An Adventure in Europe (Part 1): Larry Grossman 7 at 70August 12, 2022 • By THIRDHOME
In celebration of turning 70, Larry is hitting all seven continents with the help of THIRDHOME.
As Larry travels the globe with THIRDHOME, he’ll be blogging about his experiences as he navigates the post-pandemic world. His planning began in 2019 with THIRDHOME Director of Adventures, Liz Bates, who has assisted him in pivoting to satisfy his travel cravings when COVID-19 restrictions have not allowed him to visit a destination. Keep reading to learn more about Larry’s most recent travel experiences.
Next Stop: Amsterdam
What’s not to like about a country that birthed Vincent Van Gogh, Heineken beer, those cute wooden shoes and coffee shops that sell marijuana alongside their java? And how about all those bikes in Amsterdam? 800,000 Amsterdammers (yes, that’s a real word) own 880,000 bikes and dominate the city streets. Autos beware, this is a city bent on travel on 2 wheels, not four. The Dutch go to work on bikes, take their kids to school on bikes, go on dates on bikes and stay incredibly fit on bikes. This is an indicator of a very egalitarian society where young and old, men and women and rich and poor travel side by side across the city. Noom and Weight Watchers are advised to stay clear of the Dutch market. These folks don’t need you.
My three days exploring this glorious city led to more steps per day than the prior 3 weeks of my Virginia life. Amsterdam continually ranks as one of the most walkable cities on the planet and the Amsterdam-Centrum or city center can be reached from all sides of the city on foot. Tired of walking? Rent a bike, or better yet, take a city tour by boat and explore the Amsterdam canals and bridges while learning about Amsterdam’s history.
You want great museums and attractions?
- Art lovers can check out the Van Gogh and Rembrandt museums in the center of the city.
- The Anne Frank House is so popular, you need to grab a ticket the first Tuesday of the month before your visit.
- For beer lovers like myself, the Heineken experience takes place in the building that housed the original Heineken brewery in 1867. Did you know that Heineken is shipped to 192 countries each day and that their “brand ambassador” is moviemaker Benicio Del Toro.
- Madame Tussaud Amsterdam features an incredible variety of famous people ranging from Beyonce to The Hulk to Barak Obama.
As a final note, while in Amsterdam, I learned to love fresh herring, a local favorite fish served with pickles and onions. My father would have been proud as he was a herring lover his entire life.
Next Stop: Bruges
Second stop, Bruges, Belgium for a stay in one of the coolest Third Homes on the website. This amazing apartment in the heart of Bruges features a 16th century tower that provide a 360-degree vantage point of the city. On a clear day one can see the towering windmills on the coast as well as dozens of church spires scattered throughout Bruges.
Bruges is a city to fall in love with. It is a medieval Unesco site and a living museum that leads one to believe they are walking through a modern-day fairy tale. At the heart of the city are the Markt and Burg squares and a 13th century belfry with 366 winding and narrow steps made from stone, wood and marble that one can climb (and I did) to view the whole city and surrounding countryside. Each Wednesday the square features a “don’t miss it” market with fresh fruits, vegetables and delicacies from across the region. Warm weather features al fresco dining in dozens of outdoor cafes.
What makes Bruges such a spectacular and memorable site? How about this:
- There are more than 80 bridges in Bruges and canal tours operate all day to cruise the city. At night the bridges and surrounding historic buildings are lit up and produce some of the most memorable reflection photo opportunities anywhere.
- You have to love a city that features one museum dedicated to the French Fry and another museum dedicated to the history of chocolate and cocoa. Only in Bruges can one witness singing and dancing taters.
- Speaking of chocolate, over 50 chocolatiers (chocolate shops) dot the streets of Bruges. Each shop offers different versions of quality cocoa ranging from melt in your mouth white and dark chocolate truffles to caramel and marzipan infused cocoa treats. For true chocoholics tours operate daily to visit several of the top stores.
- Once a week locals gather beneath the belfry for a concert of church bells from above. Since I have a high level of ignorance identifying classical music hits, and I was clearly in over my head, I asked my fellow concert mate what was playing and was told it was a Bach fugue.
- The waffles in Bruges, especially at Chez Albert’s, are absolutely the most scrumptious delicacy in the whole city. How about choosing between chocolate, fresh strawberries, whipped cream or caramel toppings. Diet be gone! These are simply too difficult to pass by.
- A bicycle tour into the countryside is a must do. Windmills and pastoral scenes along the river as well as the rare Belgian Blue cows await tourists who are so inclined to explore the nearby town of Damme.
- Belgian beer dates back to the Middle Ages and the Belgian Brewers guild was recognized in 1385. The Belgian breweries bring over 2,000 original beers to market. My favorite? Brugse Zot Blonde.
World Traveler, Philanthropist, Friend, & THIRDHOME Member