Oh, it was a wonderful trip and it’s also wonderful to be back home again.
Travelling around five countries in four weeks has left my brain playing a constant reel of overlapping images – castles, sun, strawberry tortes, lattés, walking, canals, rain, walking, french fries, mussels, white cliffs, walking, macarons, Eiffel Tower, markets, walking, town squares, lavendar fields, garlic, walking, hilltowns, vineyards, wine, walking, mountains, cows, villages, braised frog legs, cathedrals, boat rides, walking, walking, and more walking . . . . plus a whole lot of great eating. I love that kind of mind-movie. It will keep me entertained for a long time to come.
Seeing the former Berlin wall was an emotional experience. The mirrored column in the Reichstag parliament building is like modern art.
We spent a few wonderful days in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, picking up Andreas and meeting his exchange family.
Then we headed for Holland.
Where it rained the whole time.
In Belgium the weather cleared up again.
The little Mannekin Pis statue in Brussels attracts hordes of visitors, (though nobody is really sure why)
A lovely way to see Bruges is by horse and carriage. The sound of hooves clip-clopping on the cobblestones can be heard everywhere, taking you back in time.
The Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur on Montmartre are two familiar sights in Paris.
As are boats along the Seine.
I spent a great morning exploring the market and taking a cooking class. Mmmmm.
My dream come true – a wonderful afternoon exploring Claude Monet’s beautiful gardens and waterlily ponds at his home in Giverny, France.
Then we drove from the top of France, right down to the bottom, to spend some time in Provence. What a country!
Then it was back to Germany for the last leg of our trip.
It was an amazing trip. We travelled 6,500 kilometres by car, and walked several hundred on foot (that’s what it felt like, anyway!). We slept in everything from hotels, apartments, friends’ homes, bed and breakfasts, youth hostels, to a night in a castle. The food was memorable, from the sausages to the mussels, fresh strawberry cakes, waffles, macarons, frog legs, schnitzel, cheeses and wonderful wines, and beers, to the french fries.
But it is also just lovely to be home again, puttering in my kitchen, back in the classroom, and back in the garden. Those weeds have been calling and there’s a wonderful satisfaction in digging until I’m sweaty and have a heaped wheelbarrow of dandelions and chickweed to toss onto the compost pile. We planted our garden the day before we left, and it’s up and thriving. If I look at the yard and all our flowerbeds as a whole, I feel overwhelmed, but if I just tackle one small section at a time, I’m rewarded with a feeling of accomplishment. The fragrance of the lilacs as I work is my reward.
To keep me hydrated while slogging away at the garden, I’ve been enjoying frosty glasses of Chia Limeade – the Mexican inspired agua fresca (fresh water). Super healthy chia seeds are also my secret weapon when travelling. I always pack a small ziplock bag of the seeds in my suitcase, and add them daily to my bottle of drinking water. I fill a one-litre bottle half full with water, add about 1½ to 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, shake vigorously for a minute or so, then fill the bottle with more water, or some juice for flavour, if I have it.
The chia seeds have no taste, but add a lovely texture to the water, and since the seeds absorb so much water, they help keep me hydrated and add fiber and extra nutrition to my diet, which is often missing with all the restaurant food and lack of fresh vegetables when travelling. I mean, french fries (especially wonderful in Belgium, where they were invented) and lattés, and gelato and wine are absolutely essential to enhance the travel experience, but don’t exactly provide a balanced eating plan. A daily hit of chia seeds helps fill the nutritional gap a bit.
Plus, chia seeds make drinking water, or lemonade, or limeade, much more fun.
* * * * *
Agua Fresca de Chia or Chia Limeade
slightly adapted from a recipe by Christine Sanchez-Enkerlin (as promised, from my Mexican cooking class)
- 3 juicy limes or lemons, plus more for garnish if desired
- 2 litres (2 quarts) water
- ¾ cup (165gms) sugar, or other sweetener, like honey or stevia, to taste
- ¼ cup (40gms) chia seeds
Squeeze the juice from the limes (either using two forks, or a citrus reamer) into a large 2 litre pitcher.
Add half of the water, the sugar, and the chia seeds. Stir for one minute, until the sugar has dissolved and the chia seeds are starting to swell. If you don’t stir during this initial contact with water, the seeds can stick together and form clumps. Add the remaining water, taste, and adjust the sweetness if needed.
Stir or shake the agua fresca before pouring, to distribute the seeds. Some of the lighter seeds will float on top and some will sink. After the agua has been stored in the refrigerator for a day or more, most of the seeds will sink to the bottom.
Serve well chilled, or over ice cubes.
*Note: If you serve the drinks with drinking straws, you can use the straw to stir up the seeds as they settle – kind of like a mini-micro bubble tea. I forgot to use straws in the photos I took.
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