Sunday, July 28, 2013
European Chronicles: First Impressions
And I am back to writing.
After over a month away from posting, I finally feel I am ready to share some of my impressions of my recent trip to Europe. 11 cities, 5 countries, 28 days, and one of my best holidays ever!
Prior to posting this, I had written two accounts of how pleasant and profitable my holidays were, only to discover (twice!) that these were no longer on my list of 'notes' on my iPad. Erased. How or when? Only the Lord of Lost Documents might be able to explain. Til then, I'll just go ahead and start pressing these keys.
First stop: The Netherlands. Because I hadn't been in Europe over 30 years, I was very anxious to arrive. And my arrival couldn't have been more perfect: lower temperatures (11-13C on my first days in Brunssum, Limburg), 'homecoming' smiles from my hosts N and J, and the breathtaking scenery in Holland. We went from Schijndel Airport straight to Kinderdijk (Molenwaard) where I was overwhelmed by the beauty of 19 windmills set in a gorgeous landscape. And to borrow a line from one of three of my all-time fav movies, what first came to my mind was: Yep, Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore .... "
One of the things that highlighted this trip were the road trips! We went through many, many kilometres, but I marveled at the beauty of it all, taking in how everything looked so organized (I learned eventually that because of the high cost of land - plus the fact that it is such a small country - practically everything in Holland is planned and organized...even trees on highways and the interesting Eco-bridges, for animals). Yep, these events marked the beginning of my 'lessons in Europe', and it just kept getting better!
Over the first weeks, my friends took me to some very interesting (and yes, you guessed it: beautiful!!!) places where I could see how these quaint little towns (such as Sittard, SE Holland) are so full of charm in the way shops and cafes are distributed to a visitor's delight. You immediately witness a very laid-back lifestyle, where you shop then sit for some coffee or a beer and chat in the open air, casually watching the passers-by. No shopping malls, no push and shove or stressful moments worrying about a place to park ... and the weather was just right. Now that I liked!
Ah, and transportation .... you guessed it, bikes! Anywhere and everywhere, many with a personality of its own, thanks to the selection of decorative items their owners embellished them with. Charm is definitely the word, as well as common sense. Pretty obvious, I know, but it is so much nicer, healthier and easier to get around on bikes, mopeds, scooters, what have you. People of all ages have theirs, perhaps even more than one ... or two ... People are mobile, older folks as well and it is quite a site. It just makes so much sense! (to be continued)
Have you ever spent your holidays in Holland? What were your first impressions?