Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Aurevoir Europe 2010

18th August 2010

The week of hosts!

Mathias and Tanja - Our previous hosts in Brussels

To be so spoilt by people you have never met is such an honour. We have been privileged to share our lives with three families over the past week. We have experienced the personalities, culture and lifestyles of people from three different countries.

Several friends and family members have questioned our choice to join homelink and exchange our home or host/be hosted by people with have never met. Questions such as, “Aren’t you worried about what they might do to your home?” or “What if you don’t like the people?” are often asked.

The week has proved how fabulous being hosted can be. First Nunspeet – west of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Marco and Linda - Nunspeet
Linda and Marco are 27 & 30 years old and bought their gorgeous home a few years ago. They both work about ½ hour from Nunspeet. Both took time off work to host us and as I said in my last blog took us for the wonderful 40km bike ride. Yes we had been to the gay pride festival in Amsterdam but that had nothing to do with our very sore butts! Thanks Marco for trying to kill us, you almost succeeded! It was his way of ensuring we could not come down the stairs during the night and kill them! We taught Marco and Linda rummy – Kat’s version! I think Glen may have won. After two wonderful days we headed south to Antwerp.
Herman & Annemie - Antwerp

Antwerp is in Belgium. Again it is a gorgeous city that we should have spent more time in. Our hosts Herman & Annemie are retired teachers. We arrived to coffee, chatted and made ourselves at home in their beautiful home with a quaint garden and wooded area behind their home. We headed into Antwerp and wandered through the narrow cobblestone streets towards the town square. An absolutely stunning town with fabulous designer dress shops and plenty of cafes. We bought some presents and then headed back to Herman & Annemie’s for dinner. Herman makes guitars and Annemie, along with many family members, paints. The house is filled with paintings and to Glen’s delight guitars! We went for a 5km evening brisk walk! It was a quick stopover in Antwerp as the next day we were heading to Luxembourg.
Stefan & Toni - Luxembourg

Luxembourg here we come. Stefan, Toni and daughter Anna were just fabulous. We arrived in time for dinner – traditional Moussaka, vine leave wrapped rice. Yes the family originated in Bulgaria. Again a family speaking 4+ languages, how inadequate we feel! We headed to Germany about 20 mins away, the next day for dinner – a small village with a fortress which have the most divine family owned restaurant. Our German is non-existant but we did tell the chef that it was the best meal we had eaten out. The ambience watching the sunset over the vineyards, candles, great company and superb food was wonderful. Stefan and Toni asked us to stay another day! In our schedule we had a spare day before having to be in Paris so agreed. We slept in a bit Saturday but after another wonderful breakfast we headed again to Germany to Their. We headed up to a high viewpoint to see the city and have lunch. The hostess was somewhat stressed and really didn’t want to serve more people so after a quick drink, we decided to eat in town. What a cute town – quite touristy but lunch was relaxed and enjoyable. Back home for dinner – Vanessa’s turn to cook – Onion soup and then salmon! Lots of wine, beer,cognac and snaps! Another very late night after an evening of chatter.

Sunday we thought we should see Luxembourg! It rained well according to Glen it was mizzle! Now I have never heard of mizzle but even word’s dictionary believes it’s a word. So I’ve learnt a new one! We went through the casements – pretty incredible. 17kms of underground tunnels remain today. Luxembourg back in the 1800’s was known as the Gibraltar of the north. During world war 2 - 35000 people could be protected in the casements! We had lunch in the city – again we foiled them and were able to pay for the meal without them suspecting! We always tried to pay for meals out with out hosts – sometimes this was difficult. As Marco, (from the Netherlands), would agree we were good at doing this! We then did the tour through the palace. The rain did not stop all day so we headed home for champagne and dinner! Stefan cooked prawns in garlic and constantly filled our glasses with alcohol. Late in the night or should I say early the next morning Glen disappeared – bed had called! After champagne, rose wine, champagne again, cognac and snaps the head was suffering! Monday - time to head to Paris.

Our week had been fabulous and we couldn’t thank our hosts enough. On the trip we had 5 families host us and all provided unique memorable experiences but beyond this new friends who we will keep in touch with.

The first to come to Australia will be Mathias and Tanja from Brussels and we can’t wait to spoil them and show them our area! I would recommend this style of travelling to anyone.
Notre Dame

Hotel de Ville
So now we are back in Paris – in the first hotel after 6 weeks. Yes we spent three nights in a B&B. This hotel overlooks the Seine & Notre Dame in the Latin Quarter. Fabulous position! Today we are tired though and hope our 3 days in KL revitalize us ready for work, we shall see! We left a bag in Paris at Karine’s and she left it for us at our favourite café, “Cristal”. It felt good to walk back into the café and have the owner hug us and say, “Bonjour Glen et Vanessa – le sac?” We ate lunch and also drank the best coffee in Paris again. Paris definitely has it’s own spell that takes hold and doesn’t not seem to lift. We found ourselves again, looking at apartments for sale in Paris!

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