The Canadians are Coming

By alison - February 2, 2006 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

I stumble to my laptop to check my email, while nursing my first coffee, on a grey Belgian Sunday morning. I have a one line message from a friend back home.

“Why don’t we meet in Dublin in March?”

For some, an email out of the blue involving travel plans and international visitors may seem strange, but it’s what I’ve been waiting for since we arrived in Europe. I will now spend the coming months anticipating the arrival of friends and family from Canada …

My first year as an expat in Belgium is flying by. In March, Andrew and I will celebrate the anniversary of our fateful flight across the Atlantic with four cats and a couple of suitcases.

Before we left home, our friends and family assured us that now they had a great opportunity to visit Europe, (read as: a free place to crash). They would be sure to come and stay with us and allow us to show them the sights, (read as: not have to pay for an overpriced bus tour to see the attractions).

Aside from a few of Andrew’s work colleagues dropping by for supper, we haven’t had the flood of Canadian visitors that we expected. But, for 2006, that’s about to change.

The first people to book their flight to Brussels were my parents. They actually made the decision to visit not long after we left Canada. My parents are big travelers but, so far, have only made their journeys on North American soil.

At Christmas time they took the plunge and — with a bit of technical support from my end — booked their tickets on-line. The discussions of what to pack, how much to bring, is their anything I want from home, how long is the flight, does Belgium sell Coca-cola, etc have begun in earnest.

I am extremely excited to have Mom and Dad here — not only because I miss them, but also because I’m looking forward to seeing Europe through their eyes.

Things that have become everyday occurrences for Andrew and I over the past nine months will be new and exciting (read as: strange or funny) for them. I also hope it will give them some insight as to why their daughter sold off everything she owned and moved halfway around the world.

Now that we are into our second — and possibly final — year as expats, the folks back home are starting to realise the Conford-Matheson hostel might not be available indefinitely. Guidebooks are being studied and budgets are being examined to see if making the trip across the pond is viable.

Over the course of the weekend, I made arrangements to meet up with my friend in Dublin and for her to come back to Brussels with me for a few days in March.

My parents are booked for April — all of April. We also have tentative visitors for May and vague promises for summer and fall.

So to all my friends and family who have not yet booked their stay Chez Andrew and Alison, book now — spaces are filling fast. To my friends here in Belgium, run for cover — the Canadians are coming!

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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