And, it’s 2005

Our vacation was a trip to remember for a lifetime.

We flew
to Belgium, stayed overnight with my mom, then flew to Finland to meet our
Finnish family – which we didn’t know we had until last year – for the first
time. They are more than wonderful and couldn’t have given us a warmer welcome.
Everybody went through a lot of effort to accommodate us, everywhere we stayed
overnight and stopped by. We felt like royalty as the guests of honor at a
unique family gathering in a historic building near the old homestead. Several
dozen family members from different branches of the family took time off from
work and drove hours to attend. After a genealogical presentation of the family,
followed by a lavish several course meal, everybody wanted to have their photo
taken with C & her mom. A day we certainly can never forget. We also visited
both elderly homes, one of which still exists. Our visit to Finland may have
been short but we have countless priceless memories. By the way, Santa makes
house visits on Christmas eve in Finland before he goes on to deliver presents
to the rest of the world. And, he really knows everything because he even had
presents for us!

My mom had prepared a wonderful dinner for us the
day we flew back, to celebrate my birthday. Yes, the icerabbit is one year older
(again). The next days we caught up on some rest, gave C’s mom a quick tour of
Brugge + surroundings and tried to get rid of our colds (we always seem to catch
something during air travel in the winter). We celebrated New Year’s eve &
New Year at home. 2005 started with hugs & kisses, champagne and an overdose
of fireworks.

Last week we took the Eurostar for a quick visit in
London. The Eurostar is a fast rail service which connects Brussels & Paris
to London through the “Chunnel” ( short for “channel tunnel” which goes under
the “channel” between France & U.K.). Apart from a ticketing snafu the
Eurostar experience was very nice (we’ll certainly ride it again). Analog to
international air travel you go through check-in, immigration, customs and
airport style security. Once you’re on the train it’s just sit back & relax.
First class had plenty of room – we had 4 chairs with a table between them -, no
seat belts nor prohibited electronics to worry about, very friendly multilingual
staff, a nice multi course meal with several wines. On French territory the
railroad was a bit uneven (too much wine when they built it?), but the tunnel
itself was a smooth as could be. It was just dark outside for about 20+ minutes
and the extra glass of wine made sure we weren’t worried about it ;) Two and a
half hours later we were at Waterloo station.

London is still the
same busy international travel destination. My mom had never been to London, so
I taught her all about the underground system a.k.a. “the Tube” (which C taught
me a few years ago) so she would be comfortable using it on a possible future
trip. We did a little bit of sight seeing around the classic destinations.
Contrary to what we had read, the London Eye was not closed for maintenance. I
just love the panoramic view. The funny thing is that while it moves slow, at
the same time the ride seems over pretty quick.

Upon return to Brugge
it was time to repack and head for the US. Why does time fly so fast when you’re
having fun? And why are we always more tired after a vacation than before?

“Any pictures?” You ask :) A selection should be available later
this week.

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