Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 European Flower Tour - France & Belgium

On April 16th we left for a much needed break, and began our European Spring Flower Tour.  We had so much fun traveling and staying up late we didn't manage to update the blog, so for those of you who didn't see the Facebook photos we have put together this update.

We kicked off the trip in style, using miles to upgrade to first class for the night flight over.  What a treat to lie flat at night, and to be given pajamas!  Needless to say the return flight in economy did not include PJ’s or warm nuts!

Our first stop was Paris, the city of Love as we now refer to it.  Ok, it is really the city of lights, but we prefer the name for our favorite city.   Our first stop was the Pére Lachaise Cemetery, which contains the graves of many famous people, including Chopin, Proust, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison.   It was a little surreal to be in a cemetery and hear someone playing Doors music on their iPhone!

We stayed out late wandering the streets and stopped to photograph the Eiffel Tower at night, thoroughly enjoying the light show.  Click here for a short video of the light show.

On Saturday 19th we visited the Muse l’Orangerie which contains Monet’s massive paintings of water lilies, very impressive.   We made it another late night by wandering around the Moulin Rouge area which was very lively and colorful.  As an added treat we had a great blues’ singer on the metro ride back to our hotel.

The next day we continued the Monet theme and visited Monet’s house and garden in Giverny, which is about 1 ½ hours outside of Paris.  (We will spare you the trials and tribulations of actually driving out of the city!)  Monet lived and painted in this house, and created the water lily pond and flower gardens so he would have plenty to paint.  The gardens were beautiful, and it was fascinating to tour the house and imagine the painters spending time together there.

Unusual for us we had a bit of a miss-communication at the end of the day, and spent several hours trying to find each other.  I put it down to sleep deprivation, and there are now a new set of Stanford procedures for such situations!   We drove on to Ghent in Belgium, arriving rather late and getting lost once again in the city; one way systems and road work diversions do not help.   (Seems all travel blogs mention trouble finding hotels in cities.)

Monday 21st was Sara’s birthday and we had a wonderful slow start to the day wandering around Ghent, which includes many historic churches and buildings with a river running through the middle of the city.  We made the quick drive to Bruges and spend the afternoon and evening wandering the historic city center.  We had a fantastic meal at a small family run restaurant, which included a great vegetarian meal and several glasses of local Belgium beer!

The next day we spend a few more hours walking around town, checking out the small canals and historic buildings.  Stopping of course for some excellent Belgium waffles to keep up our strength.  Later that day we headed to Amsterdam for the second phase of the trip – Windmills and Tulips.

Check out the slideshows using the links below


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