Friday, March 22, 2002

March 22, 2002 - Brussels, Belgium and Atyrau, Bautino, Kazakhstan

Hello everyone,

Can you believe it is almost Easter??? Things here in The Hague have been great. We have been busy traveling and working and are looking forward to our upcoming trip to Canada.

In the last 2 weekends we have been to Brussels, Belgium and Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Both places on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

We hadn't planned to go to Brussels, but a we thought why not. Brussels is a 2 hour trip on train, from where we live, so it was a easy place to get to. Well.... we loved it!! It is a very typical European city with lots of little cobblestone streets and restaurants and cafes for miles and miles. They also have a very impressive square with gold covered buildings and a most impressive city hall.  We enjoyed a great evening out with our friends James and Lisa and kids Cassandra and Ainsley.  We especially liked a great jazz bar we found which featured a live band and a good crowd.  Chocolate, waffles and beer were the staples of the weekend.  We plan to return to Belgium soon to explore Bruges.

Well now was quite an experience.  We went there on a business trip as our company's other office is located there.  From there they support the rigs that are drilling for oil in the Caspian Sea.  So we left Friday and spent most of the day traveling to Atyrau (where the main office is).  Saturday morning we had to travel to another town called Bautino where the materials base is.   So another 1 hour plane ride and 2 hour drive got us to Bautino. The drive was extremely dull as the place looks like a lunar landscape - no trees and everything covered in dust. Apparently nothing grows because of the salt content in the earth but we suspect that all the nuclear testing the Russians did in Kazakhstan doesn't help either.

The hotel room we had was fantastic...with a kitchen and VCR and even movies. It was a busy trip but ended up being a better a place then we had anticipated.

So that is the latest.  We are now gearing up for a hard work week and then our Easter trip to Canada.  The plan is to spend the first 4 days with my mom and dad and then leave for Moncton for an east coast Canada holiday.

I hope everyone has a great Easter....and we'll write more soon.


Wednesday, March 6, 2002

March 6, 2002 - Athens, Greece

It's been a while since I've contributed to the journal so I suppose this better be a good one.  As Kris has said we are well settled into The Hague.  We are really enjoying our apartment, even though we seem to spend very little time here.  One of our goals for this year is to see Europe and we have already accomplished a little of that goal.  Our friend Nancy from work has got us hooked onto this "last minute" area on the KLM Airlines site called "Click and Go".  So every Thursday at 1:00 pm they publish cheap flights for going away that coming weekend.  So at promptly 1:01 pm Kris and I logged on and Athens, Greece was at the top of the list.  To be quite honest, we had never really thought about going to Greece.  There are many other spots on out list, but it was cheap and off to Athens we went.

We really didn't know much about Greece, but after a little surfing on the web we found there were plenty  of things to see in Athens, such as historic monuments and the old city.  So we arrived late on Friday night, took a bus to the city centre then got ripped off by a taxi driver before reaching the hotel and checking in for a good night sleep.

The morning brought sun and warm weather, which we have been craving since our departure from the Caribbean.  So we spent the morning climbing Acropolis, which was beautiful, but as expected full of tourists.  We also went to the Temple of Zeus and saw from a distance Attica.  By that point we had reach our threshold of touristy spots so we headed to Plaka (the Old Town) for lunch.  We found a cozy spot and proceeded to get our suntan/burns back as we ate.  We spent the rest of the afternoon moving from outdoor cafe to outdoor cafe contemplating how to spend the rest of the weekend.

We both agreed that we would enjoy seeing more than just the city, so we thought we would inquire about a boat tour or country tour.  Much to our delight there was a boat tour the following day which stopped at 3 of the Greek islands.  So we spent our Sunday in Poros, Hydra and Aegina.  They were all quite beautiful, although Hydra was the nicest.  On board we met a couple from Lisbon, Portugal and I had some nice conversations with them, as Kris tried to fill in the blanks with his broken Portuguese (which is improving dramatically, I must say).  Soon the cruise was over and we came to the quick realization that work was only hours away.  But we loved it and now are considering doing this "Click and Go" thing more often.  The weeks are flying by and we are enjoying every moment.  Even the work is challenging and rewarding....10 hour days don't even bother us anymore.

So I guess that is all the news for now.  We'll update you on our future travels to Atyrau, Kazakhstan in a week and our Easter trip to the Borges Residence and the east coast of Canada.  

Much love,