Tuesday, 23 March 2010

An unexpected Trip

Originally posted on Multiply May 2 2009
The famous Spirit of Haida Gwaii, at Vancouver Airport.

My dear mother just died, as unexpectedly as that can be at age 93. I will do a post on her another time, when I have access to my own computer with pictures.
She was a frequent visitor to our land and loved it here.

Right now I am at my sister's place in Holland for the funeral. So here are some travel pictures.

The last time I flew was 5 years ago, things have changed since then! E-tickets and automated check-ins where you can even pick out a favorite seat. I remain a sucker for window seats.

On the way to the first plane I had the privilege of meeting Ebeda, the shoeshine lady from Somalia. She works 7 days a week to support family in Africa. Foot massages are for ladies only. She started with her spiel on the importance of relaxed feet, lol. Preaching to the choir! I didn't have enough time to take her up on her offer, but there was a brief lull after my shoes were shined and she allowed me to massage her hands and show her where the reflex to the spine is on the hands, so she can relieve her own back aches. We parted with a big hug. A truly inspiring human being. Her religion forbids taking pictures, or she'd get a place of honor here.

Got a window seat on both planes ( For some weird reason it was cheaper to fly over Minneapolis) but alas, the joy was brief. It was hazy right away. That's Stanley Park below.
And here are the Gulf Islands, a truly paradisical place.
Then the cloud rolled in, just about solid till we got to Minneapolis. It was sodden there, and the trees were just as late as at home.
The coast of East Anglia, looking lovely and inviting in the early morning light. Almost there.

The Dutch coast. It must be near IJmuiden, you can see the blast furnaces and the North sea canal in the background.
Some typical Dutch landscapes.
Amazingly they manage to maintain some open landscape spaces. Get this: the place is the size of Vancouver Island, more or less, and these days it holds about 17 million people. We were glad to leave it 40 years ago, when the population was about 13 million.
Any remaining beauty is thanks to rigorous and necessary planning. If the Dutch claimed the same freedom to build helter-skelter depending on which developer gets hold of a piece of land the place would be one big ugly strip mall. The curtailing of some individual rights is the price one pays for maintaining open public spaces that are as pleasant as possible.
Sometime during the flight the captain mentioned that we would arrive on Koninginne dag, Queen's Day. The present queen's birthday is January 31. Beatrix wisely decided that most people would prefer their day off on her mother's birthday, April 30..
Now in my Dutch days April 30th was a nice day, with some parades, some fleamarkets, but not the zoo it has since become, with multitudes dressed up in orange paraphernalia. Apparently it has become a huge party day.

My sister met me at the airport, bless her. From there the train took us straight through Amsterdam. I may never come here again at this time of year  and was feeling remarkably chipper, so we decided to stop over in the city, leave the bags in a locker in Central Station, and take in the party atmosphere.
For security reasons the lockers were closed that day. We shlepped ourselves to the terrace on the water just across the station, bags and all, enjoyed the sun and the atmosphere for a good half hour, and then decided that the loud, garbage strewing, drinking mobs were too much. By now it I was fading fast.

Coming out of Grand Central Station used to be a joyous moment. The city opened up its lovely heart right there. The last time I was disappointed because there was construction going on, and visibility was obscured. It has become WORSE. What a disgusting mess. Let's hope the new South Line of the metro is worth it in the end. At the North side, where the harbor is, the plan is to create a big bus station and a pedestrian/cyclists only boulevard, that should be fun.

Once we got to Margreet's home in Hilversum we found out about the events in Apeldoorn, where some disturbed individual had driven a car into the mob, aiming for the open bus with the royals, and turned a festive day into national shock. It is impossible to protect against that sort of thing!