Chapter 16: Julyfest

Uncle Jimmy!

I know, I know. It’s supposed be to spelled Oktoberfest. Which really starts in September. But I went in July. So … whatever.

Two years ago, at an event billed as a “hippy party” in Cologne, we ran into two sisters looking for a seat. It was packed that day and there was nowhere available, except for at the very end of our round chaise lounge. They asked, we said yes, and thus we all became very good friends. On the last day of our trip, no less.

Well, we wanted to see them this time as well. Only … one of them was planning on going to the States for a holiday! San Fransisco and Idaho. So we timed it so that we could get to Germany and see them off. Be their token experts at all things Americana during their going-away party.

So … the day before their soirée, we landed in their hometown and invaded one of their homes. It was strange, at the end of the night I felt like I had spent just as much time in those few hours as we had the entire day back we had first met them. It’s amazing to me how you can find people, talk for a few hours, and then feel like you have friends for life.

Anyway, the next day dawned early. The day of the party. Nikki and I killed some time wandering around the town of Düsseldorf. It’s a really nice little pace. Definitely worth a few days, despite the fact that it always seems to rain on us in Germany. But it was the fiesta that we were there for. And at 17:00 (5pm to you), we made it. And only an hour late. Seems I can’t read subway directions anywhere. 🙂

The next morning, I looked at my phone where I had scribbled notes for this letter to you. Apparently I had written:

“Privl8dg3d. Tanflgine in bathroom”

Any idea what that might mean? Yea, me either.

Obviously I partook of a few German beers that night. And maybe some sort of red liquor. And maybe even some rum. According to the party critique the next day, I had a grand old time. But what I do remember clearly is that even in the midst of an event where very little English was spoken, there was a tremendous sense of togetherness.

I was at one point curious how a man who lives in the United States could find himself at a backyard party in Germany, mostly surrounded by complete strangers, yet not feeling like it was unusual at all. Then again, that might have been the drink.

I do remember the “Privl8dg3d” part. I was speaking with a man there about this very thing. Telling him that one must allow themselves to be in situations that eventually lead to others. He said those people were privileged. Not in the sense that they are somehow more special than others. Rather it was in the truest sense of the word. It is indeed a privilege to get to experience new things, just because you open yourself to them.

Now as far as the bathroom reference, I know at the time it seemed even more important, but honestly, I’ve got nothing now. Just a complete blank.

Well, I couldn’t just fly up to Germany and back, right?. Seems a waste of resources. I had figured that as long as we had made the effort to get to an airport, why not expand things a bit. So I added a train ride up to Amsterdam as well. 🙂 A place then unknown to me.

Well, despite Germany being known for punctuality and all things on time, their long range trains ain’t. DB, as it’s known, was extremely late for the first of our three links. Changed train numbers and platforms a couple of times too. Fortunately they were just as screwed up on the second and third connections. But finally we arrived, and I was wowed. Amsterdam is incredible, and I don’t even now how to start.

Bicycles are everywhere, just as the stereotype goes. As are the canals. And the tourists. This place isn’t just called “The Other Venice” for no reason, and it isn’t only the waterways. This place is crowded with those from elsewhere. But Nikki and I being us, we tried to stay outside of the few blocks where they were clustered, and tried to find the real Dutch.

I think I saw it most in two people, an older man and woman. On their bicycles filled with plants in their baskets fore and aft. Smiling and whistling, this was how they shopped. They pedaled, and carried their beauty home that way. To make their slice of the city a little prettier and green. I was incredibly taken with the thought of them.

Anyway, we ate, drank, and wore the soles of our shoes down another inch. This is a spectacular place, and despite the sun not wanting to come out, it was one we especially enjoyed.

Well, maybe not the cold. 🙂

We’re Floridians. We like heat. Even in Barcelona, summers are hot. This was July and it was in the 60s. And yes, I know that sounds Spring-like, but it wasn’t. The Netherlands being what it’s known for … wind … each of those sixty degrees felt half that to us. But still, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

OK, time to fly back “home”. More later, Mein Unkle.

Love, Rick