Saturday, January 5, 2013

Holidays, Huffman Style

December 15th found me waking up at 3am to get on a double decker tour bus for a trip to the 
Christmas market in Lille, France with three friends.  
Good times, good conversation, and good Gluhwein were had by all!

On Christmas Eve, we exchanged the gifts that the kids had picked out for us at their 'Winter Wonderland' at school.  Unfortunately, Keller's gifts for us disappeared into some really spectacular hiding place a couple of weeks before Christmas, never to be seen again.  
But he made up for it by making us some really special cards.  
His gag gift from Casey evened the score.

 (I just love Keller's depiction of me on Christmas morning.  Thanks, kid.)

(He still wears his Indiana Jones hat from Halloween on special occasions)

After Christmas, we headed to Belgium for five days of exploring.  This was the seventh country we've visited since leaving the States in August 2011, so we've gotten pretty good at hitting the best spots, avoiding the tourist traps, and enjoying the local fare (in this case:  waffles, chocolates, and amazing beers apparently made by entrepreneurial monks in remote abbeys).

On the 29th, we hit the Christmas market at Place Sainte Catherine

(Accidental cool camera shot from the top of the ferris wheel, where we swayed and rocked in the wind and snow for an incredibly unnerving period of time)
 Don't let Casey fool you, he was up and down, leaning out the door, acting crazy and fearless the whole time.  

 (View from the top--Christmas market and ice skating rink below)
(First round of waffles going down)
(Metro station--this little pumpkin has logged more public transport miles than most adults I know!)

On the 29th, we were treated to the Twelve Days of Christmas by Marley--
tell me this isn't the cutest thing!

On the 30th, we journeyed to check out the beautiful medieval city of Ghent.

 (Gravensteen Castle)

On the 31st, we started the day by ice skating at the local rink.  
I am proud to say that even though it was my first time ice skating in my whole 38+ years of life, 
I did not fall once and only minorly injured my wimpy ankle.  

(Ready to go!)

 (Marley's cheering section)
 (Voted #1 in the family for Natural Ability--kid has some skills on skates!)
 (Voted #1 in the family for Most Improved)
 (Voted #1 in the family for Most Likely to Cause Back Injury to an Adult, and also Most Likely to Pants her Dad on the Ice)

We headed off to the Comic Strip Museum in Brussels after our skating adventure.  Belgium is home to some comic icons such as Tin-Tin and the Smurfs, 
and bunch of other characters that we Americans had never heard of :)

We finished our New Year's Eve outing with a pedestrian tour-de-Brussels of the Grand Place and surrounding streets. 

 (Kids with Le Manneken Pis, which is a very old statue of a little boy...peeing.)
 (Chocolate and waffles on every corner)

 (Looks like Casey is haunting the rest of the family during yet another waffle feast)

On the 1st, we violated our "avoid tourist traps" rule and visited the Atomium in Brussels.  It was built for the 1958 World Fair, and although it is a cool concept, the exhibits within the Atomium were of very little interest to Huffmans big or small, and the lines were Disney-style.

We headed for home on January 2nd, with a very quick stop in Brugge.  It's a beautiful town and we definitely didn't do it justice--we literally ran through the streets, stopped at the Christmas market for souvenirs, bought some chocolates, and headed out so we wouldn't miss our ferry.  
(We missed it anyway, of course).

Keller and Casey each carried their own camera on our travels, 
so I will follow up with a post of their best shots soon.  

Happy New Year to everyone and we hope your 2013 is full of adventures!