Our apartment is in downtown Leuven. The street in front of our place is pedestrian-only, so the entrance to our garage is the very last one before the street is closed to cars. We are one block from the waffle stand, 3-4 blocks from the grocery store, (depending on which one you want), and about a block from the bank. We are easy walking distance from lots of shops, including the sporting goods store where we bought bike helmets this weekend. It’s across the street from the home decor shop where we got rugs and other household items a couple of weeks ago. The library is next door and the bookstore is less than a block away in the other direction. The Grote Markt, with the beautiful old Town Hall and Sint-Pieterskerk, the enormous Catholic church, are also only a block and a half away. We have several parks nearby and I expect we will spend quite a bit of time in those places once the rain is less frequent.
This apartment is quite large. All of the exterior rooms have enormous windows in them – the windows take up the entire outside wall of each room with short radiators mounted to a low wall under them. The windows let in a terrific amount of natural light! The windows themselves are a brilliant design. Check out the photos below:
Our landlady came by late last week. I think she’d been hoping for a chance to meet us. We had a few concerns (stove vent isn’t working & there’s a leak in the drain in the WC). She owns the apartment above ours, as well, so she introduced me to the couple who lives above us. They are lovely! The apartments on the first 4 floors are all exactly the same floor plan – the fifth floor is different. We’re on the first floor. The second floor neighbors have so many bookshelves that their apartment looks like a library. It is wonderful! The couple is older than we are and he is a professor at the university here. He also teaches in Bologna, Italy for at least 2 months of the year. They were welcoming and incredibly kind. They even offered to let Todd and me use their bicycles. They have also said they’ll invite us up for dinner one evening.
Last Saturday (a week ago), we went to IKEA. We came home, unloaded the car in our basement garage, filled the elevator, and rode up to our floor. I stepped out to open the door to our flat. The kids followed. The elevator doors closed and it disappeared. It returned a moment later with our fourth floor neighbor, Sven, hovering in the midst of all of our purchases. It gave him an opportunity to meet the new neighbors. Ha! What an introduction. He showed us where the magnet is to block the elevator doors so I don’t have to worry about that happening again. Ha! His wife Victoria, a delightful woman originally from Mexico, stopped by to introduce herself this Saturday. She speaks “American” English, so that was an added bonus. She also told us there was a parade planned for that afternoon – more on that in a bit.
This apartment building is more than I could possibly have hoped to find. The neighbors we have met are all friendly and have offered to help us settle in however they can. The only person we haven’t yet met is the elderly woman on the 3rd floor, but I even know a bit about her from the rest of the residents.
Saturday, we decided to check out the parade Victoria mentioned. We walked to the end of our block and there it was! (Did I mention I love living downtown)? The kids caught almost as much candy as Halloween’s haul, plus a few stuffed animals.
Laine was in heaven and Isaac also had a great time. These are a few more of my favorite things from the parade:
We also managed to get 3 bikes this weekend, so Todd and the kids are all set. Leuven is a bike-heavy town and it’s actually considered to be the fastest mode of transportation around here, so I hope to procure one this week, too. One of Todd’s coworkers has pointed us to the local version of Craigslist, so we are getting to explore some new areas in our search, too.
Laine’s birthday is a week from today. We will leave for Switzerland later this week. I’ll be sure to tell you more about that adventure when we return!