July 25: It should have been an easy day. We took our time, had breakfast in our favorite cafe and left the Pullman with Stewball for the drive to Nieuw Vennep just outside of Amsterdam to ship Stewball back to the US.
We had enjoyed Sunday evening with Parisian friends, Stephan cooked, which is always a pleasure. This time, salad, homemade lasagna and a strawberry tart! Julian enjoyed a ride in Stewball and we caught up with Valerie on the changes in their lives. For those who don’t know, Valerie provided us with Marie-Claire’s last name- Levieux- and read
and supported us through many revisions, providing the “French connection”.
But now, back to Holland. We put our destination in our GPS, but the GPS doesn’t know about the Etoile! Sure enough, here we were facing the Arc du Triumph the place we always avoid, even at the cost of extra mileage. This is especially scary with no right side rear-view mirror. There are no traffic lanes here and the rule is the guy with his front fender in gets the right of way. Or at least that’s how it appears. Horns are not an accessory for this drive, but I think it’s a great cardiac workout. I know my heart beat fast and I’m sure Ed’s did. I must say Ed performed flawlessly amid the cars, trucks and motorcycles-shades of Beijing! Not even one car honked and we found our exit the first go-around.
On to Holland and easy go on the A1. Good roads, light traffic all the way. Even GPS knew to avoid Brussels! Holland is beautiful, usually flat county has no real appeal, but Holland really is a lovely place. This photo is so typical, but the real photo I didn’t get because a big truck got in my way and by the time it passed, the perspective for my perfect photo opt was gone. Behind this traditional windmill were two new wind generators! It would have been the perfect shot. The old and the new.
No problem finding our shipper. Not like Oakland where we drove around for 3/4 hour trying to find the right warehouse. This one was well-marked and ready for us, Stewball’s check-in- or check-out took no more than 15 minutes. Ed was invited to drive Stewball into their warehouse and park next to a 1930s-something Hispano Suiza, valued at more than 2 million dollars! Another car Ed had never seen before. Stewball looked a bit small and ordinary sitting beside that beauty, but he could puff up his chest knowing that he had traveled roads, countries and continents that this beauty will never experience.
After all was done, we were offered a ride to the airport which also has the train station, caught a train to Paris that was leaving in 20 minutes. Our train connected with a fast train in Brussels and the trip from Brussels to Paris was only 1 hour! European trains still amaze us.
Then the fun began. OK, we know Paris, we were only carrying our overnight clothes (not knowing if we would return that night, we were prepared to stay over) so when we arrived at Gare du Nord, we planned to hop the metro and make our way via metro to our hotel.
First problem, the station where we needed to change metros was closed. No problem, go a bit further and change to the RER. However, when we got off for line C, it was closed too! Never have had that happen all the years we rode metros and trains in Paris. So, we took the bus outside the RER stop that was substituting for the train and rode it to Les Invalides Now, just a 1/2 hour walk along the Seine to our hotel. All in all, it took us 1 1/2 hours to make our way across Paris, longer than the train from Belgium! At least we were honored with this lovely sunset looking across the Pont Alexandre II. Travel is always interesting! What will be next? Australia? Has anyone travelled that country? Advise? Jan