Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Evonka's Gems: The final one.....

Frans wrote:

1 Dec '09: You might well think that I'm picking on Evonne but the point is that her 'Gems' were a part of our adventure through Europe and not revealing her Gems would leave out an important and funny item out off this story... so here goes for the last time 'vonka, I promise....sort off.....

There must be something in the Mountain air that has an effect on our Evonka because most of her Gems were created in Austria or Switzerland whilst we were there. The Mozart size one was a classic from Salzburg, the false money from Switserland and these final two also played in Austria so perhaps the height above sealevel has an effect on her creative thinking?




Her next Gem played out whilst we were driving along the Autobahn in Austria and we were once again looking for a place to stop for a bite to eat. Now I should explain beforehand that Evonka had a bit of trouble with this particular road sign, ....you see, she had convinced herself it represented a fork with a diagonal cross through it and hadn't recognized the knife.....




Evonka was taking her turn in the passenger's seat again and from the back of the car came the request to look out for a suitable place to stop as stomachs were growling and bladders needed to be relieved.


"Evonka, you better look for a place to stop because my bladder has reached 250 mills" came Maxine's cry from the back seat..


"and I'm getting hungry!", Karen added


"Well we better not stop at that place" 'vonka responded as we zoomed past the sign.


I pondered that for a moment trying to find some logic in that particular statement but as a logical explanation failed to spring to mind I just had to ask:

"What was wrong with that place?"

"hmphh" she responded with some undisguised disgust in her voice: "You have to bring your own forks there!"


.....?!?!?!!!....some chocking sounds were observed coming from the back seat whilst tears just jumped out of nowhere into my eyes.... Good thing the seats were made out of leather....



....and then we were on our way from Budapest to Vienna travelling on probably the same Autobahn but this time in the opposite direction and to pass the time we had a discussion amongst ourselves how time seemed to go so quickly....

Somewhere in the discussion 'vonka asked all of the sudden but quite timidly:


"Frans, can I ask a stupid question?"

As by now Evonne's Gems were a well known factor in our adventure and highly entertaining material the discussion fell immediately silent and all that was heard was a little bit of road noise and the distinct ticking of the dashboard clock......

"Off course, Evonne" I replied knowing full well she was sitting right behind me and wondering if she knew what the term 'Garroting' meant...


"Well, ......I just wondered, are the kilometers here in Europe just as long as in Australia?"

...I must admit that I had to take a few deep breaths before answering that one....

"Yes, they are exactly the same" I responded with an absolute straight face but then just couldn't leave it alone.....again....: "Why is that?"


"Well, they don't seem to take that long over here" she declared with some more confidence


"O, that" I smiled, "but that is easy to explain, you know?"


..by this time she trusts me as far as she can throw me so her next response was laced with mistrust..

"Really", she said...


"Sure", I said trying hard to keep my face out off the rear view mirror.... "we just skip a bit here and there"

"Yeah right!" she fired back with venom in her voice.... "I'm better off asking Gary when I get back"....


"*SIGH*" I just don't know what I've done to deserve that......


Dear Evonka, the trip wouldn't have been the same without you and your 'Gems'.....


This is my last posting on this blog. We had a great time and I called Evonne and Karen today letting them know that and to say I did miss them a little bit.


We're suppose to have a 'let's bore them to death' dinner soon for our friends and family so we can show them our pictures, reflect on our journey and recall all those things we have experienced but I didn't tell you about on this blog. For those details you better show up for this dinner...


One question remains.... would I travel another 6000 km with 3 women in a car through 8 different countries ????

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day #23: And then we parted....

Frans wrote:

28 Nov '09: It had to happen some day and today it has come..., we came to the end of our journey and we had to part ways to go home and resume some sort of normal life again...

I'm sitting in our hotel room as I write this and it has been a few hours now since we said goodbye to Evonne and Karen. We'll follow them back to Australia tomorrow...

After I took our faithful Mercedes Benz to a nearby service station for a thorough clean up inside and out we packed our car to the fullest this morning and took the road to Delft to have a look at the church where the Dutch royal family is buried and soak up the last bit of Dutch culture of this trip. As usual we took the slow roads and some of the sites we seen are simply unique to this country and is rarely seen anywhere in The World. Just the fact that you can see that some of the waterways lie higher then the surrounding countrysite is enough to realize that this country is different to say the least.

We had a good lunch in Delft, drove back to the Airport and said goodby to our Merc who has served us so well. I know for sure that this car has helped to make this adventure as enjoyable as it has been and I'm truly thankfull we received this macnificent piece of machinery instead of the one we had originally ordered. The Sixt rental company had indeed done the right thing by us and we are all very appreciative of that.

We dropped Karen and Evonne off at Departures and returned our car. After that we finished this memorable adventure the way we started, at Delifrance in the Airport terminal. After a last glass of beer we all went up and walked together to the passport control where we said our last goodbyes to each other and despite my cries of "Now get out and stay out!" I felt quite sad to see them dissapear without us.... "I wonder if they'll get lost again....."

Our trip has come to an end and so has this blog..... nearly.... I owe our readers one last Evonka's Gems but that will have to wait for the last posting....

Day #22: The Ladies day....

Frans wrote:

27 Nov '09: I had to attend to some business this day somewhere else in the country and left the Ladies to explore Amsterdam by themselves...

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When we met again that afternoon I was entertained with stories about shopping, visits to the Anne Frank house http://www.annefrank.org/content.asp?pid=1&lid=2, a coffee shop where a waiter got into trouble with our Yvonne and an expedition to the sex museum http://www.amsterdam.info/museums/sex-museum/ in the red light district....

...I can't help wondering jf they would have visisted the sex museum if I had been with them that day. They all swore that they visisted this particular museum 'for a laugh'..... only time will tell if they actually learned anything there.....

Dinner was held at the hotel's restaurant http://www.goldentulipamsterdamzaandam.com/?Language=EN and the Ladies learned another way of serving soup. There is a lot of discussion going on amongst them about holding a 'Let's bore them to death' dinner for the family and friends back home to demonstrate their new culinairy skills and show them all their holiday pics.....We'll see what eventuates there, I'm a bit doubtfull as to who will actually show up.....

Day #21: The Final leg....

Frans wrote:

26 Nov '09: We all knew that the day would come but it still crept up on us quite quickly. It was time this morning to pack our bags again and leave our precious chalet.

I think Yvonne and Karen will vouch that our little house on the Ijssel is a special place where it is very easy to relax and watch the boats go up and down the river whilst you sip a glass of red wine.....

We repacked our suitcases, this time for real because there was no coming back and whatever did not fit would have to be left behind...... including my mushroom hat.... We scrubbed the chalet, deposited the rubbish, turned down the heater and locked her up for the next visit which will be God only knows when...

The weather had truly settled into something only an Autumn can produce so I had decided there was no point in any side trips or excursions but head straight for our final destination...Amsterdam!

Knowing full well what traffic havoc can exists on the Dutch motorways and esspecially in the center off the country we took a route that took us via Lelystad and the dike from there to Enkhuizen. This way we avoided all the traffic jams that usually occur around Hoevelaken and Amersfoort and made a much more pleasant trip.

Enkhuizen is a very old Dutch fishing village with a lot of history and if hadn't been for the biting wind and rain we would have explored this beautiful place on foot but instead the ladies made it quite clear they can could just as well see this town from within the warmth and luxury of our Mercedes Benz and instructed their driver in no uncertain terms to make a slow tour through the old center and harbour.... how could I refuse....

We had booked our next and final accommodation in Zaandam instead of Amsterdam as this hotel was more affordable then the steep prices hotels charged there. We made a slow trip to Zaandam and when we were getting close to our hotel we became quite worried about the building works that surrounded it but as it turned out the rooms were pretty quiet with their double glazing and for once the beds and cushions were very comfortable and there was no need to raid Yvonne's..



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After checking in we immediately took the train to Amsterdam which was only 12 minutes away as correctly advised by the receptionist of our hotel. We made our way from the central station into the main street of Amsterdam and do what most tourist do, look at the shops and into the cafes where they sell the local pot which is legal to do here.










We visited Madam Tussaud's wax museum at The Dam and gawked at the life like replicas of a lot of famous figures. I must admit that after a while I looked twice at a person to make sure he or she was real and the whole experience was a bit surreal and allthough there are many wax figures that strike a close resemblance to its true owner, some of them were not so great. I was impressed though with the figures of Elle Macpherson and Dame Edna Average.








Whilst having dinner we decided to join a candlelight tour of the canals and the red light district on one of the may tour boats that operate on the city's canals. Although the commentary wasn't that great, the cruise itself was most enjoyable and the walking visit to the red light district an eyeopener for my travelling companions. The ladies of leasure were applying their trade and it was great to experience that, although there are many people in The World that do not agree with their line of work, the atmosphere in that area was very pleasant and relaxed and at no time did we feel threatened or scared.

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The Ladies had a sample of a small taste of the Dutch gin served in a local pub which made their skin crawl. Having had the pleasure of that particular poison in a previous life, I thanked for that honour and watched the ladies of leasure instead...


Being now seasoned travellers we jumped on the right train back to Zaandam but not before Evonka gave some well meant directions to two disorientated muslim women who most likely were looking for the same train to Zaandam as us but instead on 'vonka's directions dissapeared into the nearest lift only to look back up to us one floor down with a completely haunted and bewildered look in their eyes... Having some personal experience with Yvonne's directions skills, I knew exactly how they felt......

Day #20: Kampen again....

Frans wrote:

25 Nov '09: We had already visited Kampen on our first day after we arrived in Holland and during that shopping expedition Karen had discovered a handbag that just wasn't for sale anywhere in Europe so we visisted Kampen yet another time. We strolled around the same shopping mall for another few hours but to my great dissapointed Karen returned without the famous handbag in her possesion?! I still don't know whether it has lost its allure, it had sold out or Karen started to realize that there were weight limits enforced to luggage you carry onto planes?

We were visited by my brother Dominique and his wife Alie that afternoon. Alie and Dominique had prepared our chalet for us leaving some basic food stuffs for us and giving the place a good clean out. Karen and Yvonne got along with them like a house on fire and a lot of laughs were had amongst them.

That night Maxine and I treated everyone to an Indonesion meal at a famous Indonesian restaurant http://www.istanabali.nl/ near Apeldoorn. To make sure everyone had a good taste of all the different Indonesion dishes I ordered a 27 piece 'Rijst Tafel' which consisted of just about every dish in the Indonesion cuisine you can think off. The food was great, the wine acceptable and the company exceptional and I'm sure all of us simply ate too much. Award koalas were left, company parted and we made our way 'home' again.

This was our last night in our chalet whilst on this adventure and I think it all played a bit on our minds that this journey was slowly but surely coming to an end...

Day #19: A lazy day....

Frans wrote:

24 Nov '09: When you are so busy travelling around and soaking up new experiences it is sometimes just as pleasant to have a lazy and relaxing day. This day was like that allthough Karen, Yvonne and me walked into the local village of Terwolde http://www.terwolde.net/ and back to the chalet along the dike again which amounted to a 4km walk! Not bad, esspecially for me who by this time certainly can do with the excersize after sampling a good share of the local fare on offer along our trip...

Day #18: Oberhausen, Centro shopping center

Frans wrote:

23 Nov '09: During our prelimenary correspondence about which places we would visit and what things we would do the following discussion took place :

I wrote on the 14th of October to Karen:

I think that the area around Terwolde will appeal, esspecially to you. We're close to the pine forests where you can go for great walks and I think we would be better off doing a few 'closer to home' trips in the first few days because it will give us a chance to settle in and I'll bet you now we'll have to a bit of shopping to do anyway which we could combine... The German border is only an hour away and if shopping and fashion is your thing, one of the biggest shopping cetres of Germany (Centro) is only 1.5 hours via the Autobahn.

To which she replied:

[Karen] I am looking forward to doing a lot of walking & maybe a bike ride (weather permitting). I am not that much of a shopper – No doubt the ladies will enjoy a shop & I am happy to join them at anytime. I will need to come home with a souvenir or 2......

I can advice our dear followers and readers of this Travel Blog that this is the biggest fib Karen S. has ever told. Whenever there was a shop in sight she spearheaded the expedition flanked by her loyal accomplices and me struggling to keep up in the rear. I can truly state that I have blisters on my feet simply from standing on them waiting outside some new shoe shop like a faithfull puppy waiting for its master only this puppy was ready to kill !! How I wished I could have lifted my leg against yet another shop front to show my intense dislike for its wares, its For Sale signs in a variety of languages and for all I care its very existence in the Universe.

Stupid me had revealed in that particular email that a rather large shopping outlet http://www.centro.de/english.html existed only about an hour and a half away in Oberhausen, Germany and this particular day was chosen to explore this walhalla of shopping centers with its many boutique shoe shops. Fortunately I came well prepared this time and had my faithfull laptop with me and I spend a peacefull 2 hours or so at some ice cream parlors outdoor dining area but well within their wireless internet connection.

The weather was cold and miserable again that day and although we had planned to visit the old Roman village of Xanten as well we were forced to cancel that as the wind was just too cold to spend time outdoors. We made our way back to our faithfull and warm chalet and set down for our second home cooked meal in a row!