5/21/15

Now We Are in Belgium!

Hey everyone!  Hope your week is running smoothly.  I've been crazy-busy editing photos and have more to share.  Today we will be in Belgium!  Grab provisions, this is very photo-laden!

Bruges, Belgium

Bruges was very charming with its cobblestone streets and much like the setting for a fairytale.

I'm kind of obsessed with old doors and plan to do a collage of several that I found most interesting.

I think this one might even glow in the dark!


Swans are so pretty.

Bruges is known for its picturesque canals.

Never did get a definitive answer as to what those things are in the trees -- kind of looked like perches for photographers.

Thought these little houses were so pretty sitting in the curve of this street.

People going about their daily business.  In most places, motor vehicles are only allowed on these narrow streets for a short time in the mornings, just to make deliveries.

Bicycles are everywhere and pretty much rule the streets.  They all seem to be equipped with bells, and one ring is to alert you that you need to move over.  Two rings means "get the you know what out of the way!"

So serene.


This photo was taken in the early evening after many of the tourists had left.  Our guide told us that most of the tourists we encountered that day were on day tours, not staying overnight.

We joined up with some new friends for the evening.  What's the #1 thing you associate with Belgium?  Well, Belgium chocolate, of course.

The aroma of chocolate hit you before you ever walked inside.  The Chocolatiers always offer samples -- an unfair sales ploy if you ask me....lol!

Anyone for a light or dark chocolate rooster?  No, we didn't buy one of those, but we did make a few purchases which were very tasty!

This was the signage for a small antique shop.  Quick, alert the American Pickers!

Something else Bruges and most of Belgium is known for is their beers.  There was one brewery in Bruges that was supposed to be the best, so off we went with our friends to check it out.

A few days before our trip, a very dear friend of ours passed away.  This was the day of his memorial service, so we drank a toast to "George."  He would have really enjoyed being there with us.

You know we are "cat people," so this sign caught our attention as we headed back to our hotel.  It's a clothing store -- a fairly high-end clothing store from the window display.  It was closed, but I was much more interested in the sign.

Our hotel is there with the white columns, and was the least nice of any hotels we stayed in.

The grounds were pretty at least!

Early the next morning we were on the road to Brussels.  Here we picked up a special guide for a city tour of Brussels.  Most of our guides were quite good, but the one we had here must have lived a previous life as a Gestapo officer.  Let's just say she didn't get very much in tips.....just sayin'.

We started off here at the Atomium, the center attraction of the 1958 World's Expo.  It really is quite impressive, as are the grounds.


Who knew palm trees could grow in Belgium?


We managed to be here several minutes ahead of other tour groups, so it was nice to take photos without a ton of strangers in your shot.  Here's my BFF and best travel companion ever!

Can you see it?  Yep, those are the "Golden Arches" of McDonald's!  
That is just wrong on so many levels.  

Brussels was teeming with lots of tourists and many locals just trying to go about their business.

Sometimes I could actually get a shot up and over the top of heads.  That dark cloud did give us a good drenching, but we found a cozy little tavern to grab a bite to eat and wait out the rain.

The tavern owners had quite a good sense of humor, so The Man had to snap a pic!

Is it even appropriate to follow that with a visit to a cathedral?

I just had to share this -- better bring your own chair cushion and kneeling pad if you have much to atone for here in this church....like maybe spending way too much time in that taverns' men's room!

Well, you know, glamming it up with gold is on trend right now!




The flowers were amazing!


Very busy town square.

Hustle, bustle Brussels......sometimes I just crack myself up!

From Brussels we motor coach our way to Amsterdam and.......

"The Sound of Music," Gate 1's 
river boat -- our oasis for the next 7 days!

To be continued........

5/17/15

I'm Back....Sorta!

Hey everyone!  I'm back, but not quite into full-swing blogging just yet!  As some of you already know, if you follow me on IG or FB, my bloggy break included quite an awesome vacay.......as in "European-type!"  The Man and I went on a 19-day Rhine River Cruise and Tour.  It was really fantastic, and I want to share some of it with all of you (if you are interested), but I plan to do that at a slower pace.  We left AZ the day before The Man's birthday, and celebrated his day in Paris.....I bet y'all are humming "April in Paris" right now!


Of course we have to start with this beauty!


Birthday Boy getting ready to enjoy lunch at a sidewalk cafe within walking distance of our hotel.


Yep, I'm on this trip, too!


The Man is having some kind of steak, and I'm having a sandwich with cheeses & veggies.  We quickly learned that everything comes with fries, and the dipping sauce of choice is mayo.  That's actually quite good!


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We stayed at the Pullman Paris Montparnasse.  Montparnasse is the name of the community around this hotel, and it is well known for its many artists.  We loved that we felt very comfortable walking all around in this area, even at night.
This was the view from our room.

This was just an interesting building located close to our hotel -- I loved the architecture and those French balconies.

Whomever took our picture, kind of lopped off the top of the Eiffel Tower.  We were trying to do a "selfie" and that just wasn't working out!  Anyone tried those selfie sticks yet?

This was taken inside Notre Dame.  


I think someone picked up dinner......a baguette and cheese!  There may also be a bottle of wine!

We chose not to go to The Louvre, because there just was not enough time.   

Arc de Triomphe -- beautiful!

Photos taken through motor coach windows are not very good, but I had to try.....these buildings were so interesting.

The entrance to the Palace of Versailles -- yes people, that is gold!

I cannot even begin to explain how extravagant this was.


Well, you know I had to show you a chandy!

This was called the Hall of Mirrors.  You almost needed sunglasses in here!

Magnificent and luxurious brocade.

The grounds were incredible.

This is a park in the Left Bank, which was close to our hotel.

The Parisians claim this park is bigger than Central Park.  Hmmm....I don't know, but that building way in the distance is.....

This one, which is also within the park.  The park was alive with people and children just enjoying a nice Spring Day!

This was the breakfast room in our hotel.

So lovely!

Does this even look comfy?  Considering we had been going for almost 24 hours, I thought it might but NO, NOT AT ALL!

Well, that's a wrap for Paris and for this post.  I will probably continue the saga of the "Touristas in Europe" later this week.   Have a great week!

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