Monday, January 18, 2010

The Trouble With Travel...

It's not that I have any regrets about traveling. Truly. La Paz, BC, 1987, may be the only regrettable trip we've ever made and yet it recalls priceless memories. Heat, hunger, illness, flood, boredom, and *"Rosa Salvaje."

No, mostly travel has never been regrettable, and yet it is not without its risks. The trouble with travel is that sooner or later I have to go home, and eventually when I think on my experiences, the new things I discovered and tried, it will stir feelings and desires. And there is nothing to quell the stirrings, the antojo, except more travel, to return... It may be true :: Un poquito de lo que te antoje te hace sentir bien, but having a little bit of Europe is not as easy as I wish it could be. Oh, those cruel cravings.

Maybe because it is breakfast time and I am hungry, I am missing dinner in Bruxelles.

Salad at T Kelderke, Grand Place.
Fruit and nuts and a toasted cheese over a bed of fresh greens.
I miss salad at T Kelderke.

I almost skipped this one, because thinking of it really makes me want to insist to Geoff that we go back. Now. How else to satisfy the rumbling ache of desire? Okay. If you get to go to Bruxelles consider sitting for a slow dinner. Never mind the slow part... bring a book or just sip your beer and gaze at the crowds in the Grand Place. Just be sure that you order this soup. It is so good. So good. It's all about warmth and cheese and stuff... whatever. I don't need to take it all apart. Whatever they put in there works. Geoff and I shared a bowl the first time and we managed to be dignified, but the second and third time we definitely ordered two bowls.
I miss this soup.

I miss this beer.
Stunning. I am not a big drinker. For one thing it does not take a big drink to effect affect me, and otherwise few alcoholic drinks really hold my interest. My brother Hans said good things about Belgium beer, and I have found him to be a dependable guy, so I made a point of ordering beer our first night in Bruxelles. Maybe it's being on vacation, sitting amidst beauty and history, and next to my sweetheart, maybe I was super thirsty... or maybe Belgians really make awesome beer. Whatever. I drank two Grimbergens that night. I miss this beer. Solely for scientific purposes, of course, I would like to research this point, to better understand the deliciousness and thirst quenching satisfaction of this particular beverage.

Moving on.

I miss slow dinners. The T Kelderke easily takes the prize for slowest service in Europe. Oh. So. Slow. And yet... oh, so good. So, who cares? The waitstaff looks indifferent? C'est la vie. No one comes to take our order? That's fine. We can outlast them. It's worth it. And initially it does feel like some kind of contest: Our will and patience vs. their neglectfulness. But eventually we learn to go with it, relax, sit back. Bring out a book, start a conversation or several conversations. Make new friends. Organize the backpack. Scroll through pictures in the camera. Sip another Grimbergen. It gets so mellow and... and ... what's that word? Relaxed. Yes, I missed relaxed, slow, delicious dinners, with cranky waiters.

I miss Belgium. Even the waiters.

I miss red geraniums. And flower boxes. And Paris. There were red geraniums all over Europe and flower boxes too. I noticed flowers everywhere. We come from an area that prides itself on its flower heritage, but our town needs to step-up, because the flower gardens and borders and beds and windows and corners of Europe were more abundant and lovingly tended than any place I have ever seen. I miss the alpine flowers in Switzerland and the miles of sunflowers in France. And I miss the hundreds and hundreds of window boxes I saw, everywhere we went, overflowing with brilliant, red geraniums.

I miss this dancer. Well, not really. She's here, in the next room, and she still dances. All the time. Everywhere. It was so sweet and amusing to be in the Louvre, at the Eiffel Tower, in the Alps, on a train... anywhere and see Maria overcome by a song, a melody, a distant tune, and begin to dance. She cannot help herself. She dances all the time. Unless she is talking. Or drawing. Or making wishes about God sending ponies to her, over rainbows. So even when the Venus De Milo was in the room, I could not keep my eyes off of Maria.

I miss sailboats and Jardin des Tuileries, and Max's away smile. It started in Paris, and maybe that is because we had finally shaken our jet lag... Max started smiling. He works so hard during the school year, trying to exceed his own rigorous expectations of himself, that I think the vacation part of our vacation really did him a lot of good. I love that I have dozens of smiling Max pictures, more in those three weeks abroad than in a whole year of at-home-time photographs. It's an away smile, at ease and confident. He loves Paris, and Rabbit Hill, and he mastered all the metro systems and switching languages. He had a good handle on Euros, gladly calculating exchange rates for me. He was no chicken abroad. He excelled and exceeded all of my hopes for him.

Speaking of Rabbit Hill, I really miss the Netherlands and Landal GreenParks. I miss bunnies frolicking with bunny abandon. I miss the total rest and ease of feeling at home, while traveling aboard, that one can enjoy at Rabbit Hill.

I miss our cute little home and the fun modes of transport at our disposal. I miss the respect and space given to cyclists and pedestrians. Sure, I would love to see new places and have other adventures, but ooh... ooh, I could totally spend another week or two here again. Maybe like an annual thing, or every other year.

I would have no trouble at all convincing the children.

I miss the places we went, the things we did, the fun we had... I miss Europe. All of it.

Okay. Maybe not all of it.
But enough of it, that I would even face three weeks of doing this by hand, if we could go back. That's the trouble with traveling... it makes you miss a lot of stuff and then you gotta figure out how to go back. I did have my doubts, but that's okay. I like to keep it true.

*The World Wide Interwebs are amazing. After twenty three years with the theme song and basic narrative haunting the recesses of my cerebellum, there she is: Veronica Castro and the whole telenovela outline. Bill... hey brother, can you still sing the song? Want me to make you a Pinesol-lemon-lime margarita, hold the ice, so you can have total recall? Good times.


tara said...

Ooh, I wish I had that bike. I would ride everywhere.
My big trip this year is to farm Chicks in Washington and while I may not experience foreign lovliness (and some day I will) I hope to have a great time and eat my way up there. Great photos.
I think you need to find a sponsor and have you travel and write.

Natalie said...

I know... you can tell just from the picture that it is an awesome ride, right? We have so many hills and too much traffic for me to brave the roads here... but I would love to be riding around again, like we were on vacation.

Tell me more... is Farm Chicks a place in Washington or are you going to be farming chicks... either way, you have my total attention. Foreign loveliness was a special treat, but I will take a local road trip any day.

A sponsor? Wouldn't that be a lucky gig? wish-wish-wish

Dallas said...

Yum! I'm going to have to try that place. The soup looks delicious and perfect for the cold, wet, gray days we're having.

nikkipolani said...

A lovely way to revive your memories and tastebuds for all the food and fun of travel.

Frogdancer said...

Hey, count your blessings! At least you've been! All I can afford to do at the moment is go to Asia every couple of years.

But just wait till the kids have all finished high school and are off my hands..... five more years to wait and then I'll be there!!! Thanks for the pics... they fuel the desire to go.