Hold up. We need to rewind. I wrote about 14 posts last week in an effort to be able to spend as much non-computer time with our latest guests (Anna and Ryan!) as possible and what did I do? Posted the wrong one yesterday. We need to back track just for today and start at the beginning of the wonderful Florios-and-Dave-visit-Belgium trip before heading into Prague. Ready? Rrrreeerrrrwwwwizzzipppppp-ping! Here we go:
This picture requires some background information. Settle in because it's a bit of a long one but sooooooo worth it.
To begin, Gina and Dave have been planning this trip to Europe for at least half a year now and nowhere in that planning did Gina ever expect a proposal was going to be part of it. They had their time in Paris planned down to the hour and though Belgium was more flexible, that was family time. Family time would continue through a day trip in Germany and four days in Prague. The next time they would be alone was in Munich.
Their first day in Paris they made for the Arc de Triomphe as the initial sight to see. At the top they admired the view and then asked a fellow visitor to take their picture. They took one or two and then Dave checked them. An empathetic Gina told him "They're fine!" smiling but a little exasperated as he fiddled with some settings and asked "Just one more?" to the obliging tourist. He came back to Gina and turning to smile, she noticed he was kneeling down at which point she just began to say "Oh my God. Oh my God oh my God" and so on until there must have been a "Yes!" in there somewhere and on the beautiful ring went. (YAY!) She told me she had never been so shocked in her life...
And...stealing from Gina's facebook...here it is:
Long story short (too late), they kept the wonderful secret to themselves for their four enchanting days in Paris until their arrival in Belgium. In fact I saw Gina for about 1.2 seconds before she showed me her hand and the mutual freaking out commenced. Then came the "how should I tell my parents?" discussion as we were headed to see them in a few hours for lunch. Luckily she decided to just tell them right away and not wait for them to notice, but you'll see why that is a "lucky" decision in a minute.
Cut to 2pm. We arrived at the restaurant Domus to have lunch with Anne Marie and Roger (Roger's pick which he had found on his own the day before, such savvy tourists!). After we were seated inside, it took Gina about three minutes to begin the inevitable "Mom, Dad, something great happened while we were in Paris..." story. (I'm definitely paraphrasing. I think my head was spinning from all the excitement) Immediately everyone was sliding out of the booth and the hugging and congratulating began again! Thankfully most of the other patrons were eating outside in the beautiful weather because I don't think Domus has seen such exuberance before 11pm, and without the aid of much Belgian beer, ever before.
We sat back down, rearranged so Anna Marie could have a closer look at the ring and also be within hugging distance at all times. Gina was about to go into the whole story of how it happened when there were three people standing next to our table smiling at us all with recognition. The first thing that went through my head was something along the lines of "Wow, are Anne Marie and Roger are such worldwide travelers that they know other people in Belgium!?" but one look over to Gina and her mom's dropped jaws and I knew something else was going on. I quickly did a double take and realized that I've seen pictures of these people before and that's when it hit me. This was Dave's family. Unbeknownst to only Gina, Anne Marie, Chris and I, the Sous's had been planning all along to add their family to the Belgium meet-up and surprise (well, half of) the newly engaged couple to celebrate with them! A split second later, Domus was hosting the rowdiest greeting of Americans they've ever had and I was thrilled. As everyone was up and hugging and celebrating (again) I finally got my wits about me in time enough to snap the picture above.
After several minutes of this we sat down again, Gina in definite shock, and the stories of planning and deception (all well-intended) slowly came out. Gina had seen Dave's family just days before leaving for Paris at which point she knew that Dave's parents were bound for Chicago and Lauren (his sister) heading to Boston...lies. They arrived in Brussels and had been effectively hiding out for the past few days waiting for the Leuven surprise. I grinned like a fool listening to all of this. Just an hour before, we had been making plans for Dave and Gina to video chat with his family because that was only fair now that her parent's would know.
We were also treated to the knowledge of how long Roger had been in on this, keeping Anne Marie in the dark. Dave's mom was also kept in the dark as long as possible because, well you know, secrets are hard to keep! Seems to me like she did a stand-up job.
Okay, on to the trip as captured sparingly on my iPod because A. I didn't know all this was going to be happening and B. I kept forgetting necessary parts of my camera whenever I brought it such as the battery and then the flash card. If you can't tell, I love surprises but they kind of leave me hanging when it comes to a highly functioning brain.
My "they're here!" picture which I cropped to hide the ring.
The secret was slowly allowed to leak soon after...but not by me!
The largest group we've ever been a part of here in Belgium!
I'm so thankful every time we have visitors and to have such a large group; I just felt really blessed. If you can't tell by my smile that's stretching off my face, I was really happy they were here.
Then a side trip to Bruges. I went with them in the morning but thought I'd give the soon to be in-laws a chance to be alone together and so they spent the night in this fairy tale town.
And then the day after that was The Florio's and Dave's last full day in Belgium. We took off to Brussels and their comic museum. Comic strip that is.
Scandalized and unimpressed.
Their final evening, we went to Sakura for sushi. Can you tell Chris and I can't get enough of this place? We bring any fellow sushi lovers here as soon as we possibly can. It might be one of our first questions for visitors. Even with the rain, I could not have had a better trip with them here.
Tomorrow we begin the blogging trip through Prague (again...whoops) and the Czech countryside. Gear yourselves up for it...this is going to last for awhile.