Mar 9, 2007

Travels with Elizabeth Vol 1 - Brugge and Ghent

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,


Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Gorgeous photos and words! Thanks for sharing your daydreams :)

Valerie said...

I very much enjoy your blog! Thank you for the glimpse of Europe: I'm looking forward to read your next post on the flea markets! Oh, and, have you ever been to Quebec city? I'm from Montreal, and whenever I want to divague in a time warp, I go to Quebec city. It's closer than Europe :) Have a nice day! kindly,

savvycityfarmer said...

I'm in dreamland as we speak....

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. When I'm having a stressful day at work or life just gets a bit tough I do this thing where I kind of zone out for peace. I too used to focus on my favorite memories of I focus on the future and toss the past. I think about stopping at my favorite gourmet store for a special snack or I think about what I want to do on my day off that I REALLY enjoy. I can't say how much these simple little things help improve my mood. I do hope your feeling less stressed now. It's easy to see you give so much of yourself...don't forget to think of yourself too. We all need a time out. Peace.

lindaharre said... your photos! Didn't make it in last week-end, but you are on the intinerary for this week-end:) Hope to meet you if you are in...............hugs, Linda

Gypsy Purple said...

I did vist Brugge & Ghent, but not the market...sigh....this photo`s bring back lovely memories
Great post!!!!!

lindaharre said...

Elizabeth, It was a treat meeting you today:) Love the shop and can only imagine how wonderful that apt. is above!!!! You are a delight and your creativity is second to, not Chris Brown:) I will be back in as I get closer to summer and break:) Hope your trip to K.C. is fun.....I will be following you to the Curious Sofa......Linda

savvycityfarmer said...

Oh...psst..thanks for such sweet musings on my blog link....

Merisi said...

Dear Elizabeth,
just a short note here (couldn't find an email address in a hurry), to tell you how much I your comment on my blog meant to me. Days have been a little busy, work, family, and such. Right now it's 5pm and I am closing my computer so I can walk with my daughter in the Vienna Woods and watch the city during sunset (it's glorious spring here, temp. in the sixties).
I shall return to your blog soon,
with my best regards,

Merisi said...

Elizabeth, I hope the new week will be a good one for you!
Pleeease, let me know where you get that fabulous exchange rate of "$1 = 1.80 Euros"!
Spring greetings from Vienna,
(Have mail, but no address)

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Ooops - I obviously meant to use the example as $1.80 will get you one euro. But, as I understand it, the current rate is something like $1.31 for every euro. Now we all know why I stick with only flea markets and not stock markets! :-)

Actually, once, while living abroad, the exchange rate was actually $1 would buy 3.15 euro!! (at the time, it was deutch marks, not euro) - ahh those were the days!

Thanks for catching that,

Anonymous said...

I really love the photos! It's the next best thing to being there. The best trip I ever took was to France and Italy a few years ago. I use one of my photos as wallpaper. Every time I turn on the computer I'm back in Italy. That trip absolutely changed my life! I am another of your many fans who have found you to be truly inspiring. I am currently midstream on some big changes and get a boost from your blog. Thanks so much! Keep the beautiful photos and great, honest writing coming.
Joy :)

Cape Cod Washashore said...

Wow - now I'm definitely beginning to think I lead a sheltered life! There is so much waiting to see across the pond! I haven't been in over 12 years!

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Brugge is one of my most favorites. I always tell Americans, if there is only ONE city you can go to in Europe, Brugge should be it. It's everything Europe should be. Charming, Old, antiques, fleamarkets, convents, lace...sigh...wishing I was there right now...thanks for the thrill!

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