To misquote one of my cartoon favorites – Bullwinkle.
“Spring is here. The grass is growing. I wonder where the Herks are going?”
And the answer is – back to Europe. We’ve decided to go on a little adventure this year, moving to a few different locations over a three week period. We have a few bucket list places that are calling for a visit.
The plan is to fly to Paris, then hop on a train right away and begin in Nantes, France. From Nantes we’ll be heading up to the town of Pontorson, France. After Pontorson, we’ll hop back on a train to Paris. From Paris, we’ll be visiting the town of Bruges in Belgium. Our final destination will be Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
So, why those five places?
Our first stop will be in Nantes. Nantes was once a thriving ship-building city located on the Loire River. Now that the ship building industry has dried up, they have gone through a renaissance and have become an arts and cultural mecca. Nantes was also the birthplace of Jules Verne, the prolific author of such novels as ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’, ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ and ‘Around the World in 80 Days’.
A few of the sites that we are planning to visit include the Jules Verne Museum, the Chateau of Anne of Bretagne and the Isle of Machines (Sounds much better as – Les Machines de L’ile). Hopefully we’ll have lots of pictures and memories to report on.
The second stop is the town of Pontorson located to the north on the coast. Pontorson is where we’ll be staying, but just 10km away, Mont Sainte-Michel is our real destination. Mont Sainte-Michel is a unique UNESCO World Heritage site in that it is an island that has housed a church dating back to 708 AD. Throughout the years, it grew from a small church to a larger church to a Benedictine Abbey to a prison during the French Revolution and eventually restored to the island abbey. During high tide, the water surrounds the island and during low tide the island is left in the dry bay. We will have time to visit both day and night and luckily the tides will be higher when we arrive.
Back on the train to our third stop – Paris! As everybody knows, Paris is my favorite destination city and we always look forward to spending time there. One of the highlights of this trip will be an exhibition of artworks by Eugene Delacroix. We’ll be staying in a different arrondissement, so there should be many new places to explore as well as quick visits to some favorites.
After Paris, we head to Belgium and the town of Bruges. We have read about it, seen pictures of it and even watched the movie “In Bruges”. It looks lovely and we can’t wait to explore it for ourselves. We’ve heard that they are pretty good at making beer and chocolate, so we might try those while we are there too!
And our last stop will be the city of Amsterdam. Canals, tulips, Van Gogh, wooden shoes, Heineken, Red Lights, windmills and probably a whole bunch of other things. This will be another first time visit, so everything will be new and exciting.
Planes, trains and hotels are booked, and restaurants are being researched. Brushing up on my French and trying to learn a few words and phrases in Dutch. And, of course, crossing our fingers for a good exchange rate and some warm, sunny weather.