Travel in Friendship

GoeuGo bus tour with children | part 2: Bonn | Cologne | Amsterdam | Zaanse Schans | Keukenhof | Brussels | Paris |

On this journey we continued our travel to Germany, Amsterdam, Belgium and back to France.

Day 3, bus stop # 6 | The city of Bonn. The ex capital city of Germany before the east and west Germany was reunified. A quaint city thriving its beauty along the Rhine river picturesque for its cherry blossom- bloom late during the spring time. This is the city where the gummy bear candy came about, the birthplace of the great composer Beethoven and is now considered a UNESCO heritage site.

The bus driver dropped us off to a walking distance to the town hall where the group gathers for a quick briefing and time checks. This serves as the meeting place for the group after an allotted time is given to explore the city on our own.

Featured image above: Beethoven’s birthplace house | below: the University of Bonn

I remembered vividly little India napping in here carrier on my chest as we took a nice spring breeze stroll around the lovely city enjoying early spring blooms. The pastel colored buildings boarded with strong dark colors bring an exuberant artistic touch to the city. A generous welcome and introduction to Europe’s history and arts.

We hit a few mini bus stops along the way before traveling a 30 min ride to the city of Cologne. The bus is spacious at this time but along the way we started to pick up new groups of people as the different bus connect to joining points.

Bus stop #7 | Cologne cathedral. Here we stopped at the towering twin spire cathedral in Cologne, Germany. The gothic architecture is nothing short of a marvelous design. This cathedral remained standing amidst its leveled surrounding after the world war 2. Its facade bring in a dark tone. A rightful patina like color as the collective rain over the years react to the sandstone material bringing in itself a grayish dark tone and shade.

Standing next to a grand structure is something words cannot describe. The stories recounted on those pillars can be just as grand idea as to how magnificent and tall it stands. The stories of dedication but also of war and turmoil that non the less replenish and reconnects us to its historical significance.

Day 4, bus stop # 8 | Keukenhof Botanical Garden. Joycee and I have always talked about the garden and the tulips that is a living testimony of beauty to this place. It has always been on the bucket list for a long time. Yes. An equivalent to where Paris is on the list.

Our early courting days have always been adorned with flowers. We did not live an extravagant life nor did we have money to splurge on expensive flowers. But the fragile beauty and the short amount of time we can adore the flowers have alway brought wonderful memories of our deepest affection and love for each other. A timeless sentiment that rejuvenates the importance of the present.

Not a single day we don’t contemplate on traveling. If only it was possible. But these simple reminders keep us hopeful in the beauty this life can bring only if we keep in touch of the timeless gesture of the present.

Here we were standing amidst a sea of tulips and hundred other flowers. It was a dream to be in. The children made it even more special in their very young age. The struggles of traveling with them was worth every minute and how those smiles echoed as they run off into the green grass painted behind horizon of blue, red and yellow petals. What a moment it was in time– fragile like those flowers, framed forever. Untamed and hidden in the limbo of thoughts they bring sentiments that last a lifetime.

A playground sit in the middle of the garden and a small corner for the children to pet farm animals. This is a wonderful place to be with the family. Stroller friendly with endearing windmill in the backdrop. Don’t forget to smell the flowers. Sit a little while in the benches and continue to observe how time reveal a different meaning of existence.

Bus stop # 9 | Saanse Schans. Talking about beautiful floral designs an imprinting memories, this charming place of colorful windmill prove not only an aesthetic touch but a historical significance of science and the timeless effort to man’s industrial inventions. These windmill to this day continue to provide natural energy to produce oil, tobacco and other products.

People continue to live here. A residential town with a beautiful and scenic refections from the canals that surround it. You can find workshops, mills, barns, learn how cheese are made, get a bite at the pancake restaurant or just learn about how clogs are made. If flowers are for courtship then these clogs are made for proposals. Talk about dedication and hand crafted work. The Netherlands continued to amaze me as we journeyed its country side painted in sea of flowers and wooded canal boats.

Clog workshop at the Saanse Schans

Day 5, bus stop # 10 | Amsterdam. Van Gogh Museum. It was the easiest choice I ever made. Learn about how they make jewelry out of pearls or visit the Van Gogh museum near by.

I just finished reading the book Dear Theo just weeks before this trip to Europe. The book is an autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh and his intimate letters to his brother recounting the significant days before his tragic death. Having to visit the museum was like re-living every pages in the book. Every corner turn revealed a homage to his life and struggles but pressed into a complete euphoria of colors and yellow. I was completely floored to see his very painting displayed in front of me from his early works to his peasant portfolio- my very personal favorite of Van Gogh’s paintings.

His vivid colors and strokes can be appreciated standing a few feet away. It has tied everything that this travel has brought us so far. History, Arts, Music, friendship, inspiration and family. It was really a time of reflection and discovering a very small portion of what this small corner of the world has to offer. A re-kindle and spark to hunger for stories and history, be it literature or the arts. To learn of the many artist along the way and to see now the places they have been and the fountain of inspiration around them. Europe is an incredible place to find that.

Bus stop # 11 | Brussels, Belgium. Flowers, friendship, love and what else can be missing? Bonn, the capital of Europe. The capital for chocolates? One can argue but it truly is a place for chocolates, the famous Belgian waffles and restaurants on every corner. It is also an incredible place for fresh seafood and flavors. A multicultural city that speaks over 100 languages. French or Flemish Dutch is what the locals speak here. But truly people speak of one thing. Where can I find the chocolate? The City center is easily walkable with beautiful gothic style Guild houses towering over you. There are cafe’s and restaurants that litter every street corner.

The smell of fresh toasted waffles to chocolate of different shapes- Bonn is literally a candy store for the sweet tooth.

It is incredibly hard to miss the statue of the Manneken Pis as you find your way around the shops in Brussels. A replica of its statue can be found in many shops striking a pose of what look like a child pissing on the streets. It will eventually direct you to its statue that might be dressed differently each time. It was believe to be a child trying to put out a fire that saved the city of Brussels. This statue has its personal dresser with over 1000 costumes. A story of a local boy hero or a witch spell that froze the boy in time will definitely spark once curiosity and the drive to burry yourself in timeless stories of old.

a replica statue of the Manneken Pis | bottom: the original statue

Day 6, bus stop # 12 | Palace de Versailles. The last few remaining days on this tour took us back to France where we were able to visit the grand palace that continues to signify power, combining arts and nature away from the iconic city of Paris. Its glorious look from the outside compliments the intricate design of maze within its ground. A privacy of over 2000 acres land, adorned with a few garden, a grand canal and a lake with water fountains that show an homage to the seamless flow of greenery and glamor.

The walk was pretty extensive with the palace’s hundred step descending stairs down to the garden. It made for a solid exercise! Within its ground you can find restaurant almost completely separate from the palace well hidden by tall hornbeams that stretch few yards out. A little bit of walking and you find yourself in privacy within the gardens.

Day 7, bus stop # 13 | Paris, France. I recollect my younger years with fond thoughts of unfiltered charisma and play. Games of just about anything under the sun. And then there is that very special phase in our lives when we form a stronger feeling and bond. A place to hope. An experience we call, friendship. That place never departs one’s soul. It’s nurtured through time.

In my very own eyes I witnessed and experienced a beautiful bond of friendship between my son and another child. Vilash. A beautiful child echoed in his name. He was a few rows ahead of us in the bus. He had a wonderful big smile. They both exchanged giggles and laughters throughout the bus ride. They both had magical stories between the two of them.

The ferry ride down the Seine river reminded me of my very first few days here in America as a nine year old. Peter, the kid just a few blocks from the apartment I lived in soon became a close buddy of trading cards, playing catch, and eating green curry.

My very first exposure to America was a melting pot of culture and tradition already in that little space in time. Peter soon became my best of friend. He’s introduced me to American culture, Curt Cobain and a beautiful game the Americans call- soccer. This easy boat ride made me see myself in my own son and the generous love of friendship that unfolded before my eyes. The view of the famous Eiffel tower gave me a sense of perspective in time and the value it holds as it strike the remaining hour of the day.

The very essence of the grand gesture the French has given to us American’s still stand tall in welcoming the immigrants of New York City to this very day. As the ferry ride collected a swift summer breeze, a reflected tower on the river Seine mingled with the present and molded a reflection of a beautiful bond. That was an incredible day. We are in a continued journey to reconnect with Vilash and his well traveled parents.

The mind is in its own a dwelling place and a retreat. Its complex pathways of integrated thoughts become a part of our emotions. Our well being. In a sense- our home. The end of this bus tour gave me sense of hope in the future. Not knowing a pandemic will soon hit us, I am incredibly blessed to have done it with my family. No pandemic will really stop us from exploring the many quaint places this word has to offer. I hope you begin your journey to discovering friendship, the arts, history and most importantly- the love in your own family.

Thank you for the coffee!

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