Sunday, April 27, 2008

2008TripBlog1






Friday April 25, 2008


Hello everyone!

There has been a long lapse between our last trip letters and these new ones. Last year several things happened to keep us in Connecticut so long that we decided it was too late to go to Europe. But this year we made it.

We left the U.S. on Wednesday night at 9:40 p.m. …no, we left at 10:15 after a long delay on a runway in the back of Logan Airport. About 10 p.m. the captain came on the loudspeaker to say that they had a computer malfunction that had just been fixed, and apparently he was correct, because once we took off we had a trouble free flight.

On the other hand, Ron wants to write to Northwest and tell them that although we do understand that there are big problems in the airline industry, the way to compete is not to buy small planes and put too many seats across them. These were the worst we’ve ever experienced. Also very annoying was the fact that although we asked for two aisle seats in the same row, and were assured that was what we were assigned, we had tickets for the aisle and the center seat. Then a tall Dutchman came along with a ticket to the center seat that Adelle was in! He squeezed into the window, but his long legs bothered Adelle all through the flight.

There weren’t many people on the plane. I believe that we were almost the only set of tiny seats with three passengers. We were certainly more uncomfortable than many on the flight who were all alone and could “stretch out” on their seats! Ron did manage to sleep a little – but though I shut my eyes, I remained wide awake all night. Got into the airport, took money out of the wall and bought a sim chip to put into the new European cell phone that Dick van den Berg (Sjef’s brother) brought me from The Netherlands. Then we called the DeWits (our RV landlords) to say that we were in. Arend came to get us and brought us to our old Dolphin, bright eyed and bushy tailed, standing there waiting for us, all ready to go off and explore some old and new venues. It’s a brave old thing. It has no idea that this next trip for which it is anxiously waiting in all probability will be its last with us in its care.

Arendt and Ineka gave us lunch. Afterwards we went grocery shopping with Ineke in her car, and then to the campground where we unpacked and took about an hour’s nap.

Right off we found that it is really thrilling to be here with the Euro worth $1.59. And there has also been inflation here. The result is that campground fees are in the $40 per night range instead of $25 on our last. And gasoline, at 1.59 +- Euros per liter, nets out at almost $10 per gallon, ( 1.59 x 3.84 per gallon x 1.59 dollars per liter=$9.70 ) instead of about $6 on when we were here last. In short, we get to feel like big time spenders while roughing it. And roughing it is a hell of a lot better than the $300 per night for hotels we hear is normal now for a 3 star.

How did we feel otherwise? Well Adelle was planning to call home at 9 p.m. our time (3 p.m. at home) to give every one our phone number but couldn’t stay up that late! She’s never been so tired when we arrived. Slept from about 8:45 p.m. to 8:30 this morning. And we still feel tired.

We didn’t walk around today. We ran some errands, did a little more food shopping, and worked on various projects on the motor home. Can you believe that it has been in storage for just short of two years and is still dry and comfortable? That’s greenhouse living for you. It was pretty dirty of course, but we have spruced it up a bit. In rummaging around we discovered a third of a bottle of red wine left from the last trip—over two years ago. Wasn’t bad. Wasn’t good either, but it still had some alcohol in it. Also lots of little black flakes! And today we had some instant coffee left from the last trip. Instant coffee does not taste too good when it’s fresh, but it does not taste worse when it is over two years old.

The business on Friday was to check out what needed to be done to conform the Dolphin to European standards before it could be sold here. So we visited a garage owned by Patrick van den Berg—no relation to Sjef—who checked it out. Just one thing—different parking and turn signal lights, which was not problem. But two mechanical things also—ball joint seals, and brake lines in the front. Estimate—700 Euros (=$1113). That’s a good price—for Mr. Van den Berg, but not for us. But then, in addition, we would have to pay an import tax which he estimated at 10 % of the cost when the RV was NEW in 1985! What? How can we determine that? And why when it was new, when it is now 23 years old? We decided to visit the tax office on Monday and discuss this with them.

It is getting to look more and more like we are taking Dolphin home.

We stayed overnight at the campground closer to Schiphol Airport because we’d like to try the new transportation to town. If it is as advertised, it’ll take only twenty minutes more. On Saturday we’ll be at our favorite street market in Amsterdam where we’ll buy too many vegetables and fruits, lots of cheese and beautiful flowers. We’ll also have the chance to put out first letter on our blog from our favorite internet cafĂ©. Life is good.

We haven’t begun to think about Sunday – but on Monday we have some additional errands to run, so we’ll remain in the Amsterdam area. We’ll move to a new campground on Monday evening so we can go on
Tuesday to Keukenhof Gardens to see what the Dutch planters have planted. Then who knows? If all goes well, our friends will meet us on Tuesday and what is more, join us on Friday in their new camper. See, I told you life is good.