Europe 1997 (Part 1)

August 23

As our summer of discontent continues, a venture back to a time when Europe still adored (tolerated) Americans.  A friend just posted photos from a trip to Ely, the substitute for the previously scheduled trip to Alaska.  Canoeing in the boundary waters is still very nice.  This is my substitute . . .

In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.  ~  Mark Twain  [Editor’s note:  The Kingdom of Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German.]

[The trip diary, done in the days before computers yet shortly after the advent of the typewriter . . . ]

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[OK, this is not Europe.  It’s Indianapolis.  The Super is back in her home state.  We had not planned this trip.  We were soon on our way to Europe.  Because of that, unlike most years, we had not even applied for tickets to the Final Four.  But our Gophers made it that year (yes, that is the University of Minnesota band walking up the sidewalk)!  How could I not go?  So, we drove to Indianapolis from Arlington, Virginia – no game tickets, no lodging reservations – just because . . . ]

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[Most years you have to score tickets through a lottery that begins the moment the previous Final Four ends.  And if you get tickets, you’d better make lodging reservations at the next venue immediately.  So, we were bucking the odds . . . ]

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[Fortunately, we knew Basketball Dan would be there.  His knowledge would be invaluable.  He would often go to Final Fours without tickets and buy them on the street, hoping to get them at reasonable scalper rates.  We could not have been luckier.  The Gophers were playing Kentucky, the team with the most avid fans and just across the state border from Indy.  Nevertheless, we ran across a young couple from Kentucky who couldn’t use their tickets – and they sold them to us at face value!  And Ruthie’s sister Rita lives just a little over an hour from Indy, so we had lodging . . . ]

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[Not believing the sign, we did walk to the other side of the building – and the road did continue . . . ]

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[The Gopher fans had overrun San Antonio the previous week in the regional finals . . . ]

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[And they arrived en masse again . . . ]

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[The aforementioned Basketball Dan with the Super and the state capitol building.  We have always thought Indianapolis to be the best host city for the Final Four – the NCAA is headquartered here, and everything as far as lodging, restaurants, and entertainment is self-contained easily within walking distance . . . ]

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[One of the things we always did for “fun” was to pay visits to the hotels where the teams and coaches stayed – the major spendier ones near the arena.  Here I spotted the old lefthander, Lefty Driesell, the Maryland coach, from a walkway likely at the Hyatt . . . ]

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[The Gophers lost the close semi-final game to Kentucky.  We left for home after the game to ready for European trip and sold our championship game tickets to Kentucky fans – at face value . . . ]

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[Brussels, we are here!  Here’s Roy-san in the Steiner house in Kraainem, on the outskirts of Brussels.  The Steiner offspring, Brandon, Eric, and D’Arcy, hang on the wall behind him, all in fashionable white . . . ]

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[Big house, on 3 levels . . . ]

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[And from another angle . . . ]

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[Pretty much looks like downtown Brussels . . . ]

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[The Royal Palace of Brussels is the official palace of the King and Queen of the Belgians in the centre of the nation’s capital Brussels.  However it is not used as a royal residence, as the king and his family live in the Royal Palace of Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels. The website of the Belgian Monarchy describes the function of the palace as follows:  The Palace is where His Majesty the King exercises his prerogatives as Head of State, grants audiences and deals with affairs of state.  Apart from the offices of the King and the Queen, the Royal Palace houses the services of the Grand Marshal of the Court, the King’s Head of Cabinet, the Head of the King’s Military Household and the Intendant of the King’s Civil List. The Palace also includes the State Rooms where large receptions are held, as well as the apartments provided for foreign Heads of State during official visits (Wikipedia).]

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[The Parc de Bruxelles  is the largest urban public park in the centre of Brussels.  The area of the rectangular park is 13.1 ha (32 acres).  The main entrance is on the north side, opposite the Belgian House of Parliament (Palace of the Nation).  An avenue leads to the main pond, from which three other avenues offer views of three important places in Brussels: the Palace of Justice, the Royal Palace and the Place du Trône/Troonplein (Wikipedia)].

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[The Super, Michelle, and Roy . . . ]

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[It could be the Town Hall of the City of Brussels is a Gothic building from the Middle Ages. It is located on the famous Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium, opposite the Brussels City Museum. It is the only remaining medieval building of the Grand Place and is considered a masterpiece of civil Gothic architecture and more particularly of Brabantine Gothic (Wikipedia).]

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[Brussels is famous for lace (Roy in a St. Olaf cap?) . . . ]

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[A street looking ahead into the Grand Place (coming in Part 2) . . . ]

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[Shopping along the way . . . ]

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What is it about maps? I could look at them all day, earnestly studying the names of towns and villages I have never heard of and will never visit…   ~  Bill Bryson (And seconded by the Supervisor)

Up Next:  Europe

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