This is all I took for my four-week trip.
The purpose of my trip to Europe in August 2003 was to attend the International Congress on Carboniferous and Permian Stratigraphy in Utrecht, Nederland. This congress is part of a UNESCO subcommission and meets every four years to discuss questions about Carboniferous and Permian age geology. I have been attending these meetings since 1979. I usually sign up for a pre-meeting field trip and a post-meeting field trip on either end of the Congress. My first field trip was designed to leave from a town near Frankfurt, Deutschland and to arrive in Utrecht in time for the Congress. Accordingly, I bought my airline ticket to arrive in Frankfurt, Deutschland and a return flight back to the U.S. from Amsterdam, Nederland. After purchase of my airline ticket, I received an e-mail stating that my first field trip had been cancelled but that I could substitute with another field trip in the Ruhr Gebiet of Deutschland. This new field trip looked very interesting, so I signed up for it. However, it was a shorter trip and left from Utrecht. This meant that I had extra days and had to make my way from Frankfurt to Utrecht. I decided to take advantage of this opportunity and visit some places I had never seen in my previous trips. So I bought a EurailPass and the guidebook, "Rick Steves' Amsterdam, Bruges and Brussels, 2003" by Rick Steves and Gene Openshaw (Avalon Travel). After a little travelling, I would then take the pre-meeting field trip, then attend the congress and finally take the last field trip. The post-Congress field trip was planned to examine the geology along the southern part of Belgium from the Ardennes to Tournai. After that trip, I planned to go from Utrecht to Amsterdam and spend a few days exploring that city. However, as you will see in my account below, those plans were also changed. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures.
Little did I know that I would arrive in Europe during an historical heat wave. Temperatures topped 40 degrees Centigrade (a record for Deutschland)! Sadly, thousands of people died in many parts of western Europe that August.
From Frankfurt, I took the ICE (Inter City Express) to Köln and transferred to the Thalys train to Brussels. These are super fast trains and I was told we were traveling 300 km/hour!
After Brugge, I traveled by train to Brussels where I transferred to another train to Utrecht. I spent the night in Utrecht and the next morning met with the field trip described next.
The heat wave breaks half-way through the week in Utrecht. Temperatures were normal August temperatures after that.
During the Congress, I found out that my post-Congress field trip had been cancelled. Although I was very disappointed to miss the field trip, the cancellation meant that I had many extra days to explore the Benelux countries. Luckily, I still had un-used time on my EurailPass. The following is what I did with that extra time.
From Maastricht, I took a train to Namur where I transferred to a "stop" train to Luxembourg City. I did get to see the interesting Carboniferous geology along the river from Liege to Namur. After walking around Luxembourg City, I once again took the stop train to Namur, tranferring to a train to Brussels and then again to Amsterdam. After a day's rest in Amsterdam with friends, I flew back to the U.S.
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