Sunday, May 8, 2011

France - 1988/entries 5,6&7

Tuesday, August 23

We checked out of our Paris hotel, picked up our Renault II and drove out of Paris with our hearts in our mouth that no one would wipe us out before we adjusted to the fast traffic. The cars are little and they travel fast. We drove to Giverny on the Autoroad and stopped for lunch. Lunch was more like dinner, but delicious. Agnea with herbe included 2 rib chops cooked perfectly with lots of vegetables – everything very well seasoned.

Off to the house and gardens, which are spectacular. They are probably more beautiful now than when Monet painted them. The house is fascinating – just what you’d expect from country French. Outside pink stucco with turquoise shutters and doors of natural stained wood. I loved the dining room and kitchen. Yellow everything with blue trim in the large dining room and the kitchen – all blue with yellow accents. All furniture was painted and tiles to complement surrounded the fireplace. His dishes are produced by Haviland – solid yellow with blue borders. His studio is 2 stories high – a lovely, bright, cheerful room with very large windows.

On to Brussels, leaving about three and arriving just about 8:30. It was just getting dark and we landed in a bad part of town. We had been looking for a place to stay with no luck as we drove into Brussels, so we just drove right through and on to Bruges. We arrived late – 10 o’clock, but found a great spot. It is a motel hotel and restaurant, brand new, all done in Scandinavian-type furnishings. I love her fabrics and prints. We had a late snack – the place is so expensive: $8 for two cups of soup and ½ bottle of wine and wonderful crusty bread. We are looking forward to 2 nights here with one full day to explore Bruges. It is very cool. I’d guess about 60 degrees. The road from Brussels to Bruges is a great highway, with lights all the way. No billboards or signs anywhere.

Wednesday, August 24

Breakfast in Belgium is interesting – Buffet style – pitcher of juice – choice of 3 cereals (cold) – coffee & milk – baskets of bread and comfitures and cold hardboiled eggs. We had a full day in Bruges – a fantastic little town – very picturesque, which hasn’t changed since the Middle Ages. The cobblestone streets are narrow and the buildings are old with exquisite leaded windows. We visited the Basilica of the Holy Blood, which houses the relic – a vial containing blood of Christ, and St. Saricares Cathedral when we saw “Madonna & Child” by Michelangelo.

We tasted the local beer and chocolate – both very special. They rinse the beer glass in water and add a slice of lemon. Many tourists, but not Americans here. The shopping is fabulous, but very expensive. The food and beer are reasonable. They make homemade lace here and it is beautiful. I bought handkerchiefs for everyone. We called Priscilla and all is well at home we are happy to discover.

Most people speak English as well as Flemish and French here so conversing is easy. People very warm. Weather is very cool, about 60-65. Showers.

Thursday, August 25

Wake in Bruges and had a pile of bread for breakfast – literally. We drove North on the scenic route, taking a ferry across the North Sea, then a bridge that was 7 miles long, and several shorter ones. Holland is all islands and peninsulas on this Western side – very flat – wet – intermittent showers. Most people speak a little English, but their language sounds very difficult and reading their signs is a joke. We stopped in Middlebury for lunch – a very busy place, and had pancakes that were fabulous. I’m looking for a cookbook to get a local recipe.

We drove on through Rotterdam to the Hague trying to find a hotel or Motel or B&B. Impossible, and finally found ourselves in a summer resort (but it is cold) pronounced Swearingame but written Scheveningen.  The hotel is: 

Gevers Deynootweg 68
2586 BN. Scheveningen
Telefoan 070-50-48-00

I feel like I’m in an IKEA showroom – the same furniture – but a shower – and the bedding is terrific – the encased quilt.

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