We have been here twice before. December 2021 for Brendan and Sofie’s wedding, see blog, and in 2020, see blog for then.
To see all our Pakistan video clips, 2019, 2020, 2023 click here
Lahore is the second most populous city in Pakistan after Karachi and 26th most populous city in the world, with a population of over 13 million. It is the capital of the province of Punjab where it is the largest city. Lahore is one of Pakistan’s major industrial and economic hubs, with an estimated GDP of $84 billion as of 2019. Wikipedia
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan. It is the country’s ninth-most populous city, with a population of over 1.2 million people, and is federally administered by the Pakistani government as part of the Islamabad Capital Territory. Built as a planned city in the 1960s, it replaced Rawalpindi as Pakistan’s national capital. Wikipedia
When we were here last, November 2019, a thousand rupees equalled $6.44 USD ($9.44 Aussie bucks). March 2023 a thousand rupees = $3.75 USD or $5.56 Australian. In other words it is very difficult for the people here. Everything has risen in cost y close to 50% this year alone. For example, water is a dollar more this week than last week which is a lot.
As usual, italic notes are Narda – the other type is moi…
Also, I did not put some sideshows below on Auto-play – so click the little arrow on the sides to see the next photo…forgot the reason…perhaps I thought at the time someone would want to dwell on a particular photo in the series – have no idea why. Let me know in the comments at the end which you prefer. In fifteen years of blogs here only one person has ever left a comment, that was because I spelt an old girlfriend’s name wrong – damn! You could be the second to leave a comment.
leaving Kuala Lumpur
Woke up at 5.30, our host Steve met us at 7.30 and then off in our Grab taxi. All went very smoothly. The Batik Air flight left at 12.30 right on time. We had never tried these guys before, but I think it was great. Mainly because the departure and arrival times (4 pm) are so civilised. Most of the fancy airlines manage 3 am for arrival in Pakistan.
The leg room and recline was fine ..as good as any economy seat. The food was OK, we had to purchase it. We also purchased a pillow each…never seen that before…but it was only $1 …nice little souvenir. The toilets were pretty bad by the end of the 6-hour flight, but you can’t win em all.Sofie and her mum Niggi were waiting there with their driver, Brendan has an after-school commitment he could not get out of. Back in their nice home now. Sofie has done some gorgeous decorating. It looks very homey.
This my little amateur sketch of part of the living room.
This stunning work by the real artist in the family, Sofie.
We have not flown on Batik Air Indonesia before, certified as a 3-Star Airline by Skytrax. It was budget all the way though comfortable. The plane was new with more leg room than other budget airlines we have been on. Meals were quite basic and cost little, I got some vegetable thing with rice and Narda had her usual something that once was alive meal. We even had to pay for a pillow, water, coffee. We didn’t buy a blanket. The pillows were cheap at about three bucks USD. There was no entertainment screen or plugs or charging. The stewardesses were friendly. Overall to save a few bucks it is OK for a six-hour flight.
Arriving in Lahore has been difficult in the past, two times, because there have been other flights, creating huge lines at customs and long waits for luggage. This time it was just our flight which was half full. We were the first at the passport window and our luggage came rather quickly as there were not many of us. No one checks us, or our luggage. Probably should have brought Brendan a carton of wine. Oh well, next time.
Sofie and her mother with their driver met us. We usually arrive at three am when so many others do also. This time at three pm there was no one else in the car park, the road into town was very sparse and we got to Swedish Flats, the wonderful home of Sofie and Brendan before Brendan got home from school.
Our first impression was of the difference a woman in a house can make. Not that Brendan’s house wasn’t homey, after all, Narda had bought stuff for it the last time we were here, but now there was so much more. Very homey.
Narda is showing the inside of the house below. A walled compound with guards. Inside we could be in any upscale neighbourhood in the world, except the air is a bit smoggy for us. Like Lahore was rated the most smoggy city in the world today.
Terrell and I happily went for our favourite walk to get coffee from the local chai wallah! Then off to Jalal’s at Main Market for groceries and snacks.
I did not put the photos below on Auto-play – so click the little arrow on the sides to see the next photo…
On the first night Bren and Sof took us to our favourite restaurant…all western food, called Rina’s. I shared a great pepperoni (without pork?) pizza with Sof, Terrell had his remembered favourite dish, spinach lasagna and Bren had a chicken salad-pasta thing. Not sure exactly though I’m sure it was spicy.
Feb 17, 2023
Bren and Sof have half days on Friday. We took a longish nap at lunch then went to the international club. I spent the hour chatting with Dave, an English guy who has just returned to Lahore because his Pakistani wife wants to be close to family again. Bren and Terrell worked out in the gym.
Then at p.m. back there. We met up with Lulu again, she was pleased to see us. Nice long chats with her. She’s had an incredible life, travelling all through the middle east with her husband in the 60s, then settling with him (a Pakistani) in Lahore and raising 2 kids, both of whom returned to the USA. Her husband died 16 years ago and she now lives in Lahore, and would never go back to the west. Interesting person, with a long history of involvement at the International Club.
We went outside and were welcomed by the “boys”, Bren’s close Pakistani friends. Atif, who lent his nice car decorated with to Bren and Sof for their wedding celebrations. Faizan who got us lost driving to the reception. He also recently married and showed me lots of photos. Then there is Cash, a Pakistani with a plummy English accent, and with lots to say and strong opinions on everything. There was a long discussion led by Cash on the merits of psychedelics in finding truth. This man is a devout Muslim. Terrell had quite a bit of stuff to say on the topic 🤔 When asked what my experience was I told him “codeine is great, makes love everyone and everything”. One of the other guys (I had not met him before) insisted that reading and studying was the best way to finding truth. I tried to agree, but no one heard me.
It was a fun night. Imran came to pick us up, we went home with him, Sof and Terrell and me leaving Bren to party on. He assured us Cash would drive him home. I must say I was a little concerned about that. He’s home, Imran took him home.
Feb 19, 2023
Now here we are up early…..just had an instant coffee, I’m back on my 16/8 fasting regime. Life is good in Lahore.
Last night we had an interesting meal at Dan and Dan, a hotpot place. The beef was really something, very tender and tasty. So also the eggplant strips coated in stay sauce, which Saquib and I both thought was chicken. Bit of a cliche ‘tastes like chicken’. I had a good conversation with Saquib, Sofie’s dad, and the reason why Chris made it to his brother’s wedding. He was telling me about his family property in Gujarat.…..?.? here there is a 300 year tradition of helping people and teaching. I want to learn more. I also enjoyed meeting Niggi again, this warm-hearted, generous woman.
I did not put the photos below on Auto-play – so click the little arrow on the sides to see the next photo…
We had spent some significant time in the hours before downing snacks with Bren and Sof and I thought I had left no room, but it was all good. Plenty of extra space there..
The walk to our local central is not without risk. Cars, trucks, motor bikes, rickshaws, donkeys pulling carts, pedestrians – so much more, going in whatever direction there is an opening. We wear N-95 masks while out as the pollution is heavy. Actually, Lahore was the most polluted city in the world for a couple of these days. “Lahore top list of most polluted cities, Karachi sixth in world. https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2023/02/26/lahore-atop-list-of-most-polluted-cities-karachi-sixth-in-world/ Here is an article as to why Lahore is so polluted, https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/11/29/pakistan-lahore-pollution-fossil-fuels-climate/ We took an auto rickshaw (tuk tuk to us) home. It is only five-minutes to get home but we are tired of avoiding traffic and have a bag of groceries, so we grab a ride home. Last time the fee was one hundred rupees. This time we don’t ask how much and just give 200 rupees, and there is always such a big smile on the driver’s face and thankyou that the extra money makes it worthwhile. Narda put the app for their Uber equivalent, InDrive, on her phone and we have started using that for further distances. We always give an extra 100 rupees to them too. A hundred rupees is around 37-cents to us.
We love Rina’s Kitchenette. I always get the same, pasta with great cheesy sauce. Narda and Sofie shared a pizza and Brendan got something or the other that meat lovers get. A few dollars each. And my favourite drink here, pina colada, a cocktail made with rum, cream of coconut or coconut milk, and pineapple juice, though of course this is Pakistan, there is no rum in it which is great for me as I have not had any alcohol since 2005. Rina’s https://rinas.pk/
I see this dude above quite often wheeling around his furniture. We bought flowers for about seven bucks USD – in Australia the would be $60-$75.
Walked to local shops – pens notebooks – groceries – nap – gym with Brendan – evening dinner @ The International Club. There are always people from lots of places here. A few from where Brendan works, mostly businesspeople from South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Denmark, USA and so many more places. Good to speak with others. The food is good too. There is a gym, though a bit too hard core for me as I like the machines more than the free-weights which they seem to favour here. Brendan even has a trainer.
Narda has found a favourite stationary shop, she found it two times ago and again last time and low and behold it is still there, with all kinds of stationary stuff so she can draw and we found some odds and ends to give people along the way.
Out for breakfast with Brendan and Sofie at Bundu Khan Lahore – http://www.bundukhan.pk/ Desi Nashta –
slideshow of our days in Islamabad
11 am QConnect bus to Islamabad – to hotel – dinner with Phil’s parents at our Hotel Roomy in F6 –
Today Brendan left for Turkey with his grade 5 class for a school camp learning about space. Turkey has been in the news lot with Syria, having recently suffered catastrophic earthquakes in the southern border region, with 40,000 people so far losing their lives. A shocking thing. Bren and his students are a long way from there, so the camp wasn’t called off.
We left on the QConnect luxury bus (rated ‘business class’ italics deliberate:) headed to Islamabad. It’s a clean planned city purpose built as the capital of Pakistan. We stayed in a really nice hotel called Roomy Signature. The room was indeed roomy.
We met up with a couple of American music teachers, Tim and Gwen, with a long, interesting background in international schools. They were visiting their son Luke, living opposite Brendan and teaching at Lahore International School. We have lots of stories to share over dinner at our hotel.
The next morning, they picked us up with their school driver and showed us all the necessary sites. The museum of natural history, with a couple of competent science graduates telling the stories. Really nice.
Then to the central mosque, impressive.
And then the famous monument, and a craft museum which was dark, electricity down, but the little craft shops were open with nice stuff. Maybe I happened to buy some stuff but I’m not saying for sure 🙃 🤔
The cost of living has increased significantly for the locals. In November 2019, a thousand rupees cost us $6.44 USD ($9.44 AUD). In March 2023 a thousand rupees = $3.75 USD or $5.56 Australian. The rupee is continuing to fall…10% in the last weeks. Terrible for Pakistan. They are unable to pay for imports leaving ships full of goods standing in the harbour causing terrible shortages and price rises.
See https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/ for 2019 blog
With Luke’s parents in AM to museums – nap – afternoon InDrive to The Centarus Mall F8 – Jinnah Avenue – dinner cheesy noodles
- The Pakistan Monument is a national monument and heritage museum located on the western Shakarparian Hills in Islamabad, Pakistan. The monument was constructed to symbolize the unity of the Pakistani people. It is dedicated to the people of Pakistan who sacrificed their “today” for a better “tomorrow” The four large petals represent each of the four main cultures of Pakistan, the Punjabi, the Baloch, the Sindhi and the Pakhtun. The three smaller petals represent: the minorities, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Its elevation makes the monument visible from across the Islamabad-Rawalpindi metropolitan area and is a popular tourist destination
- Natural History Museums – The Pakistan Museum of Natural History has four divisions namely Botanical Sciences, Earth Sciences, Zoological Sciences and Public Services. The first three divisions are engaged in the collection, preservation, identification and research activities pertaining to plants, fossils & minerals and animals resources of Pakistan respectively, while the latter is responsible for mass education and popularization of the natural history through various displays, exhibits and dioramas.
- The Faisal Mosque is the national mosque of Pakistan, located in capital Islamabad. It is the fifth-largest mosque in the world and the largest within South Asia, located on the foothills of Margalla Hills in Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad. It is named after the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
Our new friends headed back to their son and his family in Swedish Flats.
We headed off to the Metro, a new adventure. It’s a great idea, a concrete track, in the city for buses only costing very little. It was full of locals. We quickly learned the protocols from the locals pointing and smiling. Boys in the back, girls in the front. I got a seat, Terrell was sandwiched in the back with all the males, pretty much standing the whole time, about 8 stops.
We did not have a destination in mind, which puzzled the girls sitting next to me as I asked where we should get off.
“We want to see a market”.
“Commercial or local?” she replied in good English.
“I have no idea”, I thought.
“Both” I replied.
She smiled and assured me she would let me know. So, with this non information I texted Terrell urgently to be sure he would somehow catch sight of me as I got off.
It all went well, we both got off at the same stop and headed off in search of chai. It was definitely a local area. (Understatement!). The chai wallah had an “upmarket” area we were to sit in, deep underground with NO light. He was very hospitable. I think we may have been the first to sit down there in quite some time.
A few scarf purchases later, we had lunch, neon noodles. Nice. Toilets navigated. It’s all good.
The return trip took us back to Centaurus Mall. I bought a groovy shalwar kameez with lovely material, but too big, it was tent like. Seriously, it needed tent pegs. I later had this altered at our local Main Market to my satisfaction, with sweet Sofie as translator.
Dinner in the mall. Mine: chicken and noodles, Terrell: noodles, but the cheese made it yummy.
Of course, Narda got another dress,
I did not put the photos below on Auto-play – so click the little arrow on the sides to see the next photo…
.The QConnect bus took us back to Lahore without incident, though I did spot a large bus with some significant roof damage, and men standing around looking at it. This was on the very steep decent coming back to Lahore. Not really sure what that was. Maybe they had just tipped it back upright. I did enjoy the fancy these decorated trucks heading west.
Bus back to Lahore – out with Sofie and Brendan’s for dinner to Rina’s
We decided to take Imran out with his family as a thank you. He’s a good guy. Unfortunately, he had to work and so we played host to his wife and 2 of his daughters. He was keen for us to meet Jennifer as she was home for a short time, working in Dubai. It was a nice experience, buffet in a speccie rooftop location. Food was good.
For some reason I cannot reconnect with Uber after our 3 months in India using them all the time. Nor can Terrell. We have finally managed to connect with InDrive, a similar local service by using our Aussie phone to verify us. Not sure what’s going to happen with our roaming charges. So, it’s working, sometimes with local folks helping us communicate with drivers in Urdu.
Evening dinner with Imran’s family – wife, Jennifer – her sister – buffet – I had fish A La Cart – Nestled in the city of Gardens, situated at the rooftop of one of the highest building around liberty and offers Indoor and Outdoor Dining with an extensive view of Lahore.
“Monal Lahore is the definition of contemporary Restaurant, serving the finest Cuisines with a combination of traditional and exciting flavours from around the world.” So they say – on some website.
Night Market Tour
The school generously paid for tickets for us and others to join the school community and go on a tour of the Lahore Fort. It is a huge complex, right next to the mosque in the old city. Beautiful. We met at school and were transported there in the school’s 12-seater bus. While waiting for the tour guide, we browsed the many souvenir shops.
Then the start of the tour was announced with a trumpet blast, and we were admitted through a low door. The tour guide was full of beans and gave us lots of information on this world heritage site and the restoration projects currently being undertaken. Incredible, everything lit strategically.
See our three clips:
Then there was quite a bazaar dance that went on for about twenty-minutes
This dance was more mild – Sufi extreme…
We got breaks from walking, watching different performances and also being transported in big tuktuk like vehicles. I enjoyed getting to know Brendan’s boss Nadine, a person I could easily be friends with. We both complained that it was way past our bedtime, a terribly late 9pm. 😴
After all the touring we ate a good meal on “food street”, generously paid for by Nadine and Chris in Pakistani fashion.
Bren home again after a week with his fifth graders in Turkey on the school camp in an area far from the devastation of the earthquakes. In southern Turkey and in Syria the damage and loss of life has been shocking. I think the total deaths are now close to 70,000.
Morning brekkie at my favourite place. It has the best sweet lassi. Lassi meethi
2 cups whole-milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, or to taste
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
Pinch of salt
1 cup ice cubes
- Step 1Combine all the ingredients in a blender with 1 cup cold water. Blend until smooth and serve.
My favourite drink is their Piña colada – of course without the rum…yumm – in picture below with Narda’s mint thingy
Sofie’s mum took us out to Breakfast at the English Tea House http://ethpakistan.pk/. A great way to start a Sunday. I had the eggs Florentine – in Australia it would have been $25 – $30, here about $5 Australian. I had a blueberry smoothie which was good.
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While Brendan was catching up on sleep, we attended a couple of sessions at a writer’s week. The second involved a book launch by an ex-student of Lahore International School. In his book he wrote of his kidnapping in Lahore and torture by extremists. He was held in captivity for 5 years. Lucky to be alive. It was a riveting speech, and I’m not going to read the book.
Too confronting for me
Does anyone remember Statler and Waldorf? They were the two old guys who provided a running commentary of Sesame Street. Well, we met their Pakistani brothers over lunch. Two educated gentlemen with opinions. Interesting conversation. They spoke of their support of Imran Khan, their views on the relationship with India, which they said was driven totally by politicians. Their view that the countries of the world who had confiscated weapons in their populations were the ones getting ahead. They compared Pakistan with Bangladesh in this regard. Pakistan remains heavily armed, Bangladesh does not. I want to research this some more.
Bren had an offer one can’t refuse of the box seat in the local cricket match, including full access to unlimited food. So, we joined Sof at her hairdresser for head and foot massage and hair wash. 😍 lovely.
I did not put the images below on Auto-play – so click the little arrow on the sides to see the next photo…
InDrive to Mall Road – breakfast/lunch at Grazer Mall 94, Soups: mushroom and chicken $1.95 USD each, sweet lassie $1.18 and mango smoothie $3.15 +$1.25 on top of it all for their 16% GST tax for a grand total of $9.50 USD for lunch – shopping at Imtiaz – Narda bought dress – InDrive back home gave 350($1.35) even though it was about 300 ($1.17).
Another strange experience with the InDrive person, who couldn’t find us at the flower market, The vendor helped by talking to the driver and we made a dare devil crossing of a busy road. Not quite comfortable with the tuk tuk, fast car, bus, and pedestrian mix on these roads. We need more practice and need to take a chill pill.
Nice dinner last night at Paola’s Mediterranean food restaurant. Just newly renovated, really lovely atmosphere. I ordered a pepperoni pizza again. Can’t seem to get past it. The pepperoni is made from chicken, and you would never know. This is because Muslims do not eat pork. Just because something is made from chicken does not mean it tastes like chicken. 😉
Here is their menu if you want some good food sent anywhere in the world – or at least in Lahore
Sidenote: just because it is made with tofu and tastes like chicken doesn’t mean some poor animal got snuffed just to taste like chicken. Hey, for those who don’t know – or care really, I was a tofu manufacturer in Adelaide for seven-years. Really. I even have a webpage – of course, https://tofu.neuage.us/
Today was going to be a down day because we just got new internet. So, catching up on blogging and bills etc. It was restful. Walked to the local street stall and on the way home bought more than a kilo of strawberries for the princely sum of less than $2 USD. Yum, so ripe. Just hope I washed them properly. Won’t know that till tomorrow morning.
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My tuk tuk take.
Driving to Sofie’s parents was a challenge. I covered my head with a scarf to blend in and Brendan kept driving confidently past the check points. This is the process, each time they drive to their home. Foreigners are not allowed into the “containment” area owned by the army. . Sometimes they check and send you back. Its a bit of hit and miss, but tonight it was busy and we slipped by unnoticed.
Saquib was there too. Dinner was lovely and we had interesting conversations about the current politics, Saquib assuring us that Imran Khan would win by a landslide. Niggi told us that he was being guarded by many women from the city, armed with sticks, who beat off any police who tried to arrest him on trumped up charges. It’s a funny image. She said she might join them.
Good morning, Pakistan. I survived the consuming of a great deal of non-sanitized strawberries. Today the sun is shining, little pollution. We headed out early to enjoy the blue sky and the quiet roads. I bought the requisite white vinegar using this Urdu phrase “sofed seriga”. It worked. We went home (stopped first at the other chai wallah) and sterilized the remaining strawberries. 4 parts clean water and one part sofed seriga.
Part of our local walk.
Then came the highlight of my trip. We went to the fancy home (Nadine and Chris) of the principal of the elementary school for a pleasant TGIF experience, lots of food and beer. She had actually offered me a job as middle school music teacher for the remaining 3 months of the year. I did think long and hard about it. If this offer had come at the end of our trip I would have done it. It would have an interesting experience, but we still have lots of travel paid for and I didn’t fancy cancelling it all.
But that was not the highlight. Brens new band was playing and the boys invited me to sing so I joined them for 2 songs singing harmony with the very capable lead singer who also played ukulele, Brendan playing a mean bass, and two other guys on guitar and single drum. This was something I had always wanted to do.
See the clip at https://youtu.be/rh_o7XGW6mY
You know, the cricket player Imran Khan, became prime minister, was ousted, and is trying to get back in as prime minister. He was injured in an assassination attempt recently in a long march episode from Lahore to Islamabad. Two days before leaving Lahore there was a big protest, rally, whatever, in front of the compound. Rumours were that the current government was going to arrest Imran. His compound has lots of tents in front, probably equal five NYC blocks or more. Apparently, women are camped out and have sticks to beat back police if they try to arrest him. Well Wednesday Brendan and Sofie got released from school at noon due to ‘trouble’ brewing and Thursday Brendan and Sofie got the call that there would be no school as the roads were blocked. The compound is near their school. To us, having taught in New York, it was equal to getting a snow-day. Narda was quite happy. We saw various Twitter clips with the army and police using water cannons and breaking car windows. Narda and I wanted to go and see what was going on but we were kind of told no. in my defense, my first degree, BA, was in journalism. And I fancy myself as a reporter of stuff. Anyway, we stayed near home.
to Sofie’s mother for dinner father there too – left 9.30
On our walk to and home from our daily grocery shopping we sat in the local park and were looked at with great interest, even talked to a few fellows.
Being an American I have a slight fascination with guns – like why people have them. In Pakistan every business has a (male) guard with a machine gun outside. They are always friendly. Never seen anyone come close to using one which I suppose is good. Here are a few of my gun toting guards…
March 05 Hung around house morning – worked on train trips in UK and started looking at flights for NY – Valencia. Brendan and Sofie to a wedding, we took a nap. Packages Mall_ https://youtu.be/eFH2CGigBtw Narda bought shoes at Ndure for rainy weather in UK, dinner at The Pantry –
Bit of this and that. Head massage, dinner at the club, and driven home by someone’s driver, then Packages Mall for some waterproof shoes. Found a bargain at Ndure (1,500 rupees which is around $6 USD. Will be useful in the rainy UK. Another run at Imtiaz. We are carrying a dongle which gives us internet on the go. Sometimes. So, we can order a driver or use WhatsApp. No Sim cards for us. Next time we will contact the embassy.
Coffee and cake at Second Cup,– ten-minute nap – InDrive to Al – Fatah to get my hair oil and InDrive back – later walked from Main Market to Imtiaz Narda bought dress and shoes at Imtiaz to go to Lulu’s.
My hair guru, Sofie, put me onto some hair oils to help me. My hair seems to be shorter than a few years ago and is thinning too quickly. Just because I am 75 is not a good reason to have hair loss – really, get with the program. I once had hair most to my waist in the 1960s, and it was black, now it is going grey at an alarming rate. Sofie, having had a bout with TB and losing hair discovered the oil of an onion rubbed into the scalp overnight regenerates hair. Narda already is complaining, and I haven’t even started. Something about I will have to sleep in the other bedroom when we get back home if I dare do such a treatment which of course I will. Her hair grew back long and thick and black – just because she was a hundred years younger than me doesn’t mean it won’t work with me. I did purchase two oils, one with onion extract but not with the smell. I am to use one treatment twice a week for two weeks then the onion extract one for a week and do that until my hair is thick and to my feet. So excited. Thanks hair-guru-Sofie. I am so lucky.
Dinner at home…
Yesterday we had another chai at our local street seller. We waved on arriving. This meant and was understood as “the usual please”. He made us one with sugar and one without. Cool. We sat in the back and had a pleasant conversation with a local office worker taking a break. Lots about the bad economics of Pakistan, the falling rupee and of course Imran Khan and the (unsuccessful) attempts of the opposition to have him arrested.
Narda asked a child’s parent for permission to take this photo – I called it photo of the day.
One of Narda’s go-to conversations with locals is re. Imran. Seems everyone we speak to is in favour of Imran or they are just fearful of disagreeing with Narda. If you don’t believe me, say you are an anti-vaxxer. For example, at an anti vax rally parade we happened to come across in The Hague, Narda confronted one of them and she got pushed – luckily she got out of their way and survived to ‘discuss’ vaxing with others since. Yes, we have had five, three of them boosters. We may have a future ‘conversation’ about pressed onion oil in hair, but aside of that we agree on most everything. I make fun of her and have lots to say about her meat eating and she pays me out for being a vegetable…lover, otherwise we are on the same page, well, except I still play Dylan and Janis Joplin when I can. Pretty good as we come from such a different background in some ways. Mainly, I did the hippie lots of LSD and everything else and she didn’t. I am still glad I did. I loved my years of doing lots of drugs, no regrets, remember them well, great experiences, but also happy I haven’t done any drugs since early 1980 when my mate Randy sent me a lots of LSD. I was a single parent at the time. When I told Sacha a few years ago he said his whole childhood made sense to him after hearing that. No drugs since early 1980, no alcohol since 2005, feel high all the time, happy. What more could a person want?
A new Tim Norton’s shop opened in Lahore and of course Sofie wanted to go and stand in line to get one of their donuts which she claims were quite good. I didn’t, Narda did and liked it too. Brendan rolled his eyes.
Another one of those lovely days…foot massage, head massage, hair wash. Far out, wish we could afford this in Australia. All up it set us back $23 including tip for the two of us, and Narda getting her toenails coloured – kind of a pink instead of her usual red. Go figure, women – but then again today is the international day of the woman or of women – something like that. Huge marches here in Lahore today – and a large rally for Imran Khan. That got Sophie and Brendan home early, as Imran’s compound is near their school and the military is out and there seems to be a lot of nonsense going on Narda and I wanted to go and see it but we were told probably not a good idea. Water cannons – police breaking car windows – lots of mayhem. I wanted to be one of those twitter journalists – had my cameras including zoom lens ready to go too. One of the girls who did the massages is from the Philippines, said she was a Christian. We used to say we were atheists, but Brendan said that is not good to say, so I suppose we are culturally Christians so yes that we are, sort of.
Our last days were a bit of a whirlwind seeing folks and winding up our stay in Lahore plus getting train tickets lined up for the rest of the trip – Newcastle to Liverpool, train to Wales. Tickets for our next trip; Adelaide to Albany NY, renting a car for a week or more, visiting my sister in Oneonta, friends in Albany, my father, mother’s and brother’s cemetery in Clifton Park, reminiscing about living in upstate 2002 – 2006, teaching in Albany, then driving from Oneonta to Battle Creek Michigan where I was born then I was carted off to NY and put out for adoption soon after those glorious few days of my youth in August 1947. Want to check out the place, see if it has changed much over the past 76-years. I suspect it has and I think I will be there on my birthday, August tenth, if you are thinking of wishing me well or sending flowers. From there we will train it to Chicago for our house exchange in downtown for a month. The Chicago folks have just left our home in Adelaide, they seemed to have enjoyed their month stay there. After Chicago we are taking Amtrak overnight – got a sleeper berth, to DC, staying with Chris and Jessica for a couple of weeks then to Valencia. We got one ticket on United with points and will get the second next month when we accrue enough points to grab that one. At the rate we are spending on this trip that should be easy. We have a house exchange in Valencia for a month, our ticket is direct on United from DC to Madrid where we will stay for a day or two then train it up to our house exchange in Valencia. Then back to Adelaide beginning of November. Of course, Narda has us planning for 2024. Coming back to Lahore for a couple then her hope is that we will do a land crossing over the Wagga Border into India instead of flying there, then hanging out in India for three months, or two months there and a month in Malaysia – still connecting the dots now. Of course, there will be world-stuff to deal with. Who knows what the issues will be then? Last couple of years we had to navigate our way around covid, now the ever-expanding wars with Russia.
In June of 2024 we are looking at how to celebrate Narda’s seventieth – something we did, a cruise, in 2017 for my 70th – shit I’m old.
Wow, what a coincidence. I am writing this flying over some snow-capped mountains between Abu Dhabi and London listening to The Pretenders doing the Dylan song, ‘Forever Young’, which is more than five-minutes long and just discovered it is looping after hearing it for too many times, the point being in my ramble I was thinking I was getting a bit long in the tooth for all this travel whilst ‘Forever Young’ was playing.
Back to the real story of now. Now. Wednesday night we went to Lulu’s house. Well apartment. She used to have a house, sold it and got this groovy apartment in a new building with a swimming pool, spa, and so much more. She is a very interesting person. We met her at the International Club last year. She is past 80, from Denmark, married a Pakistani Brit, they lived in Lahore for a long time he died 17-years ago. Lulu stays in Lahore because that is now her home, she loves it. Her two-children live in the States and are married to Yanks. They are Trumpers. We had good talks about how difficult it must be to have a Trumper in the family. Narda and I don’t know anyone who is of that ilk. She is so full of stories of her life. My favourite is about when she and her husband lived and travelled throughout the middle east – living in Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. The 1960s were so different in these places. She told us what it was like on the hippie trails through Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan – all these places we no longer travel to. We have met others who have described places being so open and full of westerners. My friend, Michael McCarthy tells of when they used to drive luxury cars from Europe to Afghanistan, sell them and hitch hike back to Europe and do it all over again.
from Lulu’s roof top – Because of her upper status in Lahore society, she took us to the Punjab club https://thepunjabclublahore.com.pk/, for dinner. It is very difficult to become a member here and one can only go here with a member. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any photos, as we were asked not to. We ate on the rooftop, quite the meal. Because Pakistan is such a meat-eating country there was no vegetarian options except for a few veggies cooked up, so I had sword fish. Never had that before. It was quite good. According to Brendan, Narda, Sofie, and Lulu their many meat dishes were superb. I snuck a piece of chicken to a feral looking cat beneath the table. Felt quite noble doing that.
Narda dressed up for our night out on the town – at the Punjab Club – members only – and their drag alongs
These birds, called Kites, (we have the large ones) are birds of prey feeding on rodents and trash. Black Winged Kites are common in Lahore, scavenging in this local area. They lay eggs in winter, January and February. Their diet consists of small birds, human waste, and meat.
It’s all gone pretty quickly. We discovered some new stuff.
We were walking random streets in Lahore and came across a group of men who wanted to chat – we could not understand much of each other but we did selfies and were told one of the men was a principal of the local school. Really enjoy hanging out and meeting people and they like being with us – we all understand one another in the sense we are just regular people. Well I am anyway. I didn’t select auto play here so scroll through at your leisure.
Sofie and Brendan went to a mate’s wedding (a three day thingy) here they are dressed for one of the days…
Our last day, yesterday, Thursday, we went to lunch with Sofie’s mum. Another great feed. I had a creamy noodle spinach thingy and they had, according to them, tasty roadkill. Don’t recall the name of the place.
Also, I got Neuage soap.
Bit of a story. Since 1993 I have been making webpages. That is toward the beginning of it all as the internet was invented 1991, I know because I used to teach computing at the university of Albany in 2002-2003, with a history of such. I saw it originally as 1. Finding friends, I have lost along the way; that rarely happened in the past thirty-years, maybe two or three people from my past. It is either because people thought I was an idiot and never wanted to have anything to do with me again, or because I changed my name from Adsit to Neuage in 1981 – a long story, which I won’t tell now, or because my friends all died off. As a fact I know three from my past, Kathleen in Florida who said I was the first one she kissed back in 1962 or so, Marta Waterman, my brother’s girlfriend in the 1960s – she is in Woodstock, New York and we keep constant contact, even did a book together about my brother, and my once-were-girl friend, Tamazon, from 1974 New Orleans, she even joined a cult order I was in back then, so I probably had an influence on her life, – we have kept tabs on one another for the past decade or so through Facebook as I have with the other two. I did discontinue friendship with Beverly, my girlfriend in the late 1970s, Baltimore, because she got weird, I think she would be a Trumper. Wrote me that my dead-son, Leigh was trying to tell me, through her, to turn to God. That was too much for me. 2. The other reason I was so excited about the internet was that it would be an obvious place for me to sell my children’s stories – books, and my picture-poems. In the mid-1990s I thought I would become so famous and rich that my children and I would travel the world on our magic carpet. Needless to say, that never happened. I never sold anything. I presently have about twelve books on Amazon. I think Kathleen bought one once. Anyway, to make a long story short…for decades if you put in ‘neuage’ into Google I would be the first dozen pages to appear. I have thousands of pages about me. Really, look it up. Well, now, putting in ‘neuage’ the first several pages are about some stupid shit product called Neuage soap. What a foul disgrace to my good name. the Neuage soaps and products are as one would have it, centred in Lahore of all places. It is now available only on the internet. I have tried many stores. So of course, I ordered it so I can give Sacha a gift of love from Pakistan.
One final note from me…I was concerned at the start of this trip that I would have difficulty carrying medication that needed refrigeration. I have several liquid ice packs in a thermal bag with the medication, Trulicity, for diabetes. I contacted various airlines and read heaps on the internet with lots of different answers to whether I could carry these things. Adelaide airport said nothing – put the bag through the scanner – nothing, this was the result everywhere so far: Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Lahore, London, Ferry to Holland. All my worries as usual have come to naught. Even hotels are willing to put my medication into refrigeration overnight, and the icepacks into a freezer. Even the ferry between Newcastle and Holland did this – that story is for the next blog.
Goodbye Lahore, see you next time. We love you.
Postscript 16 March
Things are heating up in Lahore with Imran Khan’s supporters not allowing the government agencies (police ans soldiers) to arrest him. Kahn’s supporters are out in droves, blocking access to the school where Bren and Sof teach, and also Kahn’s home. They have had a number of days off as a result, I don’t hear complaining from them.
Unfortunately there are tear gas and water cannons being used. The other day it all went quiet as police and soldiers went to the cricket.
This brings a smile to my face. Brens description of the Pushtuns from Peshawar standing in the back of their utes with their bushy beards and machine guns, high on hashish coming to rescue their beloved Imran. They take up both sides of the road and I’m sure speed limits do not apply. According to Sofies dad, if he gets to the election he will win in a landslide.
Kahn is opposing the arrest as he says they will kill him. This is not an unreasonable fear, as an attempt on his life has already happened when he was shot in the leg on the march to Islamabad with his followers a few months ago.
(This was written 22/08/18 – and posted mid-December 2018. How time flies)
We have a clip over at YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBJhZgMqB6A
The Netherlands is like my third or fourth home. USA would have to be first as I was born there and spent about 33-years before nesting in Australia, then nine-years back to New York for teaching. Australia would be second with about twenty-six years. China could be third with three years, but The Netherlands could be my third home; this is my seventh trip here and Narda was born in Utrecht and her family here is my family now too. This time we are only here for three weeks. Last year we were in Utrecht for February. This time we can ride bikes heaps. In February we needed to stop quite often and warm up. Another house-exchange; a bike ride to the oldtown which we are doing today. There is no point in timing our excursions based on phone-maps as we get lost too easy. Yesterday, we rode to Harmelen to visit Tom and Ineke. The GPS said 25-minutes, we got there one-hour and fifteen minutes after starting. Tom and Ineke are Narda’s uncle and aunt. We visit them each time we are in town. A side-story; they visited us June 2004 when we were living in New York. We were standing in the Times Square’s area when news of Ronald Reagan dying was being announced. A reporter with microphone in hand was asking folks questions on how they felt with his passing. The reporter asked Ineke and she said, “I’m Dutch, I don’t care”. It was playing live on the big news screen there on 42nd street. If we could have posted to social media, we would have put a video up. Of course, social media was just starting its run of silliness then.
Another aside, a pretty sad one. Just a few months after we returned home, Tom died suddenly at the 25th anniversary party of my cousin Hans. Tom, although we miss him; he was the last of his siblings to die; he died surrounded by his loved ones.
We took the Eurostar from London to Rotterdam on my birthday, 10 of August. We wrote about that in the last blog-thingy. Overnight Rotterdam in a nifty Airbnb space, had a nice breakfast served to us and were soon out the door. Hello Holland!
We got to Utrecht Centraal about an hour later. Utrecht Centraal is the largest and busiest railway station in the Netherlands. Bigger than Amsterdam, it is all new. From there we got a local bus to our house-exchange. We got settled quite quickly and the next day we were out on our bikes to explore The Netherlands. Well actually we went about ten-minutes along a canal to Maximapark, (https://www.maximapark.nl/).
Maximapark is large, larger than Central Park in New York City or the Parklands in Adelaide to give an idea. We explored that on other days; on our first in this area, Saturday, we went to the Castellum Hoge Woerd (museum).
Castellum Hoge Woerd, situated in Utrecht’s Leidsche Rijn neighbourhood, is a modern interpretation of a centuries-old Roman fort. One day in 1997, contractors building the Leidsche Rijn residential area stumbled by chance upon the entire infrastructure of the Roman borde, the border road, the river and a ship. Their big thrill came when they uncovered the Roman ship De Meern I. This inland vessel from 150 AD had to undergo conservation for 12 years before it could be exhibited. See photo below; not sure where the suites and buffet area of this ship are but it surely does not match the cruise ship we were on a year-ago today.
And we got to see what we looked like back in the day when the Romans hung out in these parts, a couple of thousand years ago.
The next day, Sunday, Narda’s cousin Hans and his wife came to visit us, and we took them to this museum and to an outside concert of Cuban music (Ricciottiando en Cuba).
Even though they have spent their life in nearby Utrecht they had never been to this part or this museum. Yesterday (Thursday the 16th) we were with Narda’s other cousin named Hans and his wife and they said they had never been to this park or to this museum either. We told a few other family members, all living nearby, and none of them had been to it either. And these people travel heaps. Hans number two goes overseas a lot for work, Hans number one and family travel a lot around Europe. What is it in us humans that makes us see the world but not our local stuff even if it is historic. “Hey mate, we just found a 2,000 year old Roman ship in the ground”, “groovy, no time to see it, on my way across the pond to see New York City, Paris, Adelaide…”. I am the same. Tourist sites in Adelaide I have yet to see, if there were any in upstate New York I never got to see them either; too busy seeing the world.
If you come to The Netherlands, give Amsterdam and Rotterdam a miss and go to Utrecht. And if you go to Utrecht check out the Castellum Hoge Woerd and Maximapark. Don’t just come to visit us, we probably won’t be here.
The northern frontier of the Roman empire along the Rhine in the current Netherlands was established in AD 47 and abandoned around AD 270. Ships were used to transport troops and supplies to the frontier zones. Now days we speed around on freeways or ride bikes.
We had our lunch in Máximapark (https://www.maximapark.nl/), watched people go by with carts of children, ducks coming and going, the museum, and generally had a best time ever. Máximapark is a place to see, check out their website for stuff happening like free concerts, Australian tourists on bikes… Máximapark is rated number three on stuff to see in Utrecht.
As everywhere in The Netherlands, Germany… school buses are quite personal. A bike full of children on the way home from school.
There is this groovy sculpture (see below) called ‘Barricade’ of a car that blocks part of the entrance to the park.
We spend so many hours each day riding bikes; so fit, though admittingly very sore at the end of each day. Being me, or being the average guy, I noticed the people passing by on bikes or jogging; especially those in their twenties and thirties, forties, fifties, you get the picture. Such nice smiles. Are those females flirting with me? Do they think I am hot? OK! Reality check, those nice smiles are them thinking of their grandfather, maybe even great-grandfather. Maybe they aren’t sexy smiles, just kind-to-an-elderly-person smile. Thoughts of a kindly, frail, a bit-confused, slightly eccentric, OLD, grandparent. Dam! Dutch women have enchanting smiles. I know, I married one.
Riding bikes should not be a challenge. Narda’s 92-yearold uncle who had two knee replacements, one at 91, rides every day. Sure enough I managed to fall off. Twice. The second time was in the old-town, so many folks on bikes, so fast, I moved over and hit the curve and sure enough not only fell but hit my head, lucky I was wearing a helmet; something locals rarely do. Knocked my glasses off, got a few cuts and scrapes, several people helped me up. Shattered ego.
We rode to Utrecht centrum several days, bought and tasted cheese, and took another armful of photos of the Dom (Domtoren, the 14th-century bell tower) as we do every time we come to Utrecht. We go into details of this area in our previous blogs (2009, 2017, 2006). Of course, our old video clips are the best way to see this area: The Dom, Boating in Utrecht, Old Utrecht and of course the one from this trip = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBJhZgMqB6A
Today we went to visit two of Narda’s uncles and a cousin. Remarkable Oom Pete (oom being Dutch for uncle) (remarkable because he had his second knee reconstruction at 91 and is now riding his bike most days). We have stayed with Rienk before and in his 80s is feisty as ever. He has a great German World War 2 boat which he has taken us around the canals of Utrecht.
Cheese everywhere at an affordable cost (cheap); all kinds of cheese.
After two-weeks at our home-exchange we moved to our Airbnb, Tugboat the Anna from 1927, https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4426214, on the river Vecht. Our host from our house exchange drove us the half hour there which made the transition from a large home to a tiny home easy. We loved the boat and the area. We were here for four-days. The space was small compared to a larger space (and of course a larger space larger than a large space but who is measuring?) but hey, who is complaining? We could bump our head inside our cabin, worry about falling in the river crossing over on the narrow plank to the boat, drop our cameras into the River Vecht or wonder what happens when we poo in the toilet – yes, we can now tell you where it all goes. It goes into the river. Apparently, as we were told, due to the age of the boat, and size, that which goes into the loo goes into the river – directly. Of course, we did not look out the porthole to confirm if anything floated by, saying all that, we did make good meals in the kitchen and spent time riding on the bikes provided.
We rode around the quaint small town of Oud-Zuilen where there is castle, Slot Zuylen Castle. Being the tightwads that we are, we took sandwiches and ate on the lawn of the castle rather than go to the overpriced café and we watched a YouTube video about the castle instead of paying lots to go inside and see it. An economical day out can easily involve packing a lunch and reading internet pages and viewing online clips about the inside of a place. Some museums are surely worth the money and some restaurants are worth the bother but save fifty bucks a day on a three-month trip and that is more than four-thousand dollars. Do a house exchange with a car included and that can be worth more than five-thousand dollars a month. There are ways to do Europe for months at a time on a budget and still have a great time.We found a couple of windmills and did lots of riding on trails into the Dutch countryside. Our hosts in Germany did a four-day bike riding trip recently (Germany is our next blog) and they are 78 years old and they took their cousins with them (both in their 80s). Because of their age they only go thirty kilometres a day then stay at a hotel. Narda’s uncle in Utrecht, after his second knee reconstruction, age 92, rides his bike to his son’s house most days. Hopefully we will still be riding around various countries when we are much older too. The concept of being tethered to a car is a bit repulsive, limiting, imprisoning, crap.
We had thought dragging our stuff out of the boat area would be difficult but there is a bus stop within walking distance of the river which we managed to keep from falling into and we got to Utrecht Centraal a couple of hours before we had planned. The train to Gouda from Utrecht is only eighteen minutes and the walk to our Airbnb took us half an hour. We are still dragging too much stuff with us and as usual are realizing we need less than we have. Our week rental home was an older arty quaint two-floor plus attic house within walking distance of the old quarter of Gouda. We explored the Church of St John ~ ‘Sint Janskerk’ (The Netherland’s longest church)
built for and by the Catholics in the sixteenth century but after the reformation the Protestants grabbed it and have held on to it since.
In our Utrecht clip there are a few minutes of organ music as well as shots from inside this beautiful building. Included with the entrance fee of about six Euros is a listening device which very clearly explains the many huge stained-glass windows – one of the better information deliveries I have found at any museum. Plan to spend at least an hour here to get the low down on all the capers that went on in this neck of the woods. Wikipedia has lots about it over at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint_Janskerk and if you want to jump to see just the stained-glass trip hop over to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint_Janskerk. My suggestion is to just watch our video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBJhZgMqB6A . Better yet check out their page http://www.sintjan.com/ with great photos and stories told. There are many windows like the one below.
Gouda of course is the cheese place and apparently there are seven different types, but I cannot recall which was the best. I think it was the fifth one we tried. We also found out that Gouda cheese accounts for 50 – 60% of the world’s cheese consumption (I read it on the internet).
In the bike-mad country of The Netherlands there is always a better bike – this one below has a bit of a rustic appeal.
Below is a Photoshop rendered image from the centre of town. I manipulate photos for my writings that I post on Twitter (https://twitter.com/neuage), Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/collection/E_6JaB), tumblr (http://neuage.tumblr.com/), pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com.au/neuage/picture-poems-by-terrell-neuage/), behance (https://www.behance.net/neuage), linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/neuage) and most other sharing sites.
Below is the town hall. (not Photshopped) Unlike our house exchanges our Airbnb places usually do not include a bike so we rented one for a day and rode morning to night. There are bike paths to country farms and along rivers. We had lunch beneath this lift bridge below – see our video to see this in action. What we found unusual was that it did not lift at one end but the whole bridge moved up.
And that was The Netherlands, again. I wrote a lot less this time because not only have we done this six or seven times before and written heaps then, but our daily life was riding bikes most of the day, making dinner at home and watching our television shows in the evening. House exchanges were best for us as we could live ‘like a local’ and as we would spend more time in one place, life became a pleasant routine. Of course, we shopped at Jumbo, our favourite grocery store. I was able to fulfil my foody-needs; low-carb, vegetarian, slightly-organic, affordable, tasty, Narda-eye-rolling meals. Next up is Berlin for a month, of course if someone in our family was to read this, they would rightfully claim not only are we past Berlin, but we are through our next couple of stops in the UK and headed off to Spain; but, this is a slower process this time. Earlier in the year when we were in India for three-months we wrote every day and posted many videos. This trip we are just living our life – though most mornings I spend an hour or two on my textual-images that I play around with in Photoshop and other programs and I have listed a few of the places I post them above. I do the same thing back in Adelaide and I have been doing textual illustrations since the 1960s – making this a very routine part of my life. We love to travel – the idea of living life on the road or at home in quite the same fashion appeals to me. At seventy-one having routines is quite comfortable and I write every night and have for more than fifty years and most mornings I find a way to illustrate something I had written the night before; doing this anywhere in the world: in a new setting home, on a plane, train, bus, even in a park using my phone makes this a life that has a continuous flow, with everywhere being home. The only difference is I have a shed full of crap back in Adelaide which is nice and for some reason Narda won’t let me carry it all with me. Narda writes as much or more than me, though she does it by hand and pastes in photos of places, meaning she did not write a lot here, though I refer to her notes for a hook to remember things.
Next little blog will be our month in Berlin. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for sharing this moment with us.
e-books of Terrell Neuage updated 05 February 2019
Terrell Neuage Thoughts 2019 updated 05 February 2019 Adelaide, South Australia
picture poems are available at these sites: Twitter, Google Plus ~ Tumblr ~ Pinterest ~ linkedin updated 05 February 2019 Adelaide, South Australia
‘Leaving Australia Book 2‘ (new NOW IN PAPERBACK & AS E-BOOK)
‘ Leaving Australia “Again’: Before the After” (See the first ten pages of each for free) Paperback Edition
We went to dinner with Karen and Frank, Narda’s family, to the Indisch (Indonesian) Restaurant http://www.kingsdish.nl/. This is about the smallest restaurant I have been to. The place was filled to capacity, sixteen diners. The couple who ran the restaurant painstakingly cooked us a four-course meal. Of course, being special, I had a vegetarian meal. The restaurant even posted this fact on their Facebook:
Dutch people are so big. There was our little group (I am only six one or two and Narda 5’10”, Frank is maybe six four or five and his wife a bit shorter than Narda, but others that came in; I thought it was the Dutch Women’s Basketball team, they were taller than all of us (not put together that would be just fake news and alternative facts – but they were several inches taller than me. I am looking forward to going to Asia in a couple of weeks just so I can stop feeling so short. No wonder I am a vegetarian, I need the attention.
Actually, I enjoy blending in and that many people, strangers, look like my family.
We met up with my cousins Hans and Jose, who took us to a wonderful chamber concert, featuring an Argentinian string quartet, the Pavadita Tango String Quartet, performing for a small group of about 15 of us in Utrecht at the Paviljoen (www.paviljoenpop.nl). ‘Pavadita specialises in playing Argentine tango yet dislikes to be labelled’ http://pavadita.com/.
After the concert we met up with their adult children and enjoyed a meal at a Persian restaurant in the old city of Utrecht.
We spent the morning meeting our uncles, then wondered around Utrecht for the rest of the day. We used the bus system. As we entered we tried to explain to the driver, at some length, where we wanted to go, so that he could tell us the fare. He gave us an exasperated look and told us in Dutch to get on board. Free ride!! So that’s how you do it.
This morning our task was to get rid of some of our stuff. We put our winter stuff in a box and got a quote from the post office for 58 Euros for 10 Kg. Last month we paid $250USD for 20 lbs. Blimey, big price difference! For non-EU folks that is about $65 US for 20 pounds; close to one-fourth the cost of sending from the US. For some reason, we still have too much. When we left for Hawaii last November we had our winter clothing: coats, jumpers, gloves, scarves in our luggage but with them sent back now we still have more than we started. Go figure.
After that little adventure we took a random ride through the back blocks of Woerden. A lovely town actually, lots more to see.
Tom and Ineke took us to the place in Utrecht where mum was born and raised, and also to the street where I was born. Here is me at 3 years old, and then the same spot 59 years later, just outside mum’s place of birth.
On the way home, a lovely lunch at the village of Haarzuylen at ‘t Wapen van Haarzuylen http://www.wapenvanhaarzuylen.nl/
This tiny village boasts an enormous restored castle, which is quite a contract and very interesting to see. It was restored by the Rothchilds family about 100 years ago. You can see some of the conspir theories when you watch this video!
In the evening we had cheese fondue, YUM! Hosted by my cousin Tanja and her husband and son. It was a lovely evening, we also got to meet Sandra, who drove up from Breda, and Paul who drove from The Hague. Really fun evening catching up with many family stories. Our mothers, sisters, have both died very recently, so we had a chance to talk about them and reminisce.
Driving in the Netherlands is always a hoot. Not really! The roads, not the motorway, are so narrow and of course bikes rule. On the way to our evening fondue we, well the Tom Tom (GPS), were lost. We ended up twice driving on bike lanes. How did we know? Well having bike riders shake their heads, pointing, and of course the tell-tale signs with a picture of bikes on it. This has happened several times but rarely twice (and on the same bike path) as it did on fondue night. Years ago we were had rented a car which had German plates and people were shaking their hands, heads, bodies at us as we drove along a bike lane somewhere in Holland. Having German plates though either made it OK that we didn’t know what we were doing or we were just bad people. Dutch people (the older generation especially) have a thing about Germans and the Dutch people’s bikes – residue from WW II when apparently German soldiers took their bikes and never returned them. Seven or eight years ago when we were in Holland with Narda’s parents, Narda’s father said to Narda’s German friend, Mau, ‘did you bring our bike back?’ of course, he thought he was being funny but no one else did.
I have so much enjoyed meeting all of Narda’s clan. The Dutch Nardas are all cool. And of course everyone is taller than us – even her relatives – six feet two is short in Holland. I am short. Next time I will wear elevator shoes so I can be close to eye level with others. At least adolescents.
Today we drove to Rotterdam. This had been on our ‘to do’ list. We started off finding what was reported to be the Netherlands largest shopping mall. Not quite what we expected, but what followed was amazing. We took an 75 minute tour of the Rotterdam Harbour, which is the most amazing harbour. I never realise the scale of this place. A great tour.
We came close to Rotterdam about a decade ago when Narda.s cousin took us in his speed boat from somewhere, perhaps Utrecht, up some river to Rotterdam. We went very fast to there then very fast back with the front of the boat seemingly above the water and us wondering if we were going too fast and soon would be airborne.
Today, a nice day at home, catching up on bits and pieces, and resting. We did venture out in some snow flurries, on our bikes to Lidl. Bargains to be had there; we stocked up on chocolate and beer. I think Terrell also bought some healthy stuff for dinner, can’t remember what it was. This bike riding is great; almost getting good at it. The biggest threat to our safety is venturing out at about 2.30pm when there are packs of tall Dutch adolescents riding, three or four abreast, like the clappers. When we are going the other way , they pretty much ignore us, and leave a tiny narrow section of the bike path for us to continue. It’s only a matter of time when, either I will land in the canal, or I will take a swipe at one of those kids, and push them into the canal.
Today it snowed, really snowed. We almost cancelled our appointment with Oom Piet to visit some relatives in Hardewijk (Tante Willy) and Ermelo (Oom Leendert). But we didn’t and had some really lovely visits. We did slip and slide a bit, negotiating the driveways and smaller roads, but by the time we hit the freeway, it was pretty good, and one our return it had seriously started to melt.
Who doesn’t love snow? We meet heaps of folks fleeing the stuff, not us. My favourite story is when we were living in upstate New York, about 2009, and our schools were closed (New York City, not a very often occurrence) one Friday because of snow (only a bit over a foot) and we heard that there was much more snow in Boston so we took the Amtrak train and spent a weekend tromping through the snow in Boston. When we lived in northern New York (Saratoga Spa) we used to take turns at being ‘hero of the dawn’ which was shovelling a path for the car and getting it warm at seven am so we could head out for work. On this trip we did not see much during our five weeks in Washington DC; just a few inches, and a bit in Boston and as we wrote earlier (https://neuage.me/2017/01/05/snow-country/) we did get stuck in snow in New York at the end of December, but we (especially me) always want more.
The next day, 5 cms of snow fell overnight. We had planned to go to church with Rienk’s family, but phoned in the morning and caught up with them at around 12.00. Again the snow had started to melt by then which seems to be the pattern in Holland. They have had little freezing of the last 10 years or so, which is bad for the Dutch, who are a nation of very keen ice-skaters. World weather patterns are certainly changing as we continue to spew carbon into the atmosphere.
We had a great lunch, good Dutch soup (pea soup, or tomato soup, or bean soup, thick , rich , hearty and salty….the very best) Rienk’s kids, Linda and Marco, and Maartien and Aty, and their teenaged boys are so lovely, such a warm, welcoming family.
Took a random bike ride to Papekop. It was pretty cold, but we set out, ‘cross country’, following the canals rather than the roads, and ended up in a tiny village near the train track. We sat down, cold and pretty tired, in a little pub and had our favourite Mostert (Mustard) soup.
We, perhaps just me, had thought we could ride to Utrecht, only an hour or two on our GPS. However, we struggled with riding four kilometres and it is a bit cold, bottom line, not this trip. Maybe in the future when we are more fit we will do it, of course we will be a bit older too so maybe they equal each other out and we are stuck with short rides.
What always amazes me, as a not Netherlands person, except by relationship, is the bike culture. Not sure when they start riding but we see children that must be four or five riding alongside their parents and the younger are propped up on a baby seat or in a wagon sort of set up.
Today an experiment. Can I cook lunch to meet my uncle’s exacting Dutch standards. We picked them up (Piet and Rienk) as promised, and took them back to our little place in Woerden. We made them stamppot with spinach, gehakt balletjes and fla for dessert….and also appelmoes. All good. They said they liked it. Talk about pressure…cooking a Dutch meal for these experts.
On the way back we went to Els’s place in Vianen. Els my newly found cousin, lovely woman. She knows my family and remembered me as a small child. nnnn
I was adopted back in 1950 in upstate New York. Here again I got adopted, this time 2017 in Holland. Not sure whether I subscribe to the ‘America first but can the Netherlands be second’ routine. I like both equally. I have enjoyed being a part of the Narda clan. I lost count around twenty folks. And of course being a Leo, I am pleased to hear from Narda that her family likes me. Some may even think I am funny at times which of course is a wonderful compliment. We love the food here and yes there is a lot little old fussy me can eat. I have my smoothies every day with kelp (so cheap here – in Australia it has become a trendy food so of course it is expensive) and protein powder, apple, orange, almond mild, coconut milk, hemp seeds (a new addition – hey this is Holland), chia, avocado and whatever else is around that looks healthy. If I am in an Oregon state of mind I look for organic crap to put into it. Food is cheaper here too. Much cheaper than Australia, cheaper than the States and especially Hawaii.
Today we picked up Hans and Jose for a road trip to Amersfort. It was a really enjoyable day, we had lunch together in the market square outside the old tower. The weather was sunny and quite warm.
Nearly time to leave, Today we rode the bikes to Harmelen to return Ineke’s bike. Said goodbye to them and returned to pack and mail our box, and start cleaning.
Hans Albers, Marjam , Linda and Suzzanne came for dinner. A great evening, lots and lots of conversation and enjoyable company. Terrell cooked a killer soufflé, the best yet!
When we were in D.C. last month I would put baby Liam (age 17 months or so) on the counter in the kitchen and have him break eggs into a bowl then stir so we could have a meal of eggs in some form. We thought since we were making a meal with eggs we should video it for him which is below.
Video for Liam https://youtu.be/yop6glGzvRI
Off to Rienks’ this morning to return his bike, then washed the car, and cleaned and packed.
Is it us? It always takes so long to go anywhere. When it was just me things got thrown in a suitcase then out the door. Maybe a wet rag over some dishes, a bit swept up, hopefully some perishables tossed from the fridge, then magically, home got forgotten until I returned. I raised my two-children as a single parent the same way. Twice I took them from Australia to the States and once through Europe a bit; each time we just abandoned our home and went with an ‘oh dear what a mess we left’ when we returned. We moved house ten time in a ten-year period once when they were young. My life and by default, my children, too, lives were a bit chaotic.
No more; now model citizen, domestic wonder, if I were still raising my children I would be parent extraordinaire.
As always, we left the property in great condition. Our packing was perfect (well I get to clean the kitchen and Narda does the packing). It took us a day and a half. Washed and vacuumed the car. We spent weeks getting our home in Adelaide into shape before we left. This is all of course not just because we traded houses; this has happened every time we have left our home wherever it has been in the world. Narda wants to come back to an orderly and clean house. I must say I am not that fussed about a few things around the place but also I think after close to twenty-years I sort of understand fractionally the importance of leaving a tidy place and packing neatly.
Though all that time spent – I could have done a few more pieces of art, made another video, learned a new computer program, taken another selfie, done other stuff…. But not too worry. Life is good.
We did get into watching ‘Family Guy’ every morning on Netflix while eating breakfast so I felt I was still maintaining some of my core-root self.
And we did find a favourite place to shop, Jumbo. They were not in their present form as a supermarket when we were in Holland last time but they are large and everywhere now. And they have the foods we eat including what I need to maintain my low-carb-vegetarian and somewhat organic life style with. Bike riding to Jumbo became part of our ritual of the day; along with watching ‘Family Guy’ during breakfast, ‘The Blacklist’, and ‘the Killing, in the evening all on Netflix.
And here we are in the airport Hyatt hotel. We took the train from Woerden, arrived here early afternoon, nice room, and have been lazing about ever since. Tomorrow off to Bangkok.
seeing the world from Finnair with a bit of Amsterdam and Utrecht on the way
Previous to this trip videos: Riding on Rienk’s boat through the canals of Utrecht https://youtu.be/Per0jb8JszU Sep 17, 2012 / ‘Hup Holland Hup’, Narda and friend at the Dalian International School singing the song supporting the Dutch soccer team – https://youtu.be/9rrMeajC6v0 a classic not to be missed / another old Utrecht one – a minute and a half – https://youtu.be/7sGJR_jNymg that we uploaded Aug 28, 2009. We have done heaps over the years and maybe will post those later.
Video @ https://youtu.be/6AdcUP7g054
We left straight after breakfast on Monday morning to have a little foray into another country; a road trip. So ‘first thing’ was around 11am, not bad. We set the GPS to ‘no freeways’ and drove through many lovely towns and villages; almost all had a central very old church, and some surrounding cobbled stoned; old towns. We crossed rivers twice by ferry; quite a surprise. The ferries are ‘ponts’ in Dutch, in case you were wondering. The ‘castle’ loomed and surprised us completely. We’d actually become quite lost amongst the market gardens, with lit up glass houses, fascinating; no idea what was being grown, perhaps flowers, and then there it was! So we accidently found the best preserved castle in the Netherlands, built in the 1300s and restored recently. Just beautiful.
Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland) http://www.kasteel-ammersoyen.nl/
Castle Ammersoyen (in Ammerzoden in the Bommelerwaard region in the province of Gelderland) http://www.kasteel-ammersoyen.nl/
The castle was originally built in 1350 by Dirk van Herlaer along the river Maas. Ammersoyen was a unique castle as it was built using a fixed plan, which was unlike other castles built during this era. The design included four wings that were constructed around a center court. Each corner had its own heavy tower for extra protection. The castle included a gatehouse and was originally surrounded by a moat. At the time, it was one of the finest defensive structures in the country. In 1386, the castle was lost to Duke of Gelderland who gave the castle to his illegitimate son. He then sold the castle in 1424 to Johan van Broekhugen, Lord of Waarenburg. For the next four hundred years, the castle only exchanged hands through inheritance.
After a couple of hours, we re-joined the freeway and sped along to Maastricht. Terrell had booked an amazing hotel, which was a country estate, Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt; think “to the Manor Born” for the low season price of around 60 Eu. Really beautiful grounds and buildings. We also had a great meal at an Italian place (Il Bacaro, http://www.ilbacaro.nl/) in the city square, with some amazing old churches for a backdrop. We parked the car in the carpark underneath the plaza; all very easy. Maastricht is a beautiful city, a little different from the northern Dutch cities, perhaps more French influence here.
Getting off motorways is the way to see a country. I grew up alongside route nine in Clifton Park, New York. Throughout my youth it was a two-lane highway then it expanded to the four land road it is now. In New York, US 9 extends 324.72 miles (522.59 km) from the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan to the Canada border.
The reason I am rabbiting on here about Route Nine is that when we do not want to drive on the freeway/motorway/turnpike/thruway/interstate/autobahn we say we will go on route nine; wherever in the world we are. Narda lived along Route Nine with me for a couple of years before we moved to Round Lake, New York then to Brooklyn then to Jersey City then to Australia and on the road again; always looking for Route Nine to get where we are going.
We found our Route Nine in the Netherlands though we do hope on the motorway lately as we have extensively explored the towns around us; mainly by bikes. See our previous blog with the clips of towns we love in the Utrecht area.
We had not booked a place to stay for the night as we wanted to figure it out along the way based on where we were when it was time to find a place to stay which in our world is early afternoon or about three to four-hour drive. As Narda mentioned above we stayed at Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt (http://www.vaeshartelt.nl/en/) in Maastricht. And yes, I do show this place in two different videos but who is counting?
The next morning we had a nice breakfast at the hotel (Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt), then returned to the city centre, and explored more of the lovely narrow streets and buildings. Found the worlds most amazing book store; amazing because of it’s location in an old, stately church with wonderful arches in the ceiling.
Selexyz Dominican Church in Maastricht is a real cool place – now a bookstore but dating back to the 13th century, the structure was a Dominican church until Maastricht was invaded by Napoleon in 1794 and the group was forced out of the country. https://www.libris.nl/dominicanen
The Basilica of Saint Servatius is the place to be seen at. The oldest of the old shit to see in Maastrict. Their website starts with the bells playing, well worth the visit (to the website) http://www.sintservaas.nl/ or for our two or three English readers… http://www.sintservaas.nl/english/index.html we tried to capture the bells but instead had too many others sounds, like me complaining of the cold.
Terrell also got some more bits and pieces for his camera and I bought him a Maastricht mug for the good memories. Then we had coffee, which was served with little glasses of Baileys or Kalua, topped with whipped cream; pretty cool.
The rest of the day was frustrating as we tried to follow two GPS’s with opposing views, out of a city under renovation. We did quite a few hours of circling Maatricht before we finally sat down in a nice hotel for soup, to calm us down at Hotel In Den Hoof http://www.indenhoof.nl/. The server there was very helpful and told us the insiders path out of town. “Just follow the letter “L” on signs, and it will take you to the road that leads to Liege.” Who knew? Good grief! Anyway it was not over. We drove for some more hours into Belgium, with a reasonably price hotel earmarked for the night. Just before Spa. Well, the two GPS’s did their thing again and got us amazingly lost…in tandem. So it took longer than we thought, but now we are happily there, in a modest, comfortable room at LE MIDI Hôtel, 4800 VERVIERS Belgium, nice and warm, and ready for dinner.
We both slept, uninterrupted, for 10 hours!
Maatricht video at
1 February Wednesday DAY 68 of trip
Narda spoke with Mäu 8 am we decided to go to Hamburg 8.30.
Now there’s a rapid change of plans. We checked driving time, and distances and decided to do it. It took us 6 hours, and apart from getting freaked out by the fast German drivers, it was pleasant and uneventful. Easy coffee and pee stops on the highways (you pay 70 cents to pee!).
We prebooked (expedia) the Hamburg Centrum Hotel Commerz am Bhf Hamburg Altona for 50 Euro. http://www.hotel-commerz-hamburg.de/ This turned out to be 3 minutes from Mäu’s place, a bit of luck. They provided some urban style (time garage down in a basement) for 10 extra Euros, which was a pretty good package as Hamburg can be expensive. Mäu came to meet us and we had some snacks at her place, met her Johann her 10 year old, recorded his drumming; pretty great for a kid his age, and had dinner with Mäu at ‘lorient’ restaurant a Lebanese food place http://www.restaurant-lorient.de.
We are living in our bubble – we drive in our bubble – our bubble rolls along the highway close to the posted limit of 130 kilometres per hour (130kph= 80.77825mph) but we were often in the slow lane with the trucks. Germans have little sense of speed limits. I would see them at a distance in my rear-view mirror then there they go just their tail lights barely visible from being so far so fast away. From distant tail lights to head lights in seconds. Narda’s relative said he likes to see what his BMW will do and 190 is a good speed (190kph= 118.0605mph). Of course my question to him was ‘why not go past 200?’
I like the hotel in Altona we stayed at. The breakfast room reminded me of Faulty Towers as did the hotel but no one acted like that it was just one could imagine it being the same. The inn keepers were a couple who kept a good establishment moving forward. Breakfast was five euros which was cheaper than the 15 each we paid at the Buitenplaats Vaeshartelt or nine euros we paid the previous night at LE MIDI Hôtel, back in Verviers Belgium and it was the same European continental style spread; cheese, cold meats, yogurt, granola, coffee, and etc..
Mäu came over to the hotel the next morning for breakfast. Actually a nice brekkie, lots of continental style choices, good breads, and ham and cheese and other spreads, yogurt, coffee, juices. It was lovely to spend time with her again, and despite not having seen one another for many years, we lapsed easily into our old long standing friendship; no awkwardness at all. This is such a great thing to have in one’s life.
Hamburg is one of my favourite cities. New Orleans, New York City, Hamburg – especially the Altona section. Nice walking distance to the river. We took the ferry to the new Elbphilharmonie centre – the new landmark for Hamburg. https://www.elbphilharmonie.de/en/
The Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter of Hamburg, Germany, on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe River. It is one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world.
Our video from 2009 of Hamburg, especially the Elbe River, Hamburg is at https://youtu.be/AZyKsEbatXI
We left Hamburg and stayed overnight in Oldenburg, Germany – Panorama Apartment Cloppenburger Str. 282, 26133 for 60 euros. We found it through Booking.com as we drove through Oldenburg. All the hotels were more than $100 which is not much but when travelling for four months we try to save when we can. 60 euros is about $$66 US which is cheap for this part of the world. Not sure why it was so cheap as it was a two bedroom apartment with bunk beds in one room, a kitchen, master bed, large TV with some English channels, furnished kitchen and an Aldi supermarket across the street. We found the owners working on a storefront in the front of the building and as there was little understanding of English and Narda’s few German words got us a receipt and keys. They didn’t even ask our name or for id. Maybe in the future they will have this place up and running and charge more but it was a good stop.
Left Paramount Apartments nine am –Netherlands (A293 from Alexanderstraße > Take A28, A31 and A37 to Rondweg/N382 in Dalen, Nederland. Exit from N34 > A28
Lunch at Lunchroom The Goose Girl Markt 13, 7741 JM Coevorden see their menu at http://m.deganzenhoedster.nl/en well worth it and a unique place at that.
Home at five pm watched three episodes Blacklist
Our video of our trip to Germany is at https://youtu.be/QGdCKxunhyE
Our next blog will be our final couple of weeks in the Netherlands and we will end this blog with a wonderful afternoon with four amazing violinist, Pavadita Tango String Quartet, performing for a small group of about 15 of us in Utrecht at the Paviljoen (www.paviljoenpop.nl) Sunday afternoon. ‘Pavadita specialises in playing Argentine tango yet dislikes to be labelled’ http://pavadita.com/
https://youtu.be/JqsQVrOhFYY is our video of this event
See part one toward the end of our last blog @ https://neuage.me/2017/01/24/washington-dc-to-amsterdam-and-life-in-between/
I was thinking most of 2016 that we would be in Holland for a month. However, the reality is five-weeks. Six-weeks in the States, Six here, and four in Southeast Asia. I think what I am concluding from what is going on in the States these past months is that most folks are concerned about fact-checking. It is all the rage and so it should be. We say that politicians are liars with almost everything they say. Alternative narratives are either accepted or lambasted. The narrative of life on earth is filled with alternative narratives, some seen as allegories some seen as stories for children some seen as creative twists of truth; religious stories, myths, fairy tales, what we tell our parents, children, partners – ‘changing water to wine’, ‘I was doing homework at Johnnies house all last night’, ‘feeding five-thousand mates with a couple of fish’, ‘Santa coming down the chimney’, ‘gingerbread houses’, Cinderella, ‘a million and a half people at an inauguration’, not to mention all the Greek, Roman, Aboriginal, etc. stories. We were at the Women’s March in Amsterdam yesterday, previous blog; http://goo.gl/WQPBuE so there may be a lingering trace of an outside thought about fact-checking.
Nevertheless, here we are, a new blog. When we started this trip, and from ones we have done over the past 15 years, see http://neuage.us/BLOGS/index.html for a selection of our past one-hundred+, each one was per day. Now we are putting together groups of days. The last one covered ten-days. Bottom line is that this current blog is a blank slate.
What is exciting about today, Sunday, is that we have a whole month here, another thirty-days.
The first time in my life in Utrecht was in 2005. Narda’s first time was the day she was born, which of course, was not very long ago.
Saturday, June 18, 2005 Utrecht - The luxury of holiday. I got up at 10 AM and the others soon followed. A day without plans is so different. After the past six-months of getting up every day at six AM for work and of stressing because of all the work on our house it is good to have few concerns other than where should we bike ride Today? The only thing I ‘need’ to do today is find a charger for our video camera. I found an adapter yesterday so I could plug the one we had in but as soon as I plugged it in (US 120 voltage into European 240 voltage) smoke came out and the thing became fried. We are driving to Belgium tomorrow for a few days and at this point I think we are just pointing the car we are borrowing in that direction and as long as we do not end up in the English Channel we should be fine.
As synchronicity would have it, not only where we in Utrecht a year later but we went to see the same people as we saw today (22nd January, 2017) as we did on Monday, June 19, 2006 Utrecht, The Netherlands – see http://neuage.org/trip06/June19.htm to read about our bike riding adventures eleven years earlier.
We drove into Utrecht as we have not sorted out our bikes yet. The ones left for us are not the right size; the man’s bike is way too large for me, and the woman’s bike is too small for Narda.
We visited Narda’s Uncles Pete and Rinke and cousin Hans. Pete, at age 90, has recently had his second knee reconstruction. A good indication of what health insurance is capable of when it is set out for the people. Rinke in his mid-80s is doing well. We used to ride around on his boat through the canals in past trips but this is our first winter visit and the boat is not an ice-breaker so no cruising this time. And Hans, in our age bracket, well Narda’s, I am in a bracket of my own; my sister has banned me from saying I am old so I fit somewhere between Narda and Rinke, interacts with us on Facebook so we are always a bit up-to-date with one another. We will explore more of Utrecht with him this time as he is retired now, the same as us.
Narda had a cold for four weeks in DC and now I have that cold. I managed to be up until one in the morning trying to breathe but we are troopers and colds will not thwart our explorations.
23 January Monday DAY 59 of trip
Narda rang Rinke this morning and asked if we could borrow a bike. In the past, we have often borrowed bikes from him and several times we have stayed with him. Rinke helped us get it into our rather small car so we could enjoy a month yet to go.
We spent a few hours riding around our local hood and in downtown Woerden. See https://youtu.be/TjTXv_y7zU0 = skating on thin ice in Woerden.
Left this morning on our bikes, the weather was very foggy; you couldn’t see too far.
Our plan was to visit Tom and Ineke in Harmelen, and cycle there. The GPS said 17 minutes, we took an hour. A nice effort. Had a coffee and a chat, told them about my bike which was a bit small for me. They promptly offered me Ineke’s bike which she never uses anymore. Of course I accepted their offer with glee. So now I am all set, bike wise!! After our visit we explored Harmelen, a lovely little town, never than some of the others, but certainly very liveable.
A part of the Rhine goes through Harmelen, news to us. We stopped at the local grocery store and bought some assorted goodies for lunch, cheese, a bread roll, yogurt drink, and assorted veggies for his vegetarian-lowcarb lordship!!
We a pleasant picnic table, covered in bright green moss and had a lovely picnic. It was freezing and rained a little, but we are not people to be deterred by something so insignificant as rain. The food made up for it! Got home at 4, saw lots of school kids cycling home on our way back…dangerous drivers, but so are most of the Dutch.
We left the bike Narda was riding and went off with Tom’s bike. It continues to fascinate me the biking in the Netherlands. Being a rather flat place it helps. There are roads just for bikes, even with lanes, traffic lights, and often there is also a walking path. Travel is unique here; train track, walking path, bicycle path, road of cars, canal with boats (not so much in winter) all side-by-side, going forward.
Still freezing we sought refuge at the only place we could find that did coffee, de kloosterhoeve, and to prove it is a real place here is their website, http://www.kloosterhoeve.nl the coffee was strong and it was good, we thawed out and headed down the road.
Narda needed some adjustments and the first bike shop we came to gladly got her into a royal position of comfort, free of charge.
We planned to bike to Monfoort, a mere twenty minutes away per our Google Maps. Forty-five minutes later we had gotten to the small village of Linschoten. By now we were cold, I was in pain (agony) with extremely cold toes. I thought I had frost bite (OK it was one degree above freezing, but my toes registered -20 both in Fahrenheit and in Centigrade). We went into the first restaurant we found, Café Van Eijk, http://www.cafevaneijk.nl/ which if you read Dutch there are probably some good deals. I had mustard soup which was so yummy that I looked up a recipe for it while eating. We asked the waitress if theirs was the same recipe as we found online which had leeks as a base but she said they did not use leeks so now I need to find a Dutch mustard soup recipe without leeks that is as good. Narda had some meat thingy but admitted mine was better.
We read on some sign that the Linschoten church was burnt by residents of Woerden in the 1500s. There were a lot of people cooked at the stake, mainly women that didn’t fit into the Christian ethos of what a woman should be like. Listen to our Linschoten video clip where Narda tells us about the good citizens of Woerden; which by the way is where we are living for five weeks, and their incursions into Linschoten just a fifteen-minute bike ride away, or an hour’s when slow like us.
In the evening we continued to watch our Netflix series, ‘The Blacklist’. We have now seen episodes in Adelaide, Hawaii, DC and now here. Even though it unrealistic, though in the ‘alternative’ world of facts we now live in, who knows? We like it, even more so now after living in DC for the past six-weeks. The thing is mostly filmed, or supposed to be, in DC.
Linschoten video https://youtu.be/5iJE6ErACAo
Up at 6:30 this morning. Narda stayed in bed until 10 with the cold I had, now gone (back) to her. I worked on Photoshop and writing projects for a few hours.
Spent our first day home since arriving eight days ago, not that I am counting. A down-day that we used to incorporate with our travels so we could gather our beans to go off exploring the next day but since here, and even more since we have had bikes we have been gone all day, each day.
We baked today. Always a good thing to do when traveling with a fussy-boots (oops that would be me). Narda made her wonderful low-carb bread and I made my low-carb cookies. Our food budget is doing well in Holland with the prices here much lower than Australia and overall lower than the States. In the States we made a budget of $350 a week for food which included a couple of times a week at a restaurant but here we have been closer to the $200 mark which is great and will pay for six-nights in hotels we did in the States that we had not budgeted for. I suppose this is part of being retired, having a budget, enough to go again and again without having to go back to work.
Another great thing about being here is how close everywhere is. I just looked up Paris. It is five-hours away. “Hey Narda I want to go to Paris for a couple of days”. Hamburg where Narda’s friend lives is five-hours away. I think we will go there sometime soon. Wow! In Australia it is like ten-hours to go to Melbourne from Adelaide. In the States we went to lots of places, thanks Chris for your car.
Went to lunch with Els. Els invited us to have coffee at her place and then go to lunch in a little French restaurant in Vianen. Which we did. She lives just outside the old city, her apartment is the end of a row, and the benefit is amazing views all over the countryside with the freeway wizzing along in the distance. She has a lovely back room surrounded by glass; a great place to sit and chat. It turns out we are related. She is the daughter of Tante Nels’ brother. Who knew. So I have a second cousin. We walked to the French restaurant, Suzettes, yummy food, Terrell had a quiche with salad and I had the soup.
Vianen video is at https://youtu.be/Wpo7zFbzgrY
28 January Saturday DAY 64 of trip
Another lovely visit with my cousin Karin and her husband Frank. Poor guy had just got off the plane from the USA a few hours earlier, so he did really well keeping himself awake and us entertained with lots of interesting stories. They have recently moved into this lovely house in Niewegein, just south of Utrecht. A very pleasant afternoon.
After a lazy morning at home writing, photoshopping, video- stuff we went to IJsselstein
IJsselstein is in the province of Utrecht. IJsselstein received city rights in 1331. IJsselstein owes its name to the river Hollandse IJssel which flows through the city.
We spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my cousin Hans and his wife, Mirjam, and daughters Linda and Suzanne (see our video below). They took us for a very interesting walk through the village (town) of Ijsselstein, entertaining us with interesting stories of the history of building and events. The video below gives some snaps of this. For dinner we had the traditional gourmet, using a large heating plate, and leaving folks to cook meals for themselves, table top, to their heart’s content. Lots of fun and very gezellig. An interesting and hospitable family; a highlight for us.
Morning spent completing blog for the period 1 – 10 January. See https://neuage.me/2017/01/12/more-of-not-the-same/ which took longer than expected which isn’t that always the way? To paraphrase Narda. We write these in Word but change it to html for an online blog, each photo gets re-imaged so it is easy to read on any device.
We are winding up six-weeks in the States: one week Hawaii, a week in Oregon, a week in New York and three weeks in D.C. As we write this we have five days left before we leave but I am sure we will find more than enough to keep us busy. When this gets posted we will have spent a day in Helsinki which now we wish we had booked a couple of days in, and we will be settled – hopefully, into our home for the month outside of Utrecht.
We left the house this morning with the thought of merely going to the hardware shop and getting some plywood or other cover for our two stained glass windows we made a few years ago and are trying to get to our home in Australia. At Ace Hardware, the shop that actually assists customers, unlike big box store hardware places that ignore us or if they see us heading toward asking for assistance they quickly disappear down another aisle, we were given cut offs of sheets of plexiglass for free and cardboard. From there we figured we should get a few groceries at Safeway. Then we decided to go to the Metro Shop and get SmarTrip® cards for ourselves as we have been using Chris and Jessica’s cards to explore the city and for me to get silly material for my Facebook posts. I was up for a senior half price card which is 85 cents for a subway/bus and half fare to the airport next Monday. The difficulty with driving in DC is finding parking. It is best to take public transportation but we were in our car going from street to street in search of a carpark. The one we found was in front of a very fancy building. The National Building Museum @ 401 F Street NW http://www.nbm.org/ this seems to be the place where presidents have their inauguration balls each turn over. In 1885, Grover Cleveland began the tradition of hosting presidential activities in the Great Hall; a tradition that lives on in present day of we won’t say who next week will be strutting their stuff
The building is quite incredible and we saw a few exhibits and got back home six hours after leaving to get some stuff to pack our stained-glass windows. We realise we would drive anyone nuts who travelled with us as we change our mind so often rarely doing what we set off to do.
On the way to collecting our new senior-money-pinching-metrocard we came across the Terrell Building. Aside of the fact that it seems to have a lot of office space available to lease it caused us pause so I could Facebook myself in front of it.
After going through the stuff from Terrell’s father which was still stored here (by our realtor and attorney…good people, let us know if you need a reference) we decided to make a massive parcel and mail a whole lot of stuff home. ($250 postage…oops) It actually took pretty much all day to sort it all out, including our little stained glass windows, which we made when attending Stained Glass101 in upstate NY one snowy winter many years ago. I have my fingers crossed to see if the glass makes it.
We picked up Liam from day-care today, he was very pleased to see us. Little gorgeous boy. He has a fascination for trucks, especially bulldozers, which he calls “boobootrucks”, always followed by “very loud”.
I’m sure going to miss this little guy.
Today, nearly our last day we took a bus to Georgetown. It’s always one of the bonuses in bus travel that you get to speak with the locals. I was sitting with a lady, about my age, and commented on the picture of a certain deplorable person on the front page of my newspaper. Actually I turned the paper face down and commented, “I can’t look at him”. This started a long and emotional conversation about her fears for the future and the future of her children under this looming administration. She actually started getting teary.
At the next bus stop we started talking to an older guy (the older folks are so much more amenable to conversations), who had fairly recently retired from a long career in the ‘services’, which also included the Department of Homeland Security. He was very knowledgeable; and also very concerned that we have the potential of ‘running over a cliff’ with this new government. Blimey. We saw this from a distance easily enough; the media keep us on a 24hour loop, and we all agree that we are talking about a ten year old bully running things, but when it comes from an insider, that’s worse. Over 90% of Washington DC voters voted against Trump. He has promised to overturn Obamacare, to cancel the peace agreement involving nuclear weapons with Iran, to skip NATO, and to embrace Putin. All wonderful things to look forward to and this is only a small part of it.
We went to The National Museum of American History. As always there are not enough hours so we have to be selective of what we see. This museum has a lot of areas to explore but with just an hour before we had to leave to do Liam-duty we went to the first thing we saw.
Exhibitions: FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000 (Julia Child’s home kitchen, re. fast foods etc.) http://americanhistory.si.edu/food; 1950s and earlier life – including first mobile homes which we liked especially as we are in the transitional stage of becoming grey-nomads. As of yet I have few grey hairs (probably because I won’t be seventy for another eight months, + I let Narda do all the worrying and I just take photos and happily live in la la land) but I don’t think that grey hair is the number one qualification to be a grey-nomad. Just being old and travelling heaps. This caravan from the 1930s is not much different from what we have back in Adelaide. There was a bedroom, kitchen and sitting area. Couldn’t find the loo but perhaps it was beneath something. I would rather have this one than our newish one though we have a bike rack on ours. No doubt they were better made in the 1930s. A rather cool site for caravans of this era in the UK is at http://www.period-classic-caravan-club.co.uk/1930s
Having grown up in upstate New York in the 1950s – 1960s I remember these cars and going on trips every summer with my family.
We didn’t get to any of the other areas and planned to go back but other stuff filled our days and that was it. I would suggest going to their web site and having a bit of a plan of what to see. Of course, we never do that and I start planning after we get to a city then start planning after we get inside of a museum or place of interest so I am not a good tourist guide. Learning to live in the moment back in the 1960s (‘be here now’ and all those groovy sayings which has become re-packaged and trendy now as ‘mindfulness’) I have no sense of what comes next. Narda begins planning a year in advance the detail and I look for the exit door in the moment. Somehow it works and we do get to lot of places and see stuff.
Hard to believe that we are at day 50. Didn’t we just leave Adelaide a few days ago? We are coming to the conclusion that we are should be global-grey-nomads, not just going around Australia dragging our caravan nomads. Just spend the rest of our life going and never staying for long anywhere. Not sure how the economics would work though. I don’t care what folks say that money is not important – it is – we need to get to the next place and eat and stay somewhere. We made a four-month budget which at times we come close to being close to but more would be better. And having a twelve months of travel budget that would include at least business class travel on long trips would be good.
As we were heading out of town shortly we spent the day packing and cleaning the house until early or late afternoon. Time is a matter of translation in comparison terms. To me it was late, to me-side-kick it was early. Not to worry, we got our sorry asses out the door and into the cold DC air.
So, day 50, about twenty of those in DC, and we had our fourth museum day, and as in the past we were able to squeeze in a bit of an hour or two at the Museum of Art. I like art museums. Always have. I never spend much time in them but every so often I need an art fix. Old art. Not the new throw-paint-on-canvas stuff; ‘I can do Jackson Pollock’ dribble (I used to do that as a street artist in New Orleans too, 1968 and 1971 – 1974) that people drool over now days but real art. We spent blocks of minutes looking at some of the best of Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, and as we are heading to Holland the best of other Dutch artists and other old shit. There was a room full of folks attempting to make art of art they were looking at, if we had time maybe we would have joined them. Probably not. Feeling refreshed, enlightened, fulfilled as tourists of the moment we took a bus back home.
I did my first picture poem of the year and posted it to several of my photographic-art sites such as:
And of course many more. What was significant in my little world was that I finally did something creative on the road. I want to be able to travel and continue with projects such as writing e-books and doing my photographic textual work. So far on this trip we just seem to be too busy. Everything is about priorities but my priorities are travel, experiences, creativity time to do writing, photography, films, as well as read and spend time with others. I need to be on a planet with twice as many hours and twice as many days in a year.
Last day today, spent most of the day cleaning and packing. We took Liam to the park in the morning; the weather was a little warmer, sun, shining and Liam really enjoyed playing outside. We put him to bed for his afternoon naps; he slept 3 hours! During the nap we cleaned the car too, the I took Liam to Chris’ church. Chris preached another masterful sermon on grace, and our prideful unwillingness to accept God’s grace. He always manages to hold his audience, and to find a new and interesting angle on stuff I have listened to for so many years.
I didn’t go to church, stayed home: wrote, did photoshop, listened to music (Supremes and other 1960’s stuff) and had a wonderful evening.
Packing is difficult. We have already sent a box of we had too much stuff to carry onto the next flight to add to our shed of stuff back in Australia.
Leaving America; sad. I will miss the kids. We had a long trip ahead of us, first Chris dropped us off at a Metro stop; Liam said ‘bye bye Oma, bye bye Rell’, about 3 minutes after we had left…bless him!
The ride to the airport was easy; Ronald Reagan Airport is so nice; old style classy, and not too big. It’s been added to our ‘favourite airports’ list, along with Portland and Schiphol. The next leg to Helsinki was fine, no hassle, but I certainly did not sleep, despite the sleeping pill. Bummer. Food with Finnair was good, hosties, all blonde and very fair-skinned, many with plaits, were friendly.
The next stage was interesting. We arrived at around 9am, and did not need to leave for Amsterdam until 4pm, so we found an airport locker (6 Euros) and took the train to downtown Helsinki (5 euros each, each way, but worth it!). A very nice city, snow covered, lots of old buildings, a harbour and some wonderful eateries, where we ate smoked cheese soup (Yum!!!) for lunch.
Travel Tip We walked to the ferry terminal and discovered that we could have taken a 2 night cruise, leaving that day to Stockholm and back for 90 Euros. A special for a quiet winter day and certainly a great idea for a future trip. There are also ferries (I mean large ships with cabins) running to Tallinn, Estonia, and St Petersburg. So a word to those considering Finnair; a stop-over in Helsinki has many interesting possibilities.
On the return trip to the airport we were both so tired, we slept and missed the airport stop. We managed to cross the tracks and go back with plenty of time to spare. When I got to the airport, I fell asleep sitting bolt upright; possibly with my mouth wide open and drooling, but Terrell will not tell me! [Why would I? The other passengers and I were all taking bets on who could shoot the M&M into her mouth]
Anyway, slept all the way to Amsterdam. Met the Dutch guy, Hans, in whose house we will be living, at Schiphol. Alice had made us a delicious meal of pumpkin soup and Indonesian rice. Life is good. I slept with the aid of Chris’ American over the counter blue sleeping pills, for 12 hours straight. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.
Our first day in Holland.
We slept until about 11 I think it was, Terrell on and off, me solid (it’s usually the other way around!) had a lovely time revelling in all the good food at the local shopping centre (amazing). I will take some photos. Mum used to say, food is so much better in Holland, which used to vaguely irritate me as a young person, but she was right. She did stop saying it in later years. So we bought croquettes, both rund flees and vegetarian, and some salade punnets….all good.
After it started getting dark, which was pretty soon, we drove into the old town. It was not so easy, especially when bike tracks look like roads, so it was a combined effort, one driving (me) the other bossing the one around. It seemed to work well.
I managed to collect a cold somewhere between DC and Holland. Narda had a cold and sore throat for about four weeks now it is my turn. I managed to sleep about six hours and finally slept sitting up in the lounge. I dragged myself through the day. No one will feel sorry for me. We are retired travelling the world, couldn’t be better – except not to have a cold.
You’d think I would be getting sick of travelling by now, but no, I’m just getting started. Being in different places, places I’ve never seen before excites me. I do miss family, but I also know that I will see them again soon. This is a great way to travel; we don’t do much touristy stuff, rather we try to experience it all as locally as possible.
In the evening we had a very gezellige time with Tom and Ineke who came to visit. I was able to talk with them about mum’s last weeks and they took the funeral service program and death notice card with them.
I met Narda’s uncle and his wife about a decade ago. They stayed with us in upstate New York and a memorable moment was driving to NYC for a day. We were standing in Times Square on the day Ronald Reagan died and a reporter asked them how they felt about Reagan’s death and Ineke said ‘we’re from Holland we don’t care’ and on the large screen above Times Square; there we were! How cool is that? I also remember Tom and his pacemaker/defibrillator. His parents were told at birth that he would not live past 14 or 15 years old because of his heart condition. He is now in his mid-80s and on his third pacemaker/defibrillator while I am on my first.
I managed to feel sorry for myself for the day catching a bit of sleep off and on all day because I could not breathe due to my stupid cold. By 4 pm though we were bored with my condition and sitting around the house watching me dying or close to it so we bundled up and headed to the next nearest town, Oudewater, a fifteen-minute drive away. See our YouTube clip at https://youtu.be/vinkc4CMSUE
Going to bed about eleven pm feeling fluey – maybe a fever or two I saw lots of buzz about the Women’s March against Trump. We knew about it from earlier in the week when we were in DC. A mistake we tried to rectify but were unable to was to stay in DC for the march; not the inauguration but for the march the following day. We looked up Amsterdam Women’s March and saw that there would be one tomorrow. Hoping to have a good night’s sleep we were keen to attend – tomorrow.
Finally had a night with some sleep. We were up at six am and though I still felt ill I wanted to go to Amsterdam. We got out of the house at ten thirty being the slow moving folks we are. At our local train station we missed the first train due to the machine not taking our credit card. From these smaller towns, after twenty minutes of frustration, speaking to someone on their help line who no doubt was in Amsterdam and not ‘live’ in our local station we found we could only get on the train using coins. The girl at the local food shop in the station was really helpful and gave us coins for twenty Euros, the amount to get to Amsterdam. Train travel is expensive in The Netherlands as we just found out. The train ride was only about 20 minutes and at Centraal Station Amsterdam we were able to use our credit card for a return trip.
Travel Tip: Credit cards are not as often received in Holland. We found this at grocery stores as well at train stations and most shops. Have cash.
So there we were, in Amsterdam, at the Women’s March. We walked to the starting point which was about 45 minutes away, at a rather rapid rate. We find that we walk faster than most people, maybe being tall is part of it, but even at our age we are always passing folks. The Dutch are the tallest in the world so we are no longer taller than most around us. For example the man that collected us from the airport a couple of days ago and whose place we are staying at was much taller than me. For example, he left his bike for me, but I cannot get on it, though I will try again. When I am on it my feet do not touch the ground. Can’t wait to get back to Southeast Asia where I will be tall again.
We found a map to the Rijksmuseum where the march would go from on its way, we assumed, winding through the streets of Amsterdam and finally ending in front of the US Consulate with lots of whoop and holler and of course signs.
Anyway, we got to the march, feeling sore from walking so fast, and me going through a few packs of tissues and wondering if my head would ever stop hurting. surprising, though I do not know why, there were a lot of people when we got there, exactly to the minute of its beginning. We were hoping the march would not be too long. Perhaps we would go with them just part of the way then take the train back home.
There were a lot of people there and finally the ‘march’ began. We walked and walked… five minutes later we were there.
And yes, of course, naturally, there is a YouTube video we did of this:
The march was exhila Watch this space!!!rating. We were surrounded by a huge crowd of Dutch people, all enthusiastic and hopeful. There were lots of laughing and chanting. It was so nice, after our dark experiences with the election and endless reading and dismay with the results. America is certainly not alone in its fear and depression; there is support from all over the world. The last I read was 700 marches worldwide. No violence, only joy.
Today we have bikes, the beginning of a whole new thing. Watch this space!!!!