MESSAGE from Northern Europe *Video*

We spent a quick week tooling around the Northern European countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These are 3 countries I had yet to visit, so I was particularly looking forward to checking them out.

Here’s my personal take on what to do in Northern Europe and a video from Amsterdam to boot!

MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Bruges! I love Bruges! I’ve wanted to see this town ever since I saw the movie “In Bruges”…Actually, the entire town was just like a movie-set with picture-perfect vistas in every direction. The canals, the town squares, the cafes. If you can’t enjoy an afternoon cappuccino here, you’re doomed.

EAT (Tasty Eats) – Fries & Mayo. French fries served with mayonnaise – I’m not sure what could be unhealthier. But it sure went down easy, especially when served with a cold beer.

My only question: Why aren’t all these people fat? Must be because 60% of them own bikes – and they actually ride them! All at once. Without helmets. On the narrow streets.

SEE (Must-see Sights) – Van Gogh Museum. The museum’s permanent collection includes more than 200 paintings by Van Gogh, as well as paintings by artists who influenced his work.

The collection is divided into 5 main sections, each representing a period of major work:

  • Early to 1886 – Peasant portraits
  • Paris from 1886 to 1888 – Paris street scenes
  • Arles from 1888 to 1889 – Sunflowers
  • Saint Remy from 1889 to 1890 – Japanese blossoms
  • Auvers to 1890 – Haystacks and crows

I thoroughly enjoyed the museum, although not once did the museum mention anything about Van Gogh cutting off his ear. I don’t know about you, but I think this is an important omission – especially when trying to understand the psyche of the artist. You can view photos of many of the pieces of the permanent collection on the museum’s web site.

SHOP (Gotta Have) – Belgium Chocolate. I’m not a sweets person, nor particularly a chocolate lover but the chocolate here was amazing! Worth the calories as it melted in your mouth! Not just candy bars, but hot chocolate too. Pretty sure it’s the perfect gift to bring home to friends. (Oh yeah…I’m not going home…sorry!)

ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Anne Frank House. I had to go twice since the first day there was a huge line at 10:30 am waiting to get in. So I went back at 8:15 the next day, so I could be first in line when they opened the doors at 9:00 am. (Actually I was still third in line.)

The museum is well done. And even though we all know Anne Frank’s story, seeing the Secret Annex in person was heartbreaking. The photos, the personal items, and the excerpts from her book poignantly told the story (and that of 6 million fellow Jews) of her cruel murder.

When I was there, I bought The Diary of Anne Frank as a gift. Luckily I thought I’d read a little before I sent it on – and I’m glad I did. The subject matter was far more personal that I had remembered and the book turned out to be not so “age-appropriate” for my young 7-year-old friend.

GIVE (Greatest Need) – Prostitutes in the windows. I don’t know what to say, but I think this falls into the category of “you have to see it to believe it.” Women openly selling themselves in storefront windows? Bizarre. And demeaning to women.

Although the women have recently organized a union to represent them. And I hear that they also have insurance and safe-sex policies. I’m not a fan (obviously) of prostitution, but at least these women have some political protection.

Or do they? Isn’t instituting and regulating bad behavior only encouraging it – at least tacitly? What is your stand on legal prostitution? I’d like to hear! Write me at:

For more on this subject, read my article called: Rules of the Red Light District.

ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Canal Tour. I know this is tourist-y and cliché, but it was so cool! We did one in Amsterdam, but they were offered in Bruges too. I’m falling madly in love with the house boats. When (if) I return to the States, I’m gonna live in one for sure!


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011 and is filed under Europe, Messages by Country.

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