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In this section, and in several to follow, we will tell you what we did, and at the end of each of these extended excursions, we will analyze what we could have done differently. These can be a "model" for you when you plan trips of your own.In this section, and in several to follow, we will tell you what we did, and at the end of each of these extended excursions, we will analyze what we could have done differently. These can be a "model" for you when you plan trips of your own.
Europe is quite compact, and lends itself to the exploration of more than one country at a time on the same trip. I start planning our trips a year or so in advance, hoping to catch and eliminate screw-ups. Despite the best of plans, however, things happen. Here is a fairly complete re-telling of one of our more complex trips:
I suppose I was in a more adventurous mood than usual when I planned this overly ambitious road trip through Europe. We picked up a car in Amsterdam and drove into Belgium, then south through France. Leisurely touring several French cities, we continued our route across France, through the Pyrenees into Spain. We crossed Spain, going ever south, towards the Mediterranean, then hopped a flight across to Morocco
We stopped in dozens of cities and towns, took hundreds of photos. Included here are some of the best, though certainly not all.
Every 10 years, there is a huge floral exhibition in the Netherlands, called Floriade. Actually, it is the largest public event in the Netherlands, and if you are considering going there, plan accordingly, as the next one will be in the spring of 2012. Millions of people attend it, and if you are a flower buff (or not) it is well worth your effort. There are hundreds of displays, with the highlight being the display of Dutch tulips. More than a million bulbs are yours for the enjoying and photographing.
Please be aware that the country is small and hotel accommodations are not as available as in large American cities. Plan accordingly and allow ample lead time to avoid disappointment.
We picked up a car at the airport and drove a short distance out of the Netherlands and into Bruges, Belgium. A village begun around 650AD, it became one of the most important trade centers in Northern Europe during the 13th to 15th centuries.
Nancy enjoys fall foliage from bridge over one of Bruges' numerous canals
The city of Bruges is Europe’s best-preserved medieval city. It has two medieval cores and some of the country’s most impressive art collections. There is also a great windmill at the low end of town you can poke around in if you have mobility. It is also a city of canals, and is often called the "Venice of the North". Picturesque rides are available and should not be missed. These often involve stairs down from the landings into the boats, but there are plenty of attendants who are willing to carry someone in a wheelchair down into the boat.
Belgium is famous for its lace and chocolates, both of which are abundantly available for purchase in the city. Strolling is easy, and though it can become quite crowded on weekends during high season, it is not a problem.
Nan and I take in a little culture at the art museum in Bruges.1
From Belgium, we continued into France on their modern highways where drivers seemed to think they were on the German Autobahn. Big French and German cars passed our little rental car as though it was standing still.