Browsing Tag


Europe, Prep, Travel

2015 Travel Plans

January 6, 2015

IMG_0001Usually, I don’t plan travel to far in advance. Maybe about a month to six weeks out is the norm.  But this year is a bit different. My parents are going on a European trip with their church choir. I had half committed to meeting them somewhere, but I wasn’t sure where. (I half committed because I don’t like tour groups.) Then they said there was going to be an extension trip to Paris! I also learned they were going to bring my 10-year-old niece as well.  This would be her first time on a plane and overseas. I was sold! So in June, I will be joining my parents, my niece and who knows how many choir members in Paris. This must be the farthest out I have ever planned a trip on my own. However, there isn’t much for me to do as it is done with a tour company. I will be arriving a day before them because of the flight schedules and I also want to find places for us to eat.

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I also found out this Fall that there is an art exhibition in Venice I want to attend. It is the Biennale. This year it runs from May 9 – November 22. So I think Venice will be my July Eid holiday.  I will also try to go visit some friends that now live in Italy near Rome. I am trying to decide if I will take the train from Venice to their town or drive.

I haven’t made any decisions on dates or even destinations for the rest of the year, but I do know I want to try to hit more of the Gulf countries this year. Here is my list to choose from:

  • Oman
  • Dubai
  • Kuwait
  • Cambodia
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Sri Lanka
  • Greece

Obviously, I can’t go to all of them, but I have plenty of choices.  I will also be traveling for work. Most likely that will Dublin and maybe Iceland! Stay tuned…

Belgium, Europe, Travel

Exploring Brussels, Part 1

December 3, 2013

If I had describe Brussels in one word, I would say charming.  People had told me that Brussels was boring.  I was there for a conference, so I didn’t have much choice of the location.  Yes, Brussels isn’t hopping and filled with tourists, but it was not boring! Historic buildings, funny statues and friendly people.

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My hotel was in the heart of the city, which made getting around very easy.  My suggestion is to get a map before you arrive as all the maps I found were in French.  Also, all the street signs are on the sides of the building so you have to look further up when looking for the street names.  Another hitch was that many roads have several names because they are in at least two languages, French and Dutch.  I had a 5 minute walk to the Grand-Place or Grote Markt.  Basically, it is like a town square.  The buildings surrounding the square are called guildhalls.  I didn’t know much of what was there but knew I had to go through it to get to another famous landmark in Brussels.  In the Grand-Place I stumbled upon the Museum of the City of Brussels or the Maison du Roi.  (Apparently the English translations don’t mean what they mean in French.  I haven’t figured that one out yet!)  A great museum in a historic building.  Lots of maps and paintings documenting the growth of Brussels.  Did you know that Brussels used to be a walled city?  The museum was only 4€.




The Grand-Place is also where the city’s Christmas tree and Nativity Scene goes up.  The Nativity Scene wasn’t ready yet and the Christmas tree had probably just been put up.  Luckily, I was there when they were testing the lights on the Christmas tree!  It was a beautiful test lighting!

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All of this was seen by change on the way to see the famous Manneken Pis or the Peeing Boy.  As you may know, this is a fountain in Brussels of a naked boy peeing.  No one seems to know why the statue was put here.  He has been a Brussels resident since the early 1600s.  He is much smaller in person that I imagined.  I had also read that he has hundreds of costumes that people have made and sent from all over the world.  He wasn’t dressed the day I was there though.  However, when I went to the top floor of the Museum of the City of Brussels, I discovered that is where all his costumes are stored!  There were so many and they are all extremely detailed.  No pictures are allowed though.  It is worth a visit just to see all these tiny costumes for a fountain statue!

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On the next post, the Horta Museum, my hotel review and the people of Brussels!