Sunday, October 7, 2012

A visit from Kelly Gardner

Hi everyone, it's an über-rare blog post from me (Pete) this week.  Enjoy it while it lasts!

We were thrilled to have my good friend from MBA school, Mr. Kelly Gardner, visit us this week!  His wife works for an airline, and in part due to the amazing spouse flight benefits, Kelly has become quite the world traveller.  During business school, Kelly became one of my best friends, and we always worked with this other guy... Matt.  Yep, the Matt who was my Lux connection, and now lives a block away from me.  Between the two of us Kelly couldn't resist a visit to "the most luxurious of all burgs" as I like to call it.

Looking back on my phone now, I'm disappointed with my poor documentation of his visit - I was able to take some time off and show Kelly around the city, check out the bock casemates, get a Choco-spoon (I'm getting the Lux tourist thing down pretty well these days), and in the process get caught up on the latest tech-news from the US (Kelly is my lifeline to all things gadget-y and tech-culture).

On Friday, Matt was able to get some time off as well, and after extensive research (ok, a 90 second conversation) we more or less randomly decided to take a guys-only day trip to Brussels on Friday, hoping to see sprouts, waffles and the Euro-crisis.

here they are!  We decided to take the train instead of driving.

Matt taught us to play "13" on the way.

 Brussels main city-square.  Kelly informed me that a tourist taking a picture of a tourist taking a picture was very "meta."

Some fairly nasty weather drove us into the semi-famous "Delirium" bar.  Matt and I had a few beers while waiting for the rain to clear.  This may or may not have contributed to the events that followed.

After the rain died down, we decided to walk across town and check out the Musical Instrument Museum, which is supposed to be a pretty cool collection of historical instruments (I'm not sure how interested the other guys were, actually, I think they were humoring me...) but on the way we were distracted by....

wait for it.....


It turned out that this park (Parc de Bruxelles) had all kinds of stereotypical Belgian items as modern art:  For example this "Beer of Souls"


By the time we got through the park, the rain was coming down pretty hard, and we were still a good 20-30 minute walk from the museum.  So, when we saw a giant friendly looking glass/steel building called the "EU Planetarium" we thought we ought to stop and stay for a while, maybe grab a cup of coffee and get dry.  We were pretty pleased to see that visitors were free!

You could possibly blame the beers (they were large, and it turns out that they were 7+%, though I'm not sure what Kelly's excuse is!) but it slowly dawned on us as got to the first exhibit.... there seemed to be a lot of information about the EU beaureaucratic infrastructure and not so much about planets.   

Yeah, we ended up in the Parlimintarium not the Planetarium.  As in, the visitors center for learning about the EU parliment.

Well, it was dry anyway.  And Matt had a delightful time hassling the employees about their lack of respect for Luxembourgish culture, including the following exchange with one of the workers standing next to the multi-lingual rack of brochures:

Matt:  Do you have this in Luxembourgish?
Confused and Affronted Employee:  No.
M:  Why not?
CAE: Sir, luxembourgish is not a language.
M: (increasingly animated) What!  It's one of the three official languages of Luxembourg!
CAE: (now flustered as well as confused and affronted) Well, it's not one of the 24 recognized languages of the EU, which is why we don't have it here.
M: But Luxembourg is one of the EU capitals!  How can this be?
CAE: (now in near panic) Sir, I can give you the email of my boss if you'd like to file a complaint.
M:  That's fine, but does your boss read Luxembourgish?
CAE: no...
M:  Then how will he understand what I write!?

He was in rare form :)

We actually had a pretty good time, once we got used to the idea that there wasn't going to be a laser light show about distant stars, and learned to enjoy the "parliament at work" video presented in the majesty of 360 degrees high-def.  Ok, I fell asleep, but right before that, it was getting really intense!

One last story from Brussels.  On the way back to the train station, a random guy struck up a conversation with me.  He asked where I was from, and I told him with a totally straight face - "Luxembourg."  Turns out that was the best move I made all day, because when Kelly told him "California" he gained a stalker (the guy with the hat and the backpack).

This joker hounded Kelly the whole way back, with a story of something to do with John McCain, a missing passport, some sort of broad conspiracy involving "humans," and a mysterious 20 digit phone number that Kelly was supposed to call once he landed in SFO.  I wish I had the paper he gave us - it was pure crazy.

There are no Starbucks in Luxembourg (yet!  Come on Starbucks!) so I stopped by the one in the Brussels train station for a quick hit of Americana (and caffeine) and we decided to get in a quick picture -

 when out of no-where comes our conspiracy-threory friend!  With a full sized American Flag!  I can't believe this actually happened, but it did:

Kelly called this "the ultimate photo-bomb."  Yep.

Ok, that's enough blog post for me.  I'm happy to turn this forum back over to my much more eloquent and documentation-saavy wife.

I hope Kelly had as good a time in Lux as we did hosting him.  And I hope that last picture never surfaces as evidence in some future trial, proving that we were associated with Belgian extremists.

Bye Kelly!  Sorry I didn't take more pictures!



Anonymous said...

So funny! What a lot of belly laughs!

Renay said...

Good one, Pete. The fact that your posts are rare makes it more enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

That was awesome! Great post. Miss you guys!