Vacation Trip to Belgium and Holland
April, May -  2004

In late April to mid May, Henry, Mary, Joan and I took our long awaited trip to Belgium and the Netherlands.  The main reason was to view the tulips in Keukenhoff Gardens, in Lisse, just outside Amsterdam.  The views were spectacular and we had beautiful weather for the morning there.  Here's Joan in the tulips.

It happened to be Queens Day when we arrived and the whole city was celebrating in a cross between Mardi Gras and New Year's Eve.  Here's a street scene during the afternoon, with hundreds of people walking the streets, drinking and wearing orange in honor of the House of Orange, which has ruled Holland for centuries.

Here is a typical view of a canal in the middle of AmsterdamOur hotel was on such a canal and it gave us a real feel for the city.

  After visits to Haarlem, Delft and the Haague, we moved into Belgium to our first stop in Antwerp.  The center was more beautiful than we thought it would be and we spend an enjoyable day and a half there.  Here is the Stadthuis, or City Hall.

On the other side of the square in Antwerp was a great example of the guildhouse architecture we were to see all over the low countries.  It makes for a unified and beautiful architectureal style.

After Ghent and Brugge, we went on to Brussels, but not before stopping at the battlefield at Waterloo.  It was on this site that Napolean was finally defeated.  The battlefield is remarkably intact and many of the farms are still owned by the same families that owned them in 1812.

The main square in Brussels is beautiful and reminiscent of most of the town squares in Belgium.  Although surrounded by a modern city, the main square is beautiful.

Look closely at the road sign and you'll see the city of Hoboken, which is a suburb of Antwerp.

Here is Gravenstein Castle in Ghent. It's from the 800's and has a great torture chamber.

In addition to these sights, we took a tour of the Ardennes Forest, visited the village of Spa (where the name was derived), slipped into Germany to visit Aachen, the home of Charlemagne, and stayed a night at a castle in Kasteel Wittem.  All in all, it was a fabulous trip.