We dropped the girls off at school and went to the Central Station to get train tickets for this weekend (we're going back to Amsterdam and Mijdrecht to visit M and R on Saturday/Sunday), then stopped into the Delifrance on the Astridplein for coffee and an almond croissant. We are becoming quite the experts on who has the best coffee, best chocolate on the coffee saucer, and best, freshest, flakiest croissants. So far The Bistro on The Wapper gets my vote, but XO near the Grote Markt was good too.
We hopped on the 10 tram to head back to our neighborhood but after John hopped off the tram, I stayed on and went toward Melkmarkt near the Grote Markt. There are some sweet little cobblestone streets tucked between the Grote Markt and Hendrik Conscienceplein where I'd seen an Aveda salon called Elements with (for Aveda) reasonable prices. They're right near a sweet little restaurant (photo at right) called Aurelia, one of my favorite girl names. I know, I know, she'd get called "areola" in junior high school. I'm being theoretical.
I showed up for the appointment and decided on a whim to tack on a spa treatment to repair damaged hair (which always reminds me of that great line in the play Proof where Claire says to her fluffy sister, "you can't make hair healthier. It's dead." Her sister's reply? "Whatever. It has Jojoba."). Little did I know I had signed myself up for an hour of aaaaaaahhhhhhh. By the way, more info is available at http://www.zone03.be/shopping/detail/nl/1542/Elements%20Hair-Body-Care.html if you're interested.
My experience with restorative hair treatments was heretofore limited to a V05 hot oil treatment. This thing was to V05 what a Maserati is to a pogo stick. Serum was massaged into my scalp as I sat in a massage chair . Magic aromatherapy goo was wafted under my nostrils and then massaged into the frizz. To give the magic goo time to work, the salon lady-in-waiting massaged my head, neck, shoulders and back, shiatsu-style.
The lady-in-waiting (Natasha...of course) rinsed my hair in the usual hair salon sink with one crucial difference: the chair I sat in was a shiatsu massage chair. It lifted me into the ether as Natasha did whatever-it-was to my hair (who cares if it was mayo from the frituur on the corner??). Next I was offered coffee (a chocolate on the saucer...need you ask?) and a seat in the chair you saw at the top of the post. While my hair rested in hot towels, turban-style, Natasha gave my hands some sea-salt exfoliating treatment with lovely Aveda lotion to finish it off.
Next, the stylist wafted into the scene and we had a discussion about my poor hair. I had told John before I left that I hoped whoever cut my hair was opinionated, because I've been feeling wishy-washy. He was! This was no haircut. I was pruned like a shrubbery and am now sporting a European asymmetrical up-to-the-moment slightly spiky (but not frizzy) new 'do. It was lovely.
Got back to the apartment, lunch and quiet time while John went to office hours with the students, and then Adventure #2 began. We've read the heck out of our growing collection of books, and I'd just gotten detailed instructions on how to get to the central Openbare Bibliotheek (that's public library) from here. A cinch! A quick tram to the Astridplein (see Aquatopia post) and we were looking at the Chinatown lions. We popped into the Sun Wah Supermarket--gotta get back there for Chinese New Year decorations and other fun stuff--and were just about to buy something when MeiMei pulled a false potty alarm. Drat!
We found the library, no problem, and obtained a library card for five euro. In the children's section they have a shelf of English books and also lots of VHS and DVD shows for kids. We chose two VHS tapes (Pingu and Race for your Life, Snoopy!) and four books, including my new favorite, How Tom Beat Captain NAJORK and his Hired Sportsmen" by Russell Hoban, which is an absolutely silly story about how a boy whose guardian, Aunt Fidget Wonkham-Strong, thinks he fools around too much and calls in Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen to teach him a lesson. They play three games: womble, muck, and sneedball, with hilarious results. The girls love the story and the way the boy outsmarts the stodgy grownups who think they are going to teach him a lesson.
Once at home, we watched Pingu while keeping the girls awake til 6 for our Wednesday dinner at 't Injaske. I had reservations (ew, pun, sorry) about taking them to a restaurant meal at the end of a long day, but we crossed our fingers and walked over. They insisted on sitting next to College Students, Not Mommy and Daddy, and did pretty well. They were served their dinners right away, but the restaurant was understaffed and really busy tonight, so unfortunately I had to leave with the girls and ask John to bring my dinner later because they were getting restless and the rest of us weren't getting our food. Much better though to leave before a scene, don't you think? And my moussaka was just as good later at home. I tucked the girls in and they were soon asleep. I can't believe how well they're doing. How much of this will they remember? Time will tell.
So that was today. Tomorrow: Koninklijk Museum Voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen!