17 April 2015

Never Again!

This past weekend the weather was nice so we swung by Brussels and picked Ross up, then headed to the Sunday flea market in Waterloo.  While some vendors have pretty good stuff, they also like it too much. Meaning there are no bargains.  It was nice to get out in the good weather and we had lunch on a sunny terrace, but we may seek out another flea market for future bargain-hunting.  

This is not my "never again" story though.

When Randi and family are here, I am always on patrol over the staircase.  I worry (and worry some more) that the kids will tumble down them.  With the bedrooms and bathroom upstairs there is no way to avoid going up and down them at least once a day - usually more.  Our house has a lot of stairs, they are wooden, they are steep, they end on granite flooring, they are encased with hard plaster walls.  You see where I'm going with this.  

When we move back to the States, we will have to buy a house because we don't have one anymore.  I used to have a list of criteria for my dream house.  Now I realize the only really important thing is "no stairs". One level living is my new dream house.

That also wasn't my "never again" story though.

Winslow goes with us nearly everywhere we go.  When we are home, I take him for a walk nearly every day.  He loves it.  We don't always walk the same path, but we always walk in and around our neighborhood.  Sometimes I let him off his leash because he's very good about listening to me and obeying my commands and following whatever path I take.  If he lags behind, he runs as fast as he can to catch up and that's part of the fun for him.  

Well, this week, I learned a lesson I shall never forget. Winslow was off his leash and I turned a corner.  A minute or two later, I turn around and he's not there.  I look and look and he's not there.  I begin to call his name in all directions.  Nothing.  He simply vanished.  Panic sets in and I begin to run in the direction I think he may have gone - toward the busy, busy, busy street we live on.  

In the distance - approximately 3 football fields away - ACROSS that busy street, I think I can see him. Now, I worry he will see me and cross that busy, busy street AGAIN!  He doesn't seem to see me, but he does start running back toward the street! Mercifully, there was an opening in the traffic and I was able to get across that busy, busy street before he saw me and without either of us getting hit by a car.  A few people had stopped to look when they saw a loose dog because loose dogs are a rarity here.  I've actually never seen one - before today, that is.  

The stars were definitely aligned and I learned a difficult lesson.  Never again.  

I also didn't know I could still run that fast :)

07 April 2015

March Wind, April Showers . . .

The weather is taking a turn for the better!  I've learned, if nothing else, the weather is very predictable here. There's a school holiday each year at the beginning of Spring called the Krokus Vakantie.  I swear, the day before the school vacation starts, the crocus bloom in the park.  Unbelievable predictability.  Same with the last frost, etc, etc.  When the weather guy says winter is over, it's over.

This past Easter weekend, it was still winter.  Jim and I walked downtown for coffee and nearly froze.  I wore only a coat - no scarf or gloves or hat and I wished I'd had all three.  But today, the sun will not just come up, it will shine, and by Friday, it is supposed to shine all day.

The days are getting longer too.  It still amazes me how quickly it does that.  By June, we'll be down to less than 6 hours of darkness.  I could mow the grass at 10:30 at night - if I were so inclined!

Ross was off work on Easter Monday so he came to Hasselt for a visit.  We dyed eggs and made a trip to the plant nursery.  It's still a bit early for summer flowers, but I got a few plants to brighten our patio pots for now.  Jim slipped down to the kelder to work on his second violin for a bit.

My Spring flowers.

Our Easter eggs.

Easter at the Andersons.

Last, we took Ross out for dinner to celebrate his 26th birthday.  Jim made a cheesecake and we had champagne.

Happy birthday, Ross!

I'm headed out to plant those flowers!  Life is good.

24 March 2015

Schnitzeled Out!

Our visitors have come and gone with lots of memories left behind.  We made the most of the two weeks they were here . . . and then some!

We had family days in Brussels and Hasselt - even celebrated Ross's birthday a little early.  We traveled to Prague, Vienna, Budapest and a few places in between.  It was ambitious, but we all hung in there . . . seeing some really beautiful cities, fabulous scenic routes and eating some excellent food.  I ate enough schnitzel to last a lifetime!  

The weather was cold, but for the most part, not much rain and that always makes sightseeing so much more fun . . . spoken by someone who knows :)

Most importantly, we enjoyed every minute!

Here's just a fraction of the thousand-plus pictures I took along the way.  I can't possibly do justice to the gorgeous, historic, and fabulous buildings in each city so I've thrown in only a few.  It's mostly photos of US!

First up, a visit to Uncle Ross's apartment in Brussels . . .

Getting ready for breakfast.  Ross lives on a great street with Le Saint Aulaye Boulangerie (Bakery) with yummy bread and pastries and Les Tartes de Francoise with delicious quiche and tarts.  We've tried them both more than once!

Busy coloring before heading out to tour the neighborhood.

A visit to the second-hand book store near Ross's apartment.  This place was crazy.  Several floors and packed with people on a Sunday afternoon.

We walked around Brussels since none of us have been a "tourist" there lately.

Back in Hasselt, we spent a few hour at Plopsa Indoor Play Place.  Norma Grace preferred these ducks.

and did not like these frogs.  Frazier liked most everything . . . well except the roller coaster!

Not quite ready for a license - I think those arrows are pointing the other way :)

Firefighters and their chauffeur.  

Our 10-day road trip begins!

First stop . . .

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Quaintness-cubed medieval town that Jim and I and Ross visited about 5 years ago.  That year it was the hottest day in Europe since time began.  This time it was much cooler.

This is the Castle Gate - one of several gates entering the town, it opens into the castle gardens.  A castle once stood on this site until an earthquake destroyed it in 1356.

Then, on to . . .

Traveling can be exhausting!

Prague, Czech Republic

We visited Prague nearly five years ago and it was just as nice to visit again.  It is the capital of the Czech Republic and also its largest city.  

This is the Astronomical Clock (Staroměstské náměstí in Czech), installed in 1410, which stands in the Old Town Square.

Enjoying hearing and watching the clock in the Old Town Square in Prague.

This photo is taken from  Charles Bridge (Karlův most in Czech), constructed in 1357 and crosses the Vltava River.

Walking on Charles Bridge - not sure what was so funny!

This is the Church of St. Nicholas (Kostel svatého Mikuláše in Czech), built in the 1700's.

These are the Prague Castle Steps leading, yes, to the Prague Castle.  There are 208 of them and that's a lot!

Jim . . . always insisting on taking the strollers everywhere we went and being in charge of both of them :)

This photo is taken from the top of the steps looking out over the city.

Chilly and windy, but not raining!

This is St. Vitus Cathedral on the site of Prague Castle.


The city of Prague taken from Prague Castle.

Taking a break in the hotel room.

Fireworks seen from our hotel window.  We aren't sure what was being celebrated!

This was a nice playground right outside our hotel and it was busy with lots of children.

Next stop . . .

Vienna (Wien in German), Austria

This was our first visit to Vienna, the capital and largest city in Austria. We found it to be pristine and full of amazing architecture.

Posing for a photo on the staircase in our hotel.

One of many restaurants - I probably had schnitzel.

The Vienna City Hall (Rathaus in German) was built in the late 1800's - it was just around the corner from our hotel and has a nice park in front for dog walking.

Schnitzel again, probably :)

All suited up and ready to head out!

This is the Vienna Opera House.

Winslow in Vienna :)

This is the Parliament where the two houses of Austrian Parliament conduct sessions.

Taking a ride on the Vienna Metro.

I just liked this photo of these older buildings and that narrow passageway.

Vienna Metro 2

This is St. Stephan's Cathedral situated in Stephansplatz. It was consecrated in 1147.

Winslow - hanging on!  He loves elevators, but is not a fan of escalators.

This is Karlskirche (St. Charles Church) situated on the Karlsplatz.  It was built in the 1700's.

Another fun, this time Viennese, playground!

This is Graben Square.  A famous shopping street and pedestrian-mostly zone.  In the distance is the Plague Column (Pestsäule in German)  constructed after the Great Plague of Vienna of 1679.

This is taken on one of the hop-on-hop-off bus tours we took.  He slept here, but didn't sleep a wink in the car!

This is the Votive Church (Votivkirche in German), built in the late 1800's.

Next stop . . .

near the border of Austria and Slovakia we saw this monument in the distance and stopped to check it out. These are the remains of the Heidentor (Gate of the Pagans), built under the reign of Constantin II (337-361).

This is Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.  Since it was not too far out of our way, we decided to swing by there for lunch!

The "Blue Church" also known as Church of St. Elisabeth.

The Hlavné námestie (Main Square) in Bratislava is pedestrian-only.

Winslow in Slovakia with Michael's Gate in the background.

This bronze figure, called Cumil, was quite the tourist attraction - especially with the Asians.

We dined on typical Slovakian food - potato dumplings.

Next stop . . .

Budapest, Hungary

This is the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi lánchíd in Hungarian) opened in 1849 and spans the Danube between Buda and Pest.

Taking a ride on the Budapest Metro.

This is the Liberty Bridge, built in 1894.

Unlike Vienna, Budapest is actually ON the Danube River.

That is Gellert Hill Cave in the distance.

That's the Central Market Hall (Nagycsarnok in Hungarian) and it's open every day, but Sunday.

Inside Central Market Hall where you can buy nearly everything and mostly paprika!

Having coffee at Anna Cafe.

Opa tying shoes.

This is a view of Castle Hill (Várhegy in Hungarian) across the Danube.

Frazier and Opa on the boat on the Danube.

Taking a walk across Chain Bridge.

Waiting for the bus!

This type of house seemed typical in and around the city - we saw blocks of houses just like these.

View of Chain Bridge and Castle Hill.

Enjoying a boat cruise on the Danube.  That's Margaret Bridge in the distance.

Hungarian Parliament.

In 1873, Budapest was united into a single city from 3 cities - Buda, Obuda, and Pest.

Next stop . . .

The Austrian Alps.

Some of us saw more of it than others :)

One beautiful landscape after another.

This is Lake Attersee, Austria.

We decided to get totally out of the city and stay at this organic farm on Lake Attersee.

One of many photos I took of the view.

This is from the bottom of the mountain right at the lakeside.

This is taken from the top where our hotel (aka farm) was located.

It was definitely way up there!

Plenty of room for the kids to run around.

I was a little nervous about the edge - no fences!

This is the owner showing the kids one of the baby goats.  She and her husband have been living on this farm for 45 years.

This is the view from our balcony as the sun was coming up.

We stopped for one last shot of the lake on our way out.

Another pit stop for photos - look how clear that water is.

We stopped in Munich, Germany at the famous Hofbrauhaus for lunch.

Next stop . . .

Alpentonholz Pahler

Jim planned to make this stop so he could purchase some wood for his next violin project directly from the guy who makes his living cutting and selling wood for violins.

It was nice for Jim to get the chance to see the shop and pick out his own wood.

Next stop . . .

back to Rothenberg, Germany for our last night on the road.

Winslow and Norma Grace taking a break.

New twist on the tire swing!

Trying out Oma's glasses :)

Next stop . . .

Home in Hasselt.

This is me and Norma Grace making a birthday cake for Uncle Ross.

Making sure the cream cheese icing is good.

Happy birthday!

Frazier thoroughly enjoyed the Legos our neighbor let us borrow.

Jim and Randi cooking paella for dinner.


Oh, to do it all again.