Monday, April 18, 2011

europa (macht arbeit...und spaß!)

i (now) work for a French company. so when it's time for corporate training, where else does one go but France? taking advantage of a work flight, i opted to spend the long weekends before and after traversing nearby parts of the continent i'd always wanted to visit - Belgium, Berlin, and Prague. and because i'm lazy, here's but a quick recap with the (embedded) photo albums below (or see them all here). enjoy.

Bruxelles, BE.
i had originally meant to visit years ago, when my former roommate was living there. Brussels was my direct flight in, and frankly, underwelmed me (does that mean something meeting expections is "welming"?). i got over my jetlag, saw the "Grand Place," the peeing baby statue, randomly ran into an old Swedish buddy, and caught the first train out.

Bruges, BE.
i left a little piece of my heart here. honestly, a charming town, especially on Sunday afternoon, as all the British tourists are vacating from their weekend holiday. cobbled, winding streets, canals, and church abbeys. but such romance is only made more lonely when travelling solo (fortunately i did not turn to despair in the clock tower like the town's infamous film). fortunately, in the closing hours of my final evening, some fellow travelers invited me to join them for post-dinner drinks. which turned into 2-3 too many. and it was there i developed an appreciation for the fine Belgian ale that is Kwak.

Antwerpen, BE.
what a fantastic town. and to think, i almost skipped it to instead pop into Luxembourg (and cross another country off my list). the train station puts Grand Central to shame, and the main cathedral acts as a beacon from all points of the city. tons of character, a great art scene, some oldschool UNESCO printmaking, and some great street food (Frittes!)

Evian, FR.
and then i had to goto work. but a beautiful lakefront resort with a ton of my interesting counterparts from around the world wasn't bad. then i had a nice meal on a French farm home with a former colleague from the soap company. LOTS of wine and cheese. stereotypical, i know, but i'm not complaining.

Berlin, DE.
just a weekend trip, but a great modern city to wander. and yea, there's that big wall thing (and Darth Vader at the Brandenburg Tor). so, as a bit of cold-war junkie (and a student of the German language), i had more to occupy me than just my photography. the Mauer Park flea market was pretty awesome, and i had my fill of Doner. but i did get a lot of strange looks from the locals when they saw i spoke the local language.

Praha, CZ.
last leg of the trip. per my usual pattern - knock the famed castle/old-town out in the first day, and spend the rest of the trip getting lost (and finding your way back out). creepy/sexy statues everywhere. gothic architecture everywhere (pictures don't do justice to the spooky illumination of the orange street lamps in the fog of night). oh yea, and a symphony in a museum. Lentilky anyone?

so das ist alles. very doubtful that i'll have as much free time the next time the company sends me back across the pond, but i'll give myself an "A" for effort.


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