Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

My European Brain

Surprised to hear from me? I know it’s been long overdue. I can barely call myself a blogger anymore given how infrequently I’ve been posting, but there are reasons—okay maybe excuses—for not updating Only Planet. I’ve been in a funky mental place thanks to a long-term separation from Andy, helping Dylan transition into a new school, and figuring (again) what to do with my life. Not very pretty or interesting for the average viewer. 

But I’m back, and in Europe and seeing more new things I want to share. Let’s hope this blogging hiatus is over! 

I know it’s a bit of an understatement to say we travel a lot. Compared to the Secretary of State or the Dalai Lama, we don’t get out much, but compared to the average person, we’ve covered our fair share of ground. 

So much so, that on our 5th non-stop flight from Portland to Amsterdam since 2010 it’s getting so that I’ve come up with a term to describe what happens to me when I land in Europe.  It’s called putting on my European brain.* I know, kind of weird—right?  But there are things that I never need to think about unless I’m hanging out on the Continent.  Things like:

·       * Moving slower.  Epically long lunches, 70 km speed limits in the Netherlands, shuffling behind hordes of tourists, lines for almost every attraction. Yup, my usual mode of moving in 4th gear stalls out in 1st.  For those of you who like to move slow, it may seem like heaven, but I’m a "more on the plate, the happier" kind of gal, so unless I take a mental chill pill—it’s kind of a bummer. This rule does not apply at train stations, the tube and any place locals are trying to get somewhere fast!

·     *  Different bathrooms. Full doors, tiny spaces, stiffer toilet paper, paying a euro. All lead to a claustrophobic experience, and my first one—usually found at Schiphol--a bit of a reminder that I’m not home.

·      * The AWE meter will go into overdrive. Massive churches, ancient stones, famous settings. Things you’ll never see in the rest of the world, all together, sometimes laying haphazardly in a heap, coexist in Europe. 

The best thing about putting on the European brain is after a day or two (usually when jetlag subsides) it’s easier to navigate the European way. I know what to look for, can predict how long something might take and will hopefully look the right way when crossing the street—especially in England. 

We’ve only been here since Saturday and already we’ve travelled to Bruges, Belgium, only because Dylan and I love the movie In Bruges.  We zoomed over to Koln (Cologne), Germany and Liege, Belgium on Sunday, zipped over to Antwerp on Monday, hung out in Eindhoven Tuesday and are going to Amsterdam tomorrow (Wednesday) to see the newly opened Rijksmuseum.  Thursday we’re off to London for a week and will post pictures those once we return.  In the meantime, here are some photos from our last few days.  Dylan's already taken over 500 photos!

Are these not the shiniest eggplants you've ever seen?

Duck, Duck

Chipmunk!  Saw these at the Liege market

These lovely chickens were right across the street from...

their unlucky buddies.  That's a roasted chicken stand behind the confused looking woman.

Talk about ancient.  Dylan and Andy are in front of a Roman gate that was built in 50 AD.  

I love the juxtaposition of the old and new.  It happened to be Gay Pride in Koln on Sunday.  I don't know how we do it, but we've managed to be at Gay Pride Parades in Antwerp, Amsterdam, and now Koln!  

Here I make a few new friends.  Aren't they adorable?  Indonesian in Germany--unite. 

* My English friend has experienced the same phenomena, but for her she has to put on her American brain.  After living in the US for the past ten years, she's far more adept than I. 


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