Somewhere Between the Russian Mafia and Neon Tulips

June 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

When you’re traveling in these little European countries, you just never know where you are going to end up.

After an excessive brunch of fresh breads and cheeeses and meats and all of that delicious Belgian sweet stuff, Mr. Italian and I got into our car and drove over to kidnap his aunt for a stroll along the North Sea. The entire way there was pastures and rivers, both lined with remarkably straight rows of trees:

BelgiumRiver

The seaside town that we ended up at was Knokke, a port city with casinos and some sort of secret tie with the Russian mafia.

Knokke5

In other words, a cold northern beach with a lot of fancy cars driving around and poodles prancing about.  I did find something tragically romantic (that’s definitely the correct cliche’ phrase) about its wide, flat beaches with water  mills and cloudy horizons:

There were also seagulls that are bigger than German Shepherds and stretches of algae-covered rocks that extend out into the sea:

Knokke4

After a stroll up and down the promenade, we sat down with our own poodle-y dog at one of the many bars dotting the beachside and enjoyed a couple of glasses of kir‘s and fruity sangrias:

Then, it was time to drop off the charming aunt back at home, and Mr. Italian and I continued driving straight for a few minutes until we saw this sign:

Nederlands

Clearly, any sign marking a new country is just a call for adventure, so we dance on over and drive through fields of white flowers:

NederlandsWhiteFlowerFields

And the usual cows:

NederlandsCowsInPasture

Until, a quarter of an hour later, we get to Oostburg, a charming little town in the Netherlands that boasts interesting astronaut alien (another tie to the Russian mafia?) statues:

Ostburg

, very clean public fountains:

OstburgFountain

, and various brightly-painted bicycles tied to trees, with colorful flowers in their little baskets:

Even English color schemes! (or, er, Russian ones?):

OstburgBikesRedWhiteAndBlue

After that little jaunt, we kept driving north to another port town: Breskens.

Breskens

I loved this place, especially with the sunset and the fancy footpath that wrapped itself along the shoreline, and the hilltop panoramic nooks over the sandy beaches, and the old, old fishing boats, and the modern art statues of fish.  On the way out of Breskens, we saw a sign for a cafe’ on the beach, and, to satisfy my nightly chocolate craving, we stopped and scaled over the sand dune to reach the restaurant.

NederlandsOstSeeStrandFIFA

It just happened to be the start of the second half of the Germany-Ghana soccer game, so we ordered really big scoops of ice creams and truffles and fruits and splits, and spent the next 45 minutes screaming at the big screen TV with all of the other German fans.  And, when that got a little too intense (I mean, it was a good game), you just had to shift your gaze out the window, and you had this to let you know that all was right in the world, no matter who won the match:

NederlandsOstSee

Another day that just proves that you never know where you are going to end up.  And better way to get there than with the utterly unexpected?

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