Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vacation Begins

The Youth Conference I helped to plan went great. I liked working with my husband and all the other people who were involved. There were logistical hiccups. There were moments of craziness. There were even a couple moments of panic. In the end though, it all came together and I'm so pleased. I think I will insert a real post about it sometime later, just for my own remembrance, but for now, it's time to move on.

About 48 hours after returning from that adventure, we packed our suitcases and headed to BWI airport for a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, then onto Brussels, Belgium. My brother, who lives in western Germany right now and is close to Belgium and the Netherlands, picked us up in Belgium and took us home to the tiny and charming village of Schalbruch.

Right now we are seeing the small-town, non-tourist driven side of Europe and I love it. It is idyllic here: quiet, narrow streets;  homes with a certain European something about them-clean lines, peaked roofs, gorgeous yards and flowers. Oh the flowers. They are everywhere. It's cool here, and hydrangeas grow in all colors, with giant globes of perfect blossoms, like the ones you see at the florist at home. I am loving the flowers. Many people ride their bikes to all destinations, with panniers always attached for shopping and errands. The ice cream portions are large and the chocolate actually is everywhere.

Yesterday, as perhaps all European tours should,  we started off with a visit to the ruins of a castle in a town called Valkenburg,  Netherlands. Today was a morning visit to Thursday market day in the town of Sittard, NL. Later today will be a trip to a park/museum in Belgium. It's all fun and new for us, so even ordinary places have the overlay of being completely fascinating at this point.

Already there are things I love about Europe. Fundamental, cultural bits that I want to remember and bring home with me (I mean come on, they serve chocolate on the airplanes and you can buy knitting needles and extra bicycle tires in the supermarket-so things are resonating already). However, I don't want to be the kind of traveler who just generalizes and judges, or thinks of things only as quaint or precious,  so I'll keep thinking about what appeals to me and write it down as I am able to articulate just what it is I like and how I want to be influenced by this trip. I do want to be influenced, because otherwise, why travel at all? Because of that, I want to be watching and learning and participating, not just observing.

Here are the photos so far.

All set up to await boarding at BWI
Frankfurt- a HUGE airport. 
Camped out and warding off jet-lag during our wait at
Frankfurt.  
Our greeting at my brother's house: the best of European
yumminess (they do junk food VERY well), artfully arranged
flowers, and a darling niece and nephew. Ahh. 

The view out the window in Schalbruch. 

Valkenburg Castle

The prince enjoys his prospect. 

The chapel

Most of our group

One of the inner walls


The view of the village. As my brother wryly observed,
in this area of hills soaring to several tens of feet, we were in the Rocky Mountains of the Netherlands. Ha!
A wide shot of the main part of the ruin.


Well, we are tourists, so a few classic tourist shots are in order,
eh?



More to come!

6 comments:

  1. I have been WAITING for a post! PLEASE tell me that Evan is laying his head on a pillowpet in the airport. That knowledge will make my day.

    SO glad you saw at least one castle, that is really important - and that looks like a good one! What an incredibly beautiful part of the world.

    Cannot wait to read more. I'm having my own European adventures via YOU on my internets, so thanks for that.

    YAY for your trip!!!

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  2. Loving it all so far...keep them coming. Make sure you are in a few photos too.... :)

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  3. I feel like I am there with you. A vicarious vacation can be fun, too.

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  4. Oh Kelly, this post has my heart ACHING to go back to Europe...how exciting for you. I'll look forward to reading more. =)

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  5. I'm dying! you were only 20 minutes from me! ;) ;)
    I'm so happy you get to have these adventures! Can't wait to see what you're up to next on the trails!

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  6. I love Evan's pillow pet. : ) that is awesome. and all the other pictures as well, of course. I just scrolled through all your posts and am starting at the beginning, looking forward to reading through them all. kind of like getting a new subscription of National Geographic in the mail and thumbing through the articles before settling down to read.

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Thank you for sharing your insights!