Our Belgium house exchange took us to Lokeren, Belgium (centre of the x – near Ghent). The smaller circles denote the destination of each day trip. Each trip was less than an hour from our house.
- Ghent was a big surprise to us, so nearby and so grand!
- England cousins Colin & Barbara Smith joined us for the week to visit Bruges – “the Venice of Flanders” – Rich with architecture, history, chocolate & beer! It had the most beautiful 12c. italienate Basilica – very different from the ubiquitous gothic and guildhall styles.
- Our day on the “western front” (near Ypres) took us to Passchendaele, Ypres and Ploegstreet, where my grandfather was gassed in August of 1917. We saw recreated trenches, the massive Tyne Cot memorial and massive craters (now lakes) where explosions were set off under the germans during the battle of Messines.
- Wachtebeke has the most amazing provincial recreational park. Everything from hiking trails to swimming pool, golf, rowing, and immense children’s playgrounds.
- The port city of Antwerp was another day well spent, equal in grandeur to Bruges and Ghent.
- Our day in Brussels was spent at the European Parliament and at the Brussels Expo.
- Our last city visit was to the smaller city of Aalst, and like the other cities the town square was the main attraction.
- We had a most eventful return to the U.S. in that our flight, re-routed through Iceland, was hit by lighting as we landed in Keflavik and the second flight was delayed due to extremely stormy weather. We found out later that this flight was among the last before our airline (WOW airlines) ceased to exist due to bankruptcy.
- Our stay in Schenectady was mainly about visiting Dot (Connie’s mom) and her brother Bob. We had a B&B in the historic part of the city, full of fascinating architecture, not the least of which was the imposing and unusual Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
- We took a day to drive out to Wilmington, Vermont, where Connie’s Grandfather lived as a boy. It was a really charming town and we enjoyed meeting with the local historian and visiting the farm where he lived.