It was so lovely to be back in the Netherlands – the most sane place in Europe I reckon! The keyword there is inclusion – a good quality of life for all.
Maybe it isn’t like this everywhere in this small nation but where my daughter lives in Pijnacker near Delft, social housing is integrated with executive homes, community gardens abound and there are numerous beautiful places where anyone and everyone can enjoy the peace and enjoy communing with nature.
We were in the Netherlands to celebrate our daughter’s birthday and she had chosen to celebrate it at an outdoor vegan feast organised by a local vegan restaurant in a beautiful garden where all the vegetables were grown.
What an amazing evening with fantastic food and such an interesting group of people from all parts of the globe.
The birthday fun continued at the home of Hannah’s partner’s parents where the whole immediate family came together for a great meal and cake – lots of cake!
Then there was the day itself when of course, there were more celebrations!
The following day we (plus Hannah) headed on the long road to Milan where we had a date with an aeroplane to take us to Brisbane for a very important date – the wedding of our son Ben to his lovely Sarah.
We stopped en route at Metz – such an underrated town! It has a fabulous car park down by the Moselle River where you can park your van – an easy walk into the centre of the picturesque town.
The Cathedral is amazing! It has stunning stained glass windows – in fact it is nicknamed “the Good Lord’s Lantern” as it has the largest display of stained glass in the world with 6,496 sq metres (69,920 sq ft) of windows.
The stained glass includes works by many Gothic and Renaissance master glass makers and wonderful windows by modern artist Marc Chagall.
After a great walk round the Cathedral and through the lovely Medieval streets of Metz, we found the perfect place for dinner down a little alleyway.
We walked some more down by the river to digest our dinner and had one of those encounters that you only get when travelling. We stopped to say “hello” to a little dog and then got chatting with its owner.
Somehow between our long forgotten school student French and her equally scant English we managed to have a very nice conversation.
Suddenly she thrust her dog’s lead into my hand and said (roughly translated) “stay there, I want to show you something “.
She left us looking after her baby who looked rather stunned but didn’t make a break for it. A few minutes later she arrived back with a beautiful bottle of champagne for us! We were amazed – what a lovely gesture!
We ended the evening on the river bank in the dusk enjoying a drink at the end of a surprising day.
Early the next morning we travelled through Switzerland where Hannah bathed in an ice-cold mountain stream (I can still hear her shrieks!) and where we negotiated fantastically precarious hairpin bends! The amazing views, hard to capture on an iPhone will live on in our memories for many a day.
We arrived in Lake Como in the early evening and after a wonderful walk round part of the lake found a great little hotel where we enjoyed a bottle of wine gazing on to the lake so favoured by the rich and famous.
Our final day of driving saw us arriving on the outskirts of Milan at the motor home storage place where we were leaving the van while visiting Australia.
Our flight was very early the next morning and by some miracle we were first in the queue at check in – for the very first time in my life!!