Duty called and I headed off to Europe.

It was dark when I left for the airport. Homey was standing guard out in the backyard. I said goodbye to him. He purred.

First I had to sit on planes for a while.

Since I traveled with Tom, I had access to the Admiral's Club lounge in the airports. That was nicer than sitting at the gates.

After flying around for awhile we reached Brussels and took a few trains to our final destination in Eindhoven.

There we are.

This guy was dressed in a suit and was carrying what appeared to be a car radiator in his little shopping trolley. Bizarre. Keep in mind, it was about 8:30am on a sunday morning at this point.


Another train. Americans are friggin' retards to reject this form of travel. By the way, guess how much middle eastern oil you need to run these trains?

Outside our hotel in Eindhoven. The Dutch use bicycles extensively. The little red path you see to the left of the bikes is for bikes and scooters. they even have traffic signals for the bicycles. It's wonderful.

Fighting the jet lag on a short trip like this is critical. The goal was to remain awake all day Sunday and then get a full night's sleep to reset our body clocks. Eindhoven is 7 hours ahead of Texas, so when we ate lunch, around 1pm, our bodies thought it was 6am. We'd been traveling since 8am the previous day. We were tired.

Diet coke to the rescue!

I also had a salmon sandwich with wasabe mayo on it. It was incredible. I had salmon several times on this trip, and it was excellent each time.

I spent the rest of the day walking around staying awake. All the shops were closed since it was Sunday.

A soccer game had just let out at this point.

There was a church under renovation. Eindhoven got the crap bombed out of it during the war, so there aren't too many really old buildings left.

This is pretty interesting. Instead of unloading the cargo, then putting it into an elevator, they just lift the entire truck!

Bikes parked at the train station.

Over by the University there was some interesting art. I really liked this one a lot.

This was interesting too. floating black eggs equipped with solar panels. I assume they could paddle themselves around, but it was cloudy, so they just sat there.

There were a lot of them.

Great name for a bank!

Some random street.

The bathroom in my hotel. Look at the way they design the shower - it's goofy. The glass wall only sticks out a little bit, so you are guaranteed to spray water all over the place. I had no trouble dousing the entire room. At the beginning of my shower I thought, "I can be careful." But even being really careful I was still making a mess. By the end I just said to hell with it.

While the enclosure was poor, the fixtures were wonderful. This is one of the things I love about european bathrooms, is that they have the temperature of the water on the fixture. So you can get an idea for how far to turn the knob. If we ever remodel our bathroom at home, I want something like this.

Our meetings ended and we hit the trains to return to Brussels to catch our flight home.

Brussels was a nice city. This is a painting in the train station.

I was informed that this is a sculpture "dans le gare."

This is the Grand Place in Brussels. It's a big square with really old, really ornate buildings all around it. Every so often they fill the thing with flowers and make a big image from them.

This is theTown Hall on the Grand Place. It was built around 1409... (that's not a typo)

These buildings were the guild houses, where I presume the business of well, business was decided during medieval times.

More from the Grand Place. The taller building in the back is a museum that I didn't have time to see. Traveling through interesting places on business is like just walking through a really nice restaurant - you don't get to stop and really experience anything.

A street leading somewhere.

This is the lobby of our little hotel, the Hotel Mozart. It was low-cost and right near the Grand Place. It was all very fancy inside. It was cheap because they don't have air conditioning, which during the Autumn doesn't matter.

This is the chest of someone with an admirable sense of humor... The hotel had about 40 rooms. They were numbered 101 to 140. The guy hands me my key, which says 114, and says with a perfectly straight face, "First floor room." I had no idea how funny this was until about ten minutes later.

I pointed to this set of stairs and asked, "Right up these?" He smiled and said, "Yes."

So up I went!

And I saw this sign.

Which led around the bend to this short flight of stairs.

And out onto this little courtyard. Now I had three or four more doors to choose from...

A clue! I went through this door and found...

Another flight of stairs. Hmmmm, a most curious first floor.

Then I saw this sign. I didn't know what to make of it. Where was room 114?

I found some more stairs and kept climbing.

And climbing and climbing. At this point, I'd gone up four or five stories, and I was laughing so hard. In my mind I kept hearing that clerk saying, "First floor room." He probably had closed circuit TV, and was watching me getting lost, and climbing stairs, and was downstairs holding his sides and laughing his ass off. Thinking of him laughing at me made me laugh even more.

Holy shit, dare I hope that I am near my room?

I'd made it! I fell to my knees and kissed the door handle in a fit of hypoxiated gratitude.

Painting in my room.

Another. This one is weird. Look at it - they gave that one little kid a miniature chair to sit at. It seems nice, but then you see that they didn't give her a tiny table. So she has this little chair, and can't reach her food. Meanwhile, the other kid, which isn't much bigger is sitting in what appears to be a normal chair, but she is way up high. How long is her torso?!

The rest of the room. I'll bet you're wondering why the windows are open like that...

The view from my room. (More of this later.)

The toilet. (Note while I didn't photograph it, this bathroom had a normal shower enclosure. I was able to bathe without hosing down the entire room.) Iknow what you're thinking - "Why the heck does he take a picture of the toilet?" Because there was something interesting about it that I wanted to share with you, that's why! Look at the top right side of the tank...

It has two different flush buttons! The little one is for number one, and the larger one is for when you drop the duece. Water conservation!

Clothing store across the street from our hotel. The next batch of photos are just from wandering around Brussels that evening.

If you were in Italy this'd be a trattoria.

Grand Place.

Top of the Town Hall.

Blurry photo of a covered little shopping area.

Chocolate shop. Chocolate, lace, and beer are a big deal in Belgium.

Right off the Grand Place is a stretch of restaurants that all have big awnings and an indoor-outdoor thing going on. It was pretty cool, albeit a bit touristy. Our goal was to have a nice steak frite dinner.

We finally picked one and got down to eating.

The view looking back to the street.

We had olives. (The camera struggles to focus on shiny things.)

Some bread.

And beer. They gave us pilsner, which was ok, but not great.

Soon my salad arrived.

And I ordered a real beer. This one was much better.

Tom had the soup.

My "steak" frite arrived. The meat was pretty tough. The fries were ok. What the hell, I'm in Brussels having dinner and good beer outside. I'll eat anything.

Tom had shrimp, which he devoured. A shot of the carnage.

We decided to walk around some more.

We stopped for some more frites.

This was on the side of the Town Hall. I'm guessing it was someone's tomb.

Heading back to the hotel. There were THREE greek restaurants lined up right next to each other that were identical save for their name. They all had the rotating lamb shank that was carved for gyros in the same place, same counter, same seating. Note the name of the one right here. Snack Hell. Too funny.

Back up to my room. The windows opened, which was nice. It also looked like I could climb out. I thought, "Oh, it's dangerous" and "I might get in trouble" and then I thought, "Shit, life is what you make it. Besides, it's a freakin fire escape! It's perfectly safe as long as I don't do anything stupid." So I went out.

It was worth it. I had to climb a few ladders to get to the very top of the hotel, and the view was great. It was also very peaceful being up there all alone.

Off in the distance is the really big cathedral that we did not have time to see. It is HUGE. I hope I get back to Brussels someday so I can see it.

Here is a photo looking down on the nightclub that kept Tom awake all night. His room was also on the first floor, but was at the front of the hotel. So he had bass thumping until late at night, and then drunk people making a racket on the street below.

Look at the little bright window above where it says "Sphinx." Hold your mouse over it, and it'll zoom in. There were people in there having some dinner. A guy, a woman, and a little kid. It looks like a really small apartment.

A slightly better shot of the Town Hall, and then back down into my room.

Up the next morning waiting for a taxi to the airport.

Poof! We're in Chicago!

And then I was home giving Lorin her chocolate-y presents.

All different kinds of chocolate bars.


I also got a little container of truffles dusted with pure cocoa. They are rigoddamdiculously delicious.

Dang, they're good.

That's it, thanks for looking.