|Grand Place / The Grote Markt in the heart of central Brussels|
is the focal point of the city.
Last Thursday, I returned home from a 12-day European holiday in which I visited Belgium, France and the Netherlands. It was my sixth visit to Europe this decade ~ the first since 2007. I am happy to say that, overall, it was a positive experience for me and my wife. There was plenty of urban adventure as well as some open spaces to enjoy, too.
Our holiday afforded us a chance to relax, release and enjoy a change of routine ~ not to mention, it reacquainted ourselves with the Euro. (I like the 2 Euro coins very much.)
|The Eiffel Tour in Paris|
|Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris|
Each one, in its own way, was inspiring to see and to absorb its history. After all, there's many centuries of history worth learning about in each of these holy cathedrals and churches.
|In Amsterdam, the ordinary bicycle was the preferred method of|
transportation used by locals to navigate the city's narrow streets.
In Amsterdam, I marveled at the abundance of bicycles. They were everywhere, numbering in the thousands ~ not 10-speeds or mountain bikes, mind you, like you would normally see in the U.S. ~ just ordinary two-wheelers, most equipped with simple hand brakes, a bell, lights, a comfortable seat and a dependable padlock. The bicycle was the most common form of transportation seen navigating the narrow, cobblestone streets lining the canals of the city's centrum, greater in number than automobiles. It was a very refreshing sight to see.
|Lovely and colorful Dutch tulips|
adorned the Floriade 2012
site in Venlo, Netherlands.
I am happy to report that were many acres of lovely and colorful Dutch tulips to admire even if the weather was less than ideal on the day of our recent visit.
|A Belgian waffle treat near|
the Grand Place in Brussels
was enjoyable and affordable.
|Amsterdam at night / Looking across the street|
at the Concert-Gebouw from the Museumplein.
In closing, here's a thought about travel that comes from the American poet Maya Angelou. It sums up my feelings about my recent travel experience:
Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.
All photographs by Michael Dickens, copyright 2012. All rights reserved.