2007 AMSTERDAM LARRY’S VISIT -USA 1ST VISIT TO HELEN’S IN ROCHESTER

          The VVV in Holland is a service to newly arrived tourist that need information and their offices are located in every train station ,or nearby,  in just about every city .  I used them to book a room for the night at a hotel near the Central Square.  I carried my bags up 3 flights of narrow, steep stairs after checking in.  I then walked around this beautiful village for quite some time before trying out a kebab sandwich plate.  It was worse than McDonalds. I sat out in a Café, took some photos then read that they have a “Night Skate” that evening at 20:00 hours.  I read that as 10pm instead of 8 pm so decided to take a siesta then return to photograph the Night Skate.  This happens in different cities where 100’s of people of all ages, put on skates and hook themselves up with battery powered lights then skate all over the city in a big line that stretches out for kilometers.  It is really something to see but as it turned out, when I returned at 10pm, I discovered I had missed the whole thing.  I walked down by the river and had a real dinner at the hotel then retired for the evening.
I arrived at Peter and Jeannette’s the next day with the usual “Hi I’m Home Honey!”.  They in turn greeted me with all the things I left from the last visit for safe keeping and showed me my new room. 

My room was turned over to Larry, my friend from Denver, who was arriving the next day.  I went out and dropped my clothes at the cleaners, picked up some wine and returned to spend the afternoon reading. We spent a nice quiet day together, had a visit from Rudd , an old friend, and ended with a beautiful dinner and wine before going to sleep.

I decided to meet Larry at the airport and was anxious to take him by train and the tram to Peter and Jeannette’s. I arrived 10 minutes late and waited for over a half hour but figured he took a cab.  I looked everywhere but apparently missed him so returned to Rooseveltlaan to find he did take a cab.  He was jet lagged and tired but I dragged him out in the neighborhood while I got some herring and we had a quiet drink in a café. Jeannette was preparing dinner so we took the tram to Rembrandtplein to enjoy the parade in front of the Café there.  When we returned, Jeannette had a beautiful dinner waiting for us, some wine and bed for us.  Larry was really jetlagged.

The next day we went to Leidseplein and also watched the parade go by.


Then Larry went shopping for souvenirs. That evening Larry and I took our hosts out for dinner at an Indonesian restaurant and had a Rice Tafel that consisted of 23 dishes to share.  We ate and ate…it was all very good so we decided to do this again before we leave.  


Sunday, Jeannette had prepared a nice Brunch for us with Champagne, omelets, pate, cheeses, fruit, etc. 

 After, Larry and I went to Vondelpark for the afternoon.  We walked one end of the park to the other.   The weather was beautiful  and all of Amsterdam was there.  We met a nice couple from England that had been in Amsterdam more than 10 years.  Everyone was out to have a nice relaxing day of bicycling, skating, walking, or just sunning themselves.  Late in the afternoon, it started to rain so we walked over to an Irish Pub on the Canal and watched the boats go by for an hour or so.  Upon returning, Jeannette had another nice meal for us with wine and to bed early.

Monday we took off for downtown Amsterdam then took the train to Haarlem, a small village outside of Amsterdam.  We walked from the train station down by the Riverside then to the center of Haarlem. We sat in a Café for an hour before finding a great restaurant to have dinner. 

When we returned to Amsterdam we visited the Red Light district and met a nice couple from France.  He was American from Florida and she was French.  They had been married quite a few years and have lived in Brittany for the last 6 years.  We stopped at the neighborhood bar on the way home to say hello to Rim. 

She was a friend I missed the other night as she was off work.  She had been working there for 9 years.  We had a good time, met some new people then retired for the night.  

Today is Tuesday and we had breakfast across the street and was going to the Dutch Parada but Larry didn’t feel like walking so we are headed for the Red Light district so Larry can see the live Sex show.  He did and I waited in a bar across the way then we stopped for a beer and returned home to take Peter and Jeannette out for a Malaysian Rice Table again tonight.  We went back to the same place as before and enjoyed the feast. They had a vegetable melody of carrots, cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower all marinated in vinegar , sugar and turmeric. 

There was something Goreng with peanut sauce.  Toasted coconut with peanuts.  A curried vegetable dish with hearts of palm or marinated jicama with a coconut milk.  Larry And I stopped at the local bar for a drink before going to bed early that night.  
Wednesday was my last Day in Amsterdam.  Larry and I visited the local market,

stopped at the Greenhouse Coffee Shop then returned for another great meal of Jeannette’s.  Peter was nice enough to take me to the  airport the next day where I boarded the plane for Heathrow airport then on to Boston.
I left my driver’s license at my Mother’s house before leaving.  I had an international license for Europe but forgot that I needed my Arizona license to rent a car in Boston.  I had to cancel and email my friends Steve and Carmella, Frank and Dedia, to help me.  Steve sent a limo service to pick me up and Frank said to check the Plymouth – Brockton Bus and Train service.  I took the limo for $95 as it was well over an hour and the Shuttle was over $135.  The bus was my way back for $20 but didn’t run late in the evening when my plane arrived. I was dropped right at Steve’s Complex in Duxbury and found a note to buzz the neighbor to let me in.  A nice couple came out and unlocked the apartment then invited me over for a beer but I was jet lagged.  Steve arrived shortly after from a concert they had attended. I settled in and went right to bed. The next morning we had a nice breakfast and visit. Carmella took me over to meet her 102 year old mother who was dressed very nice.  I thought she was going out to lunch or something but that is how she always dresses.  She is a real classy, well traveled lady with lots of stories to tell.  It was a really nice visit.  She lives right down the hall in the same complex so Carmella can help her out with any needs she might have.  Steve and I left a little later to  run some errands, have lunch and drop me at Frank and Didia’s for the rest of my 3 day stay.  

Steve’s errand was to stop at the race track and make a few bets.  We then headed for the Chart Room on the water to have lobster rolls and drinks.  It was a pleasant place and the food was great.  Lobster meat that was fresh and at least a half a pound of flavorful tender lobster to eat.  We had a nice chat, took a few photos then he dropped me at Frank’s. 
Frank greeted me at the door and asked if I got his last email about Didia?  She has been fighting lung and brain cancer for over 5 years with operations , chemo, and radiation treatments.  It appears she had taken a turn for the worse and was now under hospice care.  She had a hospital bed in her room and was on oxygen.  She looked pretty bad and was sleeping most of the time.  Once when she woke I said hello and she recognized me and smiled but couldn’t talk.  I never saw her awake again until the night I was leaving when I sat and talked to her for a while.  The day I left she gave me a kiss goodbye.  So sad.  She was a very vibrant , optimist who was always cheerful and fun to be around.  Frank will have some adjustments after 19 years with her.
Relatives , friends, the Chaplain, the Priest, the Hospice nurse, the Funeral director, and neighbors came and went in a constant stream. The phone rang constantly.  Frank wanted someone to come in so we could get away for a little bit to take a break.  One of their friends stopped in for a couple hours so we went to an Irish Pub for Fish and Chips and …another Lobster Roll. 

This one wasn’t as good as the last but Lobster is never bad.  The day before I left, Frank got someone to come over for the day and we headed for the Marina and took the boat to Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard to eat and visit with a couple that Frank and Didia had know for a long time.  They had two guests houses they rented rooms out of and then two more back in Yarmouth.  In the winter they closed them down and played golf in North Carolina.  They and Frank and Dedia each have a town home in the same complex there. 




The trip across the water was hurried.  He wanted to get there quick so we could relax and enjoy the little time we had before returning.  He opened up the boat and I felt like I was riding a bucking bronco.  They really should have seatbelts in boats!  It was Sunday and the waterway was busy with people and boats enjoying the last of the summer.  The beaches were crowded and when we arrived at the Marina we couldn’t find a space for quite some time.  When we did, Frank had me climb out on the bow to tie up to another boat.  Me an army man couldn’t even tie a knot.  While I was struggling not to fall overboard the harbor patrol told us we could only have four boats on a mooring and ours made five.  Frank decided to tie up in a open slip by the docks and pay the parking fee.  After the comedy of me out trying to hook a rope over the post without falling off and finally securing everything, we settled down for a drink before going ashore.  Then the man who ran the slips came over to tell us that slip was reserved and a boat was on it’s way in to park there.  We went back into the harbor and found a mooring that only had three boats and tied ours up.  I had to board the other boat and tie up to the bow of the other boat.  We called the water taxi and went ashore.  The whole area was full of people having a great time. 

Lots of restaurants and bars on the water.  We sat in an outdoor bar and ordered…no lobster.  I had a shrimp cocktail and chowda.  Our barmaid was great and Frank’s friends came down and joined us.  We left after that and had another bone jarring ride back to the Cape .  We got home and were welcomed by a group of friends with pizza’s so stayed up late. …2am when I retired.  I arose the next day at 7am, packed and Frank stopped at Dunkin for coffee before dropping me at the bus terminal.  The bus dropped me at Logan Airport, I boarded Air Tran and flew to Baltimore for my connection to Rochester where I will meet Helen.  

FIRST PLACE ON MY OWN…ROOM IN BOARDING HOUSE


FIRST LEGAL PURCHASE IN LIQUOR STORE


She was a teacher with me in Spain two years ago and we have kept in touch. It is the season for Peaches in Western New York and we stopped at a local Farmer’s Market to get a basket for Cobbler.  Helen, being the great cook she is, prepared some really good spaghetti with a fresh tomato and basil sauce, Italian bread and a nice Italian white wine. We had a whiskey after and I retired on the fold out couch in the parlor.  The house is one of those large Victorian homes that fill the Park Avenue area of Rochester.  This was Helen’s third.  
We had Peach Cobbler for breakfast the next day and after I spent some time catching up on email only to find that Didea had passed away after Frank called 911 the night I left to have her put in the hospital.  She was getting very aggressive and was difficult to administer her meds to.  Frank was with her when she passed away.  
Helen fixed a nice lunch of Grilled Chicken, Pasta, and salad then I took a nap. After, I took a long walk through the Park Avenue area, retracing my past formative years coming on to my own. 
I moved to Rochester in 1963 after quitting my summer job in Attica as a apprentice cabinet maker.  It was a hot summer afternoon and I walked home, left a note for my parents and hitch-hiked to Rochester, a city I had never set eyes on before.  There I bought a newspaper, found an ad for a short order cook at a pancake house in Pittsford, took the bus there and applied.  I had lots of experience assisting the Chef and running the grill at the Bowling Alleys in Attica so was hired.  I believe the pay was $1.63 and hour with all the hours you wanted (usual 60) with no overtime back then.  Filling out the application, I told them I didn’t have an address so Carl, one of the cooks said he had and extra twin bed in the room he was renting and we could split the cost until I got settled.  I did that for a night but moved into my own place the next day after Carl made advances that morning.
     My first home away from home was a room at 45 Vick Park A on the second floor.  A real flop house that hasn‘t changed a bit in 43 years except for the rent of $15 a week back then.  There I met Diane, who just left her home in Brockport to strike out in the big city.  We have been friends ever since.  I haven’t seen or heard from her since she moved to Charleston over 5 years ago.  It is ironic that my first place was 45 Vick Park A and I’m staying with Helen in her house at 45 Vick Park B.  I took a photo  of it then started taking photos of all the businesses I remembered and the houses I lived at…on Oxford, Park Ave, Argyle, Monroe, Girton, Sibley Place, Alexander….I covered the neighborhood and ended up buying a bottle of Pinot Noir at the same liquor store I bought my first bottle of Pinot Noir at 43 years ago at 18 years old (that was the legal age then).  This time I bought it from the son as the owner had long since passed away. 
That evening we walked to the Park Avenue Pub and had a nice dinner with wine.  When we returned home, we talked about travel over a whiskey and retired.  The following morning we had our peach cobbler and went for another walk.  Helen showed me the other two homes she owned before this one.  Both were huge and beautiful well maintained homes in beautiful areas.  Most all of Park Avenue is beautiful.  Helen drove me to Attica with a detour in Churchville in hopes of visiting Ramon, another old friend, but he had moved back to Rochester.  I took her to the Wyoming County Coffee Company for lunch then up to see our famous Attica Prison , sorry…Correctional Facility…before taking her to visit Mom.  Ollie, my Mother, was glad to see us but was washing her hair.  She came down to meet Helen, who brought her some Peach Cobbler, and visited a bit before departing. 
Well you would think this story is over 10 weeks after it began, June 10th when I left Attica for my journey?  That day I couldn’t find my Europe Rail Pass or air ticket to Rome from Madrid.  Gary Fredricks, one of the “gang” I grew up with, was outside to take me to the airport so I left without the tickets or pass.  I had searched everything and so did Mom.  Upon my return, I still felt the $600 worth of tickets that I had to buy over again in Europe were somewhere in the house.  My first night I awoke to go to the bathroom, turned on the light and they were on the floor in front of me…????

Till next time

Love

David

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