Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The work is done, a day in Maastricht, and Mercury retrograde.

Originally posted on Multiply  May 6 2009
Our mother has been laid to rest in style. Nine years ago I did my father's eulogy, and at the time I promised Mom I'd do the same for her.

Mom will be cremated and  her ashes will later be taken to my land, where she spent so many happy vacations.

We had a few intense days, with wonderful gatherings of the 4 siblings. Friday May first we gathered in Maastricht, where my youngest brother has been living ever since he met his gorgeous girlfriend at a carnival. It has been years now. I got a glimpse of Dutch travel nightmare.
I had to get a quick picture of the sign to the town that my husband's ancestors came from! My last name is van Houten.
The maiden name is van der Hout. It is like being called Smith-Smythe.  

We got stuck in crawling stop-and-go traffic near Eindhoven, and once in Maastricht it was quite a challenge to find a parking spot. May first is a day off in Belgium and Germany, so the city was full of tourists.

My sister-in-law swore they'd take the train next time if it was just the two of them. This country is just too crowded for cars.

Crossing the rivers is always a treat. This is the tower of Zaltbommel.
Once in Maastricht we had a fantastic day. The weather was more like early summer than like spring. We wandered the gorgeous city, hanging out on sidewalk cafes, eating and drinking till late in the night. It was good to be together.
This is not us, but I wanted a picture of the herring stall. "Hollandse Nieuwe" refers to fresh herring, a national treat.
So little time, so much to see and taste!
We are not Roman Catholic, but Mom used to love lighting a candle in the chapel of Maria Stella Maris. So we stopped and lit some for her.
The entire city was busy and festive in the warm spring sunshine. We had to wait for a table at this square.
View from the old city wall in one direction.
And on the other side is a view of glorious chestnut trees in full bloom.
Some more miscellaneous Maastricht scenery.....

And finally, an old-fashioned sibling line-up, like the way our parents used to pose us.

It was an absolutely wonderful day. Amazingly I did not suffer from jet lag. Credit goes to the Camu Camu that I had guzzled in concentrated form.

As for the Mercury Retrograde.... During the approximately 3 weeks that it appears to be going backwards, communications tend to be tricky.
I had a brief but serious panic when my debit card was refused twice. Once in a store, which is not unusual, since it belongs to a small credit union. But then it said "insufficient funds" when I tried to cash some Euros, at the same bank machine that usually forks them over without fuss.

I had NIGHTMARES about having accidentally booked 3 trips, the morning I was struggling with KLM's online booking system. It kept kicking me off and refusing perfectly good credit cards after taking me through the whole system, card numbers and all. I ended up calling a travel agent after all. But what IF something had gone through after all, and my regular email address, that I can't get at right now, contained 3 e-tickets? Scary thought! My poor sister had to put up with the frazzled vibes.
After being a nervous wreck for the afternoon it was finally late enough to call Nakusp. Turns out I had tried to take too much at once, a smaller amount per day worked just fine. PHEW!
It keeps amazing me how easy it all is. Once upon a time we had to take travelers cheques, remember those? The first time I stuck a card in a machine on a street in Hilversum and guilders rolled out I got all excited.

 I remain firmly rooted in the twentieth century.

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