Saturday, January 7, 2012

Journey Abroad...

On Christmas Day, JP and I set forth on a journey abroad to Belgium to reunite with his family. Four years for him and almost six for me had passed since our last visit overseas. As usual, I was a bit anxious about the long plane ride, but we managed it well and were thrilled to reconnect in person. JP's mother and step-father welcomed us in their country home outside of Brussels where she had decorated their  upstairs guest room in familiar hues of orange and black. What a sweet gesture that was to make me feel even more at home! After ample amounts of sleep, we were excited to step foot out into their country village for a tranquil promenade through the quiet streets and beyond into the surrounding farmland...
Enjoy this sampling of photos from our visit that literally spanned over 2 years :)

Johanna-with-old-bicycle

* An old magenta-painted bicycle served as garden art that greeted us we came and went. The old brick exterior of their home dates back a couple hundred years...

Belgian-Roosters

* Just across the way we found a pair of posing roosters. Perhaps their early morning calls were the same calls that woke us up a wee bit sooner than expected. It's funny as the common "cock a doodle doo" we fondly refer to here in the states is translated as "cocorico" in French, and JP and I always bicker back and forth as to which sound the rooster really makes...

Family-field-walk

* From afar, JP spotted a trio of wooly sheep snoozing in a nearby pasture. The four of us quietly trudged across a field for a closer look...

Wooly-Sheep-in-Belgium

 In a bit of defense, the lazy sheep regrouped, making for a more uniform picture. And, since my mom specifically asked for a photo of Belgian sheep, I just had to capture them! Voila.....

Green-tree-on-tree

* A quiet footpath led us out of the village where the landscape opened up to reveal various hues of green. The quiet beauty of this vine-like tree crawling up its predecessor caught my eye....

Promenade

* The skies were just gray on our first outing, but would soon open up with intermittent rainfall and howling winds as the week went on. Here, JP walks along that same path framed by trees all about...

Old-Estate

* We peer back at an old estate framed by more moss-covered trees...

Looking-up

* JP, alongside his step-father and mother up ahead, chat about various things and commonly speak in French. I try to follow along with my limited vocabulary, but find the countryside and ancient buildings more intriguing and continue along taking photos....

Old-barn-&-gnarled-tree

* I was enchanted by this scene of a giant moss-covered tree, casting it's branches over one of the oldest stone farm houses in the village....

Walk-in-the-Woods

* They led us down a leaf-covered path along the edge of the woods. JP sped ahead, turned and snapped a quick photo to capture the moment...

Orchards-Belgium

* We passed many fields with row after row of neatly planted trees. I meant to ask what they were, but am assuming they are orchards. They tell me the soil in this region of Belgium is rich and fruitful. We also passed by fields of beets and carrots recently harvested...

Fields-of-Green

* A clearing along the way opened up to a field of green as far as the eye could see...

Mamy-&-the-Cherries

* Back in the village, JP's mother and dog stop for just a moment. I quickly snap a sweet image framed by those intensely-colored red cherries draping over the brick wall. This is one of my favorites....

Rustic-Courtyard

* A rustic courtyard calls for a closer look. I wonder just how many years those gnarled vines have crept along that stony wall and ponder the meaning of the female statue raising a torch atop her pedastal...

Ancient-Gate-spires

* Across a cobbled street, the moss-covered spires of an old gate catch my eye. They almost disappear into the gray-white hue of the sky...

Johanna-at-the-door

* This whimsical entry with varying patterns and textures made for a fun photo-op. Just say "cheese," JP's mom says, as saying "fromage" would be less flattering I do believe... :)

Steeple

* An age-old ornamental rooster perches at the tippy-top of the cross casting high above the neighboring rooftops. Again, I ponder the age of this chapel as it seems to bear the wear of time...


Three-in-Huy-Belgium

* The following day the temperatures drop, but we bundle up and head to Huy. More cobble streets and bygone buildings greet us as we walk the various streets and narrows...

Old-Pharmacie

* A very old "pharmacie" trimmed in elaborate natural wooden details catches our eyes. With his expert appreciation in woodworking, JP is especially enamored by the ornamental features and the fact that this storefront has stood the test of time....

Old-Wooden-Door-Huy-Belgium

* I capture another entrance in wood, and only imagine what lies behind this towering portal...

17th-Century-Architecture-in-Huy

* Just across the way, elaborately carved stone frames a series of blue windows that have watched that wooden portal for centuries. If they could only speak, what would they say?... I ask how old these buildings are, and no one knows for certain. But, the larger the stone blocks are, the older the structure is...

JP-in-Huy

* We come to an open air market where vendors are selling everything from flowers and cheese to scarves and meat. In the distance, a towering cathedral rises like a fortress and hovers over the town...

Church

* I peer though a medieval looking iron gate at the entry to another church or perhaps a parsonage that dates back many years in time...

Visiting-Aachen-Germany

* The next day we crossed the Belgian border and explored Germany for the first time. JP, myself and his sister Nathalie took a train to Aachen, Germany to both soak in their hot mineral baths and walk the town. Brother Francois joined us the following day....


Johanna-in-Germany

* The weather was fairly miserable, but it was our only chance to soak it all in. And "soak" we truly did! Gloves soaked to the skin, I stand for a quick photo in my 5 or so layers. Off in the distance, the town's cathedral beckons...

Sculpture-Aachen-Germany

* Another rooster, this time in bronze, keeps watch over a whimsical statue. We take a closer look.....

Statue-in-Aachen

* Admir, Nathalie's partner laughs at the peasant-like figures hovering all about. Their joints were posable, but almost too cold to touch on such a chilly December day...

Johanna-in-Brussels

* Two hours via car, and we were back in Belgium for New Year's Eve. We took the underground Metro from N & A's apartment to spend the day in downtown Brussels. JP's sister Cassandra and her  husband Chad flew in from Italy to ring in the new year with us, and the four of us explored a rainy Brussels. Above, I am standing in the the Grand Place, pronounced "Grawn Ploss" which I just recently realized is simply the grand place. It's the city center and public meeting square lined with ancient buildings that certainly capture the imagination...

Manneken-Pis

* A few streets away, we stopped to see the infamous Manneken Pis, but this time he was fully clothed wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. I should have brought him a festive party hat, but security would have stopped me however innocent my efforts may have been...

JP-in-Brussels

* Down a few narrow streets and we found ourselves in a colorful district with cafe after cafe, protected by striped awnings and surrounded by the smell of food.....

Walking-Brussels

* The sun was setting, but we were on a mission to find a friterie that offered traditional Belgian fries with dipping sauce in a paper cone. After that, and fortunately just next door, we savored a classic waffle. Hey, it was the last day of the year, so we splurged just a bit!.... We rushed back to catch the Metro and would soon enjoy an intimate New Year's Eve gathering of family and friends at Nathalie's place. But first, one last peek at the Grand Place was a sight to see....

Gazing-at-the-Hotel-de-Ville

* Night had fallen upon the city and the rain had eased. The streets were bustling with people anticipating a celebration and a coming new year. We looked up at the famous Hotel de Ville, sitting center stage at the city's square...

Hotel-de-Ville-Brussels-Belgium

* And what a beautiful site it was with spires all aglow...

Our visit continued on with a handful of gatherings with the d'Andrimont family. As often as they do, the days flew by and before we knew it, we were boarding our plane and returning back home. We brought along a collection of delicious chocolates to extend the memories, and we have been enjoying the sweet flavors of Belgium from our home in Colorado. Many thanks once again to all of our family for the warm welcome and generous hospitality. It was a pleasure to see all of you!

Best Wishes for a fruitful 2012!  Cock a doodle doo!!!!

xoxo,
~ Johanna

17 comments:

Deborah Adams,Long Beach, California. said...

What a wonderful trip you had Johanna! Such beautiful sites and lovely art throughout the streets. Thank you for sharing and Happy New Year! :-)
~ Deb

susanc said...

Happy New Year! Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos of your trip!

brandi said...

~a blessed bright new year ahead...each photo is breahtakingly beautiful...sigh...one day! thank you for sharing your time abroad...i felt as if i was walking right along side you...be well and much love light and blessings~

Prairie Primitives Folk Art said...

Johanna, thanks for sharing pics from your trip!

Happy New Year!

My Favorite Things said...

That was beautiful ~ It looks like you had a wonderful trip ~ Heres to a wonderful New Year! ~ Kim

vintagepaletteart said...

I love, love, love all your gorgeous pics Johanna! Happy New Year to you and JP! Ü Hugs, Lori

joni said...

Johanna, what enchanting photos! I was in Belgium many many years ago and your photos of Brussels brought back that wonderful time for me, particularly the Manneken Pis! I had forgotten about that completely. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous country shots as well! Happy New Year to you and JP!

Sharyn Sowell said...

Fabulous trip! And you deserved it after waiting so long. Hoping 2012 is the best year ever for you. Come say hi when you visit your mom & dad next. Great pics!

Lisa Berberette, The Pumpkin Lady said...

I am just in awe by the beauty of the place! Thanks for sharing them with us....hope to see more!

Elaine said...

Just Beautiful Johanna!! Happy New Year!

Caryn Strauss-Smith said...

Wonderful pictures...I could almost place myself there...wish I could be there, looks enchanting.

Nancy Lee Malay said...

Won, Johanna, great photos! What a great trip, with lots of fond memories, I'm sure.
I think your Mother-in-Law painting the guest room black and orange is the sweetest thing ever!
Nancy

Jeri Landers said...

What a fabulous place to visit, how wonderful! I would never forget such a place. It was nice for me to see the sights without having to shiver!

Dan said...

It looks like you guys had a wonderful time! Thank you for taking us with you!

I hope you have a wonderful week!

~Dan~

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful place to visit, great pictures, looks like you all had a fabulous time. Happy New Years.
Darlene, (Enchanted Legacy LLC )

Monkey-Cats Studio said...

What a great way to spend the holidays!! Happy New Year to you and JP! Thank you for sharing your adventure!!
Laurie

Leah's Art Magic said...

What a wonderful post and beautiful photos! Happy New Year!