Europe in a flash! Part 1

Time is a weird thing. On the one hand it seems to last forever while on the other, it is past, ‘just like that’….!

Only a couple of weeks or so ago I published an article about my month in Limoux that is still so fresh in my mind. In the meantime I have said goodbye to my husband who arrived after I left Limoux and has been here just under 4 weeks – indeed a case of ‘time has flown past’!

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River Aude, Limoux

City hopping through Northern Europe

But what a four weeks it has been! We met in Ghent, Belgium, went from there by train to Maastricht and Groningen in Holland, popped over to Hamburg to meet up with one of our homestay students and flew from there to London where we managed to throw in a tour of Oxford, Stonehenge and Dorchester as well. Followed by another 4 days in Limoux and a few last days in London before heading back to sunny ‘Down Under’.

Ghent
Ghent

The whole trip has been rather peculiar as all four of us arrived at different dates. I arrived the beginning of November, Zoe, our youngest arrived in London at the beginning of December, Keith a week later while Yasmin, our oldest had to work the Christmas period in her Australian casual job and only managed to get away a couple of days before Christmas.

Keith, Zoe and I met in Ghent. At Ghent University restaurant ‘Het Pand’ as guests from our Belgium host who is a professor at the University. Zoe’s eyes were opened wide when she found out that the legal drinking age in Belgium is 12. It meant that she ‘legally’ could have a glass of wine with lunch. She was stunned!

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Historical Brugge

We explored Ghent, Brugge and the area where we were staying and concluded that the Belgians know how to enjoy the nice things in life!

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A trip with a purpose…

Our trip had a theme as we were on a mission to explore universities where Zoe could study a medical undergraduate degree in English. The Netherlands offers a number of options and two of them we took in our stride.

Inner city Maastricht
Inner city Maastricht

Number one, ‘Maastricht’, a medieval town in the most southern corner of the country that ‘officially should be abroad’ as it has everything that the rest of Holland does not have. One of my favourites cities in Holland and I would love Zoe to study there.

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Shopping street Groningen

The other option is Groningen, hometown of my sister, famous for its student life and totally in the Northern end of Holland. Another great option. If Zoe achieves the necessary grades she can choose! What a task…..

We stayed with my sister who recently bought an old farm near Groningen and is in the process of renovating it. We also spontaneously organised and hosted a family reunion of cousins and cousines! A great success and worth repeating in the future.

Farm in Peize, near Groningen
Farm in Peize, near Groningen

Despite the winter which was actually very mild, the short days and thanks to the Christmas decorations everywhere it was a delight to travel around and I was looking forward to the ‘Gluhwein’ and Christmas markets in Hamburg.

Until then…!

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