Sunday, September 12, 2010

Floralies of Ghent

We arrived back in Belgium for a total of 24 hours before our final flight home. The day was FULL of to do's, the most pressing to love on our dear friends. Karen and I packed our kiddos up and went to the Floralies of Ghent. Once every 5 years the town of Ghent puts on a grand flower show. And we weren't about to miss it! We got to the convention hall surrounded by thousands and thousands of senior citizens. And hoards and hoards of people in general. We pushed in with our strollers and hoped for the best. Although I am pretty sure we ran over a few toes inadvertently with stroller tires in the mass chaos - oops. The flower show was beautiful and very impressive. But I gotta say the convention hall florescent lighting really did nothing to enhance the beauty.
The kids were kids. Connor was pretty exhausted from the travel over the past month. She was a "spirited" child - not wanting to stay in the stroller and also not wanting to walk with her mom. Karen and I tag teamed to keep up with them. One was child-chaser while the other took photos and vice versa.

These two totally knew they were being mischevious, but it was their last day together.
We had to be very quick and convincing for them to sit still for a photo.The flowers were absolutely stunning - as only the Flemish can produce. This flower show is a 200 year old tradition. We kept thinking we were nearing the end until yet another hall of displays appeared along the path - one after another after another. We were only halfway through when we learned there were 2 KILOMETERS of path. Which seemed at the time both a blessing and a curse. We were happy to see all the flowers, but the navigation challenge with children and strollers seemed endless.
Kid and crowd challenges aside, it was impossible not to appreciate the immense beauty and creativity. There were table settings, orchids, and artistic masterpieces all made from flowers.Kinda puts the American Rose Bowl Parade to shame!It was hard to believe some of these were even real. These flowers seemed plastic until we were up close. Sure was a ton of effort given that within 2 weeks everything would be as it was before.All in all it was a great morning and final crescendo for the Karen-Brady/Reid-Connor traveling team. The Floralies of Ghent epitomized our day trippin' together perfectly. The travel, parking, snacks, hugs, scenery, girlfriend-gabbing, and kid-laughing... Where would I have been without these sweet friends?!? There were many tears in our goodbye, but there was also a calm knowing we would see each other back in the USA.
That afternoon I had a final 'chocolate chaud' with Dallas at Wittamers in Sablon. We giggled with glee about her new pregnancy anticipating this sweet baby. Another difficult goodbye followed.

That evening sweet Joe made us a yummy homemade dinner as a sendoff. We took over their apartment with our mountains of luggage. The repacking job was a true feat.It was hard not to feel a huge mix of emotions. We did it. We really did it. We spent 18 months living in Europe. And it was like living a dream. I would never trade a moment of the highs, the lows and the in betweens. This experience will be forever a piece of us - individually and as a tight knit family.

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