How we have made it to mid-October is beyond me. It’s still 90 degrees outside, and while fall has arrived in Mississippi, it is ever so confused. I have just returned from The Netherlands and Belgium where fall was at its best, with leaves crunching under my feet and the cool breeze calling for leggings, boots, and sweaters for all.
This year’s Memphis & Mississippi International Sales Mission took our group to Europe for sales calls, media appointments, and two unveilings of a mobile blues marker representing the Mississippi Blues Trail. We began our journey in Delft, a picturesque Dutch town an hour’s drive outside of Amsterdam. They are known for Delftware, the blue and white ceramic pottery that is hand-painted and glazed in a process that has been used for centuries.
I enjoyed getting to run through the cobblestone streets of Delft, exploring the canals and architecture of the town. On my Saturday morning run, I discovered a market that was set up throughout the city center that included fabrics, Delftware, antiques, and just about anything else people were willing to buy. The shopaholic in me couldn’t wait to get back and grab my purse, but the runner prevailed and I finished three miles in the heart of this charming town.
Delft was our home base in The Netherlands because of the USA Go Wild consumer event that we worked, sharing Memphis and Mississippi directly with people who were interested in visiting our area. To kick off the show, we hosted our first blues marker unveiling for over 150 tour operators and journalists complete with live blues music from Mississippi bluesman Vasti Jackson, a Southern barbecue-style supper, and “Mississippi saxophones” for everyone to play a little blues of their own.
My dear friend and “partner-in-crime,” Zach Holifield, turned 30 as we were in the air headed to Holland. We celebrated with birthday crowns and a birthday boy button over breakfast boxes on the flight, but it wasn’t until Friday night that we truly got to celebrate with a proper dinner, toast, and Dutch-themed cake. I will forever remember Zach’s 30th when I see bread baskets, cumquats, and carafes.
Our next stop on the mission was Belgium. We hit the ground running in Brussels, immediately upon arrival, splitting into sales and press teams, dividing and conquering. That night we met back up for a walking tour of Brussels’ city center and dinner at Chez Leon, a restaurant known for its mussels and pommes frites. Oh, how I love the abundance of french fries in this part of the world!
In Belgium, one of my favorite days included media visits in Mechelen, a Flemish city between Antwerp and Brussels. We explored the city on foot between appointments and had coffee in the beautiful town square that sits in the shadow of St Rumbold’s Cathedral. I love people-watching and there is truly no better place to gaze than in a city’s square with an exceptional cup of coffee. That goes for the Deep South just as much as Europe!
Our last night in Brussels included another blues marker unveiling at The Music Village, a cool music venue in the heart of the city. Tour operators, media, and representatives from the American Embassy joined us for a night of blues that only Mississippi can provide. Vasti mesmerized the crowd with stories of our state and tunes to go along with them. Music really is a great equalizer and it is such a joy getting to share Elvis, Tupelo, and Mississippi with music lovers from across the world.
It was a productive, fun trip and my hope is that both the fall weather and all of the wonderful people we met and shared Memphis and Mississippi with will make their way to see us very soon.
2016 Miles to Go: 799