots of history, but not the friendliest hosts. Barcelona, in contrast, was sunny, colorful, and filled with smiling, friendly faces, active and eager to be outside enjoying the weather. And unlike Luxembourg, where we've been bundled up for the past three months, and the skies are usually grey, we were greeted in Barcelona with sunshine and shorts weather! It was a mild 70 degrees the whole time we were there, which we were told is basically the weather they get year round. Lucky ducks!

April Wrap Up

Hiking in Barcelona 
Well, this is officially the last monthly update we will write from Luxembourg! Our flights are booked back to Texas on May 26th. It happens to be Memorial Day, which is extra exciting since it should be a day filled with family gatherings, being outdoors, and lots of authentic American food. We have many things to look forward to this month, but first a look back at April.

End of Season Wrap Up and Highlights, by Nathan

As this season comes to a conclusion, I have to say that I have enjoyed playing here in Luxembourg and representing my team Ettlebruck Etzella. This season, however, has been very unique. I have had to overcome many challenges as a player.

First, my team had already played 3 games without me, so I was thrown directly into the fire upon arriving. I didn't even know all of my teammates names when I played my first game. Without the preseason to prepare with my teammates I was forced to catch onto everything really quickly. Second, this was my first season using the "Euroball." The basketball that is used in Europe is different from every other ball in the world. It has a different number of panels which alters the overall look and feel of the ball. Turns out I have actually grown to like this ball a lot. And lastly, the structure of the league is unlike anything I have ever played in. Let me explain:

On the Road with the Europeans

One amazing perk about living in Luxembourg is that we were given a car. Last year we relied on our bikes or the train system to get us everywhere. It was do-able, but nothing beats the convenience of jumping in your warm car to get where you need to be. Plus we are living outside of the city, and getting around without a car in the small town we live in would be nearly impossible.

We are very fortunate that the Luxembourgish drive on the right side of the road and have the steering wheel on the left side of the vehicle, just like in the US. However, unlike in the US, the cars here are tiny. No medium-large size SUV's, at all. No Explorers, no Suburbans, and absolutely no pick up trucks. I am not exaggerating to say I have seen exactly zero trucks on the road here. We live in very close proximity to two car dealerships, and there are no trucks for show at either one. Quite a change of scenery from Texas. What you do see on the roads here are lots and lots of two door and four door compacts, hybrids, and smart cars. Luxury vehicles are very common here in Lux. I've never seen so many Mercedes, Porche's, and BMW's in my life. We, however, can be seen around town in our little Ford Fiesta. (It's actually not called a Fiesta over here, but thats the equivalent of it back home.)

Touring the Heineken Brewery, Amsterdam.

The general consensus among the five of us was that none of us were Heineken drinkers. However, after reading the reviews on Trip Advisor, we decided that The Heineken Experience Tour sounded fun and worth checking out during our two days in Amsterdam. After spending nearly half a day at this attraction I can say we are very glad we did. This was not an average brewery tour. After reading about how the company was started, the tour moves onto highly interactive and exciting exhibits where you are able to "become beer," play games, help make beer, taste ingredients, and put yourself into photos and videos to send home. It was so entertaining that several times we had to literally drag the boys from one exhibit to the next. One of the nice things about the brewery tour is you go at your own pace, so if you wanted to spend less or more time taking the tour, you can.

March Wrap Up

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
March has officially come and gone. With it came visitors, more trips and warmer weather. The most exciting part of March was when three of our best friends from home came to visit. Two of Nathan's old college roommates, Travis and Jordon, and Jordon's fiance Lora flew over and spent a week with us. We showed them around Luxembourg first, followed by a few days in Amsterdam, and a few days in Brussels. If you have ever lived far away from home you know how exciting it is for your friends to come visit you. Im still catching up on posts from that trip, but I promise to have it all posted soon!

The Bock Casemates; Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg may be small, but its really a unique and breathtaking country. Distinguished by a beautiful mix of modern city and untouched ancient European fortresses, it is unlike any other city I have seen. The landscape of beautiful green hills, sprinkled with fascinating architecture, both old and new, is a sight to be seen. Among the things to see and do in this tiny European nation are the Bock Casemates.

The Casemates, which sprawl throughout the undergrounds of Luxembourg city, were originally built as a defense system. The history of the casemates dates back to 963. They were most recently used in WWII as a bomb shelter, able to house up to 35,000 people. Now the hollow Casemates are preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attract thousands of tourists every year. While walking the halls and exploring the narrow passageways of this former underground system you can't help but think how amazing it is that these caves were once basically an underground city. Now only a few cannons remain.

11 reasons your friends coming to visit the best thing ever

Vianden Castle; Luxembourg 
If you've ever lived overseas, I'm sure you will agree that getting a visitor is the best feeling in the world. Recently we were so lucky to have not one friend, not two friends, but THREE friends make the journey across the pond to spend a week with us. We spent the week galavanting between Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and Belgium, and needless to say it was one for the books. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why seeing your friends is 1000x more exciting when you live abroad. Maybe its because after being this far away for so long you get 1000x more excited about anything reminescent of home. Or maybe it's because living abroad makes you feel a little bit insane every now and then and, as always, your friends help bring you back to earth.  Here's a top 11 list (because I couldn't fit all the awesomeness into 10) to help me articulate all the reasons why visitors are the b-e-s-t!

Paris, Black and White

Our trip to Paris was over a month ago, but I am still obsessing over this beautiful, sprawling, and romantic city. A girl can day-dream, right? Here are a few of my unshared, favorite photos, romanticized into black and white. Because, thats what Paris is all about.

4 Travel Friendly Beauty Products You Need in your Suitcase

Any girl who has ever traveled anywhere knows that suitcase space is a precious thing. With the rules getting stricter, weight limits getting lighter, and overhead compartments constantly shrinking, no one has room to spare. While living the better part of the past two years out of a suitcase, I have discovered and fallen in love with a few travel friendly products. Because they are all multi use they actually save precious packing space by combining several necessary products that I would otherwise have to pack separately. Not to mention these products are all top of the line, and I would love them even if I wasn't living out of a suitcase! If you have any doubts, check the Ulta reviews of any of the products below. Or just trust me and pick them up before your next trip!

A Pleasant Surprise from Mother Nature

Spring is upon us! And out of nowhere! Last week in Luxembourg winter was showing no signs of stopping. We were still bundled up in our coats and hats and, like all the months before, we were longing to see the sun shine through the gray sky. I kid you not, on Sunday evening Nathan and I almost passed up walking down the street to grab some dinner because we were so dreadful of the cold walk home after the sun went down. But now, a mere week later, we have shed our coats and dug out our sunglasses! Last week the town square was deserted. Now, its packed with people out enjoying the day.

"Dolce Far Neinte" - A Weekend in Sienna, Italy

Wow, life really is a dream these days. Nathan and I were able to spend two days in Italy with two of our very best friends in the world. Another weekend off, another quick trip. This time to Sienna. A small town in Italy, just south of Florence. Two of Nathan's former teammates from A&M, who are both currently playing in Italy, just happened to be playing each other the same weekend we were there. So in addition to spending time with great friends, we were able to see two former Aggies, Josh Carter and Elston Turner, play each other in the Italian league. (In case you're counting; the two of them, the 2 of us, and the one and only Kelsi Perry make 5 former Aggies reuniting across the globe, Gig em!)

My First Rave; Avicii in Frankfurt, Germany

The following post really doesn't need a lot of explanation. Just know that 5 of us Americans living in Luxembourg spontaneously bought tickets to an Avicii concert in Frankfurt, Germany (about 2.5 hours away) and roadtripped it down the Autobahn to the concert. Unfortunately Nathan had to sit this one out due to a last minute schedule change for practice. I can now officially say I have been to a "rave" (check!) and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. If you ever have a chance to see Avicii live, dont even think about it, just go.

Paris Weekend Getaway - Day 3

Our last day in Paris. What a sad day. The sun was out and the Eiffel reopened, so we finally made it all the way to the top. Of course, we still walked the first 2 stories to avoid the line (Nathan's decision) But climbing nearly 700 stairs, again, was worth it to see the incredible view of the city. It was very windy and a little unnerving up there, so we both agreed that it was a good thing that they closed the lift for weather the day before.
That afternoon we visited my absolute favorite spot in Paris, the lock bridge. I've seen this on a few TV shows (most recently on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, when Kourtney takes Mason) but there are no words to describe seeing it in person. It is unfathomable how many millions of locks are attached to this bridge. It's so eclectic and colorful and just awesome.

Paris Weekend Getaway - Day 2

Rain was not part of the plan 
Day 2 we hit the ground running. Our plan was to beat the crowd to the Eiffel, after all it was Saturday and we hear the lines back up pretty early. We obviously needed some breakfast to start the busy day, but let me tell you that is no easy task in Paris. In fact, one of the biggest cultural differences I noticed while we were there was their take on breakfast (besides everyone from 4-40 constantly smoking). As Americans, we try to eat big protein packed, filling breakfasts. The Parisians are on more of a liquid diet. Their breakfast special (at the only place we found serving breakfast) consisted of 1 cup of coffee, 1 glass of orange juice, and your choice of a croissant or baguette. Thats it. No fruit, no yogurt, no turkey bacon with a side of scrambled eggs, nothing. It was good, but definitely not filling for me, or my poor 6'6" husband.

Paris Weekend Getaway - Day 1

The beautiful view from the roof of the Arc de Triumphe
Oh Paris. The city of love. The city of stairs (seriously, I've never walked more). With the weekend off we set out to see a city that was near the top of both of our "to see" lists. We caught an early morning train from Luxembourg on Friday and needed to return Sunday afternoon. We had about 2 1/2 days there and a LOT to do. We set out with a list of things we wanted to see, and a list of thing we wanted to eat (because thats just how we roll). For 60 hours we soaked in everything we could of Parisian culture including the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumphe, Champs Elysees, the Louvre, the Lock Bridge, croissants, macaroons, french wine, Sacre Course, Notre Dame, and Moulin Rouge. Whoa. I know.

The Week of A Lifetime

It is very safe to say that this week has been one of the craziest, most amazing weeks of my life. In one calendar week I traveled to 3 different countries (4 if you count a very long layover in Switzerland!) Since last Saturday I have been to Paris, France, Frankfurt, Germany, and Siena, Italy. I traveled by train, by car, and by plane. I traveled with old friends, new friends, and 1 romantic getaway with my husband. I had croissants and coffee in France, pretzels and beer in Germany, and lots and lots of Italian wine and pasta.

It is safe to say I am currently suffering from what can only be described as a "travel hangover." A feeling of exhaustion and bliss. Of wanting to do it all over again, and at the same time, wanting to stay in bed for the next week. I am im desperate need of some cleansing, some laundry, and a foot massage. My bank account runs low, but my memory card runs high, so Ill be updating all week with lots of exciting posts and pictures!

Etzella vs. Heffington

Etzella finished with a nail biting 82-74 victory over Heffington. With Etzella in a tight race for the playoffs, every game and point count!

A Quick Catch Up of Etzella's Season

Now, I know that some of you who read our blog are following Nathan's basketball career, and I have failed you this season! My basketball related posts have been seriously lacking since arriving in Luxembourg, so let me catch you up to speed.

Nathan's team, Etezella Ettlebruck, is in the top division of the league here in Luxembourg. The top division consists of 10 teams. All 10 teams will face off against each other twice in regular season play. And at the end the top 6 teams move on to the playoffs. The bottom 4 teams will join the top 4 teams from division two in the "play downs" and fight to remain in the top division, or be replaced by a team currently in the second division.