Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

We’ve had nearly constant snow fall for the past 22 hours, so this seems like the perfect time for me to finally share some photos from our visit to Brussels over the summer. 

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is chock full of historical architecture, and the Grand Place is pretty spectacular. We had fun going around and checking out all the old guild halls trying to decipher their names and figure out which guild they represented. There’s also no shortage of chocolate shops to pop into if only to dream about tasting the expensive Belgian chocolate.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Majestic churches were absolutely everywhere, and they’re usually free to go inside and gawk at.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

My future U.S. Congresswoman definitely had to visit the EU Parlaiment site. This is also free to go inside and have a look around when not in session. They even give you a free audio guide. Just make sure to bring your passport with you. We also got to walk through a pretty park to get there. Bonus!

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is big, so if you plan on getting around on foot, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and bring water with you. There’s not a shop on every corner like there might be in other places. Food is also pretty expensive in restaurants, so I recommend carrying some snacks with you for hangry emergencies. 

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

We did hop on the subway to venture a little further out of town to visit a park that was once the site of a world expo. They have a giant model of an atom and a few other random structures still standing. It was also nice to spend half a day in a wide open green space after being in cities for so long.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

The architecture of Brussels is pretty unique. Belgium is a French/Flemish/Dutch mash up, and that’s very evident in Brussels. Some streets were reminiscent of Paris while others reminded us strongly of Amsterdam. These all exist side by side in this big, beautiful, crazy city.

Explore: Brussels, Belgium

Brussels was interesting, and I’d definitely visit again. I can never get enough of waffles and chocolate. 

Explore: Luxembourg City

Explore: Luxembourg City

Before we went to Luxembourg City, I didn’t know anything about it. It seemed like a logical stop on our Belgium trip, and I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful and interesting it was. 

The city is full of contrast which is most notable in the stark levels it’s built upon. Dramatic architecture can be found atop the cliffs the city is built around, and down in the valley, there are quaint homes and lush parks. There’s definitely plenty to explore just wandering the steep and curvy roads, but we also visited a couple of interesting and enjoyable museums.

Explore: Luxembourg City

If you’re visiting Luxembourg City with your family, I definitely recommend getting a Luxembourg Family Card. For a flat and reasonable fee, you can get access to quite a few museums as well as public transport. We used the app and had an issue at one museum where the person working there didn’t seem to know how it worked, but hopefully that’s been taken care of. It definitely saved us money.

Explore: Luxembourg City

While we were there we visited the huge National Museum of History and Art. It’s five floors and goes right underground showing you the rock that it’s embedded in. You’ll find everything from modern art to ancient artefacts here. The cafe wasn’t half bad, either.

We also explored the Luxembourg City Museum which was intriguing and interactive. We learned a lot about a place we had never really given much thought to. Bonus for being nice and cool on a really hot day.

Explore: Luxembourg City

Luxembourg is a very wealthy country, and it shows in the shops and restaurants, but most especially in the cars you can see driving down the road. This can be a hindrance, though, if you’re trying to eat on a budget. One of the major drawbacks is that restaurants are quite expensive, and shops are hard to find and close early. 

I’m so glad we decided to explore Luxembourg City. It was absolutely beautiful, and I’ll never forget it.

To Surinder Singh or not to Surinder Singh…

How to get a UK Spouse Visa without a lawyer

. . . that is the question!

Renee is still stuck in the hospital so Geoff is here to keep you company again. I’m constantly researching the convoluted ways of moving to different countries. Call it a, “hobby” if you will! I figured that as I’m doing the hard work, I should impart some of my wisdom to you, the lucky readers. Immigration lawyers are expensive and generally not-needed. Some countries are relatively easy, others keep you wrapped up in red tape. Hopefully we’ll be able to save you some of your hard-earned money in the time-honored “Awesome On $20” way. Let’s look at UK immigration first of all.

Our first option is the official UK Government route for coming home with a non-EU spouse.

To qualify for a spouse visa the UK citizen needs to meet the following specifications:

Needs a confirmed job offer for a job in the UK, earning £18,600 or more per year, starting no more than 3 months after your application.

Needs to have been earning the foreign equivalent of £18,600 per year for either 6 months (if you have worked for the same employer for the last six months and are still employed with them at the time of application) or 12 months (averaged out over the last 12 months for multiple jobs).

If you have children that you are also bringing with you, the amount is increased by £3,800 for the first child and then an extra £2,400 per child.

Note: If you have £62,500 or more in savings (and have had that in your account for at least 6 months) then none of this applies to you. You are automatically awarded a visa. Congratulations.

The tricky part is actually getting a job without having a face to face interview. I did manage to get my first job in the US while I was still living in Taiwan, via Skype, but not sure how common this is. If you can afford to fly home for interviews, great, but if you are like the rest of us, this probably isn’t an option. Of course there’s a whole load of paperwork and “evidence” that you need to collect to show that you earn a certain amount. Click HERE to get detailed info straight from the horse’s arse mouth. This visa costs £885.

Renee in London
Tourist-mode back on our last visit

The second option is called the “Surinder Singh” route. So called after a famous court case. Basically, this is a back-door option that circumvents the UK Government’s visa restrictions. If the UK citizen goes to live and work in another EU country, their non-EU spouse can go with them and also work. Once you can prove that the UK citizen’s ‘centre of life’ has moved to the other EU country, you are free to apply for an EEA Family Permit. This permit is as good as a visa and allows you to live and work in the UK indefinitely! The guideline for time spent in the other EU country is 3 months minimum.

When applying for the EEA Family Permit, you’ll need:

Proof of address for the UK citizen in the other EU country (rental agreement or perhaps bank statements).

Proof of ‘integration’ (anything that shows the UK citizen became involved with the local community. Maybe a letter from a club or society).

Proof that the UK citizen was working (wage slips, contracts, tax returns etc).

The best thing about the Surinder Singh route is that there’s no cost for an EEA Family Permit! How’s that for being Awesome on $20?

Other European citizens can move to the UK straight away and work with no hassle! A Polish person could bring an Indian spouse into the UK easier than a Brit bringing in an American! Crazy!

Stay tuned for more free immigration advice. Next time we will look at getting your American Green Card!

Hopefully Renee will be back on her feet and making delicious treats for you fine folks in no time at all. Here’s to a quick recovery!

Even British horses are cool...
Even British horses are cool…
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