Though Susanne and I haven’t had an official vacation in about 18 months, we managed to spend some time in Greece and Albania in the middle of March, just before I had to attend a conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. We only had about a week to travel, but we managed to visit Athens (which we really loved, despite its many critics) before flying north to the town of Ioaninna, which we used as a base to visit the Albanian town of Gjirokastra, the medieval monasteries of Meteora, and the lovely mountain town of Metsovo. Susanne returned to the US while I attended the conference, then I spent a few days in Istanbul, where I got to visit a local high school that was doing some creative work on the Internet. It was a good trip, but the fact that much of it was for work, it wasn’t as relaxing as others we’ve had. I’m sure we’ll make up for it some time this fall when we take a real vacation, probably somewhere back in the middle east….
Meanwhile, in early May I found myself flying to the Netherlands in order to attend a meeting in the Hague. The trip wasn’t planned far in advance – about a week, actually – so it was nice getting to go to Europe so spontaneously. The Hague was a surprisingly pleasant town, with great cafes and a beautiful old town. I had a free day after the meeting so I caught a train to Bruges, Belgium, which I hadn’t been back to since I visited it with my family over 15 years ago. It was even more beautiful than I remembered – definitely one of the most charming cities in the world, despite the Venice-like throngs of tourists around every corner. And best of all, I got to stock up on Belgian beers – my all-around favorite – and someone managed to stuff half a case of beer in my backpack without it splitting in half….