After 2 weeks on vacation, Derek and I came back home early Saturday morning around 1:30am. Needless to say we had both been awake for more than 24 hours and were exhausted, we both slept for about 12 hours straight!
We arrived in Romania without too many problems. I think we both feared for our lives several times during the 5 hour taxi ride from Budapest to Marghita. Once we crossed the border into Romania, we started driving on the worst roads I have ever been on in my life. I used to complain about the potholes in Lansing, and lack of repairs, but not anymore. Every other few yards there were large chunks of the road taken out on both sides, and yet the taxi driver decided it was still ok to go about 100-120 kilometer per hour. I was about 18 weeks pregnant at that time, and I thought my bladder was going to explode. Once we arrived at Kelsey's apartment, we lugged our suitcases up to the top floor, I don't remember how many flights of stairs I was, but I was definitely out of breath. Caleb was super excited to see Derek, and I don't know if he remembered me from my visit almost 3 years ago or not. He was a little shy but that lasted maybe 10-15 minutes and then Derek started asking him about all of his cars.
After a good night's sleep we got ready and headed out to church in Oradea. We were able to meet up with Kelsey's good friend, Rachel, at church, and she had a group from England there with her so we weren't the only ones who didn't understand Romanian. Kelsey did a good job of translating for us. The church was fairly similar to ones over here. After church we went to lunch. Thanks to the low price of things there and the great exchange rate ($1 = 3 lei), we were able to get 3 big salads to share, and an entree for all of us for around $20. We went down a walking street in Oradea, which is more like an outdoor mall. Everything was closed, but since it was about 100 degrees out, we did stop to get some ice cream.
Monday we drove up into the Black Forest to relax and play in the river. It was still close to 100 degrees out, but the breeze was a lot cooler in the mountains. We pulled over on an embankment and set up some lawn chairs. Caleb and Derek played in the water, while I worked on my tan :) After playing in the river for awhile, we hiked up a hill and followed a waterfall. It was great, it was really nice just spending some time together. On Tuesday we stayed in Marghita, Kelsey and I treated ourselved to $8 mani-pedis. We went to Casa Alba in the afternoon to celebrate Reni's (not sure how she spells her name) birthday with all of the kids. Derek played soccer with a lot of the boys outside, it was a little crazy, but still fun.
On Wednesday we headed back to Oradea for the day and enjoyed some good old McDonalds for lunch. Surprisingly, McDonalds cost the same there as it does over here. It would have been cheaper to eat at a nice restaurant! Caleb enjoyed the lunch, because with his happy meal they were giving out Spider Man toys. We also took Caleb to the mall to go bowling! He enjoyed it for the first couple of turns, but after getting mostly gutterballs he got pretty frustrated and was more excited about the race car videogame. Bumper bowling hasn't made its way over to Romania yet, I think if that ever happens, Caleb will enjoy doing that a lot more. We also headed to a HUGE outdoor park/jungle gym park. There were 6-8 different themed play areas, including an indoor play area. Caleb and Derek went to town and had a really good time.
Thursday morning we headed out to Belgium.
We arrived Thursday night into Belgium, and were greeted by my old host family, Christian, Annie, and Pierrick. It was as if I had never left...it's still hard to imagine that 5 years have passed since I lived there! We went into Brussels to show Derek the city. It was just as breathtaking as I remember it when I left before. Each time I see le grand place it's as if I have never seen it before. I am just so enthralled by it's beauty. We of course each ate a gauffre (waffle), and man they were good. After saying hello to le mannekin-pis (yes it is really a statue of a boy peeing), we went to grab a drink. Derek enjoyed his first Belgian beer, and me some juice. I was surprised when my family tried to convince me that having a beer would be ok. It was interesting to see the difference in what pregnant women are allowed to eat/drink over there vs. here! After drinks, we headed to dinner. Keeping with Belgian tradition, I opted for the national dish of moules et frites (mussels and fries). Nothing beats Belgian french fries with mayo...fried twice and oh so delicious. I did try to eat as many servings of fries as I could while I was there. I'm sure I have gained a few pounds from my 3 days there, but it was worth it. After grabbing a coffee and some tartes (slices of pie), we headed home. It was exactly as I remembered it, even smelled the same.
The rest of our time in Belgium was spent between my 2 families, the Bultots and the Delhezs and was wonderful. It was much too short, but it was a much needed visit. It was really difficult to leave, it just has become home to me. We had perfect weather while we were there, in the 80's every day. This is very unusual for Belgium in May! I ended up getting a sunburn in Belgium, something that I didn't think was possible. Everyone really wants me to come back with the baby, and I will do everything possible to go back there within the next year or so...afterall it's only about $200 for a baby (under 2) to fly international! Once we left Belgium, we headed to Scotland for a week.
We really really enjoyed ourselves in Scotland. It was such a beautiful country and we had again great weather the entire we were there. Derek now wants to move there, we shall see! The first 3 days we spent in Perth. We went to Stirling, to visit the Castle there, and of course the William Wallace monument. Seeing the old history and walking through things that are hundred of years old was just amazing.
We spent a day in Perth and went to several free museams, including one about The Black Watch. It was a really well put together exhibit/museam full of lots of information. We also visited Scone Palace where over 40 Scottish Kings were crowed on the "Stone of Destiney".
From there we headed to Edinburgh, which was probably my 2nd favorite stop of our 2 week trip. The first, of course, being Belgium. We visited Edinburgh Castle, and enjoyed seeing The Honours, or royal jewels. We went on a free tour, and the guide was extremely insightful. We also went on a free walking tour of the city. We ended up stopping after about 2.5 hours, because I could not walk anymore. We also went on a Witchery tour one night. It was a lighthearted, historically accurate, tour that took us through some more famous spots of Scotland's darker history. The guides were extremely funny and did a great job giving us the facts while keeping us entertained. Next time we go to Scotland, we will probably head to the Inverness area. Overall the trip was amazing, and a great way to celebrate our upcoming anniversary, as well as our last trip with just the 2 of us before our baby comes!