Monday, July 13, 2009

Planning and Anticipation: Europe

If I'd been asked a year ago to place bets on whether or not I'd ever see Europe, I would have said it wasn't in the cards for me. All that history would have to be enjoyed by others. My life would pass by without me ever getting to indulge in that particular experience.

Whoopee! Hold the presses. Everything changed when Ben and Ruth decided to accept his proposed job promotion and move to The Netherlands this year. In typical Ben fashion, he put family first and negotiated his contract to include free round trip airfare for both sets of his kids' grandparents. After all, he reasoned with his employers, it really wasn't a good thing for his daughters' grandparents to only see the girls when they were cranky from traveling so far. They must have really wanted his talents in Amsterdam, because they agreed.

Ruth's parents have already enjoyed their trip over there this year. John and I are planning our trip now. We'll be leaving in just a month, landing on Kate's first birthday. She's the youngest of the girls, with Ashley being two and a half. Ben's been such an incredible help with planning the details. He found us a great little car to rent the 2nd week of our trip so we can see some of the sights. He even gave us a suggested itinerary of where to go with the car. Want to see it? It's so perfect we don't want to change a thing.

Wednesday, August 26, we would drive to Bruges, Belgium in the morning, just John and me. It would take about two and a half hours to get there, and we could spend the whole day wandering around and looking at the historic little town, then spend the night in a hotel there. We'd take lots of photos, of course, find neat little places to eat, and probably pinch ourselves regularly to make sure we're really not just dreaming.

Thursday, August 27, it would only take us about 45 minutes to drive to Ghent, still in Belgium, where we could spend the day doing roughly the same thing we did the day before, smiling and taking photos, eating and wandering around holding hands. Again we'd spend the night in a hotel.

On Friday, August 28th, we'd wake up and say "Happy Anniversary" to each other and have a grand breakfast before leaving to drive to Brussels, a three hour drive, on our way to Luxembourg. We'll get a hotel in Luxembourg and have dinner there, and meet Ben, and Ruth, Ashley and Kate there the next morning. From there we'll drive to Cologne, Germany together (in two cars) and spend the day there. But first we'll wake up in Luxembourg. I've sure looked at a lot of web sites while planning this trip.

These are a few photos I found of Luxembourg that make me really excited to be spending our anniversary there.

Waterfalls, bridges, and castles? Does it get any better than that?

The trip back to their home in Amstelveen, Netherlands from Cologne is about a two and a half hour drive. By the time we get home that night, I'm pretty sure we'll be a little ragged around the edges, but very happy.

I can't help but remember my sister Ellen taking me to the Plaza Resort in Reno many years ago. I'm not sure which birthday I was celebrating, but I think it was the big 5-0. She still teases me about my awe when I saw the room. It really was magnificent, and I'd never stayed anywhere even close to such a spectacular place before. In fact, I've rarely seen such a nice place since, either. I told her that up until that trip, I thought the closest I came to luxury accommodations was when we bought the new two-room tent with the screened porch.

She still doesn't understand. I was used to camping. That tent was luxury to me. Suddenly, here I was in a huge two-room suite with a jacuzzi I could lie spread-eagled in without touching the edges, it was so huge. It was situated in such a way that I could watch the basketball game (it was early February) on the big TV. I nearly turned into a prune. There were wall to wall windows that showed the beautiful night lights of Reno spread out below. John was home with all three boys—and I was in heaven.

I have a feeling this trip is going to leave me overwhelmed in the same manner, like I've stepped out of my normal life, become queen for a few days. I'll be counting my blessings. Some things you don't earn. They're just gifts that come along in life. Thanks, Ellen. Thanks, Ben and Ruth. Thanks, John.


Ben said...

I would keep your hotel expectations to minimum, realizing that a 4* hotel in Europe is a 3* hotel in the States.

But you should have more to do than in Reno. :)

Kathleen said...

It's not all about the amenities, Ben. Location, location, location. Go back and compare it to the tent as well.

Pastor Stan said...