Monthly Archives: September 2014

How Do You Spell Overrated? Manneken Pis!

A pilgrimage to see the Manneken Pis is a requirement for anyone visiting Brussels. The small statue is only 61 cm tall (two feet if you use Imperial measurements) and probably the most photographed object in all of Belgium. Tourists flock to see it. In two trips to Brussels I have yet to figure out […]

Rest In Peace

In thirty years of marriage I have visited my wife’s ancestral hometown of Lippstadt, Germany, four times. That means I have visited the local cemetery four times. There are family graves there going back to the 18th century, maybe older for all I know. It is a ritual that cannot be missed, though usually it […]

Sunday Morning in Bucharest

It is an island of English in a sea of Romanian and was completely unexpected. I was raised in a family where the expectation was that everyone would attend church on Sunday, a tradition I have kept up long after having shed parental control. My children see that as a bit legalistic, but I have […]

The Lions of Trafalgar – Some Thoughts on Aging

In some ways our visit to London this summer was a write-off. It was the last day before our flight home, and I had planned to take in a few sights, it having been a long time since I did more than change planes in London. However, we were tired and the effort involved in […]

York, 306 A.D: The World Is Watching

York was not on the original summer itinerary. The plan was to go to England’s Lakes District and do some hiking. But by the time we decided that as our final destination the price of accommodations was sky high, so we looked for cheaper options that would be just as interesting. Compared to York, I […]

Searching For Dracula

Dracula is everywhere in Romania, perhaps the country’s biggest tourist draw. But a flawed one that many Romanians are ambivalent about. Tourist cash is welcome, but I got the impression that vampires are not a favorite topic. Irish novelist Bram Stoker had never been to Romania when he set his 1897 vampire novel Dracula in […]

All This For A Song

It’s a monument to creativity, seven floors in downtown Brussels devoted to musical instruments. But there was no cigar box banjo. Admission is free at the Musical Instruments Museum on Wednesdays, so we planned our visit for then. That turned out to be a good decision: I hate wasting money and Vivian wasn’t enthralled as […]

Waiting on Juno Beach

They knew it was coming. Not the exact date or time, but there was a sense of inevitability. One day they would look out of the bunker and the English Channel would be filled with ships and soldiers. They couldn’t take comfort in the propaganda boasts about the impregnability of their Atlantic Wall. They worked […]

The Bayeux Tapestry

When it all boils down to it, it’s just a big piece of cloth. But they built a multi-story museum to hold it and tell its story because it is no ordinary piece of cloth. The Bayeux Tapestry tells the pictorial story of William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It […]

Inside The Barrow

When my friend Peter suggested we visit his family in West Mersea (that’s England for those who don’t know it), one of the incentives was that there was a Roman barrow near his home.   As a long-time fan of the works of British author J.R.R. Tolkien came across the idea of a barrow when […]