Thursday, May 8, 2014

 Saturday, May 3 – Terneuzen, again

We were literally on the last bus out of Dodge City.  The only folks left on board were Fran and Skip who were waiting for a cab to take them to the apartment they have rented for the week.  We saw Skip as we were going down the gangway and he told us that Fran was minimally better this morning but that they were hopeful she would be able to see most of Amsterdam.  Tessa the Cruise Director made sure they had entry tickets to Keukenhof Gardens as well as their food vouchers.  Now, if only Fran feels up to it…

We rode to Schipol Airport with Barry and Nancy whose plane was delayed so they were able to sleep in a little this morning after the Red Light District tour and packing at midnight.  We were the only ones not flying out today, so we were able to sleep in, too.  The trip to the airport was uneventful and we arrived around 9:30.

Background:  Our Dutch connection for the next several days will be our friend Edwin van den Hooven.  Edwin was a 32-year-old Rotterdam school administrator and teacher when he stayed with us in March, 1992.  At the time we noted that he was closer in age to our children than to us [22 years later, that’s still true], but we and Emily loved Edwin from the start.  David paid a return visit in November 1992 to learn about the Dutch school system and to do a little sight-seeing.  Emily visited during her vacation while studying in England [1996] and we came for several days [more on that a bit later] in the spring of 1997.  We have not seen each other in 17 years.

After off-loading our luggage, David went in search of a trolley only to find the bags already placed on one when he returned.  MA was trying to push it to the door, but David relieved her of that task and we entered the terminal to search for the Meeting Point.  We had tried to arrange our pick-up outside so that our friend Edwin would not have to pay to park, but the Meeting Point really made more sense.  It is a large red and white tiled construction in the middle of the Arrivals Hall, hard for anyone to miss.  It was only 9:45 when we approached it, but Edwin was there ahead of us.

Smiles.  Handshakes.  Hugs.  More hugs.  Once the greetings were done, we headed to Edwin’s car which seemed to be parked in Terneuzen.  If Schipol is a large airport, the parking areas are proportionally as large.  Our only mishap occurred on a down-sloping people-mover.  David turned the trolley around so the bags would not give in to gravity only to have the whole cart pivot and have the bags give in to gravity.  Luckily, there was no one ahead of us and Edwin grabbed the 2 larger bags while David went farther ahead and retrieved the smaller of the runaways. 

We were able to stow all the luggage in Edwin’s Alfa Romeo [a 4-door model] with one suitcase on the rear seat with MA.  After that, he made like a rat in a maze and found his way out of the airport road system and onto what would be comparable to an interstate highway like I-10.  We did not realize that the drive from the airport to Edwin’s home was a 2-1/2 hour trip.  We felt guilty knowing he would have to repeat this trek in just a few days.

We took an indirect route, though.  We had to pass Rotterdam on the way south.  Edwin’s son Olivier is currently living there so we went into the city to have lunch with him and his girlfriend.  Lunch was at the Hotel New York, the former headquarters building of Holland America Lines, our favorite cruise line.  When we last visited Rotterdam [to see Edwin, of course] in 1997, he booked us into this hotel because he knew of our affection for HAL.  The last time we saw Olivier [pronounced Oliver], we was 3 years old; now he is 20 and attending a local university.

We had coffee while we waited and, like all children, Olivier and friend were late.  Since he was getting a free meal, we know he would not be too late.  When he arrived, he had his girlfriend with him.  Not only were we meeting her for the first time, so was Edwin.  She was a lovely young lady and we all sensed the intensity of the youngsters’ relationship.

After a pleasant lunch and even more pleasant conversation, it was time to complete our journey to Terneuzen.  The time went quickly and soon enough we were at Edwin’s house.  Rather than let us take a room in a hotel, he gave us the complete house and he moved to his girlfriend’s house which, we discovered shortly after we moved the luggage inside, was another 45 minutes away.

Back in the car, we marveled at the scenery as we travelled the 45 minutes to Cadzand, a tiny village which is close to the border with Belgium.  We met Edwin’s inamorata Mariela and her 14-year-old son Ward [pronounced Vart].  Her daughter Marit [16] was otherwise occupied and we were not sure if/when we would meet her.

We stayed at Mariela’s through supper and beyond.  She made a wonderful fish stew and, between the 5 of us, there were no leftovers.  Ward is a quiet child but he can really eat!  The conversation ranged over a wide variety of topics with our assorted children and grandchildren the primary one.  Edwin is a Facebook friend of Emily’s, so he has been watching Harper Jane for a year now.  

We brought Mariela and Edwin a package from Baltimore, 2 items which are distinctly local – Berger chocolate cookies and Goetze’s Caramel Creams.  There is no way to explain them if you are not a Baltimorean.  Accept that they are local traditions and prime reasons for living in the city.  Little did we know, though, that Mariela is a baker’s daughter or that her brother Mario still operates the family bakery. The bread at dinner came from their shop as did the strawberry pie we had for dessert.  Ever the scientist, Edwin simply cut the pie into 5 wedges and, presto!, no leftovers.  Ward got the biggest piece.

We didn’t leave until after 9:00 and it was dark by the time we arrived back in Terneuzen.  Edwin let us in and we dragged our bags upstairs [very narrow and twisty] to settle into our new, albeit temporary, home.

Tomorrow – Terneuzen, Cadzand and ???





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