P.S. They still weren't the real dill :(
Once back in Belgium, we needed a rest. Kelly, Stephen and I retreated back to our apartment to relax, while RP and Glenda stayed at the Bedford Hotel down the street. We met back up that night to have some appetizers, then headed to Pipers in the Carre for dinner. Stephen loves the pizza there, so we needed to introduce the Dotson's (or reintroduce them) to true Italian pizza! It's so yummy! The next morning we walked La Batte, the market that opens on our street every Sunday. We shopped around and had lunch at one of our little spots, where the fam could taste the "Boulet Liegeois," or Liege meatballs. Those of you that have visited have had the honor of these yummy treats, and I think the Dotson clan enjoyed them as well! If not the meatballs, we enjoyed the frites. You CAN have too many frites, we learned. Kelly had to leave on Monday, which was very sad. It was snowing, but she was able to take off and get back with relative ease. Yes, I said snowing! Can you believe it? Up until this point I hadn't seen it snow here, I guess I figured it would have snowed by now at least. It's Spring now, people. It should be 85 and sunny, right? Well, it was a blizzard instead. Stephen had the day off, as did everyone in Belgium, so we were trying to think of things to do. We decided to go see a movie. It was fun, and we saw 10,000 B.C. I'm sure you men out there would love it, but unless everything in your town is shut down, it's not a must see :) Tuesday RP, Glenda and I made the trek to Cologne, Germany to see the Cathedral. It was snowing the whole drive, which was gorgeous and scary at times, too! The cathedral was amazing, as usual (a must-see) and the cafe afterwards was great, too! We made it back in time to steal a nap before dinner time. Stephen got home from work and we went to Maastricht to eat at Il Giardino, this wonderful Italian restaurant. We had nice food (even truffles), nice wine, and awesome desserts! It was bittersweet knowing it was our last night, but boy was it good! Wednesday Glenda and I went shopping in Liege, doing our best to avoid the rain. For lunch we met Stephen and RP in the center before they headed to the airport. It was very sad to see them go, and I'm still a little down about not having them here, but it was such an amazing vacation...and even better memories!
On Thursday night, Stephen and I arrived in Portugal to begin our 10 day vacation. After a long day of traveling, we were very excited to enter "warm" weather. Being used to low 30's, the high 60's were welcomed. Steph Johnson had arrived earlier that day, so we unloaded our bags at the hotel and set off to have dinner together. We enjoyed some great seafood, and then made it back to get some rest before the Dotson's big arrival the next morning. After a LONG walk to the hotel, we made it to greet RP, Glenda and Kelly as they made it in. It was so nice to see familiar faces, and to get to hug them after so many months away. We decided to venture out and sight see a bit, mostly to get familiar with the race day route and where to start, etc. Portugal was a great city on most accounts, but a very seedy city in others. On our first tram ride, getting on was very hectic and RP got pick pocketed...our FIRST tram ride. He was able to find the wallet with only cash missing, and even confront the culprit (to no avail)...but we were able to get over it and enjoy the rest of the day with just a minimal amount of anger. We saw the major buildings, sculptures, stores, and plazas...and made a list of things to do the next day as well. It was just so nice to be with family. We arranged for great Italian food that night, to carb load, and had a great waiter to practice our Portuguese with! Abrigaddo :) The rest of the weekend consisted of shopping, sightseeing, great lunches, delicious pastries, naps, Portuguese beer, a wine tasting, touring the Cathedral, and awesome conversation. Sunday was race day, and I was a little nervous of the unexpected--so I got little sleep! We woke up and had breakfast, then started out to find the starting point. Good thing we left a few hours early, because it took 2 buses, a train and a lot of walking to get there...but we made it. We met a really nice German man that we befriended outside of our hotel, so we had nice conversation to get my mind off of it the whole way there. The race itself was an adventure. There were something like 30,000 people involved in the "Family run," which was a 7km run/walk race. This meant that 30,000 people were in front of us with strollers, canes, bags, costumes, people taking pictures, people posing to kiss, groups 7-wide intertwined in hugs, etc. to get past to begin our race. Needless to say, after our times started, we still had 10-20 minutes of walking, weaving, running between and knocking over people to get out of the chaos. It was beautiful, though. We started the race on the San Francisco Bridge duplicate, over the channel in Lisbon. It truly was beautiful. We then made our descent to the coastline, where we ran for the remainder of the race. After getting out of the mad masses, and going the wrong way for a while, I found myself alone, running in the sunshine. It was nice. About mile 7 I saw a huge sign that said "GO KATIE," along with the whole Dotson clan rooting me on. Glenda even went so far as to buy Gracie a jacket and sewed "Go Katie" onto the back. Of course I started crying, while Stephen videoed the whole thing. It was incredible. It definitely made the run worthwhile knowing there were people there to cheer me on to finish! And I did! I finished in great time, 10 minutes faster than I expected, and loved every minute of it! I even got sunburned...imagine that :) Following the race, we ate some amazing Brazilian food and toured some more of the city. Steph left the next morning, but we had one more day of sightseeing left in us. We were able to tour the castle erected to protect the city, which had amazing views, and ended our Lisbon trip with a beautiful dinner overlooking the city at night! It was a great trip, and I'm glad we did it in Lisbon, a place I probably never would have travelled to!
Well, we are officially over our vacation. How sad! The race went well, I finished and loved it! It was a great first experience overall. I know I promised to try and update you all afterwards, but we didn't have the internet we thought we might. I'll blog tomorrow about our different Dotson adventures in Lisbon and France and fill you in on all the happenings, but right now I'm tired! It was a great vacation, and I'm very sad it's over and the family is gone! I hate goodbyes, it's been a sad day! Back to reality, right? Well, it stinks!
Starting tomorrow afternoon around 11am, Stephen and I will be on vacation! YEAH! We'll do our best to update you guys throughout our trip, and I'll let you know how the race goes afterwards!
I can't believe that the race is 5 days away. To be completely honest, I'm excited and nervous. I don't really know what to expect race-wise, but I'm excited to accomplish a goal set for myself. That's always nice! Sunday was my last long run before the race, 10 miles. I was getting very bored with my route around Liege, and since Sunday is market day, the city is a little crazy anyway.
A few weeks ago Ava, a friend and coworker of Stephen's, sent us a link to a Nature Preserve/Park called Bokrijk to check out. We looked at the website (http://www1.limburg.be/bokrijk/eng/index.html) and thought it would be nice. They have various walking routes that you can take, some lead you through the open fields, some through the Arboretum, some even go along the paths of sheep, goats and cattle. I wanted to go because they had a route that was 9.5 Km, or 5.9 miles. Figured I could do it twice and be ok, even going over a bit. We headed out earlier than usual because we were expecting rain later in the day. We were stopped on our way there by a goose and her friends, which was fun. It was cold, and I wasn't feeling too confident. Once we got there, we figured out how to follow the trails (they have tiny little markers that lead you--get lost you are in the middle of the forest with no idea how to get out) and took off.
I felt good the whole time, but quickly realized that the "red" trail went through all said conditions, including wildlife, mud, gravel, grass, bridges over swamps, and even down major roadways for small stints. It was definitely cross country, but such a nice change from cobblestone and the urine smell after the city shuts down from the weekend!
At the halfway point, I realized I had run faster than usual, and the trail was longer than usual (according to my Nike+ software). I carried on, although the second lap was tougher. At the finish, I had finished 14 miles in 2:02. Now, let me assure you that I don't think this is altogether accurate. I do not think I finished the 14 miles with an average pace of 8:52...but I do know that I was booking it at times. Nor do I think I completed a full 14 miles in that time. So...we'll see how accurate good 'ole Nike+ is race day. I really don't care about time, I just want to finish. But with this past run behind me, I'm a lot more confident and excited than nervous!
Now, while running, Stephen was able to allow Gracie to be a dog...yes Dad, she was a dog today! She was off the leash and running around like a crazy lady, rolling in dead things and smelling until her heart was content! She had a blast, and crashed on the way home! We'll have to do it again soon--she needs it!
After walking and seeing all we wanted to see, we spent an astronomical 7 euro for water and coke and decided to head over to Notre Dame. I love cathedrals, and I especially love stained glass. The rose windows in this church are unbelieveable. Throughout our tour the bells tolled, so we made our way to sit and watched the mass for a good while (in French, mind you). The priest started burning some incense, and Mr. Photographer got some pics of the smoke against the stained glass. It was gorgeous! We had a wonderful trip, did it all in an afternoon and drove back to Belgium...but not before grabbing a Starbucks! It had been a while!
*To see the full spread of pics, go to "Katie's Pics" on the left side of the blog.
Most who know me know that I love music. When I think back at major moments, I remember songs, not the outfit I wore. I remember soundtracks, not the movie plot. I have eccentric taste, usually to fit the mood. Rainy, depressing days just call for country or girl music (cue in Plumb, Fiona Apple, or Carrie Underwood or my girl Kelly Clarkson). Days that are sunny and grand, I usually tend to like the Pop selections (cue in Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears (get over yourself, you know her songs are catchy) and Timbaland). When I'm getting ready to go out, or in the car by myself, I tend to listen to rap (cue in Missy Elliot, Outkast, Dr. Dre, 50, Eminem or Pharrell). My dad very early on told me that I needed to strive to become the world's first "White Female Rapper." I think he was on to something, seeing as it's probably my favorite and my "go-to" to get out of a slump! Maybe Liege needs a female rapper? Anywho, I love music. Whenever I hear songs from the past, I instantly am taken back to the memory, and it's usually VERY vivid. Let me give you some examples:
- "Just shake ya' rump" by Wreckz-N-Effect: I believe it was 4th grade, maybe 5th, but I was in a Lady Foot Locker in Red Bird Mall (Duncanville) buying my first pair of Jordan's for the upcoming basketball season on Mr. McPeek's team. They were suede with a multicolor tongue...all the peeps were jealous! I'll never forget singing along to "All I wanna do is a zoom zoom zoom and a boom boom" while my dad looked on. Hilarious!
- "The Dance" by Garth Brooks and "I will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan: 10th grade cheerleading banquet (maybe at Slider and Blues?) video...such a great year! Mrs. Anderson was awesome...and ladies, watch the video again--too much!
- "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul: This song brings back serious memories...but the funiest to me is one of being in a Target getting school supplies, and Jeremy picked out a Paula Abdul Trapper Keeper folder to go in his binder. I remember thinking it was hilarious, even at the time. She was great, not sure about a comeback, though. Gotta let it go, crazy!
- "Whoop There It Is" by Tag Team: 8th grade, Brandy Sluetz birthday party at Six Flags. We did one of those videos, where you have an instrument and you are in the band? Whatev...it was great, and I've lost the video, but it was magical.
- "All My Exes Live in Texas" by George Strait: Getting ready for church on Sunday, living in Duncanville. I think it was on a record, I'm not even lying. I just remember dancing in my parents room while my dad sang out loud. To be honest, most country songs remind me of my Dad. He's pretty cool...
- "Lose Yourself" by Eminem: Almost all trips to Austin and this song is played, from my Dad's Ipod (yes, you read that correctly). He kinda loves it, mostly the "mom's spaghetti" part, it gets him laughing...super cute!
- "Lost in your eyes" by Debbie Gibson: Smith Elementary swingset, myself and Amy Vines singing outloud, serenading Stefani and Staci Giles. HAHAHA.
So, you see, I have funny memories with songs. And there are SO many more! The point of this blog is to say this...Belgium is bringing the memories back! While in Liege, you can usually find one or two stations that intermix current pop with French pop. While you wouldn't think French pop is that great...we actually sing along (with no idea what we are saying) to most! But...just a minute or two outside of Liege until you find another big city...stations are harder to come by. So, you surf. We have listened to so many songs we hadn't heard in ages that now, we look forward to it (or at least I do!). Sometimes, the playlists have a theme (oldies, country, only french, only dutch, etc.). Other times, I feel like they stole Kat's ipod...and I get something like Frou Frou, then Peter Cetera, then Britney. It has no rhyme or reason, and it's AWESOME! Last week I was driving to Brussels, and I mentally recorded the playlist I received: Fergie "Big Girls Don't Cry", "PRAY" by MC Hammer, "99 Balloons" by Nena, "Whiter Shade of Pale" by Annie Lennox (I had this single on tape, you're jealous), "I can't live" by Mariah Carey, and then "Ayo Technology" by Justin and 50. It's so great...I love it! I guess it's kind of like Mix 102.9 back in the day, but I didn't appreciate it then! On various car rides, we've heard "All that she wants" by Ace of Base, almost ALL Bryan Adams songs, "It wasn't me" by Shaggy, "Weak" by SWV and last night we got "Hip Hop Horrah" by Naughty by Nature--love it! All sorts of memories flood back in everytime we're in the car...it's a nice getaway!
What memories do you have with songs? Any of the same? Leave a comment...