Trips to Amsterdam – Part One and Part Two

Charles, our son had flown in already on a prearranged flight bought from Air Miles dollars we had accumulated over the years. The challenge was to find the old record store in the city centre advertised in the papers. We dropped off the ladies near the shops they wanted to visit and followed a good map. We quickly learned that in the heart of the city there are no stop signs. You simply stick your nose out and if no one is coming, proceed. All streets in this part of the city have no signs regarding left or right turns or slow, or stop. The only traffic is bicycles. Lots of them and fast. And they always have the right-of-way. Even motorized bicycles have the right of way and are allowed to travel on the sidewalks of bigger streets. It seems cars had no privileges. We did find the record store and they did have old records. Not too many but outrageously expensive. Charles could not even afford to buy one.

Ellen and James did take us to a beach on the North Sea just to go there but the restaurants were closed and the wind was bitter. Late fall had already conquered the weather and it was cold. Charles had to get back to his store in Waterloo, Ontario, and journeyed home. We also soon departed. The drive back to Teubingen was uneventful. But now I can brag, “I drove in Amsterdam”. And I do on occasion.

Again Ellen visited us late in fall. Again she had a destination planned. She wanted to visit Lake Constance also called Bodensee. Lake Constance is the largest lake in Germany and the shores touch Austria and Switzerland. The view of the Alps is supposed to be spectacular from the south side of the large body of water. Ellen wanted to drive right around the lake so we could see the Alps.

So off we went the next day. It had snowed quite heavily during the night. I was confident my BMW would perform as directed. Ellen is an excellent navigator so we agreed not to take the Autobahn just to see more of rural Germany despite the snow. Driving was quite squirrely once in a while but luck was with us. We arrived at the city on the Bodensee shore called Konstance (?). Here at the edge of the water was an old abbey which had been occupied by a poet Ellen had read. A house mother let us in and the two spent most of the afternoon talking about the woman who had cloistered herself in these rooms simply to write alone and undisturbed.

By now it was too late to drive around the lake and we set off for home. We did stop in at Friedrichshafen where the model exists of the Hindenburg zeppelin but the museum was just closing. The woman in charge gave me a fine booklet to take home. Later, on another trip (to Austria) we stopped in again and were permitted to actually crawl into the replica.

MORE pages to follow: click the page numbers below!
Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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