Summer 2017 - Return to Europe
Cherishing Nomad Life, Becoming Global Citizens and Engaged Americans

 

It was ten years ago, April, 2007, that these Nomads took the first step toward becoming citizens of the world. Now, a decade later, we find that we still cherish our Nomad Life and will continue working at being better citizens of the world - Global Citizens

Now, we confess that the political situation in the US has impacted our travel planning considerations immensely! For many years, we enjoyed our Nomad Life, maintaining our awareness of events in the US but not taking an activist role beyond writing about Climate Change for our www.pioneerwest.net website. Now that has changed. We believe that perhaps we have a responsibility to accept an activist role again, focused on resistance to the Trump Administration.

So, having accepted this responsibility, we are struggling to decide how to implement it. Shall we return to Albuquerque to take on an active involvement in the local and state elections that are coming up later this year, and in 2018? Or is it possible to effectively pursue political action from beyond the borders of the USA? We have spent every summer since 2007 in Europe and we prefer the lifestyle that is possible everywhere in Europe but much more difficult in the US. So, what to do?

Barcelona
Leaving that decision open for the moment, we decided to embark on the next Nomad Journey. We flew Barcelona where our dear friends, Barbara, Larry, and Vera have been living for the past 10 months, to share their experiences and adventures. We also met up with good friends, Linda and Toralf, and strolled the city a bit, enjoying the sights we remembered such as Antoni Gaudi's Cathedral Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera and views along the beach.
You can also
Click here to view the stories of our first visit back in 2007.

  

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Toulouse
Next, we traveled to the south of France, a region we had not previously explored. We initially settled in Toulouse,where we relaxed , savored yummy French food and wine, and enjoyed walkable urban living, visits to great churches and cathedrals, and walks along the River Garonne We found Toulouse to be a city whose centre preserves its glorious past ...

  

... while out on the edge, modern energy efficient housing and the massive Airbus airplane assembly site look to the future!

 

Day trips took us to Foix, a charming Medieval small town with an oversized castle...

 

... and Albi, dominated by it's huge brick cathedral, but also the birthplace of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, where a vast number of his pictures offered us views of the people in his life in Albi and Paris, and his posters recall the Parisian Belle Epoch. Awesome!

  

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Carcassonne
Moving on, a short train trip to the east took us to Carcassonne, to visit La Cite on a cliff top, a walled medieval city with a castle-fortress, where we learned some of the finer points of military architecture.

 

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Arles
From there, a train ride through the countryside, past vineyards, villages, fields of grain turning golden in the broad valleys, took us to Arles in Provence. Vincent Van Gogh came here in 1888 to live in the Yellow House and to paint his vibrant pictures of the local landscapes and a few of the local people, as well as a cafe he was known to frequent.

 

Click here to read our story 'Searching for Vincent Van Gogh

All of his paintings are elsewhere in the world, but we were pleased to visit the Foundation Van Gogh where eight of his paintings were on display as a special temporary exhibition. In walks around the city, we experienced the dazzling sunlight, flower filled gardens, and river views that are now shared in his paintings.

A bus ride to nearby Saint Remy, where Vincent lived during his bouts of mental illness, provided us with glimpses into his life there, as well as the Provencal landscapes that inspired so much of his art. We visited the Hopital Saint Paul Saint-Remy where he lived and the gardens he painted. We enjoyed the many placards that presented one of his paintings from the area with the thoughts about the place he wrote to his brother Theo.

  

The Rhone river flows through the city and continues south to the Mediterranean Sea. The river delta has become a vast wetland inhabited by flamingos and other water birds of all kinds, along with some higher ground that offers fertile soils perfect for grazing by herds of white horses and black cattle. This rich land, known as the Camargue, has had a long and special history and today, has been protected as a wetland of International Importance and also a Parc Naturel Regional.

Arles was also the most important Roman port in the region, and with this importance the city was endowed with a grand arena, now well preserved and regularly filled with fans for bullfights, and a theatre where concerts and other entertainments are held. The nearby Arles Antique Departmental Museum presented an amazing collection of Roman era articles and statuary as well as a large wooden boat recovered intact from the bottom of the river!

 

The warm evenings were perfect for dining outdoors with the cuisine Provencal to taste and wine of the region to sip. Life was good there!

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Avignon
Yet, Avignon was calling to us! This city has lovingly preserved and rebuilt its Medieval ramparts, but its fame results from the years from 1309 to 1377 when seven successive Popes resided there, the Avignon Papacy. The historic centre includes the Palais de Papes, the Cathedral, and the Pont d'Avignon, all must see sites!

  

A day trip took us to Orange, another Roman town, which featured one of the best preserved Roman theatres in the world!

 

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Nimes
Nimes was our final destination, where another Roman arena and the Maison Carree (temple) provided more Roman Immersion. The population of Nimes was 50,000 in the Roman era and the importance of this city to the Empire was immense.

 

A bus ride took us to the Pont du Gard, one of those incredible Roman structures that were so solidly constructed that they survive today! This aqueduct enabled drinking water to flow across the River Gardon, on a trip from its mountain springs source to the Castellum (water distribution point) in Nimes, a journey of 50 kilometers!

  

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Time to Move On - To Brussels
After two months of travel, we were ready to perch for a while and reflect on what we had seen and learned. Brussels, one of our 'home towns', called us.

We arrived here by train on July 10th, and moved into a nice studio apartment in the same building where we lived last year. Since we were familiar with this neighborhood, we easily settled in. We renewed our annual MOBIB transit cards which allow us to travel anywhere in the city! Because we are seniors, this only costs 60 euros each for a whole year! What a bargain!

We immediately felt at home in Brussels, not only because the neighborhood is familiar but also because this city offers so much to savor and enjoy. There are parks, cafes and pubs, shops for food and other daily needs, and tram and bus stops within a short walk. Each week, there are Marches (outdoor markets), in two different nearby places, Flagey and Chatelain. It's a brief ride to the museums, large pedestrian areas with retail stores of every kind, and architecture, both vintage and modern. On July 21st, we joined the crowds of Belgians to celebrate National Day, waving our black, yellow, and red flag along with everyone else!

We haven't written any new stories about Brussels, but to give you more of an idea of what we enjoy in this city, we offer the story of our 2007 visit for your enjoyment.
Click here and scroll down to the stories about Brussels and Belgium.

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On to London
All too quickly our month was over, and as we were nearing the end of our 90 day stay in Schengen countries (continental Europe), it was time to leave. We boarded the Eurostar train and sped to London!

For this visit, we wanted to experience a new district of the city, so we rented a small apartment in North London, one floor of a Victorian era row house. Transit was nearby - bus and tube, a food market was a few blocks away, and many pubs and cafes were nearby. Life was good.

During our week there, we explored the neighboring villages of Highgate and Crouch End,

 

. . . hiked thru the urban wilds of Hampstead Heath and the refined greenery of Regents Park,

 

. . . looked at pictures by British artists at the Tate Britain,

 

. . . strolled the walkways on both sides of the Thames,

 

and, of course, ate and drank in many pubs.

Before we knew it, our one week stay was over and we were heading to Heathrow airport to fly to Canada, our next destination. In all our Nomad Travels, we had not explored our northern neighbor and now was the time to start , but where - Canada is a big country! We chose Calgary, with nearby Banff and Jasper National Parks, and Vancouver.
Click here to read about our time in Canada and further travels in the US

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