It’s been about a month since my last blog post, because January was not terribly eventful. A streak of cold weather kept us mostly inside, though we did at least one long walk on the weekends. Some snow covered the ground a couple of times, but it didn’t stay for more than a day. I’ve gone with the auto option to get to work rather than biking or waiting for buses. 

We find ourselves in discussions about American politics on a daily basis now. I avoid American news outlets, but since President Trump also dominates European news we can’t escape it. It’s also difficult to avoid political Facebook posts, though I usually scroll though most of it. I’ve thought about taking a break from fb, but it’s how I stay connected to many friends and family and I find it difficult to give that up. I have strong reactions to the current events, but I don’t comment in print because I don’t think I have anything novel to say. Let me just say that my predominant feelings these days are embarrassment and concern. I don’t know if we have a different perspective here in Europe than we would have had at home. Most (if not all?) the people we know here are also shaking their heads over all of this. 

A trip to Düsseldorf last weekend broke us out of the winter doldrums. There was very little sun, but the temperature was warmer and it didn’t rain. The city sits along the Rheine River and the Rheinuferpromenade allows you to walk along the whole river front. It’s an interesting mix of new and old with some very cool architecture. There’s great shopping with a 7 story mall and a shopping street similar to 5th Ave in NY. We did a lot of browsing, but didn’t buy a thing! A historic German pub provided us some good meat and potatoes (bratwurst, mash and kraut for me) at the end of the day. 

We’ve been battling some illness this past week. I had a spell of vertigo (happens once in a while), Dick had a chest cold with a bad cough and now I have a nasty cold. We had planned to spend the weekend in Brussels, but decided to cut it to a day trip on the driest day, Sunday. It’s only a 1.4 hr trip by car to Liege and then by train the rest of the way. My first impression of Brussels last year was meh; I didn’t see much of the old part. This time we explored the Grand Place and some of the other well known sites. It was a wet dreary day and my visual impression of the city didn’t improve much. We had brunch at a popular cafe that serves breakfast all day. There was a line out the door and while we waited, we realized we were the oldest people around. Later in the day, we stopped into a pub to get a drink and get warm. As we walked to the back, we saw people dancing. We eventually figured out that a swing dancing club was there to do their thing. It was very entertaining! Our main reason for going to Brussels was to see a lights festival; it was pretty cool and made the trip worthwhile.

So we had a dilemma on Feb. 5th — it’s the Superbowl and the Patriots could make history. Do we stay up to watch it live (with ads and Lady Gaga) or do we shut ourselves off from the outside world until we can watch it on demand (without ads or halftime show) on Monday? To watch it all live, we would have had to pull an all nighter and go to bed at 4 am. We decided to split the difference and watch it live until after the halftime show (2:30 am). After sleeping in on Monday morning, we avoided social media and the news and went right to the second half on demand. Wow, what an epic game! Congratulations NE Patriots! 😀 It was kind of a bummer not being able to share the experience with other Patriots fans and we definitely missed the party food!