Monday, June 12, 2023

European Vacation

We finally made our family trip to Europe.  My wife has been planning this for quite some time.  It was a great way to bond with family, experience different cultures and get a different perspective on our life in the United States.  My teenage daughters are at a great age for travel and my wife and I are still fit enough to manage a lot of walking.

Overall it was a wonderful trip with 7 days in France, 3 dats in Belgium and 2 days in Amsterdam.  With two full on travel days it was a great 13 day adventure.  I often joke that family vacations are a combination of being tired (hotel sleep, inability to sleep in, jet lag), being hungry (hard to find food that everybody likes or find food at all), and being confused (where are we, how do we get to this museum, where to get public transport, how to buy tickets), interspersed with magical moments (honoring the sacrifice of WWII soldiers at Normandy, splashing in the water at Mont Saint-Michel, dancing to a street performer at the Vendome, kissing under the Eifel Tower, tasting the perfectly cooked Belgian Waffle, feeling the breeze off of the canal during a boat tour of Amsterdam, and laughing out loud as we dart past bicycles, trams, buses and cars)

I took hundreds of photos and made quite a few notes about different works of art, different meals and activities.  The following are the diary style hightlights:

Monday, May 29 - Fly out of Denver International Airport.  Very pleasant Air France flight (watched The Whale and A Man Called Otto).

Tuesday, May 30 - Arrive in Paris at 1100 local time. (8 hour time difference).  Drive to Arromanches-les-Bains, stop at Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen

Wednesday, May 31 - breakfast at the hotel, Caen Memorial Museum, Normandy American Cemetery, Gold Beach bunkers, dinner at hotel (Nisha had mussels, I had fish soup), walked around Bayeux (including cathedral)

Thursday, June 1 - drive to Mont-Saint-Michel, drive to Lemans, dinner at Petite Pizza

Friday, June 2 - breakfast at hotel, 24 Hours of Lemans museum, drive to Palace of Versailles, drive to Paris, check into Westin Vendome, return rental car and have Lebanese food for dinner

Saturday, June 3 -  breakfast at the Happy Cafes, walk to Musee des Arts decoratifs, metro to shopping areas, lunch at Pauls, metrol to hotel, laundry, Eifel tower at night

Sunday, June 4 - taxi to Arc de Triomphe, snacks at cafes, walk down Champs-Elysees, boat ride on Seine, Musee de l'Orangerie (water lillies), dinner at L'Empire (fancy, Nisha had the sea bass)

Monday, June 5 - 0730 wod at CrossFit Louvre, breakfast at hotel, Angelina's tart and hot chocolate, walk to Louvre (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo), check out and catch high speed train to Brussels, dinner at cafes

Tuesday, June 6 - Walked to information and got Brussels card and saw Musical Instruments Museum, Choco-Story, Manneken Pis, had waffles, Comic Strip Museum, check out city center and City of Brussels Museum, shopping at Agora market, walked back to hotel, Step Meeting 0830 Tuesday AA meeting, swam at hotel pool, laundry at hotel

Wednesday, June 7 - workout at World Fitness gym, 1204 train to Brugges, visited Salvatore Dali museum, lunch in city center, train to Gent, walked around town center, train back to Brussels

Thursday, June 8 - workout at World Fitness gym, train to Amsterdam, tram to Hilton, dinner was South Indian food

Friday, June 9 - breakfast at La Quotidienne, Stedelijk Museum (contemporary art), Rijks Museum (The Milkmaid, The Night Watch), ramen for lunch, quick peak at red light district, As Bill Sees It 1830 Friday AA meeting, dinner at Robertos (fancy)

Saturday, June 10 - 0800 wod at Crossfit Amsterdam, Van Gogh museum (Sunflowers, Autumn Blossoms), canal boat ride, street food lunch, snacks at hotel for dinner

Sunday, June 11 - 0830 flight to Detroit (absolutely amazing, watched John Wick 4 and part of Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre), layover and flight to Denver

I learned that I need to be a little selfish when I travel.  It was great to drop into a couple of meetings and a couple of CrossFit boxes.  I will plan at least one of these every few days for future travel.

Travel tips I picked up include having a separate chums wallet with local currency, room key, public transportation pass, etc.  Keeping backpack zippers fastened with Night-Ize clips to avoid pick pockets, be able to separate metals during museum access, carry a stain stick for clothes.

I enjoyed Belgium the most as the cities were smaller and there was lots of interesting stuff to do.  France was nice, but Paris was a very large, busy city; Normandy was more laid back but there was less to do.  Amsterdam was great, but less exciting for the family as we do not take in nightlife.

No comments: