Being able to visit family who live thousands of miles away, incidentally also due to the oil and gas industry (which happens to run so deeply in our growing family) is undeniably one of the major perks of a rotation based schedule, especially as a trailing expat wife. When we first arrived in Calgary, my husband was needed on site for a full four weeks. I decided to take advantage and travel to Qatar where my family is currently on assignment. From Doha, we headed to Europe to try to make a memorable vacation out of our time together. Mission accomplished!
Although it’s been more than a few months, I’d like to share some images of my experience before we get too far along in 2013. My parents, 2 sisters (sadly the 3rd couldn’t join), and I took a week-long road-trip in September 2012 from Belgium to France, stopping along Brussels, Paris, Versailles, Bruges, and Zeebruges along the way and in that order (yes it was a round about kind of detour). Other than hitting the typical touristy hotspots, here is a short list of must-dos if you ever find yourself in the area:
1. Cycling through Bruges – Bike rentals were at an all time low at just 2 Euros an hour compared to absolutely exorbitant prices in Brussels. (note – the cobble stones make for a beautifully scenic yet bumpy ride. But there’s no better way to get from delicious chocolate shop to chocolate shop over several canals in this quaint little city.)
2. Mussels in Zeebruges – They will be fantastic anywhere in Belgium, but do not miss out on eating this local delicacy by the beach at Zeebruges.
3. Windmills – Touring an ancient windmill that still functions as a working flour mill in the Belgian countryside will be a guaranteed unforgettable experience.
4. Parisian Cafes and Boutiques – Step away from the bustling attractions and experience local flare. Shop or eat at unique little places as you walk in the rain.
There’s something so sublimely joyful when, as an adult, you’re able to relive your childhood memories of fighting over an inch of leg room in the back of a packed car or whose job it is to man the iPod. I’ll never forget my fond memories of elbow nudges while munching over Ladurée macarons on this autumn trip.
I couldn’t help but think of my poor hubby thousands of miles away working on a camp site, forging forward with his career as I toured the sites. One of our phone conversations went a little something like this:
“We went to the Eiffel Tower today but I actually didn’t get a chance to go up…”
“…I see.. So I guess we’re going back then?”
“Honey, you read my mind!” 🙂