Winter came and went. It was time to return to Amsterdam to visit for the last time. In April the Amsterdam Tulip Festival beckoned so off we went to the Keukenhof Gardens, in Lisse. A continuous display of 7 million tulips welcomed us. We walked and walked and walked. To me these massive beds of perfect flowers become deadening to the senses. I'm sorry, I'd rather absorb the beauty of one, or a small group of tulips. Today I cannot remember a single flower and whether they were different from those few we have here in front of our house. A good time was had by all and we returned to Teubingen.
Ellen and James paid us a visit just before we flew back to Toronto. This time we did include something for the men which was the Mercedes - Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Here I remember walking in the tourists' door and being confronted by a replica of the first Mercedes ever built. Running. The PR guy was already into his lecture in heavily accented English about the origin of the first car. He claimed it was this Mercedes (which is actually not true – the French were already staging races with a variety of their cars a couple of decades earlier). The Germans were the first to patent an automobile which was a Mercedes so that they could protect the sale of the automobile. This claim to fame annoyed me right at the outset of the tour. I have never been a fan of Mercedes styling so the view of the cars didn't excite me but the extensive collection of old cars and boats that the Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II had built for himself was very impressive. To see these on display was the essence of the trip for me.
I remember trying to teach Ellen and James how to drive a gearshift car. Separately of course. Teaching this skill is not easy and learning this skill is not easy either, particularly if the person already knows how to drive an automatic.
“Let out the clutch a little and then a little more until you feel the car move. Stop here. Play with the clutch pushing it in and out slightly. Learn to feel the sweet spot. Do this again and again. Memorize this spot for the future. The sweet spot is different for every car. When you are ready to go allow the clutch to come up all the way, provide some gas and drive.”
Ellen got it. James did not.