I must say that I miss coffee. Seems absurd to be thinking of that being in Europe! But - the coffee, or, what remains of it's fine meaning in my brain, is too strong (wtf - i know), lacks body, and depth, aroma, flavor, acidity, all of that fine stuff. I think they must use some universally bad espresso roast, because it is everywhere, and it's all bad, at least around here. We managed to leave with a stockpile of the instant Starbuck's Via. This is my plug to Starbucks - yes it is good, yes it convenient, especially when you can't get any coffee. And yes, I miss Starbucks latte's. That's right, I said it, it needed to be said. In the states, you could probably stand at any street corner, hurl a large rock in any direction, and hit (probably a Starbucks) a coffeehouse. I guess in the states, trends sort of manage to reach all corners of the US, like taco-trucks, coffee, kateplus8 haircuts, tapas, good beer etc, and I feel that in Europe those kinds of trends would tend to cross borders. I mean this place has pac-northwest weather, it seems like the weather and coffee would be a marriage made in heaven.
Still need to get a press pot and bean grinder, and now also a good online coffee service. So all you Americans drinking good coffee, send me some good vibes when you are drinking a delicious cup o' joe.
So here's an update on how the week is gone:
This week, I've gone shopping twice. The shops are just lovely, and it's not contrived like a Southpoint feel or a mall-feel. You walk everywhere, and when tired you can just plop into any Leffe cafe for a beer. I found a vet for Dudley, I think I signed up for health insurance (which is govt-run btw - probably more on that later) and we applied for our Belgian ID cards. There is a large community garden that is called Het Open Veld (The open field), which is volunteer run and operates like a CSA. I found it on this wonderful blog. I will post pics on that once I visit, I'm really excited about checking it out. There is also an organization through KU Leuven which sells veggie bags for 10 E. I haven't found anything that is nutrition/public health related as of yet, but I did find an Indian Students Association so I can keep up with the holidays and garbas.
There is a grocery store here called Delhaize which is the same logo as Food Lion in the states. Except the Food Lion in the states sucks. Delhaize is like the Whole Foods/Weaver Street Market of Food Lions. The produce section was huge, and they tended to have fresh markets where you could get meats and breads. Basically you can get anything. Most of the servings are smaller, but you can still buy everything. Marinara sauce comes in like 8 oz glass jars, and instead of like 3 brands of mayo, there are like 16. I found a bag of tortilla chips that was among the "ethnic" foods section, complete with tortillas, taco shells, and fajita seasoning. It's funny to see the differences.
The bikes are stereotypically "Dutch" bikes and usually are beaters, except for the KU-Leuven bikes, which would be like UNC subsidizing really nice Trek Hybrids for all their students. Out of necessity, and because pretty much everyone bikes here, the chains are covered and the wheels have covers or rainguards, so you can pretty much bike in any kind of weather. The lights for the bikes are auto-charged as you cycle. It is remarkably easy to get anywhere by foot or bike here. There was so much on the Built Environment in all my coursework at UNC, and here I am living in a built environment that makes being physically active a daily and necessary routine. And I am eating way more than I normally would (frites, belgian waffles, the pastries, etc) but haven't gained any weight from it (at least yet, right!?) I mean even the bikeways have Frittur places located on them!
Yesterday we played badminton with some of Karl's friends in the department, and held our own pretty well (I think Sara and Nathan would really appreciate the set up of the courts - being that there aren't strings coming out of pots). We were playing fairly competitively and there was good turn out! I was trying to explain the beerminton version to which several replied, "you cannot bring drinks in here!" Guney if you are reading this, there is a badminton net stashed somewhere next to the raised bed - I think rackets and birdies too.
Tonight, we'll go and play some ultimate - I'm very excited about that. More later!