Michael and Anita’s Sojourn to Europe…or until the money runs out

The week before I left Ajijic I took time to look around at the green mountains and the orange sunsets in the west knowing it would be some time before we returned to paradise.

The flight out of Guadalajara was easy enough as was the flight to Mexico City. We had a three hour layover in the airport before our flight to Miami. The highlight (or maybe lowlight) was I bought a Snickers candy bar in the airport for 75 pesos. When the revolution comes I want to be in the mob that liberates the airport stores of their money grubbing, captive audience ways.
The flight from Mexico City to Miami took about four hour. The hotel shuttle service was an hour late picking us up and it was dark when we rode to the hotel. I was tired so I closed my eyes and listened to the shuttle driver, an older man who sounded just like Ricky Ricardo.
How did it feel to be back in the USA? We never left. It seemed people all spoke Spanish, except the Cuban Spanish is Spanish on methamphetamine. If there is a faster speaking Spanish I can’t imagine what that sounded like.
The flight the next day we flew on AirBerlin to Dusseldorf Germany, it took about 9 hours, mas or menos dinner and then breakfast, free pillows, blanket, and bag of travel items . We landed early morning, cleared customs and immigration and somehow we negotiated through the metro into town all the time wheeling fifty pounds and a backpack of another 20 pounds. After more than several wrong turns we finally made it to our hotel. Thank God the elevator worked up five floors.
Dusseldorf is situated on the Rhine river and is a modern city. Looking around the city there was graffiti on buildings everywhere. I respect a good graffiti artist but most of what I saw was from taggers (A tagger is a lesser form of graffiti artist)
I really can’t say much because of our short stay. The metro was clean and efficient. It did cost 1 Euro ($1.26 American) to use the “W.C.” and I thought 30 pesos was expensive in Mexico. I noticed the German women did wear practical shoes and not stiletto heels favored by the trendy fashionistas senoritas. I’m sure that will not be the case in France.
The next morning we were on a bus to Holland and Amsterdam.
You can tell you were into Holland when the billboard signs changed languages from German to Dutch. Since both languages are alien to me how could I tell? It seems the Dutch are fond of vowels. No, make that mad for vowels—double oo uu gg hh ii. Example: Central=Centraal eye-drops=oogdruppels Stork=oolevaar uncle=oom recommendable=aanbevelenswaardig
As you may know the city of Amsterdam is reclaimed land from the sea and has canals all through the city. The place is charming and not car infested because most people ride bikes rain or shine, mostly rain it seems. The other remarkable thing about Amsterdam is all, really ALL, the people speak English. As explained to me, all the films and TV shows are subtitled in Dutch so people grow up hearing English. Also English is taught in the schools.

The Dutch also are not prone to smile at strangers and avoid eye contact, and for the most part are “poker faced.” You have to talk to them first to get them to act friendly. Maybe it has something to do with the always cool weather here or maybe all the vowels they have to pronounce to make sentences—I’m not sure.
We did go to the red light district and looked at the prostitutes in the windows. Sorry sight. Maybe if I was a sailor who had just returned from two years at sea they would appeal to me, but the working girls all looked rather used, if you know what I mean. We also walked by the coffee shops that sold marijuana. Didn’t stop in. And speaking of smoking, too many people smoke (tobacco), especially the young women. Very unappealing. Aside from the smoking the people seem very fit and healthy. There are no fat people here. Maybe all the bike riding makes them slender. There are only 1000 windmills left in Holland and people only ear wooden shoes on farms in the countryside.
Of course we went to the Van Gogh museum and the Impressionist show at the Amsterdam Hermitage museum. We first met at an art gallery and our first date was at an art museum so we do art. We also found enough dry time to do a bus tour of the city, a walking tour of the Jordaan and a canal boat ride.
It is amazing how ethnically diverse Amsterdam has become. Walking around this city you are constantly hearing different languages and seeing many many people of different ethnicities. If the dutch aren’t a minority they must be close to it.
7-12-2012 is our last full day in Amsterdam and it is raining and I guess we will have to go to the (see above) coffee shops to have some, uh, coffee.

To view the photos even if you are not a member of facebook go to:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150918195791516.410079.667416515&type=3&l=39bc96f8b7

2 Responses to “Michael and Anita’s Sojourn to Europe…or until the money runs out”

  1. Linda Samuels Says:

    What a great description of your first few days, Will check out the pics later.
    When I taught, it was mostly with Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican children so I was able to understand them and even speak that way. When I moved here, I founf it so easy to understand normal Mexican speech.

  2. Abby Says:

    Sounds like you’re having a fun time. Enjoy!

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