Unexpectedly in Amsterdam

As I sit in an internet cafe in the middle of Amsterdam, my entry will have to be short and sweet.

This morning we found ourselves wandering around Brugge, Belgium.  We snapped a few photos, and caught a train back to Antwerp.  Then we jumped trains and headed to Nederlands.

We found ourselves a hostel this morning and checked in this evening about 6 PM.  We walked all the way from the station to our little hostel up near a quaint little eating district.  I cannot remember the street we are on nor how to spell it so you will just have to take our word for it.  Our ventures here took us through the Red Light District!  Who would have thought?  It wasn’t that bad, I don’t think we were in the heart of it.  Just a few naughty souvenirs in the store fronts, oh, and a few leather stores.

After checking in we went for a walk around the city.  We found the Anne Frank house, which happens to be under construction, or the facade is.  We got a picture of the sign and that was about it.  There was a Holland Footie game tonight against an unknown opponent.  Don’t know if they won or not but there is a party going on in the streets.

We stopped on a quiet little street to enjoy an Indian meal.  Who would have thought I would be sitting at a sidewalk cafe with my wife in Amsterdam eating khorma with the bellows of the crowds from the bars at every little quirk of the game.  Then again, my life has always been enchanted.  What next?

Dutch Sabbath

Nothing too much to report this day.  We went to Antwerp for Stake Conference.  It was a live broadcast from Salt Lake City.  Yep, we came all the way to attend church in Belgium broadcast to us in English!  We did get to hear a blessing in Dutch, but that was about it.  For those non-English speakers, it was translated for them in the main chapel.

We enjoyed the rest of the day with the Cazier’s.  We enjoyed some sandwiches for lunch, some shrimp/pasta/zucchini dish for dinner.  Both were very good.  They have been good to us.  Letting us use their laundry, spare room, and dining room.  They drove us to Vianden, Luxembourg, and Antwerp.  I do not know how we will ever repay them.  We certainly appreciate their hospitality and friendship.

We are planning on heading out for Paris tomorrow.  Although that plan may very well change as we hear of a strike with the French railways.  We may reverse our trip and head to The Hague tomorrow instead.

Victor in Vianden

We have just returned from a trip to Luxembourg.  I really am exhausted and don’t want to take the time to tell a whole lot.  So you are only going to get an abbreviated version.

Yesterday we went to visit the Catholic church in Harelbeke, Belgium.  We then went to Kortrijk, Belgium and of course Amanda had to go to the chocolate shop for Belgium chocolate.  We did some window shopping, being tempted by some of the goods in the stores.  The suits were out of my range, as is about everything with the exchange rate with the Euro/Dollar.  We did snap a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Afterward, we made our way back to Oostrozebeke and prepared for the trip to Vianden.  We drove through the beautiful Ardennes on the way and into Germany.  There was a storm the entire way so everything was highly misted and especially green.  We drove past Brussels, Liege, and stayed at the Grand Hotel de Vianden.  It was very pretty.  Amanda and I went for a late night walk through the city for some photographs.  The bars were full but we enjoyed the sights.  Victor Hugo lived in Vianden for a spell.  We saw the house he lived in and the bridge with his name and bust.

Today we arose and went for a tour of the Vianden Castle/Chateau.  It was beautiful.  Originally there was a fort on the site in the time of Julius Caesar.  The current castle was built during the 13-14th centuries.  It fell into ruin but was restored in the 1970′s – 1980′s.  Vianden was the last town to be liberated in Luxembourg in 1945.

Afterward, we drove through the beautiful mountains to Luxembourg and went on a tour of many of the cities sights.  We saw the Notre Dame there.  It was gorgeous with a huge, high wall.  Who would ever have thought?  We ate lunch at Pizza Hut of all places.  Talk about going for the local cuisine.  I did have toasted bread with goat cheese on them (At Pizza Hut!)  Did you know Luxembourg had a 1,000 year celebration?  963 to 1963.  How is that for old?  The downtown market area reminded me much of London or Manchester, but the architecture is different.

We finished our trip to Luxembourg and came back to Oostrozebeke, Belgium.  We will visit Antwerp and Brugge in the next couple of days before we make our way to Paris.

Anyhow, I have uploaded more pictures in the European Trip Album from the last two days for your viewing pleasure.

Europe Trip – June 4-5

We have arrived in Belgium!  What a relief.  I cannot tell you.

We flew out from Boise airport.  We were fortunate to catch a non-stop flight, from LA!!  Boy, if there is anything near torture, try flying through the night in a very cramped space.  After 9.5 hours on the plane, we landed at London Heathrow.  We found our way through the Underground to Kings Cross Station.  Amanda went and found Platform 9 & 3/4 of Harry Potter fame and took a few pictures.  We waited, checked in for Eurorail at St. Pancras Station, and enjoyed a Cornish Pasty.  A first for Amanda, a beloved memory for me.

We climbed aboard the Eurorail which treated us to a trip through the Chunnel.  France proved to have beautiful scenery.  We got off at Lille, France and switched trains.  We rode to Kortrijk, Belgium.  James met us at the station and now we are in our digs at Oostrozebeke, Belgium.

Funny thing, we knew we needed to get to Kortrijk but we forgot to bring James & Catherine’s phone number and address.  Meaning, when we arrived, we were totally at their mercy.  We couldn’t catch a taxi to their home, and we could not call them.  It is sure a good thing James showed up with his little Toyota.

We find ourselves babysitting while J & C are off to branch council.  We put the kids to bed in 15 minutes, take a shower, and crash ourselves!  We are exhausted

Be sure to check our joint Blog.  Amanda will include some pictures there with some commentary.  I will also upload to a new European Album all our photos we deem of sufficient quality to share with the world.

Welcome to June. It is already all planned out!

Boy, am I glad June is here!  My wife has joined me after our long separation from job and school.  What a relief.  I don’t have to worry about her stressing herself out or being picked up by a much more dashing, intelligent, catch of a man.

We leave this week for what may be the trip of a lifetime.  How many times in a lifetime, if ever, does one get to go to Europe for 6 weeks?  We will be starting with friends in Belgium, working our way to Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, The Netherlands, England, Wales, Scotland, and who knows where else we may stumble.  We really cannot afford it, but why not live with some reckless abandon for a little while?  There are so many friends who do so every day of their life and seem to make it through their whole lives.  Granted, their quality may be diminished some.  But what is lost by worry seems it might be made up by the large home and toys that the self-proclaimed responsible typically don’t get to enjoy.  We leave on the 4th to return on the 16th of July.

We signed a purchase contract for a home this month.  Somewhere around the 22nd of June we will be closing on a humble home in Oklahoma City.  Who would ever have thought my first home purchase would be in Oklahoma City?  Did I ever think I would move or live in Oklahoma City.  Most certainly not.

Amanda and I just hit all three of the Idaho temples this past week.  Amanda had never been to any of them.  We have now hit all three Idaho and 11 Utah temples.  Before year end, we will have three more in that geography alone to hit to make it complete once again.  I am very sad I will be in Oklahoma City when the dedication of the Twin Falls Temple takes place.  Being so close to home, and wanting a temple closer for so long, now we get one and I cannot attend.  Amanda and I will be helping with the open house in July.  I guess that is some solace for missing the dedication.  I believe Idaho Falls and Manti are still my favorite temples.  The Rexburg Temple has so many gorgeous rooms.  However, for some reason I still prefer the sessions that are split up into all their sections.  Manti and Idaho Falls Temples both have you moving between all the rooms.  Manti has the pioneer value and beauty with a live session, but the simplicity of Idaho Falls with its rooms and movement make it a favorite.  Salt Lake certainly has the beauty but the place seems more like a zoo than a temple, especially in the summer with all the sealings.

This past week Amanda spent a day with me at work doing bench testing.  It was a beautiful day and we spent nearly all of it in Minidoka.  The Minidoka Longhorn Cafe and Whitesides Dairy was enjoyable for me.  The wastewater we play with is less than beautiful but it is part of life.  Whether we like it or not, we all have waste and somebody has to deal with it.  I thought Amanda was going to throw up at one point when we were doing some filteration.  She kept it down, luckily.  The day turned out well.  Except for the fact Amanda picked up a tick somewhere.  Not only did she pick him up, the tick dug in and started to sup near the middle of her calf.  She was not a happy camper when she discovered him.  A little polish remover and she backed right out.  Hope she got plenty to eat for the long stay in the septic tank.

For the first time in what must be at least 8 years since Grandma Ross passed away, all my siblings were back together.  Becky was coming through Southern Idaho so Scott organized a BBQ.  All five of us where there.  It was really quite a bit of fun and I enjoyed myself.  Even though we were never really close, I am glad we are still cordial and can enjoy ourselves when we get together.  Vicki, Dad’s first wife, was even there.  Dad and Jan were there as well.  Andra brought Brian and Daniel and little Daniel was certainly a favorite.

I know I have not been writing as much.  Despite more people reading the blog than ever before, I just don’t feel like I have much to write.  A couple of people want me to write more relevant things that would pertain to them, but how does one write interesting things for everyone?  Then, how does anyone write for someone else and keep their voice and soul into it?