Thursday, February 15, 2007
The European jaunt is shaping up.
Since my last report on our forthcoming fact-finding mission to Belgium and the Netherlands, most of the itinerary finally has fallen into place.
Guy, our favorite Poperinge hotelier, faxed to confirm that he and his wife Beatrijs have retired from operating the Hotel-Restaurant Palace. The business has been sold to a local man and will proceed as before, with a room reserved for us, the bar “at our disposal,” and the promise that we’ll all be meeting for drinks while there.
We’ll also be meeting the whirlwind known as Luc Dequidt, director of the Poperinge tourist office, having a few beers with him, and enjoying our usual discussions about the state of the planet. I’ve often noted the excellence of the “Hoppeland” tourist infrastructure in and around Poperinge, and we all should be aware that it doesn’t happen by accident. A truism, perhaps, but hard work and organization are absolutely required to be welcoming. Poperinge does it right.
Brugge still looks to be a wash, as the Brugs Beertje beer café will be closed on Tuesday, and we’ll miss seeing Daisy during our stay. However, it is likely that somewhere in the city, excellent beer is being served. Perhaps in the very same establishment, there’ll be mussels. We intend to find both.
Another cuisine item that should be available is “new herring.” Today I received a warm note from John Dennis, who accompanied me on several past trips. Here’s an excerpt:
On one of the bus trips, you were kind enough to include me in a side trip to Haarlem. A couple of things from that visit have really hung with me. The fresh herring from the little cart/wagon in the square. Picturesque, unique, delightful, delicious. But the 40's music in the Cafe with all of the World War II memorabilia tugged at my emotions in ways that I wouldn't have imagined. I can still feel it today.
Me, too. I haven’t forgotten that special time.
The international birthday party starts in Haarlem on Friday the 23rd, and should extend through Sunday evening. In short, Haarlem offers the entire Amsterdam experience, but (for my money) on a more manageable, less frenetic scale. It’s only twenty minutes away from its more famous neighbor, and equally accessible from the airport.
I’ll continue posting here through Monday, and then take a few days off. If there’s an opportunity to comment from abroad, I’ll do so, but don’t count on it. After my return, we’ll be in full Gravity mode.