Saturday, June 07, 2008

Good Thing We Booked Early!

I just checked to see what our plane tickets would cost if we booked them today. Of course my worst fear is that I'm going to see a lower price than we paid, but with fuel surcharges going up and up, and travel dates getting closer, no need to fear. If we booked today, we wouldn't be able to find a direct flight. We'd have to connect through Frankfurt. And if we booked today, we would be paying $100/ticket more in fuel surcharges. In fact, when you look at the fare vs. taxes/surcharges, it's a 2-to-1 ratio now.

The euro continues to stay below the 1.60/1 ratio, at around 1.56/1. For those of you who followed our travels in Jan-May 2007 with our university students, don't look for as many restaurant's on our dime this time! Still, our friends S & I just found a place we'll have to try. Upstairs from the dining room, there's a supervised play area with games and activities for kids. S & I said THEY were the ones saying "come on, it's time to go" to their 10pm!!! We are so excited to see our friends again...S & I, Mr. K and his wife Dr. vanH, and the parents we met through the girls' school. I'm actually bringing JieJie's teacher an iPhone. She asked me to bring it because they're over twice as much in European stores, and she wants to give it to her husband as a surprise. For us, it's a kind of fee-less currency exchange. This teacher also invited us to visit her town, Lier, which looked really sweet when we passed through it once on the train.

Between now and departure day, the usual to-do list awaits...stop the paper, hold the mail, brief the house sitter, "eat down the pantry" as we say, get the neighbor boy to mow, and involve the girls in packing. I don't know whether we'll bring the LeapPads for such a short trip, though they were really great to have last time. I'm reluctant to cross the line from LeapPad to LeapSter (more of a hand-held video game) though they are so much more portable...I dunno.

One note I want to write myself from this side of the ocean, and this side of the trip: don't forget to bring home a BIG box of chocolates from Chateau Blanc, and don't forget to get the bicycle panniers from Apotheek/Kitsch Kitchen. Exchange rate be damned...they're too cool.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Countdown to Belgium!

We are so close to departing for Belgium I can taste it (the chocolate, that is). MeiMei finishes preschool Friday, JieJie wraps up a great kindergarten year next Thursday, and not long after that, we're off to Antwerpen and three weeks of invigorating travel. The house sitter is lined up, the reservations are awaiting confirmation, I'm finishing the freelance work I've committed to, John is enjoying the last few weeks before his responsibilities at the university accelerate, and right now my folks and aunt are visiting and doing LOTS of helping with odd jobs. A thank-you dinner is definitely in order.

Donations for China continue to arrive. I'll let you know the final tally of what we're sending sometime next week. If you want to keep up with the latest news from the organization we're sending supplies to, go to Half the Sky Foundation's earthquake updates in HTS Journal. While you're there, why not make a donation? :)


You can search FTJ for past posts, e.g. China info...