When I was younger, I was very fortunate to do a lot of world traveling. I had the benefit of a high school which promoted travel and organized annual trips to Europe and the Far East. Then, in college, I took advantage of every opportunity to travel with friends, one of whom had a family home in a little town in Provence where we went almost every summer to wander around Southern France drinking Rose and flirting shamelessly in horrendously broken French. I also did a semester abroad at Oxford and used that as a springboard for even more travel around the UK, Ireland, France and Spain. Just after graduation from college, my father, stepmother, brother and I went to China along with my stepmother's parents and our very dear family friends, Bob and Fernando.
When I "grew-up," I continued to travel as much as I could possibly afford to and I eventually got a job writing and producing corporate videos, which sent me on more overseas trips than I can count, one of which was actually a true "around the world" adventure-- 9 cities in 17 days; we went from China to India to multiple stops in Europe to Baltimore and back to California.
With all this travel and all the exposure I was so very, very lucky to have, there was a quiet and deeply emotional sentiment that I carried with me; my mother and my stepfather had never been outside of the United States of America. And as much as they may have thought (and still might) that all I was thinking about was my own selfish enrichment, I never stopped thinking about how much I wanted to change that fact. It was not something I could have easily done at any point in my life before now (in spite of the rather glamorous story I am currently telling, I was always squeaking by with absolutely nothing left to spare). So, every time I have been in a brand new foreign city, looking at some incredible landmark or piece of artwork that can only be seen in that place, I think to myself how much I wish they both could be seeing it with me. I vowed many years ago, that someday, I would make it happen and they would see at least some of the incredibly beautiful and interesting things I have seen outside of the continental USA.
Well, just over two weeks ago, half of my dream came true. As some of you might know from previous posts and from knowing me, my mother is much too ill to make the journey from New Jersey to Belgium. But my wonderful, amazing stepfather and dear friend, Elliott Lewis is not! And he came, thanks to the many miles Stefan accumulated from business travel in his last job. He came for 5 days (a short trip for some, but the absolute maximum amount of time he could bear to be away and that my mother could survive without him).
We had a wonderful time. It was a brilliant combination of much-needed family time and adventures around Belgium. In addition to some local sightseeing within Brussels, we went to Bruges and to Ghent, both of which were beyond beautiful and exceeded all expectations. People have said many times that Bruges is so beautiful, picturesque and clean that it feels like a movie set. It really does. When you close your eyes and imagine what an ancient European city should look like- Bruges is it. If you find yourself in Belgium and you've not been to Bruges, you absolutely must go. It's gorgeous. Ghent is also outstanding and it has one thing over Bruges-- it doesn't seem to have the emphasis on tourism that Bruges has, so it's a little more authentic in that way. Go there too. It's totally awesome and I can't wait to go back. To shop, to eat, to meander around giant, monolithic temples to medieval torture (those ancient "Belgians" were sadistic bastards, btw).
Anyway, having my stepfather here was a much needed dose of family love and I am so glad we were able to make it happen. The only thing better than realizing that longtime dream of showing him the world, was actually having him here.
On that note, here are some pictures from our adventures (taken with a real camera, not my blackberry, Eve ;) ):
My super-awesome Stepdad, skipping around Bruges:
The gals just kickin' it in one of the oldest operational Town Halls in all of Europe:
The View from the Belfry in Bruges (ever see the movie, "In Bruges"?:
My super-duper little family, of which I couldn't be any prouder!:
A funny picture of Adela that has nothing at all to do with my Stepfather's visit, Bruges, OR Ghent, but I that I thought was worth sharing:
Again with This
4 weeks ago