Recap Fifty-one Days In
Upon leaving Tangier on June 17, we flew to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. (You can read here about our nearly free lodging while there, and/or take a look at Charley’s masterful photos of our time.) Tenerife was a good chance for us to slow down a bit, as our trip has been a lot of sightseeing and museum-going. Sometimes, it’s actually pretty exhausting to spend all your time sightseeing and museum-going; for an extended trip, it’s important to have time to recharge, the way most of us do when we’re home by staying in and relaxing. Having a prepaid week at a really nice resort was our chance to do just that, and we had a nice chance to see some of Tenerife at a more casual pace during the week.
We rented a car, which Charley was kind enough to drive for me because I can’t drive manual transmission cars, and had some fun going around the island. Early on, we stopped by the Los Cristianos nightlife area to take a look around. This was also our first chance after the attack in Orlando to stop at a gay bar called Playa Flor, and we made sure to hit one up and toast our fallen LGBT brothers and sisters half a world away. It was a good time to relax and catch an (English) showing of Finding Dory, as well as take some sightseeing trips to El Teide, the highest point in Spain and (according to Wikipedia at least) one of the most visited national parks in the world. The view from the top is truly incredible, and the view goes as far as the other islands.
From Tenerife, we headed to London on June 24. We had already visited London earlier in May, but this time our brief weekend stopover had a specific purpose: we wanted to see London Pride festivities. This was also the start of our record eleven straight days of free hotel lodging, so it didn’t cost us too much to stop in for a couple days and celebrate Pride for both ourselves and the London LGBT and allied community.
After spending some time in London, it was time to head back to mainland Europe. We boarded the Eurostar train from London to Brussels, bound for the seat of the European Union and beer mecca. We spent five nights in Brussels, continuing our free hotel spree that we started in London, at the Aloft Brussels. While there, we enjoyed as many Belgian beers as our palates could handle, but the real star of the show was the EU visitor center, the Parlamentarium (spelled correctly here with only one i). Our visit was shortly after the “Brexit” vote, where the UK voted to leave the EU, but it generally seemed to be business as usual while we were there. It’s really inspiring that, for all its faults, the EU project has managed to unite almost thirty countries with over twenty distinct languages into a single body that’s determined to move the continent forward together. The technology at the Parlamentarium was among the most impressive we’ve seen, and the real star of the show was an exhibit that placed a map of Europe on the ground, with mobile pedestals that visitors can push over city dots to see and hear information about that city. We got our fill of museums, including a really great Magritte museum and an impressive Musical Instrument Museum as well.