Connecting with Cousins in London and Brussels

One of our favorite things is traveling, but even better than that is traveling with family and friends.  Especially when traveling for a longer period of time, the familiar takes on new meaning – and familiar people make any day spectacular.  We’ve been able to spend time with family in two cities on our trip so far, and we’ve loved every minute of it!

In an earlier post, we mentioned getting to stay with Elliott’s Uncle David and Aunt Gilly in London.  David set up a wonderful family dinner for us where we could reconnect with some of Elliott’s cousins.   Elliott and Joanna hadn’t seen one another in 24 years!  (We hope not to let anywhere near that much time go by before seeing her again.)  Joanna and her husband have four beautiful children.  Joanna’s oldest son Ryan asked about all of the cities on our itinerary and incredibly was already familiar with them – a geography wiz!  Even scarier, when we told him we were from PA, he asked if we lived near Pittsburgh!  I was blown away at how much of the world he knows at his age.  And Joanna’s oldest daughter, Danielle, was ready to come a-travelin’ with us.  We also reconnected with Joanna’s older brother Jeremy, whom Elliott had not seen in almost 20 years!  It was so nice reconnecting with family.  An added bonus was being constantly reminded of Elliott’s dad Charles, by David, who is Charles’s brother.  It was a treat to realize the similarities in their mannerisms and things they say.  Our only regret in London is that we didn’t take enough photos with family!  We’ll have to go back soon I guess:)

In Belgium, we wanted to go to Brussels for the Flower Carpet (more on this in another post) and to Bruges, which we had never been to before.  But when we found out Elliott’s cousin Mat (on his mom’s side this time) would be in the area with his wife Rachel, we were more than happy to do two separate stints in Brussels.  Our host in Brussels took us all to a popular place for amazing frites and beer.  The next day we had tons of fun dragging Mat and Rachel around to endless chocolate shops, the beautiful main square Grand Place, to see the boy peeing statue of Manneken Pis, and several other sites.  (We had been there a few years ago and knew we could be decent tour guides for them.)  Mat and Rachel have been traveling on their own adventure for almost six months so we had a great time comparing stories over a delicious African(!) dinner in the Matonge district.  Then we shared some over-the-top Belgian Waffles together!

Here’s to a great time with everyone we’ve been able to meet up with so far… and hoping that many more of you can meet up with us during our travels somewhere over the next year!

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