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A Weekend in Bremen, Germany

My husband and I recently spent a weekend in Bremen, which is about a two-hour trip from home. We didn’t choose Bremen because of anything in particular except that we wanted a weekend away, and we also felt we needed to be close enough to get home quickly if anything went wrong with the three…

St Petri Dom in Bremen, Germany

If you visit the center of the German city of Bremen, you can’t possibly miss seeing St Petri Dom, the huge church whose massive, chunky twin spires dominate the central squares. St Petri Dom doesn’t have the beauty or grace of, for example, Notre Dame in Paris. As a matter of fact, my first comment…

This view looks out of the entrance gate to Bourtange. The earthen embankments on either side are the walls of the fortress.

Bourtange: a Living Fortress

I recently wrote about Fraeylemaborg as one of the local off-the-beaten-path sights I like to show overseas visitors. The other sight that’s high on my list is the fortress village of Bourtange. History of Bourtange Did you know that much of what is now the Netherlands was once ruled by Spain? The “Eighty Years’ War” (1566-1648)…

somewhere on my commute between Groningen and Leeuwarden after a dusting of snow

The Beauty of a Dutch Commute

A couple of times a week, I commute to my part-time job in Leeuwarden, in Friesland province. Sometimes I drive, but as much as possible, I like to take the train. I start by bicycling to the train station in the center of Groningen, parking the bike and boarding the train. The train trip takes about 35…

The Martinitoren rises above the clutter of market stalls on the Grote Markt in Groningen.

The Martinitoren: a Groningen Landmark

About a year ago I wrote a post about Groningen, the small city where I live. I mapped out a route that started at the train station and wound its way through the city, ending at the landmark Martinitoren. The Martinitoren Today, for the first time in several years, I climbed the Martinitoren, and it…

Fraeylemaborg as seen from the garden behind, in Slochteren, the Netherlands

Fraeylemaborg: the “ancestral home”

Whenever I refer jokingly to Fraeylemaborg, a small castle in Slochteren, as “the ancestral home,” my husband rolls his eyes, but he’s given up on correcting me. You see, one branch of his family occupied Fraeylemaborg for several generations. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for everyone else, the house (I think the British would call…

carving above the door of Sant Felix in Vilac, Val d'Aran, Spain

Medieval Churches in the Val d’Aran, Spain

There’s something special about the medieval churches in the Val d’Aran, Spain. All are quite small, stone-built in Romanesque style, and date from the 11th to the 15th century. Disclosure: I went to the Val d’Aran as part of a discounted package provided by Pyrenees Experience. I’ve already written about what to do in the Val…

I think this was the mezzano, at the Italian Days Food Tour

Italian Days Food Tour: A review

Our tour guide from Italian Days Food and Wine Tours was far too cheerful for such an early start. We had been picked up at seven in the morning—before sunrise in mid-January—and denied even a cup of coffee before leaving. Our hotel’s breakfast only started at seven, so we had run downstairs and grabbed a…

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