Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

For the past few days we've been experiencing a change in the weather. Usually this time of year in Germany brings lots of cold blustery days filled with rain. The kind of weather that makes you hurry from the car to the house, or to the closest warm shelter available. It is still cold and windy here, but the rain is what's been missing. Snow has taken its place, and in that, a special spot has been filled in the heart of a young girl. A spot she didn't know that was available for weather. Snow has become the rage in our household. It's good for everything- throwing, kicking, stomping and eating. Even in the dark of night, a little voice cries out, 'Mom, can I have my boots to go outside in pleeze?' And so the love affair begins with the cold white stuff. Soon I know that I'm going to be hearing, "Mom, I'm going to climb this mountain now...' I wonder where she gets it...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Brugge and the English Channel

This past weekend we packed the car and headed out once again to Belgium. Our destination only 2 ½ hours away, and a place where old Europe lives. Brugge, Belgium is about an hour from Brussels situated in the northwest corner of the country. The old part of the city is a beautiful reminder of times past where the streets are all break-your-neck-cobblestones and the roads have no discernable pattern. The houses are small but built well, and the churches are magnificent. There are several squares and many more chocolate shops. There are also horse drawn carriages that will take visitors around the old city and give a limited tour of what old Brugges has to offer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruges
Being the horse lovers that W. and I are, we opted for the buggy ride, and J. didn’t object. This time of the year day light is of limited quantities- because of the latitude and because of the constant cloud cover. Our ride was at twilight, the city shops were lit up and there were oodles of pedestrians out strolling the city streets. The experience was very fairytale, and W. and I enjoyed ourselves very much. J. not being much of a horseman was gracious the half our journey it took to tour the city.
Accommodations in Brugge are expensive, but we were able to find a reasonable hotel at the Hotel Groeninghe using a Rick Steve’s recommendation: http://www.hotelgroeninghe.be/ This hotel included a great European breakfast and was centrally located. The only disappointment I would point out was that you have to park your car at the train station and have a ten minute walk back to the hotel. But not that I’m complaining…
For us, a complete day was enough to see in Brugge, so we loaded back up into the car and drove another 20 minutes away to the Belgium shore town of Oostende which over looks the English Channel. This cute little town was once the vacation hotspot for royalty, but now is open to all sorts of tourists. The beach reminded me of an Oregon beach- cold and windy with drizzly rain. There were no boulders sticking out of the sea, but there were loads of misshapen rocks (small enough to fit into your hand) and all the sea shells a girl and her mom could carry. Belgium: a very fun place to visit!