Tuesday, August 18, 2015

An Unexpected Trip With the Graduate.

The Graduate.
A  couple of days ago, I spoke with my sister.  She was calling me to tell me that her youngest son, whom I often just call *Z*, will be traveling to NYC to visit his older brother who's attending grad school there.  After that, he will come to see me and his grandparents who live nearby me.  I only have two nephews and the welcome mat is always set out for them.  As I was chatting with her, the thought of doing a trip with Z immediately came to mind.  Last summer I had asked if he would be interested in doing a trip to Belgium and France and he was.  Unfortunately, other commitments arose and he couldn't go.  So, I decided to bring up the idea again.  My sister had no objections but she wanted me to run the idea by Z.

So, I did.   And, this time there is nothing standing in his way so as of the very wee morning hours of today (I was too excited to sleep so we chatted), we are going to France and Belgium!!  Such an unexpected but wonderful, surprise trip!

Bruges. "Rozenhoedkaai Brugge"
(Photo by © Hans Hillewaert. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons)
Since Z is a recent college graduate, I figured this would be a good opportunity for him to do a bit of traveling before he has to pursue whatever the next chapter of his life is.  Our trip will be short - just two weeks but it will be enough to see and experience quite a few things.

The last time I was in both countries was in 2006 and so while some things are familiar, a lot will not be.

This trip I plan for us to also visit Brussels as well as Bruges and Ghent.  I have to be honest - I don't remember a whole lot about Brussels and I know nothing about either Bruges or Ghent except from the images I've seen on the web so I will be as much of a tourist as Z will be.

Ghent.  (Photo by © Gregd1957. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons)
I'm going to read up on both places but unlike most trips where I do a LOT of research, I'm going to drill back this time so Z can participate.  I think he'll enjoy the trip much more if he's more vested in the effort to plan and figure things out.

The last week we'll be based in Paris and in addition to spending time in the city, my idea is that we do day trips outside the city.  The best thing about Europe is that distances between places is relatively short.  We can even do a trip to Luxembourg - it's only a 2 hour train ride away.


Père Lachaise cemetery.
Photo by © Peter Poradisch.  Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons)
I am undeniably a Francophile and Paris is one of my absolute favorite cities to visit.  I have been there more times than I can remember and was even fortunate enough to have a two week work assignment there.  I took every opportunity I could to explore the city.  Truth be known, I don't think will ever tire of visiting the City of Lights.  This time I will make sure that we go to some of the more off the beaten path places - most of which I've never been to like the Père Lachaise cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried.  I don't know how well Z will take to visiting a cemetery but I'm hoping he's open to the idea.  I only have two weeks to expand his horizons so I'm going to make the most of it!


The one thing that Z and I do have in common is our love of food.  He is a foodie and there are no two countries better to visit than these two.  I'm not even going to get started on all that is French and Belgian that I love to eat because if I do, I'm just going to be drooling all over my keyboard and that's not a good thing.  Let me do just say that in my humble opinion, Belgian chocolate is the best in the world and no other country can make more delicious use of flour, butter and sugar than the French.

So, two days ago, I had no idea I was going on this trip and now that I know, I can't wait to see Z and get on the plane!  In the meantime, I do have some reading to do!