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|
|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.|
|The prince enjoys his prospect.|
|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, |
More to come!