Travel #12 Washington D.C., Latvia, France, Holland 2019

April 22, 2020

In Fall 2019, I went on a long trip, beginning in Washington D.C., spending three weeks in Latvia, a week in France, and a week in Holland, then returning to Washington, D.C. After a few days with Andrea,  I then had a meeting in Denver, a week working in Austin, and finally reaching home after two months. Dear friend and wonderful travel companion, Paula Sullivan, joined me in France and Holland. Considering that I am posting this travel journal in the midst of the Corona Virus’s “settling in place”, I’m glad to have had this wonderful trip then. All travel plans for this year have been cancelled.

Andrea and I looking forward to the evening.

The trip began when I visited my daughter Andrea in Washington D.C. We had an exciting visit with a high school friend of mine, Joel Leonard, whom I hadn’t been in contact with for 62 years. We had been the dearest of friends, spending many hours sitting on the steps in high school, sharing our lives. We wondered what it would be like to meet each other again. We  were treated to a wonderful dinner with Joel and his wife Calva in Alexandria, Virginia, and an evening of conversation. We look forward to future visits.

Getting ready for our evening.

Joel and I picking up from where we left off 62 years ago.






























Next was the trans-Atlantic flight to Riga, Latvia. Jim Staley met me there, and we spent time in the capital visiting friends we’ve known for thirty years. Our dear friend Kaiva Treija was a young woman in her twenties when she came to the U.S. as a member of the Dzintars Choir. Now, her children are adults, and she continues singing in choirs as well as being a math teacher in a Riga high school.


Kaiva is always eager to show us the changes in Riga as well as the beautiful art-deco architecture that Riga is well known for. Here we are entering an art gallery with a very interesting exhibit of a contemporary woman artist. Kaiva has been like a daughter, and it is always such a joy to visit her in Latvia.

Kaiva and I on the steps of an art gallery.










We attended the farmers market and craft fair, and ending the afternoon with a farmers’ style meal.



After a few days, Jim and I drove to Valmiera, his home in Latvia. It is a small city with the River Gauja running through it. I enjoyed walking on the trail along the river, just as I do at home.

After a few weeks, we returned to Riga to meet with Renoir Pope, who was our high school student when we were both teachers at Sacramento Waldorf School. Renoir was attending a conference on Information Architecture, and we spent several days with him after it was over.



After a lovely farewell dinner in Old Riga, my time in Latvia was over. The next morning, I boarded a plane for Paris, while Renoir and Jim drove back to Valmeira so Renoir could experience more of Jim’s daily life and friends.








Paris: While I awaited Paula’s arrival from England, I walked around the neighborhood, familiarizing myself with the funky hotel and nearby restaurants. After she arrived, we walked and walked. What could be more beautiful than walking along the Seine in Paris, looking at familiar scenes.







The next morning we took the bus to Giverny, the home and gardens of Claude Monet.


I love his provincial style kitchen.

Having enjoyed Monet’s Impressionist paintings in museums and in prints, it was special to be walking through the gardens and his home. When Monet was driving through the French countryside, he spotted the house and decided he wanted to move there and transform the empty space to his private garden which he would consider his studio.

Walking under the arbor is being immersed in beauty.

Here, he would paint his scenes of flowers, the footbridge, the willows, and water lilies.                





























Back in Paris, we visited Musee’ de Orsay where we saw paintings of scenes we had seen in Monet’s garden during the morning visit to Giverny.



Walking along the Seine on both banks, we absorbed the beauty of this city. We walked over to Notre Dame cathedral and stood behind the barricade where we could only see the structures surrounding the burned sections. So sad! We sat at a cafe and had a delicious pizza, ending a glorious day.

We spent another night in our funky hotel which made me think we were in the opera La Boheme. Beggars can’t be choosers with the high prices of hotels in Paris.


In the morning, we headed to the train station for our long awaited excursion to Chartres. Here we would spend five days drinking in the cathedral, becoming familiar with the sculptures, the stained glass windows, the labyrinth, the crypt, and the architecture of the cathedral itself.

Our first walk to the cathedral, only 3 or 4 minutes from our B&B.



Every view was a sculpture.


Every Friday, the chairs are cleared away so people can walk the labyrinth.



I found this original print of Templars working out the geometry of the cathedral.
























In addition to our visits to the cathedral several times a day, we enjoyed the weekly market and the delicious food.

Of course, there was the daily baguette. The cathedral is always nearby.

Galettes are buckwheat crepes filled with our choice of vegetables, egg, etc.






















After our immersion in Chartres, we took the train back to Paris, taxied to the other train station, and took a train to Amsterdam.






Despite the rain, we loved walking on the streets and across the canals of Amsterdam. We had a wonderful hotel, only minutes away from the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. We also visited Rembrandt’s House, Anne Frank’s House, and the Resistance museum.


The canals of Holland.



An Indonesian Rijsttafel meal. So many delicious flavors.

I got to stage a painting in the Rembrandt House.




























On the weekend, we spent two days with friends, who were former students. First, we were picked up by a friend who drove us to Leiden, a very old town with so much atmosphere. We visited Vendolyn and her family members. Then we drove to the beach in Den Hague, visited a museum, and walked in the crisp ocean air.



Walking on brick streets over canals and through narrow streets.

The wind blowing in from the North Sea





Paula and Vendolyn De Vries, who lived with Paula’s family for a while.





We were picked up by Karen Dahl, a former high school student of mine, who has lived in Holland for decades. She drove us to her house in a rural area, very close to a dike and large lake. Karen, her husband and son, made fondue for a delicious dinner, a long walk in the rain, and then return to Amsterdam to pack up for the next morning’s flight to the U.S.





Sometimes we just needed to relax and have fun in the hotel.

Both of us loved Amsterdam so much that we would gladly have stayed another week. It was an easier trip than the ones we have taken to Kenya and Tanzania, China, Spain, or Portugal, partly because we stayed longer in each hotel and were on our own schedule. We had time for long walks and became familiar with the city.  In Holland, everyone spoke English, not so, in France. However, both places still felt very familiar.

Where to next? Well, Paula, our friend Ann Matthews, and I had planned a trip to Greece in September 2020, but those reservations are all getting cancelled. We’ll just have to enjoy the memories of past trips.