|The Venice of the North|
Wandering through that medieval maze of cobble-stoned streets I was amazed at Belgian resolution. Not the prospect of long dark winter nights, neither the dying of the year, nor icy winds from the English Channel could transform their steely grimaces to either smiles or long faces. They are a stalwart folk.
There were also many Brits from across the Channel taking holiday, drinking, carousing loudly, in this dreamlike setting: dreamlike, but not pleasant . . . eerie. As the sun sank, ghostly mists arose from the many canals that meander through the township, creating a surreal world. Only the discordant laughter of partying Brits prevented a complete trans-temporal reverie.
I got drunk again that night. Yes, drunk, after having shared beers with partying Brits in an outdoor cafe under a space heater. We talked politics, led by a Labor Party activist who sang the praises of Tony Blair. Later, in my room (a lonely enclave in an out-of-the-way alley), the hazards of introspection loomed. I looked in the mirror long and hard. I liked what I saw. Braving the reflection cast back at me from the bathroom mirror, I thought I glimpsed those things that others, those who like and admire me, might see. Dade: open-minded intellectual, world-traveler, generous, compassionate.
Then suddenly, at long last, I experienced some pangs of homesickness. I had a longing for my green, rainy home in the upper left-hand corner of civilization.
|Medieval township in the autumn light|
|Memorial for fallen Canadians|
|Decrepit bunker crumbling amid the dead|
My face must have revealed my sad shock, my despair. "I won't pass it on to my children," he said, almost apologetically. "That wouldn't be right."
|The unnumbered fallen|
Somber, solemn graveyards give testament to the flower of a generation, plucked from humanity's bouquet before it could bear fruit.
That evening, I boarded the train for Amsterdam. The end of my journey was at hand.
To be continued...
- Pt. I Amsterdam - Arnhem - Copenhagen
- Pt. II Copenhagen - Oslo
- Pt. III Bergen
- Pt. IV Flam fjord - Goteborg
- Pt. V Stockholm - Gavle - Stockholm
- Pt. VI Berlin
- Pt. VII Prague
- Pt. VIII Budapest
- Pt. IX Vienna
- Pt. X Munich
- Pt. XI Salzberg - Innsbruck
- Pt. XII Venice - Florence
- Pt. XIII Siena
- Pt. XIV Rome
- Pt. XV Naples - Pompeii
- Pt. XVI Cinque Terre - Geneva
- Pt. XVII Avignon
- Pt. XVIII Arles
- Pt. XIX Barcelona
- Pt. XX San Sebastian
- Pt. XXI Bordeaux - St. Lo
- Pt. XXII Paris
- Pt. XXIII Brussels - Waterloo
- Pt. XXIV Brugge
- Pt. XXV Amsterdam at last