Europe 2014

If all goes according to plan, my trip to Europe will include The Netherlands, a bit of Belgium, Switzerland, and a brief foray into France.

Unlike my trip to Ireland with Stephen in 2013, I will not be using a tour package, but will be travelling with my Aunt Winkie and will be staying with friends and family, so I hope costs will be a little lower. (By the way, Stephen is planning a trip to India with his family in 2015, which I will not be going on.)

This page includes all my blog posts about the trip to Europe in 2014.

Piglet, Wynn Anne, Pat
The Next Big Trip

About a year after this picture was taken, Pat moved to Nyon, Switzerland, with her husband. (You may recall that we adopted their adorable dog, Scooter, who made me never want to be dog-less again.) I've missed her a great deal -- not that I saw her frequently, but it was an ever-present option. In fact, I used to squeeze in a dinner with her and our aunt Winkie whenever business took me to Toronto.

Earlier this spring, I started planning a trip to visit Pat in September, 2014, with Aunt Winkie, rather than with Stephen. (The next big trip for me and Stephen will be in spring 2015, I think.)

Gardens at the University of Utrecht
The adventure begins!

It's been three full weeks since I blogged, and in that time, I've been to Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France -- and even a couple of special places in Canada. But I am finally home and almost caught up on laundry, so it's time to get to work before I begin my next adventure.

Berries in Utrecht

Rather than going in strictly chronological order, I've decided that, at least for the Netherlands portion of the trip, I'll group my comments and pictures by city or theme. Since Utrecht was our home base, I'll start there.

Bicycles parked
alongside busy lanes in Amsterdam
A-maze-ing Amsterdam

One of the idiosyncrasies of old cities is that they are not constructed on rectilinear grids. This makes them both charming and incredibly disorienting.

Of the two days we spent in Amsterdam, one of my strongest recollections is the feeling that we were always going the wrong way, retracing our steps, or getting lost.

Antwerp, Belgium
Road trip!

One of the things many North Americans can't get over when they visit Europe is how close everything is. Drive for two hours, and you can be in a different country from where you started, not a different state.

Puccini chocolates, Amsterdam
Switzerland: Chocolate, Cheese, Churches, and Châteaux

Those four words cover many of the highlights of my trip to Europe with Winkie; luscious chocolate, piquant cheese, massive churches, and spired castles seemed to be just around every corner. In Holland, every morning began with large wedges of cheese served with toothsome bread; every evening finished with wine and a small bit of exquisite chocolate.

Yvoire, France
Medieval Meanderings

Yvoire, France calls itself "village fleuri" which roughly translates as "flower-bedecked village,"* and it is an apt description. For someone like me, who is inordinately fond of flowers, it was a real treat.

Swiss Alps

There is something about being on a peak in the midst of a vast mountain range that evokes a feeling that defies being put into words. That is what it was like to be in the Swiss Alps.

La Poya
The Long Way Home

Dairy herds in the Swiss Alps only stay up in the mountains during the warm months. With the cold weather of autumn, the cattle are herded down the mountain passes to lower fields, where they are kept in barns and fed hay. The alpages have become seasonal festivals in these rural villages, celebrated in local folk art and are referred to as la Poya.

Market at Divonne, France
Day of Rest

By September 28th, Winkie and I had been travelling for 11 days.

Our hosts, both in Holland and in Switzerland, had been very thoughtful about giving us time to lie down on comfortable beds and feeding us healthy, hearty meals, but we'd had a steady stream of full days, so it was very welcome to spend a day mostly at home.

The village surrounding
le Château de Gruyères
(More) Chocolate, Cheese, Churches, and a Château

When I first started writing about my trip to Switzerland with my Aunt Winkie, I mentioned that the four words in the title of this blog post really summed up my experience of Switzerland. Today's post really makes that clear. On our trip to Gruyère, we visited a dairy, a castle, two churches, and a chocolate factory. All on a beautiful, clear, sunny day.

Ceiling of a meeting room
at the United Nations
Not at all lost.

This was our welcome to Geneva on the day we went to visit the Geneva home of the United Nations, and it should have been a warning.

The Last Day

On our last full day in Switzerland, we spent a lot of time in moving vehicles. We took a train from Nyon to Lucerne (and back) and a ferry around Lake Lucerne. It was foggy and sometimes rainy, and I took a lot of pictures through the windows of moving vehicles.

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