Finally, the last Saturday of our vacation and the reason for the trip to Europe: Julie's wedding!
Julie and I met in a suburb of Houston in seventh grade and graduated high school together. She is originally from Belgium and currently lives in France with her French husband. I was excited to finally meet Jeremy after hearing about him for upwards of five years.
On Saturday morning, Tyler and I took the Thalys train from Paris and met my cousin, Maya, at Gare du Midi at 1:30. I hadn't seen Maya in fifteen years, but we immediately recognized each other and fell into conversation (the beauty of family!). Maya was kind of enough to let us stay at her flat in uptown during our short stay.
Our short stay seemed even shorter, when we realized the wedding venue was an hour away by car (two and a half by train) from Maya's place. YIKES!
With two hours until the wedding began, we rented a car last minute, drove to Maya's apartment through Brussels traffic, changed, and hit the road, having little to no understanding of what any of the traffic signs meant.
We miraculously made it out of the city center unscathed. As we turned off the highway, we began seeing fields of flowers and quaint houses. The rain just made it even more peaceful.
The wedding took place in a warm and inviting church in a small village (it kind of reminded me of the movie "Chocolat"). The ceremony was in French, and although I could only catch every two or three words, I could tell what a wonderful partner Julie had found in Jeremy.
The rain let up just in time, and we sent the bride and groom off in a cloud of bubbles and headed down the street to the reception, a caravan of cars honking in celebration.
The dinner was perhaps one of the best meals we had during the trip, and, since Jeremy is a sommelier, the wine pairings were perfect.
The "English-speaking table" we sat at included an English woman who lives in Austria, a girl who flew all the way from Thailand, a couple from Mexico, an English couple from Manchester, and a British friend Julie and I went to high school with, who had just three days ago moved back to England. Tyler and I learned British slang like "mint" and "fit bird."
The reception continued mostly in French, but Julie's brother and sister were kind enough to translate for our table. Julie's father was also extremely considerate and translated most of his speech into English for us before proceeding in French.
His speech to Julie was one of the most touching speeches I have heard.
Julie's family is one of the most loving, adventurous, and inspiring families I know, and it was truly wonderful to see them again after ten years.
We wanted to stay and dance all night, but eventually drove back to the city, crawled into bed at 4 a.m., and caught a few hours of sleep before waking up at 8 to catch our flight back home.
We were so sad to have to say goodbye to our friends and family in Brussels.
Europe...we'll be back soon!