Back to blogging

As you probably can guess, I’ve returned from my travels — Bruges, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm — and partially recovered from jet lag. Travel Tips: Bruges is beautiful, but don’t eat the mussels at the Golden Mermaid on the main square. Amsterdam is great but the lines at the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum were so long we gave up and did the Heineken tour instead.  In Copenhagen, I liked best eating smorebrod by the quay in Nyhaven and looking at the colored houses. Stockholm is spread out, so you need to learn the bus, metro and boat system.  The Vasa — sailing ship that sank on its maiden voyage and was raised after 333 years under water — is well worth a visit.  In addition, the changing of the guard was very impressive, including a band on horseback and guards with spiked helmets carrying ceremonial swords and very modern rifles. We also saw the crown jewels in Denmark and Sweden. Glad I wasn’t a taxpayer footing the bill.

I want to thank Diana Senechal for her provocative and thoughtful guest blogging, which has generated some great discussions. Thanks to Diana, I was able to maintain our sight-seeing, canal-boating and beer-guzzling schedule.

About Joanne


  1. “We also saw the crown jewels in Denmark and Sweden. Glad I wasn’t a taxpayer footing the bill.”
    As a taxpayer you’re already footing the bill for so much more!

  2. Hi Joann,

    I LOVED Amsterdam and Bruges too! I traveled alone so Bruges for 3 days was a little long but still enjoyable. The only thing was my days ended early because there wasn’t much a nightlife; I went in March a few years ago.

    Amsterdam is a gem. I did make it to Van Gogh and Rijks, maybe I got lucky. I also saw the amazing Jewish and WWII history fascinating.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip.

  3. Welcome back. I’m a big proponent for educators getting their fair share of vacation time.

    The places you visited sound awesome.

  4. Rusha Sams says:

    There’s nothing more educational than travel…well, except, of course my English lit class!

  5. Interesting comment on Amsterdam. My college-age son and I were there in 02 and had planned to stay several days. The museums and the architecture were great, but there was trash and drug paraphenalia in the canals and on the main streets and derelicts/druggies unconscious on benches and in doorways. There were also many groups of sullen and/or threatening young Middle Eastern males blocking sidewalks and gathered in doorways. My son (a 6′ athlete with facility in a European language good enough to pass for a resident) said he had felt much safer in East Germany and Prague. We left early for England.

    We enjoyed Bruges, and the WWI museum in nearby Ypres. We ate lots of mussels without problems; sorry it was otherwise for you. I hope you had opportunity to enjoy carbonnade a la flamande (I’ve found a good recipe) and potato croquettes.

  6. We didn’t feel uncomfortable anywhere in Amsterdam, except for my fear of being run over by a silent cyclist. We were there on some sort of three-day weekend and it was very crowded, but almost everyone seemed cheerful.

    I spent some time in Amsterdam about 15 years ago when my brother lived there. It seems cleaner now with fewer obvious druggies. But it may have been our choice of neighborhoods to visit.

  7. I find it ironic that I’ve lived in New Orleans, L.A., London and South Florida, but only ever been mugged in Amsterdam. That said, most of the city is indeed lovely.

    Bruges is a jewel…I only spent a day there when I was studying in Brussels in 1997, but wished it could’ve been more. And as for Brussels, if you’d made it there I would’ve been happy to provide scores of recommendations for places to go and see, most of which I assume are still there, though I hear immigration may have changed the character of large parts of the city dramatically even in the time since I’ve been there.

    I haven’t traveled much in ages: color me jealous. 😉

  8. Diana Senechal says:

    Thank you again, Joanne, and welcome back!

    I spent a year in the Netherlands at age 10 (in the northern part, near Groningen) but have not been back in many years. I am still in touch with friends from school there. I don’t remember much about Amsterdam, except for the Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank house, and the canals.

    I have wanted to go to Copenhagen for a long time.

  9. Tracy W says:

    I had a lovely time in Amsterdam earlier in the year. Didn’t feel threatened, didn’t see any hordes of sullen Middle Eastern young men. Again, it might have been the neighbourhoods we visited, but we did see some fairly seedy areas that looked like they were intended for British stag parties.

    As for footing the bill for lots of pretty jewels, go the geology museum at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. some time (well worth it in it’s own sake, there I decided that I preferred coloured stones to diamonds, which saved my now-husband a fair few dollars).