Day 11, 12 Belgium

My first for real Belgian waffle!!!

 In Amsterdam, I hopped on a train and headed to Brussels, Belgium.   Now I know I said I would always head east but I have to move a little bit west to go east.  The road takes you where the road wants you to go.

The train station in Brussels in in the basement of a building that houses the airport and the rental car places.  I could have hopped another train into the city center or points west but I talked Rick and Spider into getting a car instead.

The first stop in our quest to go west in order to go east was Bruges.  We parked the car and quickly forgot where we put it but that would be a problem for later.   Bruges became a place-to-come-back-to right from the start.   Knowing that our beds for the night still lay west of us, we were unable to fully explore this city.

In the few hours we had to spare, we saw a rich array of medieval buildings.

The churches have been around for a couple of years or centuries and have picked up a few monument and statues.

Sometimes I can’t tell if they belong together.  Is that supposed to look like that?

  A can’t miss is the Ghent Altarpiece.  Twelve fifteenth century panels painted by the brothers van Eyck.  It has a rich history of its own.  Looted by Nazis in WWII, the panels were found in a salt mine by the famous Monuments Men and were featured in the movie of the same name.  Sorry, no photos.   Bubba was properly humbled by the masterpieces.

 We found this place.   Maybe we could get a bite to eat here.

You can pick up a ham sandwich here, if you can reach the ham.   Even the butcher shop is an olde worlde building.

The medieval architecture here is amazing.  If it wasn’t for the banana on the bike, you wouldn’t know what century you were in.

This city is on the come back to list.   But now I must move on…  If we can find the car.

Yeah, well, we did do a little searching before we found it.  The problem occurs when you come to a place like this, you exit the car park, looking at all the buildings and not where you happen to be at that time.  

Day 9, 10 Amsterdam

Here we go, back in a plane and heading east once again.  I got on the plane, I got off the plane and I am now at my hotel.  The streets here are not paved with gold, they are paved with water.  I’m in Amsterdam.

 

Another beautiful city with a look of its own.  For most people, Amsterdam is a bike riding town.  For a Bubba sized bike, it would take some time to get around.  Amsterdam is also a great walking town. Moving too fast would mean missing the incredible views of all the unique Dutch architecture.

The people here are extremely tolerant and laid back.  To show wealth is seen as a sin by some while sins here come with a different definition.  Some of the houses here have funny red lights out in front.  I’m not sure what that means.

It is also a city of culture. The Rijksmuseum can be a several day distraction.  Many of “those paintings you only see in books” are located here.

   The Night Watch by Rembrandt is here.

 

And this painting by Vermeer.

That is one cute Amsterdamian girl!

Rick liked the library.

WOW! I found the girl pouring the milk.  How do you say, “Wanna party like a Dutch girl?”

Or how do you say, “Just kidding Millie my dear.”

After the museum, we went to a world famous sporting event.  “The World Cup!”  Well, sort of.

Amsterdam is one of those places where it is hard to take a bad picture.  It is a supermodel of European cities; it always photographs well.

As much as I like Amsterdam, I’m on a semi strict time schedule.  I must head east once more.

I’m tired of planes so the next step will be by train to…

A Stop in Venice

      I trained up in Ferrara and got off in Venice.  If you look way back in time, you can see my first trip here in July 2011.  That time I saw this tree growing out of a wall.

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    This time I thought I would look for some new sights.  I wandered down the narrow alleys.  I crossed a few bridges and I found this.

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I may need to improve my spontaneous wander skills.

     Honest, we were just walking down the street and I came across it…again.  It doesn’t seem to grow much but there were a lot of years in between these shots.

I decided to check out a new neighborhood but the big streets were flooded so I had to take a boat.

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Wet Street

                        Oh yeah!! Venice!!  That’s the way it is here.  Lots of water, no cars. 

     First stop, Murano.  A small island in the lagoon.  It’s easy to take the waterbus from Venice and arrive and a new group of islands connected by bridges.

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Murano Blvd.

Murano is best known for its glass.  And this hottie.  A real cutie but she looks a little fragile.

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Metropolis in Glass

This place has beautiful and delicate public art.  Where else can you find a garden like this?

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Or this thing.  I think I saw this wig on kid at a punk show in Berkeley.

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Blue Fizzy Blowout

                                    Or maybe it was a bottle of blue Gatorade exploding.

          Next it was time to hop back on the boat and head to Burano, another group of islands.

The buildings are very colorful and they are best known for their lace shops lining the main street.

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This lady had a big wad of thread.  She tied some knots and came up with a lace thing to stick under your Grandmother’s lamp.

The amount of work going into these lace items was amazing.  A true art form.

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I thought about buying some glass in Murano or some lace in Burano but ended up with this instead.

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The Good Stuff

                                        Gelato in a waffle cone.  Life gets no better. 

I took the waterbus back to Venice and bummed a ride in this smaller boat to look around the city.

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                                           Marco gave me a great tour of the waterways.

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                                        He took me by the Venice Casino.

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                     And I waved at this guy who seemed to be waving his fist at me.

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Fist Pumpin Lion

                                                       I don’t know what his problem is.

Marco took me down some side streets.  A quick right here, followed by a left, and down the narrow shortcut.

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Dark Alley

 

And stopping at a little Trattoria.  I felt like a real king…or maybe a Doge sitting on the seat all by myself.

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King of the Canal

 

                                                  Marco even let me handle the oar.

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My gondola trip was over.  Time for some food.  Besides, these people jumped in the boat and I didn’t want to share.

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I’m afraid my trip to Italy is at an end.  I left some sights unseen on purpose so that now I must return.  I have my medal from the Vatican to remember the trip and insure my safe return.

 

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Vatican Medal

 

     Venice has long been a place that I dreamed of someday, maybe someday, visiting.  I never thought it possible to actually go there, it seemed to be a place that only existed in books or TV travel shows.  Now, I not only find it possible to go there, I find it is possible to go there twice.  The people are way too nice for the number of tourists they encounter.  Marco the gondolier was very accommodating for the little yellow plastic guy and let us all pile down to one end of the boat so we could get pictures of him on the seat.  Posing with Bubba was just icing on the cake. 

     All through Italy we met wonderful friendly people.  From Marco in Venice to the Priests at the Vatican, to the guide in Pompeii, everyone was willing to spend a quality moment with Bubba.

              The impossible trips are actually possible.  All you need to do is take the first step.