Road Trip: Part I – Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland

Cheese and bicycles – market day in Holland

Musicians are itinerant; you go where the work is. While I’m not on the move as much as pre-pandemic, I sometimes get to accompany my daughters on their adventures. In March, Eliana had a European tour with five concerts in five cities traveling through seven countries, two public Q&A sessions, and a master class. I was designated driver and Alessandra tagged along as page-turner in our little Ford rental packed to the gills. Eliana’s long-time collaborator (and our good friend), English pianist Simon Lane, followed our route on his motorcycle.

Our first stop was Brussels, a handsome but somewhat staid city. The recital (Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Brahms, and Chopin) was part of an esteemed salon series in the mansion of the premiere collector of 19th Century Belgian impressionists. He has a one-of-a-kind art nouveau French Pleyel grand piano and the house feels like a museum with every square inch covered with paintings.

Concert in Brussels
I had a morning swim in this beautiful public pool.
Note the individual changing rooms for each swimmer.
I cancelled out the virtuous morning swim with this Brussels-style Belgian waffle with chocolate, strawberries, and whipped cream

We then headed to Nijmegan in Holland for another concert. It was market day when we arrived with ravishing stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese, flowers, grass-fed meat, everything one could imagine. We also witnessed people playing soccer dressed up in huge balloons. They would deliberately run into competitors and knock them over, leaving them floundering with their feet in the air.

Dutch people are strange

We then drove down through Germany with lunch in a rural pub outside of Worms. I was hoping to make it to the famous cathedral to see where Martin Luther defended himself before Emperor Charles V in 1521 but it was pouring rain and we had another 350 miles to drive.

Diet of Worms: Holsteiner Schnitzel mit Speck
aka “heart attack on a plate”
(breaded pork cutlet with fried egg and bacon)

Stopping overnight in Lugano, Switzerland, we stayed in a hotel oozing with Swiss professionalism and awoke to breathtaking views before packing up and heading south to the Italian frontier after breakfast.

Old school hotel
Morning mist: Lake Lugano (on the right) and the Alps

Stay tuned for part two, next week – Italy!

David Yang, Artistic Director

Brahms E Minor Cello Sonata by Eliana Yang on YouTube
Brahms E Minor Cello Sonata
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