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Author: Dagmar

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....

I flew 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 hassles.

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.

First, - 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. 


While 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 it behind.  

The 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 person. 

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 physically too.  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 fine now.  

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

The 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 Stade


....family reunion in Stade                                       ...and Brinkum

The 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..

On the 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 pooch....

Friday 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.

The 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.

The 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 next day..

On Oct 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..

I 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....

In 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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