Hasselt Winterland, 2014

Hasselt “Winterland” Market is, perhaps the most commercial Christmas market we have encountered in Europe.  It reminds me of the tables under the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair.  There was a collection of kitchen wares, knives, trinkets, I half expected to see a Vegimatic and a Pocket Fisherman.   Some of this “State Fair” feeling is accentuated by the tent like pavilions with tables on … Continue reading Hasselt Winterland, 2014

Brugge (Bruges) Christmas Market, 2014

The last time I was at the Brugge (Bruges) Christmas fair, in 2007, it was a short visit.  It was raining and cold.  The skating rink in the middle of the main town square was more slush than ice and, while the city is one of the prettiest in Belgium, I didn’t really enjoy the visit. This year was completely different.  It was a clear … Continue reading Brugge (Bruges) Christmas Market, 2014

Hasselt, Belgium and the Begijn Movement.

Hasselt is the chief town of the Belgian commune of Limburg.  It is near the Dutch border and there is a similarly named province in the Netherlands.  Suzi and I visited Hasselt after Carol Lam’s Funeral with Dave, and their adult kids.  We went because of the Hasselt Winterland, a Christmas Market, but found the town interesting in its own right. The begijnhofsite is now … Continue reading Hasselt, Belgium and the Begijn Movement.

Soft Borders, Belgium and the Netherlands at Baarle.

Our friends Dave and Carol Lam took us to Baarle when we were working in the Balkans.   We wondered about the possibility of ever being able to draw borders that reflected ethnic realities.  Dave said he had something he wanted to show us, the municipality of Baarle in Belgium, or is it the Netherlands?  The map of Europe has many geographic anomalies. But one of the … Continue reading Soft Borders, Belgium and the Netherlands at Baarle.

Iron and Glass, Flowers and Trains

May 11, 2010 Dear Friends, On Friday afternoons I would go to my grandparents’ flat in Jersey City while my parents had their night out.  Grandpa Brew would tell me stories.  He was raised in Ireland, ran away to sea at 13 and developed a love of travel, ships, Ireland and America.    He introduced me to Democratic politics.  He also told a good story.  But … Continue reading Iron and Glass, Flowers and Trains