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Posts from the ‘Travel Tips’ category

All Aboard for Amsterdam!

Along the Canals, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Living Along the Canals, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

We’ve left Brugge and made our way by train to Amsterdam! This is another city treasure built on millions of wooden pilings, that have held up for hundreds of years! The Royal Palace sits on 13,000 pilings, still solid after 350 years! The wood pilings hold up the buildings as long as it stays wet and is not exposed to air! Since WWII all new buildings have concrete pilings driven 60 feet deep through the first layer of sand, through more mud, and then a second layer of sand. Today’s biggest buildings sit on a foundation that goes down to 120 feet deep! So now that we know we won’t be sinking any time soon, let’s explore this beautiful city of canals, lined with trees and gabled townhouses.

The Icons of Holland: Windmills, wooden shoes and tulips.

The word “Netherlands” means lowland. In medieval times, the inhabitants of the lowland along the Amstel River built a system of dikes to protect their land from flooding. Amsterdam sits like a fan spread out with four surrounding canal rings. There are more canals in Amsterdam than Venice! The icon Dutch windmills were built to to harness energy to lift the water up out of enclosed areas and divert it into the canals and drain the land. They grew hardy plants that removed the salt from the soil, slowly turning mushy marshes into fertile farmland. Later the windmills were used to turn stone wheels to grind their grain.

Why do the dutch wear wooden shoes (Klompen)? Wooden shoes allowed farmers to walk across soggy fields and were easy to find if they came off in high water, because they float!

In the 1630’s Holland was gripped with “tulip mania.” Tulips were native to Turkey, (tulip comes from the turkish word for turban.) The Holy Roman Emperor’s ambassador to Constantinople first sent bulbs westward in the mid-1500’s. The harsh soil conditions of Holland turned out to be ideal for growing tulips. Financial speculators invested wildly in these rare plants, growing and selling exotic varieties. You could buy a house with just three tulip bulbs! Later, during WWII when the people of Amsterdam were starving, they dug up and ate tulip bulbs. Dutch people are known to be among the world’s most handsome people— tall, healthy and with very good posture. Like a tulip! Tulip anyone? Now let’s explore Amsterdam! It’s another great city to get to know on foot!

A Restaurant Along the Canals, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

A Restaurant Along the Canals, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Along the Canals, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Along the Canals, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

There are 765,000 people in Amsterdam and just as many bikes! Everyone rides a bike here.  Be very careful, look in all directions when crossing a lane!

Yikes, Bikes, in Amsterdam!

Yikes, Bikes, in Amsterdam!

Bikes Everywhere!

Bikes Everywhere!

Bike Seat to Sit On!

Bike Seat to Sit On or Chain your Bike To!

Riding, Riding! Everyone is  On a Bike!

Riding, Riding! Everyone is On a Bike!

Riding, Riding!

Riding, Riding!

This is Why One Rides a Bike Here! Pedestrian Only Here!

This is Why One Rides a Bike Here! 

Cozy Amsterdam! More Bikes!

Cozy Amsterdam! More Bikes!

The buildings do shift a little, all leaning on each other!

The Very Early Morning Biker!

 Very Early Morning ! The Bikes are at Rest!

A Cosy Outdoor Cafe, Lots to Pick From, Amsterdam

A Cosy Outdoor Cafe, Amsterdam

If you are very persistent and really must have a car, how about these?  Such contrast!

Vintage Wheels!

Vintage Wheels!

Or Electric Car!

Or Electric Car!

Or maybe this is your ride?

The Red Truck, Amsterdam

The Red Truck, Amsterdam

Or this?

Or Just Go Afloat!

 Just Go Afloat!

Boat Tours, Amsterdam

Boat Tours, Amsterdam

Along Another Canal, Amsterdam!

Along Another Canal, Amsterdam!

Along the Walk in Amsterdam!

Along the Walk in Amsterdam!

Calla and Tulip Stalls in Amsterdam!

Calla and Tulip Stalls in Amsterdam!

Please Don't Water the Plants!

Dogs, Please Don’t Water the Plants!

This Girl Should Have Taken a Bike!

This Girl Is Very Tired! Get a Bike!

For our stay in Amsterdam we loved the Maes B&B. We had a bedroom, living room, and a fantastic bathroom! Very close to everything and located in one of the gabled townhouses, it was a delight to see what one of these buildings looks like on the inside! Every morning we were treated to a hearty, home made, cooked breakfast, with the staff meeting our every need. It was a great stay in Amsterdam! Check it out here, Maes B&B.

Home Away from Home, Maes B&B, Amsterdam

Home Away from Home, Maes B&B, Amsterdam

Our Room, Maes B&B, Amsterdam

Our Room, Maes B&B, Amsterdam

Our Room, Maes B&B, Amsterdam

The Bedroom Room, Maes B&B, Amsterdam

Our Room, Maes B&B, Amsterdam

Sparkling Clean, Modern Bathoom, Maes B&B, Amsterdam

Enjoy Amsterdam!

Beautiful and Tropical? Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Beautiful and Tropical? Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Cady Luck Leedy’s Tuesday Travel Tips

Tip # 1 

The Knee Bone is Connected to the Thigh Bone. The Thigh Bone is Connected to a Headache.

Bellagio,Italy

Bellagio, Italy

I really want to talk about luggage here. See all the steps?  What if you had to go from a) the bottom of that tiny stoned stairway to  b) the top where your lodging is? Would you want  to drag a large overgrown bear with you? Or better yet, could you carry that bear over your shoulders?  Now let’s also throw in, it’s hot outside, you are tired and you are not even sure if this is the right stairway to heaven.  Get the picture?  Less is more. You can’t take it all with you. Italy, France, Turkey, Germany, (you fill in the blank) like any other place has stores.  AND carrying too much will give you a headache to  boot.

So you say you will rent a car?  Well you still have to get from the airline terminal to the rental car agency.  Sometimes in order to get there this will include stairs, tiny narrow escalators, long tunnels with more stairs at the end, or a combination of all of them.  How much does that suitcase weigh?  What about the Borse, how heavy are they?  (See the next post about the Borse family)  Some of the most beautiful villages in Italy are all uphill.  Even downhill feels uphill to me.  Be prepared to pull or carry. Light.

Varenna, Italy

Varenna, Italy

Once after landing at the Florence, Italy airport I made my way to the car rental area and found myself in line behind a group of two men and three women, who were traveling together.  Now I could sense this was going to be trouble from the get-go because the women were telling the men, in detail, what to do.   One gentleman filled out all the paperwork, as instructed by the ladies and when the agent thought they were through and handing over the papers, the women decided the other gent should be added as a driver as well. Back to the beginning. I stood in line for over an hour and the line behind me got longer and longer.
“Hellooooo, my knee was saying. Why are we standing still for such a long time?”   When it was my turn it took ten minutes and out the door I went.  Note:  Make all your car reservations at home and it will save you time and trouble.  When I got outside I found my car parked right behind The Group and watched in awe as they tried to get fifteen pieces of luggage into a mid-sized sedan.  Big luggage. They tried every which way under the sun, again at the direction of the ladies, and finally decided that the two large cases would have to go in the back seat of the car and the three women would sit on top of them.  Bent over.  Noses touching the seat in front of them.  Those poor men!  I hoped they didn’t have to go very far!  How would they be when they arrived at their destination?  I did not want to know.

I like to take the train most of the time.  The trains that are “Mind the Gap” are easily accessible, just step from a platform over a small open space and you are easily on. Prince Charming is never around when you need him.  Some trains in Italy are small.  The trains in Italy may look like this:  1. Narrow entrance to get on and off .  2.  Three or more giant steps that you must be prepared to hoist your luggage to and then yourself.  For me it is luggage first than me.  3. Trains are on time (well Italian time) so you have to get a move on when the train comes to a halt. 4.  Be prepared for the entrance to be crammed with people who do not want to move to a seat.  Picture this. I was taking a train from the Zurich Airport by way of the local train. I had to take a train to get to another train. The train stopped, the door opened and all I saw were faces and piled high luggage.  I quickly assessed the situation. The train was ready to depart  so up went my case and I scrambled on behind it. Nobody moved. We were eyeball to eyeball with my suitcase squeezed between us. I couldn’t even turn around to face the door and just hoped my fanny would not get caught in it when it closed.  I looked up and read the sign. Do not lean on the door.  Luckily, I only had one stop to go before we all poured out.

Menaggio, Italy

Menaggio, Italy

Sometimes after you reach your destination in paradise there are stairs just waiting to greet you.  So you have a room booked on the first floor?  Well that will be the second floor in Europe. Most hotels do not have an elevator or if they do it is tiny,  not room enough for you AND a large suitcase.   You must be able to carry your luggage up the stairs. By the time you get there heavy luggage will make your knees weak, your legs screaming, your back aching, and give you a killer headache.  You will need a drink!  Or two, but won’t want to walk back down those stairs!

So what kind of luggage do I travel with? One on wheels, durable, but light weight.  It measures 16X23 inches and has an easy to recognize name tag

My new best friend

My new best friend

and strong pull out handle to slip on Papa Borsa because he doesn’t like to be carried.  Remember that your luggage does not like cobblestones, so it must have a durable handle that can lift it to carry and will not break easily.  My favorite accessory is the luggage scale.  Don’t leave home without it. You don’t want to get to the airport upon departure to have the smiling attendant say your ticket is now @$$%%^^^%#$$$$ because it is overweight.  You will be directed to another line to take stuff out or re-arrange it. Re-arrange it to what?  Use that scale beforehand and know how much the suitcase weighs.  Practice walking with your suitcase full. Go up and down your stairs at home carrying it.  Can you do it?  Remember the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone and the thigh bone is connected to the back bone.  All the way to your head.  Save yourself a headache.  Travel light. Now let’s get down the stairs!  How about these?

Stairs in B&B, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Stairs in B&B, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Next….. what do I pack and how do I pack it?

Triple Treat in Belgium

Damme, Belgium

Along the Canal at Damme, Belgium

Doesn’t the picture above just convey what you dreamed the Netherlands would look like? It does to me and I was not disappointed! Today we are having a triple treat! We are taking the “Triple Treat Bus Tour,” offered by Quasimodo Tours. The day is overcast with occasional wind gusts and blowing rain, but nothing dampens our tour out into the countryside of Brugge. The Triple Treat Tour  features several country homes, the village of Damme, the oldest gothic buildings in Flanders at the former monastery at Ter Doest, where we will have lunch, a tour of a chocolate factory, and last stop, a beer brewery! We are in for a day of fun which started when the  Quasimodo Guides picked us up at our B&B and took us to the bus waiting for us in the town square.

The bus takes us out into “Burbs” of Brugge. Then down this narrow lane and deep into the wood, passing the grazing cows we come to the moated castle of Tillegem.

Through the Woods and Down a Narrow Lane!

Through the Woods and Down a Narrow Lane!

The Cows in the Country at Tillegem, Belgium

The Cows in the Country at Tillegem, Belgium

Had to take a picture of the cows! And now for the Castle of Tillegem! Baldwin, the Iron Arm, first count of Flanders, constructed a wooden tower surrounded by battlements where the castle now stands.  Since 1980 the castle and beautiful park has been the property of the province of West Flanders.  I had to take a picture of the castle from every angle!  The castle is not open to visitors.

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

The Moated Castle of Tillegem, Belgium

Next we drove to the neo-gothic Chateau of Loppem, full of artwork and other treasures! Built between 1859 and 1862 for Baron Charles Van Caloen and his family, the castle’s original architecture and interior decoration is remarkably well preserved.  The park and castle are owned by the Jean van Caloen Foundation and is open to the public. I took so many pictures inside here, but they were dark, fuzzy and not too good.  Trust me when I say this home was a delight to see.

Chateau of Loppem, Belgium

Chateau of Loppem, Belgium

Chateau of Loppem, Belgium

Chateau of Loppem, Belgium

It’s now pouring and really gusty as we get to Ter Doest!

Lambert, Lord of Lissewege, donated land to the Benedictus friers in 1106, to build a priory. In 1270 the Benedictines left and the Cistercienzers Order, who had ties to the Templer Knights, took over. In 1172, Richard, the Lionheart, one of my relatives, was captured by Leopold of Austria on his return from the Crusades. It is said that the abbot of Ter Doest paid the larger part of the ransom in order to get Richard out of prison. It is assumed he came to Ter Doest for a time after his release. He was in fact in Damme, where we are headed later today.

The gothic barn, built around 1280, is the largest remaining barn of its kind, and was used to store crops. In 1308 the barn and abbey were confiscated during protestant religious wars, so the farm we see today was built from the debris of the destroyed abbey. Today a lovely restaurant and B&B also sit on this site! Let’s go have lunch!

The Restaurant at Ter Doest, Belgium

The Restaurant at Ter Doest, Belgium

The Old Barn at Ter Doest, Belgium

The Old Barn and ArtWork at Ter Doest, Belgium

Artwork at Ter Doest, Belgium

Artwork at Ter Doest, Belgium

After our great lunch at Ter Doest, we made our way to Damme.  Situated right along the river Reie, the river has now been canalized into the long , straight, tree-lined and picturesque Damse Vaart Canal from Brugge, just 6 kilometers away, to the Dutch border in Sluis. This makes a great bike trip from the city. Even though it was raining and windy there were bikers doing just that!  We all met up in Damme! What exquisite scenery!

Picure Perfect Along the Canal in Damme, Belgium

Picture Perfect Along the Canal in Damme, Belgium

A Windmill Along the Canal in Damme, Belgium

A Windmill Along the Canal in Damme, Belgium

The town is a favorite venue for eating and a destination for boat trips. It is also known for being a great “book town” with numerous bookshops and regular book fairs! Just so nice to explore too!

The Village of Damme, Belgium

The Village of Damme, Belgium

The Village of Damme, Belgium

The Village of Damme, Belgium

Wrought Iron Sculptured Art in Domme, Belgium

Wrought Iron Sculptured Art in Damme, Belgium

Our next stop was the tour of a Belgium Chocolate factory, but sad to say I was addicted to the Dumon’s Chocolates, and wanted to wait it out until evening to stock up on my favorites. Finally, our last stop back in Brugge, was The Fort Lapin Brewery. There was a variety of Belgium Beers to taste (included in price of tour) but my hand must have been busy holding those pints because I didn’t get any pictures! What a fabulous tour! Be sure to check Quasimodo Tours in Belgium.  Enjoy!

The Begijnhof of Brugge, Belgium

The Meadow Woods of the Begijhof

The Meadow Woods of the Begijnhof

Before 1240 a community of pious women settled in an area of south  Brugge in a low- lying meadow or vineyard. These lay women called Beguines, spent their lives in piety and service without taking the vows that a nun would. Due to war and military fatalities there were more women than men in the medieval low lying countries. The order of Beguines offered women (often single or widowed) a dignified place to live and work.  When the order died out many towns took over the begijnhofs for subsidized housing. Believe me when I say you could be so lucky to live in one of the small subsidized cottages of the Begijnhof of Brugge. Today we are strolling from the town square through the curved portals of buildings delving further and further into the neighborhoods of Brugge. 

Walk Past the Little Market on the Way to the Begijhof

Walk Past the Little Market on the Way to the Begijnhof

I Loved These Trees Along our Walk!

I Loved These Trees Along our Walk!

Beautiful Pots of Hostas Along the Way!

Beautiful Pots of Hostas at the Pink House!

Tiny Statuaries Everywhere Along Our Path

Tiny Statuaries Everywhere Along Our Path

Statuaries in Tiny Courtyards

Headless Statuaries in Tiny Courtyards Along the Way

We get further from the town center! I feel like I’m in the country!

Picturesque Church in Brugge, Belgium

Walking Along Canal to Begijnhof in Brugge, Belgium

A Stroll to Reach the Begijnhof, Brugge, Belgium

A Neigborhood Stroll to Reach the Begijnhof, Brugge, Belgium

We pass over the three-arched stone bridge, the Wijngaard Bridge,  to the main gated entrance. Here is a large beautiful meadow and a complex of thirty white stoned gothic buildings dating from the 16th through the 18th centuries, built around a central yard.

An Image of the Holy Elizabeth of Hungary, Patron Saint of the Beguinages

An Image of the Holy Elizabeth of Hungary, Patron Saint of the Beguinages

The Gardens in Begijnhof

The Gardens in Begijnhof

Garden Courtyards of the Begijnhof

Garden Courtyards of the Begijnhof

Beautiful Artwork for Meditation and Prayer in the Begijnhof

Beautiful Artwork for Meditation and Prayer in the Begijnhof

The Retirement Homes in Begijnhof

The Retirement Homes in Begijnhof

Aren’t these just the cutest places to live?

The Houses of Begijnhof

The Houses of Begijnhof

Just follow the garden paths!

Beautiful Gardens to See, Begijnhof

Beautiful Gardens to See, Begijnhof

A Woman Calls to Us From Her Rooftop Sanctuary, Begijnhof, Brugge

A Woman Calls to Us From Her Rooftop Sanctuary, Begijnhof, Brugge

Notice the sweet little heart above her head? Another memorable day in Brugge! I hope you enjoyed our walk through the Begijnhof!

Another Church Along Our Walk in Brugge

Our Final Church Along Our Walk Home in Brugge

The Best Bits of Eats in Brugge, Belgium

 

Our Morning Stroll Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

Our Morning Stroll Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

One of the best experiences when traveling is finding the neighborhood eateries off the beaten path. We like to eat in the neighborhoods we lodge in. It is the best way to meet the locals and enjoy the sit-down-and-focus-on-your-new-friend experience. In our neighborhood, near the B&B Gastenhuis Sint-Andriescruyse, we found two pubs/cafes that we enjoyed very much for their ambiance, simple meals and world-class beers.

First let’s take our morning stroll in the neighborhood!

Our Daily Walk Along the Canal, Brugge, Belgium

Our Daily Walk Along the Canal, Brugge, Belgium

The Cafe Terrastje was just the cozy-pub-spot where you could enjoy a meal or drink inside or outside at the terrace overlooking the canal. Isn’t this the quaintest of buildings?  Who could resist coming in here?

Cafe Terrastje, Brugge, Belgium

Cafe Terrastje, Brugge, Belgium

Herberg Vlissinghe was another pub close by and the oldest pub in town, dating 1515. It has the best old-time tavern feel and the garden for outside dining comes with a boules court. Both of these small pubs served the best simple, but delicious meals.

Herberg Vlissinghe, Brugge, Belgium

Herberg Vlissinghe, Brugge, Belgium

Let’s get back to our walk through Brugge. I just love strolling among the quiet streets and homes! There are always spots of color and flowers tucked in everywhere! So many different textures and styles to admire!

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

I loved this little green door! It must be a girl’s house!

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

As we reached the town center it’s time for a bathroom break. These were the beautifully sculptured, flowering bushes, that were designed to create one long rolling WAVE! Absolutely delightful and right in front of the public restrooms!

The Rolling Wave Flowering Bush, Brugge, Belgium

The Rolling Wave Flowering Bush, Brugge, Belgium

The Artwork in Brugge, Belgium

The Green Lanterns,  Artwork in Brugge, Belgium

The Mermaid, Brugge, Belgium

The Mermaid, Brugge, Belgium

The Sidewalk Cafe, Brugge, Belgium

The Sidewalk Cafe, Brugge, Belgium

Strolling in Brugge, Belgium

Strolling in Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Time for a chocolate break! Dumon Chocolate was our daily pick for treats! Madame Dumon and her children greet you in her tiny, always packed, chocolate shop. They make their chocolates daily and describe their chocolates in person, no labels here! We always left with a little box of assorted out-of-this-world flavors!

Dumons Chocolate Shop, Brugge, Belgium

Dumons Chocolate Shop, Brugge, Belgium

Our favorite restaurant in Old Town was without question, The Flemish Pot. The ambiance of red-cloth table covers and potted flowers everywhere just made you relax and set the mood to truly enjoy your meal. We enjoyed the local recipe for the beef stew pot!

The Flemish Pot, Brugge, Belgium

The Flemish Pot, Brugge, Belgium

I could live in that tiny room at the top!

Another Look at the Flemish Pot, Brugge, Belgium

Another Look at the Flemish Pot, Brugge, Belgium

Artwork Everywhere, Brugge, Belgium

Artwork Everywhere, Brugge, Belgium

A riot of color and texture everywhere!

Close Up of Shop Window, Brugge, Belgium

Close Up of Shop Window, Brugge, Belgium

Quiet Morning Street, Brugge, Belgium

Quiet Morning Street, Brugge, Belgium

Near City Hall, Brugge, Belgium

Near City Hall, Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

One of the Churches in Brugge, Belgium

One of the Churches in Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Strolling Through Brugge, Belgium

Well we’ve made the rounds for today!  Back to the neighborhood pubs! Enjoy your day in Brugge!

Town Square, Brugge, Belgium

Town Square, Brugge, Belgium

The Best Bits of Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canal, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canal, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canal, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canal, Brugge, Belgium

It’s a beautiful day for a walk through Brugge!   We’re starting out from the Huis Sint-Andriescruyse , a traditional gabled B&B in the old town of Brugge.  Situated right along the canal the house is in the long, narrow, dutch design, with the steep, curvy, staircase to the upper rooms overlooking the garden. Our hosts, Luc and Christiane, made us most welcome to their home and I loved being able to lodge inside one of these distinctive homes.  Out the door, just walking along the canal, I was quite content! History abounds in the WWI Flanders Fields nearby and the monuments are easily reachable by car or bus tours from Brugge. I have written extensive posts on these cemeteries and tours so check those out too. But, today we are out for a lovely walk through town. I enjoyed the canals, architecture, gardens, pubs and restaurants! First, we will stroll along the canal. As usual be sure to look up! You don’t want to miss anything! Enjoy!

THE STAIRS in a Traditional Dutch Gable , Brugge Belgium

THE STAIRS in a Traditional Dutch Gable, Brugge, Belgium

The Bear is Huge! What a welcome for guests!

The Canals in Bruge, Belgium

The Canals in Brugge, Belgium

Crow Stepped Gabled House, Brugge, Belgium

Crow Stepped Gabled House, Brugge, Belgium

Crow Stepped Gabled House, Brugge, Belgium

Crow Stepped Gabled House, Brugge, Belgium

Crow-stepped gabled houses are staircase designed projections above roof lines used as decoration and an easy way to finish off the brick of the house. This extensive architecture was quite common in medieval Belgium. Most of the homes in the Old Town are of this design. I like the artwork at the tippy tops!

Canal Walk of Brugge, Belgium

Canal Walk of Brugge, Belgium

Brugge Architecture

Brugge Architecture Along the Canal

Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

Picture Perfect Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

 

Canal Running Right Through the Middle of the Old Town, Brugge, Belgium

Canal Running Right Through the Middle of the Old Town, Brugge, Belgium

Look Up and in Between Walls!

Look Up and in Between Walls!

This Home is Mapped Out on the Wall

This Home is Mapped Out on the Wall

The Artist Studio, Brugge, Belgium

The Artist Studio, Brugge, Belgium

Old Lanterns, Brugge, Belgium

Old Lantern, Brugge, Belgium

Iron Works, Brugge, Belgium

Iron Works, Brugge, Belgium

Iron Works, Brugge, Belgium

Iron Works, Brugge, Belgium

The Swann Hotel, Brugge, Belgium

The Swann Hotel, Brugge, Belgium

The Gardens Along the Canal, Brugge, Belgium

The Gardens Along the Canal, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

Right Under the House, Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

What a Lovely Garden Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

Along the Canals, Brugge, Belgium

The Swans Aswimming in Bruge, Belgium

The Swans Aswimming in Brugge, Belgium

Tomorrow we will go in a different direction through Old Town.  See you there!

How to Save for a Vaca; Is Winter Over Yet?

I'm Ready for Spring

I’m Ready for Spring

What happened to January and February? I do know that one thing leads to another, so maybe it is better to never start projects! Have you noticed all the hype to clean out this and clean out that? Well I did and January seemed like a good time to dig in and organize. So I started in my cupboards, taking out everything and labeling and dating everything that went in new. I discovered I had a salt container dated 1989! It looked brand new! Does salt go bad? Well out it went anyway. There were 4 opened bottles of olive oil. How old were they? Which one had I used last?  Out they went. I had bags of assorted opened flours. How old were they? They all went.  Now to re-stock. I did not realize how many different salts are now available. Dozens and dozens of salt. I went with the smallest container of free flowing salt and big flake sea salt. One bottle of Italian olive oil is now dated and ready for use. All flour is labeled and placed together on the shelf. I thought I was done cleaning, sorting, and labeling.

Then I got an email asking about one of my ancestors. When I looked up the name in my genealogy files I noticed there were lots of new “leaves” on the site. So I jumped in to update the files with pictures, stories, and obituaries. I added well over 1000 names and many, many documents. Well that’s done for awhile. It is a fun and never ending project.

Then I decided to accept a challenge to clean out  my freezers and use up the food there; clean out the freezer and re-stock when food was on sale. This is when I hit pay day.  I went a month just using up food in my freezer. I had meat, vegetables, stocks, desserts, bread! More flour!   At least it was labeled! So I put aside the grocery money and I now have enough for a small  getaway vacation! Whala!  So winter is almost over for us. My cupboards, files, and freezer are spic and span. And I’m ready for spring! Let’s go to Brugges, Belgium and Amsterdam and see the tulips! Won’t you follow me into SPRING? Enjoy!

Photography 101: Day 4, Bliss

Bliss to me is Adventure! Whether it be by foot, boat or bike, make life the adventure! Here is a photo of Amsterdam, a great place to boat, bike, or walk!  Watch out for the bikes!

Photography 101: Bliss by Boat, Bike or Hike! Love the Adventure!

Photography 101: Bliss by Boat, Bike or Hike! Love the Adventure!

Bikes in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Bikes in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The Boat Tour of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, Istanbul, Turkey

On the Boat Tour, Istanbul, Turkey

On the Boat Tour, Istanbul, Turkey

We are out on the boat tour on the third part of the Bosphorus and Golden Horn Tours! It is a beautiful day to sit in the sun and enjoy the ride!  Take your sun lotion! I named the spots that I knew and the rest of the time I was gabbing with my new Australian friends! It is a good way to see all the old and new in Istanbul, eyeing the beautiful homes and palaces along the shore. They certainly love their yachts! Enjoy!

The Start of the Tour at the Docks, Istanbul, Turkey

The Start of the Tour at the Docks, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Restaurant Lined The Galata Bridge, Isanbul, Turkey

Restaurant Lined Galata Bridge, Istanbul, Turkey

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey

Galata Tower, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cruise Ships Have Landed!, Istanbul, Turkey

The Cruise Ships Have Landed!, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Beautiful Homes Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

Beautiful Homes Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

More Yachts, Istanbul, Turkey

More Yachts, Istanbul, Turkey

The Yachts Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

The Yachts Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ducks, Istanbul, Turkey

The Ducks, Istanbul, Turkey

Private Yachts are All Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

More Boats are All Along the Shore, Istanbul, Turkey

Rumeli Castles (1452), Istanbul, Turkey

Rumeli Castles (1452), Istanbul, Turkey

Baylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Baylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Kuleli Military School, Istanbul, Turkey

Kuleli Military School, Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Ciragan Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

 Istanbul, Turkey

Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul, Turkey

Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Part 2,  of the “My Best Tip of Istanbul, Turkey” post continues. We are walking  from Pierre Loti Hill down through the Eyüp Cemetery to the boat docked at the pier, that will take us around the Golden Horn. Our tour guide from the Blue Brothers Tours tells us interesting facts and stories about the cemetery and the grave markers.  This is what I learned.

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery is the most sacred cemetery in Istanbul. The mosque was erected by Mehmet the Conqueror, over the tomb of Halid bin Zeyd Ebu Eyyüp, known as Sultan Eyüp, the standard bearer for the prophet Mohammed, also the last survivor of his inner circle of trusted friends.  Sultan Eyüp, while serving as a commander of the Arab forces during the siege of 688 to 659 was killed and buried on the outskirts of Istanbul. One of the conditions of peace, after the Arab siege, was that the tomb of Eyüp be preserved. A little village of tombs blossomed on the site by those seeking Sultan Eyüp’s intervention in the hereafter, and it is still considered a privilege to be buried in the nearby cemeteries. Today it costs more than $50,000 to be buried here. To most people in Turkey that is equivalent to buying a home.

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The tombstones reveal a lot about the people buried beneath them. The older grave markers, those before 1829, are long narrow markers with tops shaped like a turban for the men. The turban represents a pasha; a high ranking person of the Ottoman Empire or a prominent military man, or the turban of a Dervish order. The green painted turbans represent the burial of an Imam. After 1929, the fez shaped hat replaced the pasha turban on the grave markers. The tombstones shaped like a sword represent a soldier.

The Turbans, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Turbans, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Imam, The Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Soldier Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The Soldier, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

The older tombstone markings were written in Arabic. After WWI, when the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new states, and following the Turkish War of Independence, (1919-1922) Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, established the Republic of Turkey, with himself as its first president. The Arabic language was out and the Turkish language was designated the official language. This caused a great deal of confusion in Turkey because for several generations the older people spoke Arabic while the children learned Turkish in schools.

For women, the top of the grave marker can be a tiara, noting a princess, or a head-dress represented by flowers, most often the rose. The number of roses depicts how many children the woman had and the opened rose means the child was still living at the time of her death and if the rose is closed, a child has preceded her in death.

A Woman's Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

A Woman’s Marker, Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

At one spot in the cemetery are two markers for two women separated my an empty hole between them. The guide tells the story of two wives of one man. Muslims are allowed four wives. Well in this situation there was the older wife and the much younger wife and all the headaches that could possibly be created between the two women. One day the women decided to end the bickering and their unhappiness by killing the husband. The two women were hung for their crime, and buried in the cemetery plots that their husband had provided for them. However, since it is shameful in Muslim culture to be killed by a woman, the husband was not allowed to be buried there, hence the hole.

Two Women, No Man, Eyüp Cemetery, Isatnbul, Turkey

Two Women, No Man, Eyüp Cemetery, Isatnbul, Turkey

 Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Eyüp Cemetery, Istanbul, Turkey

Also, it is popular to have written messages from the deceased placed on the tombstone. Here are some that have been translated.

Stopping his ears with his fingers Judge Mehmut died off from the beautiful world, leaving his wife’s cackling and his mother in law’s gabbing.

O passers by spare me your prayers, but please don’t steal my tombstone.

I could have died as well without a doctor than with that quack that my friends set upon me.

Enjoy!  We are now approaching the boat! Stay tuned for more!

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