Welcome to the first of many travels series to come! I would like to share with you some of the travels I have enjoyed while visiting and living in Europe for almost six years. These photos were all taken prior to my using an SLR camera. These were all taken with a "point and shoot" camera, so while not very artistic, they will give you a taste of what I miss so very much: Europe!
This first series are general photos of Brugge and Ghent, Belgium. These two lovely cities are very north in Belgium and have all the makings of an mid evil village that you could ask for. Now, you may be asking "where are the flea-market photos?" Yes, I will post those too. My travel photos will have themes such as just photos of doors, or windows, or food, or flea-markets, or bridges. The variety is endless. But, I will be sure you get lots of flea-market photos! This first series is just to give you an overview of the two towns that I will feature flea-markets in the next few postings.
I don't profess to be an historian so I am not going to attempt a history lesson - however, I will share my thoughts of my visits. This visit was a cloudy, rainy day that turned sunny...I remember being so happy to see the sun come out. Brugge has two huge antique markets a year. One in spring and one in fall. The market is filled with antiques that you can't believe. I also love the "junk" that is piled in heaps on blankets. Lots of goodies - but get into that in the next posting.
If you never traveled to Europe here are a few travel tips to consider:
A small back pack to carry maps, water, and umbrella.
In a new town you know nothing about, but have little time to sight-see? Go to the train station or gift shop and look at the postcards - postcards highlight all the "must sees" in town and if you don't speak the language - just point to the postcard and locals will point you in the right direction.
Keep aspirin on you. In some countries, like Germany, you have to have a prescription to buy aspirin!
Wear comfortable shoes - but ladies, please, please don't wear white tennis shoes. They scream "tourist" and there are many stylish shoes that are comfortable. Europeans dress in a more dressy style just to go grocery shopping. I admit, I like that and have adopted that practice (or so I would like to think). On the subject of dressing: please, no fanny packs! Again, it screams tourist, and a backpack is so much more easier and holds more goodies.
Learn how to say "please" and "thank you" in the host country. Locals will appreciate it.
Carry an index card as a "cheat sheet" for dollar conversion into euros. Yes, I know there are electronics out there that do that, but nothing is more annoying than to have a customer stand in line and punch in numbers and calculate it all out. I do all that on the plane ride over. I just simply jot down increments such as $1 = 1.80 Euros and then below it do $5 then $10 and so on. You keep the card in your pocket and just pull it out and at a quick glance, you will know approximately what you are paying.
Remember that many cities observe two hour lunches which means a lot of the shops may close in the middle of the day then reopen. Europeans eat much later too! I remember being in Madrid, where they still take a "siesta" and close everything down in the afternoon and don't open until about 8PM for dining, even though most Euopeans don't even begin their evening meal until 9 or 10 PM. I was starving as I didn't have lunch and unaware of this custom - so I hate to admit it, but I ate at McDonald's in Madrid - a girl's gotta eat. But I did manage to get some wonderful seafood later in the evening.
Why post the travel photos? Well, this week has been especially difficult for many reasons. In fact, I am glad it is coming to an end. Sometimes owning a business, trying to live a life, and handling "stuff" just gets to be too much. When under a lot of stress, I find myself thinking back to the most pleasant and peaceful times in my life and my thoughts always take me to Europe. I just sat down and looked at my files of photos and I felt calm and peace again. I miss Europe. I miss the discoveries. I miss the wonderful anonymity that comes with not understanding a language. I miss the friggin chocolate! I will always hold those years of living abroad near and dear to my heart. And how lucky am I to have a safe place in my mind, that I may retreat to when my current day isn't so pleasant.
Who says daydreaming is wasting time? It is the daydreams that sometimes keep things from becoming a nightmare. I hope you take time to daydream today - a restful moment can reap hours of comfort.
from my house to your house,