|Journal - 2010|
Page 24 of 24
Monday, August 16, 2010 - In Ostende, Belgium
Am sitting in a cafe in Oostende, Belgium... watching it rain and blow and be it's typical European self. I have eight hours to kill until the 1 AM ferry sailing that will take me back to England... arriving about 4 AM. Will have to sit somewhere there until it gets light. Don't fancy jumping back to left side in the dark. But am now coming from having spent a great weekend with Niels in Germany. He still doesn't have his bike back on the road... although it is back in Germany now getting looked at. Will be a few months yet.
I had a great time at his place. He rented a bike for the weekend and so Saturday he took me on quite the tour. Went through some of the back streets of Bonn, the capital of West Germany before it got moved back to Berlin, then headed down to Remagen. I had gone through Remagen on my way to his place on Friday, and it tweaked something in my memory (from watching too many late-night WWII war movies no doubt) about a bridge, and crossing the Rhine and so on. Anyway, I asked Niels and he said yes, that there was a bridge the the Germans had failed to destroy and so the Americans had crossed the Rhine with “dry feet”. Only the bridge piers are there now, but it is quite impressive. Then went for a countryside tour... up to a road race track at Nurbring. It was amateur hour and so there were all kinds of nuts on it. Some tearing the heck out of their family car's engine and tires, some in their $150,000 BMW's, some motorcycles with guys in full leathers, one with his girlfriend on the back and panniers. All mixed together. Lots of accidents I guess, and sure enough the track closed after a while due to an accident somewhere. Anyway, went for some more riding, through vineyard country and back home. Great ride and perfect weather.
Sunday's weather sucked big-time and so we left the bikes parked and went to a museum in Bonn on the post-war history of Germany then went to Cologne for about three hours in a spa. I'd never been in one like that before. The Kamloops YMCA just doesn't cut it anymore. They had several pools of various temperatures and mineral content, as well as dry and wet saunas (about eight, all different) as well as sleeping rooms, bars, restaurants, you name it. We only partook of the pools, saunas and bar. Wow... that knocks you out... the sauna that is But had a great Mexican dinner (my first real Mexican since leaving Canada) and that polished out a weekend of non-stop action. Niels was a great host and I give Chez Niels a 9 out of 10. He has a professional coffee machine in his apartment and will make to order but I found that it was best just to go with the barista's recommendation. He only gets marked down for having a 100 gallon aquarium with giant algae eaters that are nocturnal and scrape the glass all night. The sound is identical to a cat scratching at the glass. Earplugs are definitely recommended if staying there! But other than that... 10 out of 10.
Anyway, headed out this morning under not-too-great skies that only got worse as I came towards the coast. I got off the autobahn once I hit the Netherlands figuring that Dutch and Belgian countryside would be preferable scenery-wise, but found that not to be the case. Gads... the Belgian towns are ghastly. Dark red brick row housing set about 15 feet back from the sidewalk. Most do no landscaping at all preferring to either pave or gravel their front yards for parking. No flowers, few plants of any sort. Ugh. Anyway, after about two hours of that, I headed back to the autobahn. Besides... it's easier in the rain. Just drive straight if you can. Sort of another hurricane today and with so much water on the highway, it was sometimes hard to see the lane markers. So I just followed the lights ahead.
And here I sit. On my second cup now. The coffee comes with a tiny ice cream cone filled with a liquored eclaire type of cream. Yummmm. I can head back to the ferry terminal early, but have to wait until the 6:45 PM ferry departs.
Have it all sorted out now with storing the bike and all that and so will dump the bike and pick up a car at the airport on Wednesday for a quick trip up to Glasgow to meet the family, coming in at 6 AM on Thursday morning. With them being up all night on the plane, and me being up all night at the airport, we should all be in the very best of moods when we get together. Might remind me why we don't do the family vacation thing very much! Noooo, I'm just joking. Nothing a good night's sleep can't fix.
I just hope it doesn't rain the whole time we're in Scotland and England. I often remember what Diane said last April. “Well it CAN'T rain all summer!” HA!!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - In London, England
Not where I expected to be at this time when the trip started out, but all-in-all, things worked out OK. Very nice to have come back this way. Some really unforgettable days.
So I never did find that tree really. Saw some damn close candidates though. Sat under some darn good ones, but not the one I was looking for. But I don't care. Looking is ALL the fun. It kind of sucks to achieve your goal. Then what do you do? I mean how would I feel sitting in Korea right now knowing that such a dream had been completed? Better to sit in London trying to figure out how best to approach it next time. The trip has been such a great motivator for me on a day-to-day basis for several years that I'm not sure what I would do without it. I think I will take a break for a while, but will revive it once again. I just need a bit of a break.
So I will end my Spot transmissions here, but will let you know when I make it back to Kamloops. I will also post some more pictures when I get home. Hopefully I will be able to resuscitate the hard drive on which most are stored as it is not responding right now.
Thanks to all of you for your emails, help, encouragement and for your interest. It really was sustaining for me at times. Thank you all. So have a great summer... or what's left of it. Bob is still hanging in there as well and says hi, although I think he will need some serious restoration work over the winter. Yeah... me too.
Love to you all and thanks once again.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 11 November 2010 08:38|