Whirlwind European Vacation

Handsome Hubby Orchestrates a Grand Tour

Whirlwind European Tour

Greetings all, I’m back from a wonderful, whirlwind European vacation. We walked, we “museum-ed,” we ate, we canal-cruised, we gawked, we delighted!

Now, to ease my way back into writing, I thought I’d share a few trip highlights.

Let’s start with a few numbers:

  • Five countries in 22 days! Belgium, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, The Netherlands.
  • 280 (!) Van Gogh paintings.
  • Seven Vermeer paintings … out of the 34 known works the Dutch master produced, and

Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Experts now say the earring is silver.


  • A stay in a hotel on the grounds of a 3rd-century Roman palace, a UNESCO site.

Room with a view: Emperor Diocletian’s former tomb, now a cathedral.


Whirlwind Tour Highlights

Among the most astonishingly beautiful and meaningful impressions:

  • Keukenhof, famously known as the Garden of Europe, one of the world’s largest flower gardens, located outside of Amsterdam. Open each Spring for just two and a half months, it attracts 2.5 million visitors. There are tulips of so many varieties that our heads were spinning.

Whirlwind European Tour

  • Touring Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum which houses 200 works by the famed and tragic artist and also, a separate collection of 90 additional works assembled by just one woman! Did you know that Van Gogh did not pick up a paintbrush until he was 27 years old?
  • A Jewish cemetery crammed in the center of Prague dating back to the 12th Century, a testimony to the vitality of Jewish city life and culture such a contrast to the notion of peasant life presented in Fiddler on the Roof that so many of us hold dear and trace our roots to.

Some sights were equally memorable but painful beyond measure:

  • Anne Frank’s hiding place in the middle of Amsterdam and her original diary as well as The Netherlands National Holocaust Museum which opened this month.
  • A tour of the Terezin Jewish ghetto and concentration camp, outside of Prague, where more than 150,000 men, women, and children were held for varying amounts of time before being sent on to death camps. Conditions in Terezin were so terrible that it too became a place where many died.
    • And as a footnote in history, Terezin served as a prison in early times. It was where Gavrilo Princip was held after he killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, one of the events that led to the First World War.

So Much to Consider

In all, it felt like we had taken a deep, DEEP dive into two millenniums of history. We saw glorious achievements in art and architecture and yet, we witnessed scars of prejudice, hatred, and warfare in every country we visited. It was an exhilarating, yet, sobering journey. To say, “We laughed, we cried” is no cliche.

Whirlwind Tour Hero

To sound a loud note of gratitude, this trip was superbly orchestrated by Handsome Hubby who truly thought of everything — even arranging for a guide in Prague who spoke Russian so that I could brush up on my rusty Russian speaking skills. What a guy!

Whirlwind European Tour

HH on the site of Khaleesi’s Walk of Shame (Game of Thrones reference) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Alas, I couldn’t convince him to strip down for an accurate re-enactment.

Whirlwind Tour Meets Reality

Now, we’re home and I’m knee-deep in laundry!

Oh, well! One day it’s castles in Prague and tulips in The Netherlands. The next, it’s chores galore and grocery shopping.

Concluding Note

About the top photo (and one more too): The image at the top is of Stari Most, also known as the Mostar Bridge. It was originally built in the 16th-Century during the Ottoman era to connect Bosnia and Herzegovina but was destroyed in 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War, part of the violence during the unraveling of Yugoslavia after the death of Tito and the demise of  Communism. In Mostar alone, 2,000 people died. The bridge, as you can see has been rebuilt as has much of the city, but sights of destruction — and pain — of that time remain.

Bombed-out building in downtown Mostar,  Bosnia-Hernegovnia with graffiti and a ghostly sculpture of a child on a swing.

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