Last weekend we went on a weekend getaway to a mountain town that is popular with tourists in this country. The mountains, which shot up into the clouds and made us gasp, were nothing short of spectacular. The shopping was unique and affordable (never pay more than half the asking price). The food, particularly the beef pizza at Stella's, was great. The lodging - a hostel called The Lily Pad - was chocked full of meandering Europeans in sandals, all on their way through Asia for one reason or another.
And speaking of Europeans, the best part were our traveling companions, our good friends Robin and Tanja and their two kids, Juda and Zoe. They are Dutch (as in from the Netherlands, not from Holland, MI, like me). Robin is 6 ft. 8 in., and their son is 6 months younger than Zion but towers over him by at least a head. Their English is better than ours, which is just one of the languages other than Dutch in which they are fluent. They are funny and adventurous and so different from our American friends (in a refreshing way), so that being with them is always a great time.
In fact, if we hadn't been traveling with Europeans, we probably would not have loaded Brave and I on a bus to travel through the mountains for 5 hours at break-neck speed (don't read that, Mom), and we probably would not have stayed in a hostel for 15 U.S. dollars a night in a room with pink ruffled comforters. If we would have been traveling with Americans, we would have forked over the money for plane tickets, and we would have stayed in a nice hotel, and we would have missed the beautiful villages that dotted the countryside along the way, and we would have missed the hostel lounge quarters with TV and over-sized pleather sofas and fresh local coffee.
Throw in the ski-lift that we braved up the mountain through the rain with five kids to the Higherland Inn, where the kids gawked at a scraggly goose and crawled around in the warming house on well-worn pillows, and where we were fed the spiciest pork dish we've stomached to date, and you could say we had one heck of a time.
Relaxing? You guessed it. Not hardly. Small children plus weekend in the mountains in Asia does not equal relaxation. Worth it? Absolutely.
Thanks, Robin and Tanja, for the memories. You have been, for us, a gift. We sure will miss you next year. May you find good things and have good times in your new home. Keep saving for your trip to America with us! We will hold you to it, you know. We'll hit Broadway and the Rockies and maybe even go surfing. You'll gain fifteen pounds and a taste for Country Western music, and you won't be sorry you came.
Here's to the people we meet along the way.