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Every year I visit
my aging parents as well as my relatives and friends in and around Bremen,
Germany. In the past I went mostly alone, since Wolfgang wants to
come along only if we do the 'Bed & Breakfast routine' using some rental car to
explore places he’s been and lived in the past. Visiting relatives does bore him
...but that's really the only reason I want to go. So he usually looks
after our darling cat Blackie while I make my obligatory visits. This
year I left September 24th …and came back October 09th. But next time
Wolfgang promised to come along (with Blackie) ....and we'll do his B&B
routine following the formal visits. Let's hope so....because I don't feel
all that great traveling by myself any more, - especially when things do go
wrong. And did they ever go wrong on this trip....
from Vancouver to Amsterdam and from there took the train to
Bremen, - which I’ve already done in the past. I arrived at the Amsterdam
Shipol Airport at 10 o’clock in the Morning and cleared customs without
From there I proceeded to the lower level of the complex to the
"Shipol Train Station" to purchase my train tickets to Bremen. I was informed that the
first connection to Bremen would be going to Muenster via a train station
(forgot the name) five stops to the south. Or - I was told - I could take a later train
going straight to Osnabrueck (further to the North) to arrive in
Bremen just an hour later. Nevertheless, - I decided to take the first train. In
retrospect…this was a ominous decision.
- I missed the darn train leaving the "Shipol Airport Station" to connect me with
the train going to Muenster ….because of a last minute change in arriving platforms
(very common now in Europe as we found out in France earlier in the year).
I didn’t understand the announcements over the PA system and by the time I
realized that the platform numbers on the boards had changed to an adjacent
track…I ran to the other side only to see the train rushing past me. Now
the question was…would I still be able to catch another train to make the
connection to Muenster in time. In my excitement I raced to those escalators
leading to the "International Train Counter". Here I was told not to
worry….there was still plenty of time to make the connection to Muenster
with the next train.
I was waiting at the (suggested?) platform to meet the next train, I met a
student traveling in the same direction, - so I was somewhat relieved.
We spent our time talking and exchanging experiences while waiting for the
train and on route to the transfer station to Muenster. Once there, we
made the connection with no problems at all. And as we were settling
down on the final leg to Muenster I suddenly noticed that my backpack was
missing. At this moment I was in total shock and disarray because my
backpack contained valuable stuff….and I had no clue where I could have left
conductor immediately contacted Amsterdam ...where they checked platforms
and ticket counters…but nothing was found. Then the conductor
suggested to get off at the next train station and make an official report
with customer service. So I did with tears in my eyes…. Walking along
the platform of that station I approached a couple of policemen who referred
me to the "Railway Office". Once there I filled out all required forms
and was reassured that every effort would be made to locate my luggage …and
that I should return in the next hour or so. Frankly, by that time I
had given up any hope of ever getting back my valuables since I could not
even recall where I might have left that pack behind. One of the
places I mentioned on the forms was the first platform I was on where I had
waited in Amsterdam for the first train. When I returned to the "Railway
Office", - a smiling face greeted me announcing that my backpack had
been located ..and exactly at that particular place …after more than three
hours. The only explanation for this was that during the busy hours no
one paid attention to my luggage thinking it would belong to the next
Anyways, - I
was so happy that I could have embraced every Dutchman in sight. But there
was little hitch, - for me to get my luggage back ...I had to book a train
going back to Amsterdam….and honestly I couldn’t have cared less of where I
had to go to get my Backpack back.
In the end
I receive everything back, - but now I had to wait
until approx. 5pm for the next train to Bremen – this time direct over Osnabrueck - and due to arrive in Bremen
at around 9:30 pm. I phoned Horst and
Regina, - friends of my parents I was staying with while in Germany - to
inform them about my dilemma. But if you think that was the end
of it ....WRONG. When we
reached Osnabrueck I found out that the connector train to Bremen was delayed for more than
an hour. I thought...this cannot be true...German trains always run on
time. I found out however that a “Bummelzug” (slow train) was leaving
for Bremen within the next 15
minutes. So rather than wait for an hour ...I decided to take the slow train
to Bremen right now. But this still meant that I would reach Bremen much later of what I
told my host Horst. The moment I arrived in Bremen, I called Horst and Regina to
tell them about the latest disaster….but was told Horst had already left home to pick
me up from a streetcar station outside of Bremen we decided on to meet. Poor Horst
....he just might have thought I would never arrive ….
By the time I arrived in Brinkum via the street-car, I was a nervous wreck and in a total mess
What a relief it was after 48 hours without sleep sitting in Horst’s car
driving to his house - my home for the next two
weeks - was indescribable. Wolfgang of course had been calling several times during the
day ...and when I finally spoke to him at around midnight German time, I
didn't tell him about my day’s experiences …and left that subject for a later time. So
he scolded me for trying
to safe money by booking on the Internet, - not trying to aim booking
‘point to point’ – going without sleep for such a long time - the difference
in value of paying extra for convenience - and so on.
True...I got a terrific deal...so what is the price of convenience?
Perhaps peace of mind? But mind you, - I can still physically handle
ordeals like this...mentally I'm not too sure. But one thing is for
sure....Wolfgang would have been cursing every step of the
way. He likes his conveniences a lot, lol....
Anyhow....after a good night sleep I was up and about to face the challenges
ahead. First I had to see my parents which both are now living in a very
nice "old-folks-home" in Brinkum - where I stayed with Horst and
Regina - just south of Bremen.
...my mother in her
wheel-chair waiving at me...
The reunion with my mom and
dad was simply fantastic. They are really looking forward to my
annual visits that I just have to go....no matter what.
But unfortunately, during my entire two week stay my father lay mostly in bed with the flue.
He even later on developed pneumonia. But at 93 years of age he's a
true survivor ...and in the end he insisted on being brought into a hospital
and a certain doctor he did trust way back from the past. It worked...with
"Aufbau-Spritzen" (his term for getting life's essentials), - he's doing
Since the weather was
mostly nice, I made a lot trips into the country-side with my mom and her
wheelchair. We had so much fun doing this that we fashioned memories
which will last forever. During my stay I made sure that I was with my parents each and
every Morning except for two days where I had to
stay overnight in another city.
...my mother with her "Tiroler" Hat
....the three of us, - father being very sick with pneumonia
first overnight stay occurred on the
first Sunday, Sep 28, when Günter (my brother-in-law) picked me up at my parents
place to make a visit to my Brother Klaus and his wife Inge as well as Timmy
their mutt in Stade. Fantastic!!! It is always such a pleasure to be with them that each time I wished I had more time to spend with them
and their son. The
following day Klaus showed us his newly acquired and refurbished
office building - a former Bank - which is just marvelous. His
insurance business must be booming. That was a real nice visit....
..my brother Klaus to my right, Günter on my
left ...new office of Klaus in
....family reunion in Stade
following day, Sep 29, I visited Rosi, - my best friend since my early
childhood It's the same there...I wished I had more time to reminisce
about our past and present.
....making a bicycle tour with Rosi
Wednesday, Oct 1 – I was invited to Peggy und Enno. Peggy took me under her
wings when I started with my first job with Kuehne & Nagel ...and we have been
close ever since.
Peggy at her lovely home..
evening of Oct 2 – Horst und Regina - the people I was staying with - and I
went to visit another mutual friend of my parents from the past - Hannelore.
She just recently had lost her husband and this tragic event kind of
overshadowed the memorable conversations that evening.
Hannelore with her
Oct 3 - I spent with Günter and my cousin Heidi in Bremen. Günter did pick me
up first in Brinkum...and than Heidi in Bremen. We went to a nice Greek Restaurant and
enjoyed a wonderful evening together.
weekend of Saturday Oct 4 to Monday, Oct 6 - I celebrated 'Ernte-Dankfest'
in Ahausen with Günter Busssenschuett und his wife Christa in their new
and second home. I was picked up by his son Mathias who drove me to his
beautiful town which looked so pristine in its country beauty. The house did belong to
Christa's parents and is part of a very old farm which now is beautifully restored and
renovated. It's an historically authentic and lovely place and I was
additionally enchanted by the terrific Parade in the town the
following day. Günter is a "Jugendfreund", - we both belonged to the same
swim-club as teenagers and we're still the best of friends to this day....
..visiting old friends in Ahausen
....enjoying a "Schuetzenfest"
Tuesday Oct. 6 - I was at Günter's Birthday Party in his home. There
were a lot of people I had not seen in a long time and we all had a great
time that evening with plenty of delicious food and drink.
next day I met with Rosi for the last time at the "Brinkumer Tor", - the
only Hotel in Brinkum. It is a very "gemuetlich" place and
was a good
choice to spent quality time with my best friend before departing the
8 I took a late train from Bremen over Osnabrueck to Amsterdam. Horst,
Regina and their son Thorsten brought me to the train station in Bremen
where I said good-bye to the nicest people one can ever meet. Such
warmth and hospitality are hard to find in ones life ...and I will forever
be grateful of not only what Horst means to my father as a much younger
friend...but what he has done for
me as well. I'm in debt for the rest of my life. I'm in close contact with Horst because he sees my parents
nearly every day. That way I can stay in touch with what's going on..
my hosts Horst and his wife
Regina with son Thorsten and my mom..
survived the very long journey back to Victoria in good shape...and arrived
on Vancouver Island with everything in my possession, lol. Since I
arrived at Shipol Airport in Amsterdam very late (or better early) in the
day, I did not tried to find a place to sleep but instead opted to stay at
the airport (with some other equal minded travelers). The time in fact
passed quickly with occasionally dosing off - or reading - eating - drinking
- talking to strangers - or going for walks. Although nobody was very
anxious to talk ...and most everybody kept for themselves. Because of
security reasons the airport was closed down between midnight and five in
the morning ....and security personnel patrolled all the time. That
gave us night-owls a secure feeling....
retrospect it seem implausible to have done all the things I have done in
such a short time. But I was in fact on my feet from early morning
till late at night every day of my two week stay in Germany. When my
pictures were developed, Wolfgang could not believe that I did all this in
such a short time. And I sometimes cannot believe it either.... But my
energy level is still pretty high because I'm not letting off on my daily
exercise routines which keep me in good physical shape to this day. Now
only Wolfgang has to follow suite with delivering on his New Year's promises
...and we still can both make bookings through the Internet, lol.
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