The votes are in, and it's a 10, folks. Bruges, our current locale, has landed solidly as the most beautiful city either of us has visited in Europe. (I say that with a cringe, as Scotland will always been my fave country, and even now I am homesick for it.)
For now, the photos are stacking up like pancakes at a diner, and I've been editing on trains and in hotel rooms as fast as I can, while still taking time to walk along canals and watch the reflections of boats. My quickie compromise until we're home is to give you a wee taster of each city we've visited. Ready for this?
We started the trip with a flight into Rome; we drove through Naples, but our first real halt was in Sorrento, home of sherbet colored hotels and palms, a deep gorge around the city, and the best gelato of all. Sorrento is the door to the southern Amalfi coast of Italy, and we spent a day traveling along the shockingly tall cliffs. Although the air was crowded with raindrops and fog drizzles, driving over arched bridges on thin roads high above the Mediterranean was spectacular!
We stopped in Positano, one of the largest towns along the Amalfi coast, for lunch and a walk through a church (touristy, for sure, but George Clooney likes it too, so all's well.)
From Sorrento, we also visited Pompei, a town far more expansive than I'd ever imagined. Whoever dug this all up probably gave up shovels for life after finishing. Seeing a civilzation so precisely preserved was like walking through a live museum.
We traveled next to Florence, (our winning city in Italy), with streets lined with wooden doors and shops of leather, and altogether too much golden fairydust sprinkled about. In the evenings, the air is tender and warm, a perfect complement to an evening of gelatos.
Although we spent several nights in Florence, we spent the days outside town in Tuscany, famed for vineyards and sunsets over continuous hills.
The first day in Tuscany, we drove to outlet malls to shop (and it was unreal!); the second day we stopped in two cities, San Gimignano and Siena. San Jimmy Johnno as Walker calls it, is a small enclosed town with flower pots of succulents and laundry hanging in the streets. Charming.
Siena has a famed square, lots of pigeons, and a certain renowned color of buildings.
Another train plopped us in Rome. The imposing architecture, the art, the history of streets 2000 years old---it's all good for the imagination and the ego.
A 2 hour flight from Rome brought us down about 20 degrees Farenheit and up several longitudal lines to Amsterdam. We started with a stop in Keukenhof, one of the most famous gardens in the world, only open 2 months each spring. In three hours, we barely saw half of this candystore for gardeners.
Back in Amsterdam, we evaded bicycles, ate a lot of cheese, and visited a lot of museums.
From Amsterdam, we sped along to Bruges, Belgium where we arrived yesterday via train, home of chocolate shops, frites (french fries), sunny cafes, windmills, and spring greened trees.
Tonight I am remembering it is not my situation that brings happiness, but my situation is very, very happy indeed.