Saturday, June 5

dam good vacation

we and our well-calcified bones (we had "old cheese," "young cheese," one of three kinds of goat cheese, or a combination of all at nearly every meal) have returned from two weeks in holland and belgium.

we made the trip to attend the wedding of two wonderful friends, becoming an officially-hyphenated power couple. the bride's mom works in the hague, so amsterdam seemed a fun spot for a destination event, attended by about two dozen family members and friends. I've always subscribed to a sort of six-degrees-of-kevin-bacon theory on friends (the traits which draw two friends together will translate to a connection between their friends as well), but the trip may have elevated the hypothesis to at least theorem status. the assorted members of elisewho? and matty's tribes combined seamlessly, into a roving band of comrades. we felt really lucky to be included, and had a blast with everyone. though it felt a teensy bit surreal seeing so many of the people we associate with austin in such a different environ.

the food was surprisingly fantastic … you know … if unpretentious but perfectly made bread and cheese, chocolate, pastries etc. … (oh, and fried potatoes) are your thing. those western europeans sure know their way around a stick of butter! we could have comfortably survived the trip just eating their cheeses — so it’s a good thing we walked everywhere. in amsterdam, we also enjoyed cantonese food twice (the only place I’ve had jellyfish, since traveling to hong kong as a kid), plus indonesian/surinamese food. while in belgium, aside from one really fun standing seafood-bar meal, our diet orbited around the availability of chocolate and/or beer and/or waffles.

the wedding photographer wasted no time posting a few pics (and slide show) to his blog. the slide show at the bottom is worth watching — it made me all teary watching the weekend highlights. while the bunch was a photogenic group overall (myself excluded), channing johnson was a phenomenal wedding photographer, and I would recommend him to anyone (especially in the boston area).

travel lessons learned:

  • those exercises listed on the in-flight-safety brochure: they're for real. if done as prescribed, they might actually prevent the kind of swelling (known as *the fat-foot) and joint-pain 21 hours traveling can cause. oh, and skymall is far superior to the duty free catalog.


  • the west village of new amsterdam makes sooo much more sense after treading dam's tilted alleys and meandering canal streets. without the canal system, amsterdam would be just as jumbled and confusing.

  • not all mayonnaise is totally despicable (whaaa?). well, at least not the kind served with perfectly cooked frites in the netherlands and belgium. it's creamier, fresher, and a teensy bit sweet ... but not at all like that crazy miracle whip stuff ... hard to describe, but delicious.

{everything in brussels has two (bilingual) names ~ mer du nord/noordzee restaurant}

  • the local specialty is always worth ordering — even if it's not normally on your diet. oh, and dessert should come before dinner. always.

  • travel with a toddler can be really, really fun. (really!)

... (yes, really!!!)

{luts & bruno setola's house in brugge}

  • if there is not a toddler available for booking, b&b's are the way to go. every one of the three places we stayed was lovely in its own way, and the hosts felt like just that. staying with them felt very little like a hotel experience, and a lot like visiting generous (distant) relatives. every morning coffee was already hot, fresh toast and croissants warmed, and the company, inviting us to take a seat at their kitchen table. we visited with our hosts and the other guests over breakfast, discussing the sights or getting an inside track on the best pubs and chocolate shops to visit.

{correct netting technique ~ bugs outside}

  • there are, in fact, people who need instructions on proper mosquito netting technique. the funny couple we met (ironically, floridians) during the breakfast portion of our first b&b stay could have used a tip or two. stewart, up reading with the jet-lags, neatly arranged himself head-inside-netting ... along with sixteen hungry mosquitoes. millie slept very well indeed.

{knopenwinkel ~ vintage button shop, where somehow I blew 50 euro!}

  • I seem to be more of an amsterdam-vintage kinda gal than a brussels-urban-vintage sorta chick. the shops we visited in the northwest-central dam neighborhoods carried beautiful mid century garments, linens and lace. my only shopping-related regret involves a beautiful old quilt and some kitchen linens that would have required jettisoning serious clothing ballast.

  • the dutch language sounds funny. flemish sounds hilarious.
— for dutch, place a "sh" sound over every s and an emphatic, germanic "ch" over every g.
— for flemish, start with a french meter, and in place of every "r," gargle with listerine.

  • and lastly, but most importantly (as if I didn't know it before) — b plans one hell of a trip. he is the most considerate of travel companions, always researching the best eats, coffee spots ... err ... I mean, cafĂ©s (though he drinks none), and vintage shops (though he waits patiently outside) ... but in short, it was a fantastic trip, made so by the wonderful b. I am fortunate to have shared a new experience with him, and to share a life with him.

{glad to be home}

we had a wonderful time together, and we’re glad to be home. we missed our funny mutt.
and ran out of clean underpants.

{mutt-thos glad to have us home}

and now the laundry's all done, and more than a week later, photos are finally downloaded. the trip is officially over ::sigh:: and b has already begun thinking about the next big trip (!) ... so, I guess I'd better get cracking on posting some photos — hopefully a few will be up tomorrow!!

* the official, medical term for the affliction.

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