When we saw that this year’s Git Merge was in Brussels, we thought there would be no better place for Oakweek 2019.
After all, it is the birthplace of everyone’s favorite cruciferous vegetable: the brussel sprout. Belgium is known for its beer, fries, and waffles - all we could need for seven days in Europe.
The only spanner in the works was that Tylee had to get a passport in a government shut down. We were hugely impressed by the speed in which she had that in her hands - just ten days from application to delivery.
Thankful that Tylee would indeed be joining us we set off from snowy New York stopping over in Frankfurt before arriving in Brussels. The redeye flight goddess smiled down upon us after canceling our initial flight (who knows what we did to incur that wrath), and we each ended up with our own row of seats. Jojo made herself a rather impressive blanket fort, while Alex was too busy playing his Nintendo Switch to sleep at all.
We arrived in Brussels bleary-eyed and went to our Airbnb HQ to meet Daniel and Joseph who traveled separately. Half the team stayed in the HQ apartment and the other half around the corner in a satellite apartment.
To combat the jetlag, we knew we had to stay up for as long as possible. So, after hunting down some lunch at a cute cafe, we went en masse to the supermarket. We somehow ended up with a plethora of snacking options and a fair amount of booze to trudge back to HQ.
After unpacking and unwrapping some of our purchases, we sat down to talk about what we wanted to achieve this week. Once we had laid out our plan of attack we ordered a Mediterranian feast, had a few more rounds of beer, and headed to bed.
Friday was the day of Git Merge, and we were pumped. We loved the opening address by Deb Nicholson, Director of Community Operations at the Software Freedom Conservancy, who set the tone of the day masterfully and spoke about the importance of diverse voices.
We also enjoyed hearing from Belén Barros Pena, Interaction Designer at Open Source Design, who talked about how to teach designers Git. Belén also spoke brilliantly about patience and meeting someone where they’re at, which resonated across our team and provoked interesting conversations afterward.
While we were in the area, we decided to take the last tour of the day at Brasserie Cantillon to sample their lambic beer which has been brewed in the same way for over 120 years. We then stumbled to Moeder Lambic for some more libations before eating a marvelous dinner at Fin de Siecle - including vegan moussaka for our plant-based oak buds. We then went for some very fancy cocktails (and some less fancy ones at the Hard Rock Cafe for the lolz).
The next day we reconvened at HQ to get down to work. You’ll be able to see what we’ve been up to sooner rather than later over on Dropmark, but until then you’ll have to wait. Jojo cooked lunch of corn soup with avocado, accompanied by freshly baked baguettes with French salted butter. The bread in Europe is unbelievable, and we ate at least three baguettes every day that we were there (we even brought a baguette each on the plane back to Brooklyn).
That evening we put Alex’s Nebula to good use to watch Drag Race All-Stars and were gagged to find out who Naomi decided to eliminate.
We found out Jojo’s hidden talent of being able to get an oreo from her forehead to her mouth without her hands - she has a 100% success rate. Later that evening we went dancing at Fuse, an institution of Brussels night scene which is older than some of our teammates.
Unsurprisingly, we felt somewhat tender the next day, even after our late night excursion to shove fried food into our mouths, so we didn’t rouse until late afternoon. We managed a little bit of work while Tylee cooked two lots of chili for the herbivore and carnivore teammates. It. Was. So. Good. Mad props to Tylee, who managed to make them without chili powder, which we couldn’t find across the whole city.
The next morning we were up early to talk about our hopes and dreams, yes, really. We’re cooking up some pretty épicé (that’s French for spicy) updates for Dropmark this year and some big plans for the future. After we chatted through our ideas, we all took a moment for #selfcare with charcoal sheet masks.
That afternoon we took to the streets of Brussels to see what we could see. Tylee ended up finding the chore coat of her dreams in a vintage store, and Nikhil bought an array of records to fulfill all his vinyl fantasies. We all spent a considerable amount of time trying on all the spectacles in Polette before finding out we had to buy the frames online.
After chowing down on more Belgian specialties (in this case beer and fries), we went to try and escape a Mayan Temple at Enygma. Thankfully we did manage to get out - but it was close with only 4 minutes to spare!
On our penultimate day, we took a trip on the train to see the picturesque town of Bruges. Bruges was gorgeous. We took a walking tour around the city seeing all the chocolatiers, cobbled alleyways, and old structures - one of the gates we walked under was over 1200 years old!
We also found the best Belgian waffles in a cobbled square that made the freezing fingers entirely worth it. After perusing the town, we settled in for pizzas before taking the train back to Brussels for more wine.
The next morning we were up early to pack and eat a breakfast of all the leftover food including vegan chili, fried eggs, and a cucumber salad prepared by Alex. It was a weird array, but somehow it worked. We hustled to the airport, fought with security and eventually made it onto the plane back to a blustery Brooklyn tired, but satisfied with another successful Oakweek.
Highlights: Polaroids, waffles, team facemasks, sampling all the Belgian beer and far too many baguettes, talking about our hopes and dreams, vegan mousaka, escaping the Mayan Temple, Alex’s Nebula, Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars, losing Tylee down every cute alleyway, the Oreo challenge, disco balls, wearing our Oak shirts, wandering around a medieval city, and an excessive amount of chocolate.