travel

TravelPod ending!

TravelPod-world-map-travel-pins
A scorecard of our world travels through 2010, via TravelPod

This past week, I received an email that TravelPod would be closing and that we should download and archive our travel blog. I had been thinking about TravelPod only a few days before, trying to remember when was the last time I’d added an entry. Turns out, I got derailed in Havana, in 2010, but I did begin blogging on this WordPress site sometime in 2012-ish.

So, now…TravelPod ending. Wow. I was first introduced to TravelPod by my friends Amy and Mark. Their honeymoon was a six month trip around the world in 2004. They posted entries from all over the place. And from our hometown–to where we’d returned after 16 years away–we followed along, reading with both awe and envy. Our lives had gone a bit–let’s just say, “off road”. Or maybe it’s more descriptive to say that we drove our life down a very familiar street…hoping to see the old views, but now it was distorted, faded, colors running and surreal. We adjusted, adjusted again, and eventually returned to the highway that is Chicago. Yet, we have had so many knocks and bumps in the past 5 years that today, it feels as if we must be on a bombed out highway…a journey that has all of the rockiness, but none of the joyful thrill and exhilaration of a true off-the-roadmap travel experience. TravelPod reminds me of that.

It remembers me. It reminds me. It calls me. That world “scorecard” is still there. And I need to pull out the wish list roadmap and get to it! And I need to write! There are many journeys we take that aren’t on a map.

In the meantime, I’m happy to say that all of the old TravelPod entries are coming to live here. In fact, they are already here in pretty raw form with bricks of copy. They need editing, and they need their photos, so stay tuned. But a big THANK YOU to TravelPod for setting up an easy downloadable archive for moving to WordPress. Our first live blog was to Antarctica in 2007. I wrote from a ship tossing across the Drake Passage. Reading it reminds me of the night I sat in our little cabin writing and watching our things swing, sway and tumble as the waves rocked and rolled us. I get chill bumps–and a little seasick again–just remembering that sensation and the *THRILL* of being at the end of the world.  There were other “live” blogs too–though none quite like that. Later, I also went backwards into time and added some journal entries from previous trips. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to clean up all the imported entries. And I’ll be daydreaming about the next “TravelPod” entry!

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To Travel is to Possess the World

“To Travel is to Possess the World”

It’s a Burton Holmes quote, said about his Travelogues over 100 years ago.  How I ache to go when I look through his book of hand-tinted slides from another time, another place…his many Grand Tours of the world followed by “magic lantern” tours of tales.  It was a different world back then.

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3 days in Bruges

3 days in Bruges, Belgium

We took the train from Amsterdam. It was eventful! First, there was smoke that caused a 20 minute delay as we were leaving the station. Then the tracks were having work done, so we were rerouted and had to change trains in Rotterdam and Dordrecht. This made us late for our planned connections. Thankfully, we just made the next hour’s connection with only minutes to spare in Antwerp and Gent. Again, dogs on the train! :)

Bruges street & row houses
Bruges, Belgium: street & row houses 
Bruges, Belgium roof line
Bruges, Belgium roof line

Off the train, and into the streets…I love the sound of the luggage wheels ca-chunk, ca-chunk, ca-chunk over the cobblestone streets. When we arrived at our B&B (Koen & Annemie Dieltiens), our hosts were out of town, but had left a note to have the neighbors let us in. We left our bags behind and wandered to the canal market at Dijver. We dined in a French tea room on lasagne, soup and ice cream while watching the birds in a giant cage with an upturned cooking pot on top.

Dreupelhuisje in Bruges Belgium
Dreupelhuisje, a bar in Bruges, Belgium

In our wanderings that evening, we found the Dreupelhuisje. This bar had Belgian beers and flavored jenevers and was decked out for Easter and oozed ambiance. Thousands of yellow feathers hung individually from the ceiling on different lengths of string for Easter. Candles lit the small room–candles at the bar, in the windows, on the tables…everywhere. Books were pinned open and arranged on the wall like pictures, with dried roses as accents hanging beside them. There were murals, tulips, wooden windows from an old French church. Cirque du Soliel music played in the background. We sat at the bar and sampled a variety of flavored jenevers from the tulip shaped glasses. Filled to the very brim, we learned from our bartender Dominique that it was respectful to bend to the glass and sip it before picking it up. This place would become our “local” for the 3 days we were in Bruges.

Bryan politely sips jenever
Bryan sips jenever in the Dreupelhuisje, Bruges, Belgium
Bryan & Carol in Bruges
Bryan & Carol in Bruges, April 1997

We toured the Belfort Tower…366 narrow steps to the top and were actually standing with the bells when they rang 11 o’clock. Wonderful views of the red tiled roofs of the city. We sat in the sun and enjoyed waffles and coffee for Bel 150. Then made our way to the Jerusalem church and the lace-making center.

So, lace making…it’s done with bobbins…hundreds of bobbins, each tied with thin threads that are then moved individually around the pins and across the table in a certain order to complete a special pattern. We watched one woman speeding the bobbins around–like she was just wiping them off the table–yet a beautiful pattern of lace was left behind. She was known as the TGV (which stands for the fast train that runs between Brussels and Paris).

Lace Maker known as the TGV ("fast train!")
“The TGV” making lace in Bruges Belgium. Her hands moved the bobbins at lightning speed.
Lace Making in Bruges Belgium
Lace Making in Bruges Belgium

One day, we went to the Begijnhof. A courtyard with beautiful willow trees and blooming daffodils. Peaceful. We saw the Michelangelo Virgin and Child in smooth white marble at the Church of Our Lady.

Begijnhof, in Bruges, Belgium
Begijnhof, in Bruges, Belgium

Later we sat in the sun and tried mussels at Vivaldi. This episode stays with us to this day. My perspective: “Hmmm, we’re in Belgium. We should try the mussels…it’s a Belgian thing.” The mussels arrive. I bite into sand. Ugh. Bryan’s perspective: “You ordered mussels and then made me eat them”.  :)

 

On our last afternoon in Belgium, Bryan would buy Belgian chocolate and I bought lace. We basked in the sun on the steps of the Belfrey before a cheap Pizza Hut dinner and drinks at the Dreupelhuisje.

Candles in the Jerusalem Church, Bruges
Candles in the Jerusalem Church, Bruges
Jenever barrels in Bruges, Belgium
Jenever barrels in Bruges, Belgium

The next day, we would take the TGV fast train to Paris.

Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium

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