Woke up to the winter wonderland you see in the picture up top! It’s been a pretty slow week for me in Belgium. Last week I started having some pain in my elbow but didn’t think too much of it as I was still able to play, but when I went to practice Monday morning I couldn’t even hit a ball. I’m not sure what happened, but every time I hit a forehand it felt like my elbow was exploding and something would snap. David was able to get me into the doctor the same day to have it checked out and fortunately there were no tears or other damage. A few days of rest and I should be good to go next week. Unfortunately, because of my arm I had to turn down a wildcard into the India F2 Futures. Since I haven’t been getting into any tournaments I’ve emailed every tournament director in the world (really though) requesting wildcards. Not the best timing. But if I can’t find wildcards for some other tournaments there’s a series of national prize money tournaments in Belgium starting February 27th.
On the bright side of things, I finally have a phone back. I know, I know… kids and their phones. Don’t give me too much grief because I haven’t had a phone for the past three weeks. It wasn’t an easy process though. I took a train into Brussels Monday afternoon to go to the Apple Store. They had ordered the phone for me a week and a half earlier so I had to wait for it to arrive. After spending three and a half hours at the store, I had everything up and running, but the SIM card kept failing, meaning I’d basically be back at square one of the past few weeks where I could only use WiFi. Luckily, my dad was able to get sprint to send me an activation code, so things are good to go now. Thanks Timbo!
While I was walking around Brussels trying to find the Apple Store without GPS I also stumbled across some pretty cool views. I’ll have to go back and visit again when I have the chance.
Our apartment is also starting to come along. I can’t say that I’ve gotten any new furniture yet, but our landlord, Thierry, is putting in a lot of work. To be completely honest, I can’t stand the construction every day because it’s always a mess, but in a few weeks we’ll basically have a brand new place… so I shouldn’t complain too much. He just finished up repainting all the walls and is currently putting in a new ceiling . New windows are also on the way. Thierry has also been a huge help and gone WAAAAAY above and beyond his role as landlord. We needed pots, pans, plates, bowls, silverware, literally everything when moving in. Besides giving us some of his own stuff, he also helped us find other people that had extras. So, instead of having to buy everything, we got all of it for free. I know this will make Gram happy— she’s the queen of bargain hunting. I’ve been trying to get her to go on Extreme Couponers for a while now.
Thursday I got my first chance to do a little exploring around Liège. Since I haven’t been able to practice, I planned to do my running and conditioning in the morning so I would have the rest of the day to look around. Fortunately, there’s a bus stop 500 meters from my apartment that takes you straight into downtown, another perk of our apartment considering we don’t have a car. Once in town I met up with two friends, Pauline and Charline, who had just finished up classes for the day, and they showed me around. We started off climbing to the top of Montagne de Bueren which offered a picturesque view from the top of the staircase. I was also able to look out over the entire city. Next we made our way back down into town to walk around Le Carré, an area with tons of pubs, restaurants, and shops. Before heading back home, we made our final stop at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Earlier this week I also came across Église Saint-Matthias in Flémalle while I was walking to the grocery. The architecture and design of the churches is pretty amazing and spectacular to see in person, especially considering when they were built. I’ve put in plenty of pictures down below!
Pretty crazy story that shows you how small the world really is. On Thursday while we were sitting down to rest a bit, we started talking about tennis and next thing I know, the guy sitting a few feet away from me scoots over. I was a little freaked out at first, not gonna lie. But then he asked if I played tennis at a university in the states. We started talking and after a bit I found out he has friend, Cedric Dujacquier, who plays at Belmont. Well, in my senior season at Louisville we played Belmont, and I played against Cedric in singles and doubles. After this happened, I just sat there and asked myself what are the chances? I mean seriously. You know how many things had to line up perfectly in the universe for this encounter to happen. The fact that I’m even in Liège is pretty crazy already. Now to think that we were both there, at the exact same time, on the exact same day, at the exact same place, and somehow of all the people in the world a friend of Cedric’s and a random opponent of his from college are there together. My mind is still a little blown from it.
Friday night I had the chance to venture into the city again to meet up with another friend, Mitch. I met him downtown at a cool little pub called Warzone. For those of you back home, it’s pretty similar to Z Bar, so that should give you an idea of the type of atmosphere. From there we made our way over to a local restaurant called La Charbonnade. It’s not even fair to try to put into words how amazing this restaurant was. My favorite restaurant for awhile had been Game back in Louisville, but I think this one tops it. We started off with two appetizers, boudin— a dish of pork sausage served with a caramelized apple and a sweet sugary sauce, a nice contrast of flavors— and les cuisses de grenouille aux croustilles à l’ail (crispy frog legs with garlic sauce). Next came our main course. We both ordered le magret de canard grillé , but I chose the béarnaise sauce while Mitch took a creamy pepper sauce. Our duck came with a massive bowl of potatoes au gratin and a salad. Lastly, for dessert we both had le molleux au chocolat (I have to admit it, I made an exception on the gluten free diet for this one).
Another cool thing about this restaurant is that all of the meat is cooked in a giant fireplace in the center of the restaurant. If you have a reservation, they bring you your own mini grill and you can cook the meat yourself at the table. Since we made a last second decision to eat here, we had to settle for the giant fireplace… not such a bad settlement.
By the end of this meal, my taste buds were more than satisfied. Not only was the food incredible, but the atmosphere of the place is unbelievable and the owner is extremely nice. He talks with all of the customers and creates a great environment for the meal. You can’t tell from the picture, but fireplace looks like it’s carved into a giant tree, and the inside of the restaurant is all stone. I’ll have to save up some money for the next visit…. Not sure my wallet, I guess I should really say my parents, can pay for that all the time. But it was a great experience to get a taste of some authentic Belgian cuisine.
That’s all I have for you this week! The arm is feeling better, so I should be able to start hitting again Monday. Other than that, you can find me in the gym killing my legs or exploring the little villages around Liège. I’m starting to get settled in now and meet more people, so it isn’t quite as tough. Still wouldn’t mind if my family found a way to visit though!
Last note, I’m taking applications for Valentine’s Day. Can’t promise you a date, but maybe I can send some Belgian chocolate your way. Hope everyone has a great day with their loved ones!
Check back next week and I should have a tournament schedule figured out!