Remember the humble postcard? My Grandfather used to collect them…100 years ago. This week, in light of coming to terms with this year, probably not taking the European Grand Tour in something like a Duster, I’m embarking a journey into recent K-Team history as well as glimpsing life in the past from a postcard taken 100-years ago.
I am amazed at what one can glean from a simple card. Imagine, a postcard in 1921 cost 1-cent to post from Holland! On the flip side, a tiny little script in the middle reads “nadruk verboden”(copying is forbidden). I’m hoping from my understanding of copyright laws, that this restriction has long since expired. That being said, I acknowledge the publishers “Weekenk and Snell, den Haag” and have shared this postcard for historical and educational purposes.
So, we travel forward in time to the present day, when my husband and I visited Amsterdam at the start of our European adventures in 2014.
We arrived in Amsterdam and after breezing through customs, Hubby rang up Renault to get someone to pick us up and drive us to the Renault office to pick up the leasing car, the Duster. ‘You’ll recognise us,’ the Renault guy promised. We waited half an hour. No guy, no van. Dragging my big red suitcase, Hubby paced back and forth along the front entrance and I trailed behind him, his smaller suitcase bumping over the pavement. After 45 minutes of no joy, no guy, and no Renault van, Hubby rang Renault again. Apparently, the pickup guy had made several laps of the Airport pick up area searching for us. Hubby suggested we rendezvous by a well-known hotel near the overpass. We waited there for a couple of minutes before Hubby got itchy feet and off he went a-wandering. I began to follow and then looked back. The Renault van rolled around the corner. I ran, and with my free hand I waved at the driver getting out of the van.
‘Yay!’ I called out.
‘I was looking for a red suitcase,’ the guy said.
I apologised for my husband’s impatience and then we waved at him as he approached.
After picking up the Duster from the office, Hubby embarked on the challenge of driving in Amsterdam on the right side of the road. He took a little while to adjust to not over-compensating and bumping into the kerb on the right. Which he did a few times.
We gingerly drove the short way to the service station and after parking and hunting through the French instructions, found how to open the fuel cap. Hubby had learned French at school, so was able to decipher the information without spending too many hours trawling through the tome of a manual. So, we filled up with fuel and began our journey to our apartment. Our navigation system, a Tom-Tom which we named “Tomina” since it had a pleasant, if not slightly passive-aggressive female voice, lead us to the highway and then off the beaten track, then told us to turn around. Back where we started, Tomina said, ‘Turn right.’
‘Turn right,’ I said.
Hubby obliged by tuning left and into the highway. Cars coming from our right tooted us as we entered the highway. We had to go ‘round the block to get back on track. Then we saw that where Hubby turned was a sign that read, “No Left Turn”.
We found the apartments and since check-in was only from three o’clock, we had the staff hold our luggage while we explored the local station. We admired the rainbow-coloured flags that decorated the apartment block and surrounds, thinking they looked so pretty and decorative. Hungry by this time, we ate lunch, then bought a card, wine and flowers for his aunt Ada who had her birthday on the 30th July. A highlight of the trip for Hubby was visiting his aunts and cousins that afternoon. Had a lovely time meeting and getting to know his father’s relatives over coffee and cake. Some of his aunts Hubby hadn’t seen for 40 years.
The next three days in Amsterdam we spent walking. Hubby had taken it upon himself to become my personal trainer. We must get fit. We walked the roads of Amsterdam absorbing the summertime atmosphere, admiring the canals, the graceful architecture, the boats and hundreds of bikes—everywhere people riding bikes. The town was packed with people, tourists, and revellers, eating, drinking and shopping. As it turned out, we had chosen unwittingly, I might add, to spend the weekend when Amsterdam was celebrating the Rainbow Festival. We did see some unusual sights as well as the usual antics common to drunken behaviour. My foot suffered blisters as it adapted to new hiking sandals. Good thing we had a first aid kit and some blister pads from Rogaining a couple of years ago.
We did the usual tourist stuff, one day five hours in the Reich Museum, next day lining up and herding through the Van Gough museum-art gallery, and then an hour cruise through the canals. We had a 24-hour pass so we could hop on and off certain trams around the city. One tram though, decided to close its doors on me as I tried to get off leaving Hubby abandoned on the footpath. I alighted at the next tram stop around the corner and walked back. What joy to see my husband walking towards me.
Although we mostly ate at our apartment, the last day in Amsterdam we enjoyed pancake with apple and honey for lunch, and for dinner Argentinian steak—tender juicy steak. I’m not sure what it is about Argentinian steak houses, but in Amsterdam, they’re everywhere.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2014; updated 2020
And now, for something different…from Europe…
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