August 4, 2013
Paris was fantastic! We saw all the attractions that you are supposed to see, but by far the Eiffel Tower by day or by night was the best photo we took! The food is fabulous and you can NEVER get enough French food. The only thing bad about Paris for us was the fact that two of our days there were in 96 degree heat. Yes, it got a little hot for us, so we toured The Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay each afternoon when the heat was at its max! Now that’s what I call great time management skills, to go inside where it’s air-conditioned during the heat of the day!! Leaving Paris was difficult, but we must keep globetrotting and moving on.
We drove to Lille as we departed from Paris to visit with… yes… again… more relatives of mine. Poor Norm, he had no idea I had so many relatives in Europe when he asked me to do this trip with him!! I’ve been in contact with Isabelle, who is my Aunt Anne’s granddaughter. She has been a Godsend to me as she speaks English and has been the one I’ve had to go to for all the detailed information that was needed in order to accomplish the visits with both of my aunts. So, when she found out that we would be just 2 hours away from her, and it was on our way to Belgium, she invited us to come and visit. Of course, we said YES…. Let me tell you, we had the most enjoyable visit!! We were able to meet her brother, JP and his wife, Pauline and their two children, her mother Lina, daughter Jasmine and another cousin, Yanny (Jenny) and her son from Strasbourg that is another granddaughter of my Aunt Anne.
Norm, Rita, Lina, Isabelle, and Jasmine (L to R)
Isabelle took us to Lille, which we thought was a small French city, but didn’t know much about it. Boy, were we surprised; it is a sleeper city. It has beautiful architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, many gardens and parks and a very large part of it is all a pedestrian parkway. We walked the “old city” streets for 2 hours and were taken in by all the pretty sites.
Lille’s Architecture is different from all of France
Then Lina (her mom) made the most amazing French “cold” summer dinner for us. I’ve asked for the recipes and will share them with all of you if you want them. Shrimp, grapefruit and avocado ceviche, chicken w/pasta, vegetables w/quinoa and the dessert was fresh fruit with fresh crème that had a surprise at the bottom, a cinnamon Belgium cookie! OMG!! We LOVED ALL of it! Thanks LINA for preparing such a great meal for us!
We headed out to Bruges and Brussels (B squared) early the next morning. After arriving in Bruges, of course the first thing I wanted was a Belgium Waffle. We found a small café on the corner of the city square and enjoyed a mid morning breakfast, walked the square and then headed for a Bruges canal boat tour. We rode on an electric boat under small bridges and enjoyed the history of the city. In the afternoon we headed out again and drove northeast to Brussels and decided to stay in Brussels for the night. So far, it’s square is even better than Bruges, much larger and the architecture is very baroque which dates back to the 15th century. We’ll update you more later on the rest of Brussels as we move on to Amsterdam.
One last thing, you all know how I wanted a GALLON sized ziplock for my hair products, etc. and had to go with a quart sized, one. I had to take out one product b/c the bag was too small to hold all of them. I gave up my hair conditioner. Well in Europe hotels, they mostly wash their hair with the same product they use as bath gel, which is the same that they use as their hand soap. And they really do not use conditioner. So.. when we’re not at a big city hotel, we’ve had some trouble finding some products, mostly all are easy to find, but I’ve been looking for what I call “Hurricane” hair spray, you know the kind that will hold your hair through strong winds????? Well, we finally asked Isabelle to help us find some, and we did, but it was at a small market so we thought, well if it’s anything like “Aqua Net” , it works in a potato gun so that should hold our hair. It doesn’t hold either, so the search goes on in Amsterdam.
Leaving Brugge on our way to Brussels, we saw typical Belgium houses, very modern houses and windmills.
Here are a few pictures from Brugge, Belgium:
Here are some pictures from our visit in Lille, France: