Good morning my friends, I don’t usually post here on a Saturday but I missed my blogging window last night so I thought I might just pop in here this morning.
You see, yesterday I had a mini-mini vacation with my Love. On the spur of the moment we decided to make a little trip just across the border to Aachen in Germany.
Aachen is a beautiful very old city with lots of good shops, good food and nice people.
For us it is only 30 minutes away, but it always feels like a mini-vacation.
I am sure I have mentioned it before, but just in case you missed it, I live in the south of the Netherlands in one of the narrowest parts of the country. My region is wedged in between Germany on the right and Belgium on the left. I can easily cross the border to Belgium on my bicycle and Germany is only a 30 minute car ride away. Drive a little bit further and we can reach the mini country of Luxemburg in two hours and the border to France is only two hours away too. We could be in Paris within four hrs.
As some say it, we live on the balcony of Europe and I love it!
All of those countries in Europe might be so close together geographically and yet they are cultures apart. As a child I was always looking for that ‘red line on the road’ that would tell me we had crossed a border. I was always disappointed that there was no line, like I had seen on the road map.
But these days I don’t need a red marking to tell me I have stepped into a different country. When you become aware of it, you see the differences immediately.
A different country means different architecture, a foreign language, and a different city landscape. You’ll notice differences in the way people dress, subtle but noticeable, the things they eat and in they way the act in public.
And although city shopping centers in my own country are starting to look all the same, if I am in a foreign country there are always different and new shops to discover.
So crossing a border really feels like a vacation, even if it is only a mini break of half a day. Nothing makes you feel more ‘away’ then by being surrounded by people who don’t speak your language, and nothing feels more like a getaway than indulging on some guilty ‘foreign’ pleasures.
I can always seduce My Love into taking a little trip by dangling the prospect of this in front of him:
A big German ‘Bratwurst mit Zenf’ (Bratwurst with mustard). You can wake my man up for it and he’ll be all eager and ‘let’s go and eat’.
And I always have to indulge in this:
A Starbucks skinny latte with a not so skinny piece of pie. I do realize that there are better coffees available over here, but Starbucks is for me so very associated with holidays and being away that it just tastes extra good. And as long as I still don’t have a Starbucks close by in the Netherlands, I will always visit it in Aachen.
The weather was a bit off and on yesterday, but we had a great time nevertheless. Both of us had had plans to be productive and sensible and work hard yesterday and instead we just played hooky and went for it.
I think those are the best days. When you know you’d better enjoy yourself good and hard because you are being ‘naughty’.
This is Aachen’s City hall. We came across no less than three beautiful young brides around here. Imagine marrying in this old historical building. The photo’s that were being taken on those steps looked really special (by the way all three brides were wearing short, non-white dresses, do you think that is the new fashion in brideswear?).
Yes I am very lucky indeed to have so much ‘abroad’ on my doorstep.
So what do you guys do when you feel in need of a little vacation? Do you feel that surrounding yourself with ‘different and less familiar’ makes you feel like you are really away? And what are your guilty pleasures?
Let’s hear, I am listening….