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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Trip Summary

We set out to explore 7 countries, driving 800 miles in 2 weeks. Instead, we visited 9 countries and drove 1,800 miles. I’m not sure I’d skip any experience: all were unique, full of their own sites, sounds, flavors, and personalities.

Was it worth it? You bet! And, we’re already planning our next European Delivery adventure, right, Honey? J

Thanks to BMW for the white glove service. And, thanks to the M for a great ride! Oh happy days….

xo

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Posted by on July 12, 2012 in 2012 - Europe Honeymoon

 

Amsterdam [Nord Holland], The Netherlands

July 5, 6, 7 2012

I’m going to do Amsterdam in two sections: G-Rated and Red-Light District Rated.

This one is the G-rated one!

First, let’s discuss dropping off the M.

From Menen, it took us a bit longer than we thought to make it to Amsterdam. We did stop on the road (Burger King, actually) and gassed up a little, where we met some v cool guys who admired Greg’s M and wanted to discuss their own cars.

Finding the drop-off place was totally confusing, trying to understand the different address systemà even the locals we asked couldn’t understand the address. Nevertheless, with 15 minutes to spare, we found the Amsterdam drop and ended our European Journey with 1,803 miles on the odometer. Whew!

Now, you’ve heard the rumors of driving in the old European cities. Whatever you do: plan to NOT drive in Amsterdam. By far, this must be the most challenging place here.

People. Cars. Bikes. Bikes. Bikes. Buses. Trolleys. And stoners to top it off. So, I’m glad we did not have the M.

Around the town

Amsterdam is big. It was really hard to get away from the tourists, so at some point I just let it go and tried to embrace in the city from a big picture. Honestly, the bike culture is totally unique. I love watching the women with skirts and heals, riding on bikes, while talking on cell phones, carrying their purses and fresh bread.

Canals are absolutely everywhere so I couldn’t even use the waterways as markers. Frankly, I was totally lost and turned around for the 2 days we were there.

Yes, we did do the tourist thing and we took one of these boats.

The Heineken tour was far-better than I thought it’d be. Pretty interesting on the history of an entrepreneur and four generations of family. The tour included a little “ride” of sorts and some samples too!

Look at how this Bimmer is parked…supposedly at least 1 car a week ends up in the water in Amsterdam.

Food

We did try our share of the Dutch beer, but honestly I will say I preferred Belgium. The Bitterballen snacks we had were pretty good.

 

Breakfast—50/50 chance of a good one…

(1) “pancake” with cheese and bacon – greasy

(2) fried eggs with ham and cheese on brown bread

I really did like this dish, supposed traditional North Holland dish called, Oer Hollandse Stamppot..

I think the purple stuff is mashed potatoes maybe with beets for color?

And we had breakfast here…we shared a savory bread pudding …. Really good.

Fun! We found a Nielsen J …. We must be in Holland. We were thinking of Greg’s mom!

Our final night in this crazy town came to an end, quietly in our hotel pub.

 

Loved the Amsterdam experience. But, I probably wouldn’t stay so long next time. After all, the one thing that came across pretty clearly in this trip, is that both of us prefer less tourists, better food and better beer. J

xo

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in 2012 - Europe Honeymoon

 

Menen, Belgium

No Reservations — in France During the Tour de France

July 2/3, 2012

We left Dijon with no reservations and headed North with the intention of finding some cool French/Champagne experience along the way (since we were in the Champagne region, and all).

What we found on the “freeways” of France was flat landscape, corn (no grapes) in the fields, high tolls (over €40), and roadside stops that combined 7-11 food with gas stations. Blah.

But, at least there were toilettes, men separate from the women! Meanwhile, little did we know that Tour de France was happening at the same time, so the first few hotels we tried were completely booked and uninterested in folks who couldn’t speak French.

We had to find something to do and a place to stay for the day and night, so we set GPS toward our Bruges destination, assuming we’d find something interesting (in France!) within the next few hours…

Finally, we got tired and ended up setting the GPS to the closest Best Western….when we arrived and inquired about open rooms, we should have known that we had landed in a new country. The man who checked us in was so-super friendly. He gave us their last room available and promptly got us two bowls (buckets?) of cold Stella. It was such a welcomed experience after the Sunday in Dijon where no one spoke English and few knew how to smile.

I think I can say, we both loved Menen. It is a real town with few tourists. Honestly, it wasn’t real clean and it really didn’t have new/interesting architecture. But the people…!…. awesome!

Not much was open when we arrived (Monday) so we found a local place and munched on mac and cheese and a ham/cheese toasted sandwich. The town’s bell tower was chiming all the time.

Around the town


I took this picture because I think this is the longest word I’ve ever seen so far…..(I just looked it up: it means the vet in Dutch)…see? Real town even has pets! J

Laundry!!!

And, yeah! We had no idea when or where we were going to do laundry..after our “lovely” Dijon experience with the local language barrier, we even thought about just buying some additional clothes…but we found this laundry mat! And, a nice grandma-age lady helped us navigate the Euro’s to laundry-tokens exchange and got us set straight.  She even told us through very broken English about her “other friend” in Pennsylvania. So cute!

I love this picture of Greg…he looks so relaxed I just had to post it. J

After laundry was done…we were on to Bruges.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in 2012 - Europe Honeymoon

 

Dijon, France

June 30 & July 1, 2012

We headed to Dijon, because we went over the recommended 1,200 service check for the M and the car needed service.

Driving through this section of France was fairly uninteresting. Well, that’s probably not a fair statement, since we had just spent three days experiencing the Alps. This part of France is flat and full of corn fields. Where’s the grapes? I guess that’s for me to find out next visit!

The Town of Dijon

When we arrived in Dijon, we had no place to stay. We totally lucked out with the GPS that directed us to a higher-end Best Western right in town. However, on Sundays: most everything is closed…..well, except for the locals pub. These guys knew English but totally refused to speak it. I had heard these rumors, and—voilà—proven right! These guys, however, were such characters. The sign on the door said “no smoking” and everyone was smoking. The bartender was drinking (and singing) along with his few patrons.

The town is old and not well kept….I guess not really touristy…But, it served our purpose and the BMW dealer nearby took good care of the M and got us out of there by 11.



Dining Lessons

Few restaurants and shops are open on Sundays. Beer, not great. Choose wine, Duh!

But, on the bright side, because Greg has experience with French food, we played it safe and found a pizza place. Actually, the food was delicious, the waiter was kind, and he knew enough English to help us pair a local wine with our calzone.

We ended dinner with crème Brule and cappuccino. Yum.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in 2012 - Europe Honeymoon

 

Zermatt, Switzerland

June 30 2012

Zermatt was actually a pretty interesting little place.

Attention Euro-Delivery Drivers: Do not drive all the way to Zermatt!

After we drove there (via a road that had barely one-lane in spots and appeared to be washed out some century ago), we were met by a man who kindly told us that motor cars were not allowed in Zermatt and that we needed to turn around. So, back through the rubble road we went, parked the car in a nearby town, and took a 15 minute train ride back.

The town is full of hikers and cyclists and super-mini-size electric vehicles (taxis, trash trucks, and so-called buses) … Greg looks like a giant next to this trash truck:

The food experience in Zermatt was “pretty good.” What stands out to me was breakfast in candlelight … while we were experiencing the town and admiring the “Rolex, Tag” stores, the daily heard of goats were escorted through town by what looked like a bunch of boy scouts. How cute!

The town is clean and pretty unique. Be warned that during dinner, however, you may get surrounded by a pack of smelly hikers!


My first look at a Swiss Bank J

And, yes: the river runs thru the town….

Oh, yes I did climb down the bank and stick my foot in the f’n cold water!

The Matterhorn

And like our Mt. Rainier, seeing the horn of the Matterhorn is not always easy. Here is our most clear picture of the elusive peak! Maybe next time we’ll get to see it all the way to the top.

Yes, I could see Greg wanting to come back to explore the trails in more detail…and BTW: when in Zermatt at Irish pub: pass on the Guinness. It was the coldest beer I had the entire trip. Blah. What were they thinking?

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in 2012 - Europe Honeymoon

 

Driving to Zermatt through the Swiss Alps

June 30, 2012

Welcome to Switzerland

All I can say about the drive to Zermatt is that pictures just do not do this ride justice. This was honestly an amazing experience and it deserves its own page!

The narrow road, most with shoulders of only sheer rock walks, winds up and down and around, and around—as low as 2000 feet in places and up past 7500 feet, and sometimes with just a one-lane road—Greg and his M got us to our Matterhorn destination safely. Honestly, this ride puts any Disneyland roller coaster ride to shame. There was one spot, where we met a full- size tour bus, several farm tractors, a pod of motorcycles, crazy Lance-Armstrong-like cyclists, hikers, oh, and cows (proudly wearing their bells), not to mention the ordinary Porsche or two all meeting in the same spot, some 7,000 up in the clouds…

And now for the picture show…and just remember: I’m afraid of heights, Greg likes to drive fast, narrow roads with no shoulder…and imagine: I have to hold on with the same hand that I’m taking pictures with….all so that we can blog about it! J

The traffic



The Hairpin turns


Looking Down, Up and Out!







I love this next picture…yes, I think I could have touched the waterfall from the car window!

T

The Locals

It seemed everyone farmed hay. I loved seeing all the generations out hand-tilling the crop. Honestly, this next picture is in honor of my son, Zach, who loves to help us in the yard at home (not).





Snacks

After driving all day through the hairpin turns of the Swiss Alps, we found a roadside restaurant right next to a river. Here, the fast food was a mild sausage, dark roll, and a beer; then we got an extra beer for the road. Both beers were quite tasty. Or, maybe I was just relaxing after the driving ordeal….either way, this was the first place where the beer wasn’t very cold…And now, we are on a mission to find these sausages at home!


Now…onto Zermatt….

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in 2012 - Europe Honeymoon

 

Treisenburg, Liechtenstein

June 29-30, 2012

When in Europe with no reservations and a new M3, sometimes you just have to explore.

“Hey, why don’t we go to Liechtenstein.”

“Where’s that?” I asked

“Don’t know, but it’s another country. Doesn’t that sound cool?”

The Drive

The drive to Liechtenstein was beautiful and scary (for me) all at the same time.




The town

The town of Treisenburg overlooks Vaduz. It’s not clear to me why people built on the side of mountains….but it certainly had amazing views of the valley. There wasn’t much to do where we stayed, but the hotel restaurant served a delicious pork dinner. It also gave us some downtime (much needed for me).



And, by the way, Lichtenstein is not in the EU, so it is NOT on the approved list for European delivery. You should not go. Glad we got the experience, though!

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in 2012 - Europe Honeymoon

 
 
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