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Lf. Luxembourg Cathedral

This is the third and final issue regarding cruising Europe. The pictures
in this version focus on Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Belgium fries are absolutely delicious.
The traditional mayonnaise really is a great touch.
Two Poems this Issue

Home for Christmas

Sentimental words uttered
...during a festive holiday season.
Ones that often
...bring a smile to one’s face.
Hidden within the phrase are
...so many images–
...festive, decorated homes;
...pine smell permeating the living room;
...an easy chair that is molded to your body;
...a place where you can be yourself;
...family gathered around the table;
...burning logs in the fireplace;
...laughter and love.

For some, these words are mere fantasies,
...only dreams that will never occur.
But my Christmas wish for each of you
...is that no matter where you are
...that you can be home for Christmas
...“if only in your dreams.”

Comments: I have been blessed throughout much of my life. I grew up in a loving, caring home with two wonderful parents and three loving sisters. When I think of returning home for Christmas, the thoughts given early in the poem are only pleasant ones. However, I realize that many in the world do not have such pleasant memories of home, hence, the twist at the end. But the ultimate purpose of this poem is to wish each of you great joy and happiness on this Christian holiday. (The poem was originally inspired by a sermon by Rev. Keith Stuart, Ph.D., First Congregational U.C.C., Mt. Vernon, OH.)

Nijmegen, the Netherland

As the Rhine widens,
...shipping increases.
The mountains and hills
...dissipate into the Lowlands.
Fog shrouds the water
...but hints of sun
...tempt one to hope.
Ahead, the ghost of a bridge
...appears into life.
To port,
...a cathedral spire
...pierces heavenward
...cutting through the whiteness.
Over the centuries
...this oldest Dutch city
...has suffered invasions and destruction,
...both by man and the raging waters of the Rhine.
In mere minutes,
...the ship docks,
...and the gangplank
...rests on cobblestones.
Another invasion begins
...as tourists step ashore
...with wallets ready.

Comments: We arrive in Nijmegen, the Netherlands around 9:30 a.m. The fog hangs over the Rhine and the city. As the day moves on, it clears. This city, especially the downtown area, received heavy bombing damage toward the end of WWII. The Allies mistook the city for a German one about 20 miles away. (No GPS existed then.) When the Dutch rebuilt the city, they chose to use modern architectural styles instead of copying historic ones to make the buildings appear old as was done in many European cities. Bikes are everywhere. Obviously, from the physical shapes of many of the Dutch, riding keeps them athletic looking despite the pastry shops and “real” whipped cream. We find that many speak English, which definitely helps this non-Dutch speaking American. Most of the Netherlands, including Nijmegen, face flooding threats from the sea and the rivers, in this case the Rhine. This ongoing battle with nature is an ingrained part of the Dutch psyche.

Modern downtown Nijmegen
Cheese shop in Nijmegen
Jeans on sale at $130 U.S. (I should have brought
a few pairs to finance the trip)
Johannes, our director, standing at one of the
city's floodgates
Downtown homes and apartments in Luxembourg
Home of the Duke of Luxembourg
Vignette: Part III: Remembering

One of the most enjoyable factors in taking a river cruise on a relatively small ship is meeting people who have traveled the far corners of the earth. There are so many opportunities to interact, share, and learn. River cruising should not be your choice if you prefer being a hermit. Serious and lighthearted discussions are part of the daily routine as you see and become immersed in new environments and the ever-changing vistas as you travel the rivers, in our case the Rhine and the Mosel. As the days pass, you begin to gravitate toward others with whom you share common interests. In our case there were eight of us who decided that we enjoyed each others company enough to share dinner nightly. Since the ship had open seating and since tables seating eight were limited, we devised intricate strategies to make sure that nightly we captured one of those cherished dining spots. Long dissertations occurred about how successful our plans were. Most of my tablemates have seen much of the world, so we entertained each other with stories. But I also learned other tidbits. Harley from Seattle explained about a relaxing method to fish and still enjoy a cold brew while watching the game. Talk about multi-tasking! His fishing line was set with an automatic trip line that would trigger a signal when a hit occurred. At the sound, he puts his beer down, leaves the camper easy chair, and hauls in the meal for the night. None of the traditional staring at the line and contemplating the hours away, which have been part of my fishing experiences over the years. Charley always needed to know the Kansas State or was it the University of Kansas football scores? His Sherlock Holmes sleuth, "yes, me," was asked to obtain those scores whenever I was able to obtain Internet access. Charley, Diane, and Linda were even talked into joining Jan and I for early morning tai chi at 6:30 a.m. Sadly, they only humored me for a day or so. Despite my Herculean efforts, Jane resisted my cajoling and only smiled when the others capitulated to the call of sleep. Ned, the historian, could become so involved in the history that time would sometimes get away from him. "Ned, the bus is leaving!"

None of the above are about great events or sights we saw. They are anecdotal stories about interactions between other human beings. Really, aren't they what much of life is about, our stories? They create our history and the people we become. Though we cherish the wondrous sights we see and the magnificent vistas, for many of us the interactions with others are the ones that cement the memories.

Scenes from Antwerp, Belgium
Girl scouts getting picture taken during a scavenger hunt
Belgian chocolate - incredible!
Antwerp - tavern with the red shutters sells 250 different Belgian beers out of the over 450 styles available
World famous for Belgium lace
One of the oldest buildings in Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Rain, rain, the Dutch are use to it. They claim that is why they, as a people, are so tall. The best I could do through
the downpour to capture some of the windmills of Willemstad, all built between 1738 & 1740 and operational today.

Square area of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, that survived the bombing

The Nijmegen Weighing House, built in 1612, where citizens brought their purchase
to make sure they weren't being cheated.
The guild halls downtown Antwerp, Belgium
Nicknamed the Antwerp Rubens Cathedral because of the larger number of Rubens displayed there.
The castle, once a protector of Antwerp, now a museum

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