Letter No. 16
No photos with this letter. Just some musings.
We are now entering the penultimate week of our European tours (I’ve always wanted to use that word in a sentence – and I don’t even care if I used it correctly. Adelle). That’s quite a frightening thought for two people who have become so used to long trips in Europe!
But we realize that we can’t properly take care of a vehicle 3,000 miles from home – and we’re not even sure if we’ll be physically able to continue traveling this way in future years. We can see the difference in our attitudes. When we are trying to think about a “new” place to visit, we frequently find that we can’t think of where else to go. We’ve been to an awful lot of places – and although we certainly have missed entire countries (i.e. Austria, Spain, Portugal and all the eastern European lands), we aren’t sure that we have the correct vehicle for those visits. Perhaps we’ll have to ship our car next time. In any case, we are ready to say a very fond goodbye to our European home away from home.
We came back to The Netherlands to show it to several possible buyers and we aren’t anxious to go far afield before we leave for home. So we are back in Amsterdam. On Thursday we are going to visit Leiden but we are going by train. We’re hoping that Maartje and Cees will be here on Saturday and we will certainly go to the GIGANTIC OUTDOOR FLEAMARKET advertised on billboards around the city (in Dutch of course). On Monday and Tuesday, June 2 and 3 we will be cleaning out the RV, getting it ready for eventual possible sale by the owners of the greenhouses where we store it. And on Wednesday, we leave for Boston.
In the meantime, we are getting ourselves emotionally ready. Today we did our usual Amsterdam “thing” – we visited our favorite street market. Want to know how differently Ron and I look at the shopping? Today at the market we bought a quart of strawberries, two pounds of grapes, three mangos and a pound of cherries to add to the apples and oranges we have on hand. Ron was upset that we didn’t buy more grapes because they are delicious and were very inexpensive. I’m worried about eating all this!
We hadn’t been at this particular campground this year, and we suddenly realized that when we first began our adventures, the walk from the campground to the metro seemed very long indeed. That was in the days before we began to walk even when we are in America, just to keep in shape. Now it seems so short—just a cake walk. And we are six years older than the first time we walked that route!
The high cost of food and fuel is causing a lot of unrest in Europe. The bus drivers in The Netherlands have been out on some kind of strike (we see them at rush hours!). Last week, there was a strike in Belgium and there is an ongoing battle in France. So far we’ve been lucky and haven’t been kept from doing what we wanted to do because of these strikes.
The strikes going on this week here reminds us that when we were in France a couple of weeks ago, the French train workers were on strike. Why? Because the government wanted them to work one extra year and retire at age 51 instead of 50!!!!!!! That would help the bottom line. But they say they can’t do that because they work odd hours, sometimes at night, and that takes so great a toll on their ( unspecified) well-being that they need to retire at 50. And if they give in at age 51, in a few years the government will ask for another extension to 52 and so on and so forth. It matters not at all to them that the Swiss train drivers, right next door, have 65 as their retirement age. And, of course, they work at night also. Please understand, we are not knocking this. Indeed we admire it. The French way of life is lovely. It certainly is not anything like what Americans of two-weeks-a-year-vacation are used to! And their economy is better than ours is right now. How do they do it? How long can they keep it up?
We hope that over the next week we’ll still see some things that might be interesting to everyone. But this letter – or the next – will be it for 2008. We’re ready to return to chores, real cooking, gardens (even those with four legged predators called “deer”), etc.
Our best to all.
Adelle & Ron