Friday, July 15, 2005

At home in Europe

After six weeks traveling through France and Italy, it took some old fashioned Dutch hospitality to make us feel at home in Europe. We stayed for several days in Basel with family friends who had not seen Yvonne for over 20 years, but who welcomed us as if we had known them all our lives.

Truth be told, we were homesick after so many weeks on the road and dying for a place where we wouldn’t feel like tourists just passing through. At the house of Hans and Henny Jansonius, we had a sense for the first time of being completely comfortable in Europe.

The Germans, with their endless inventory of human emotions, have two very good expressions for describing these kinds of feelings:
Gemutlichkeit – cozy ambiance, the comfort of a home kitchen
Sich wohl fuhlen – literally to feel well about yourself, the contentedness of feeling accepted

Days we played soccer in the park and picked local raspberries. Nights we sat outside for home-cooked meals and lively conversation. After four days we left with a new spring in our step, clean laundry and the warm glow of a new-found friendship.