Donald:

Here we are, our first moments in Amsterdam, with a pile of baggage outside the still closed office of BW Campers. We arrived early and had to wait nearly an hour before Renee showed up. We took turns taking care of the pile of stuff that now was all we had in this New Old World.

All around us Dutch people were going to work. Most of them, it seemed, on bicycles. Dutch people! They looked so different from Danbury people. What are they thinking about? They're actually thinking in Dutch!

Nearly run over by silent and swift cycles as I make my way along a canal lined with houseboats on both sides. I buy a croissant for Ani and a cup of coffee for me. It is actually a bit chilly when the wind blows. Wow! almost June and the air is crisp and clean. A welcome change from the heat and humidity that we left behind in Connecticut.

We have no idea of what will happen but know it's about to start. Indeed, has started.When Renee finally shows up, he takes one look at the pile, sticks his big bald head out his car window, and asked "Are you going on vacation or emmigrating?"

"Actually we are emmigrating" I answer, but only Mackie hears and gives me a strangely baleful look.

Donald:

Amazingly it only takes a few hours, a few signatures, and nine thousand euros to buy our new home: an 18 year old camping car named Detleff which they bring over to the office from their garage.

Renee shows us how everything works: the refrigerator, can run on propane, our diesel motor generated electricity as the car runs, camping place plug-in, or using the second battery. Wow we have two batteries! At this point I am so spaced with jet-lag that I swear I do not remember anything else he told us except to remember to take it easy and to realize that when the French or German police see Dutch license plates, there's a good chance we'll be stopped and dog-searched for drugs. And the best way to avoid having thieves break in to the camper is to make it look like there's just nothing at all in there.

I know he explained how the water pumps work in the shower and the kitchen, how the registration and insurance are renewed, that Mackie was never to sit in my lap when I drove, how the port-o-potty worked and alot of other things I can't remember at all. Dan't remeber a word he said.

We readily agree to his suggestion that we spend the week-end at the Amsterdam City Camp Site that is just near the BW Campers garage. That way we can rest up, and on Monday stop by there if we still had any questions.

So, driving Detleff for the first time, we follow Renee's car to the camping. Our first camping place!

Ani:

For us it was midnight (New York time)– but no biggy, since we’ve stayed up ‘till two and three in the morning before. Well, this time we stayed up till 11 PM (Dutch time!)...and by then I have arranged all our stuff in the small motor-home.

Anyway... A taxi-van has taken us to the office where we had to do some paying (all the money we had left!) and paperwork... but shortly after (3-4 hours) we were given the sweet little old van...

We, of course, fell in love with it immediately. Sleepy and jet-lagged as we were it could have been out of marshmallow...we would have agreed to it. We drove to a camping outside of the city and designated the rest of the day for organizing our new home.

Just when I thought that packing and sorting has ended for me...the real challenge just presents itself... It reminded me of the space in Boston, when Julien showed me the five by ten space to pack away a 17 foot U-Hall of stuff into it.

Anyway.. I juggled for a couple of hours, sometimes totally falling asleep, then something would bring me to awareness, a barking sound or ....and would get a third- fourth..wind of energy..to continue.

In about three hours it started to look like we are going to be able to turn around in the little entrance way.

By ten at night everything found it's new place in our new existence and Donald proposed that we go out and have something to eat.

We walked with Mackie to the nearest little convenience store, (since out there every restaurant closes at ten) and we got some snacks. We walked home, ate and made our new bed, which turned out to be very comfortable. I slept like a log... floating sweetly down the dream-river...and nothing stopped it... I slept 'till ten the next morning and I felt like a new person.

Folia Theme: The Journey Begins…
Ani:

It was six in the morning, and your’s and mine and who ever prayed for us... prayers have worked, because almost no other passenger stopped besides us in Amsterdam with this flight, and so there were no one else at the baggage, and it was very easy to get all our 12 pieces of luggage, and Mackie ever so happy jumped out from his little cage. Even though, we had to pay a small fortune for a porter to get them on a wagon and wheel us to the taxi.

We went through customs smiling and Donald joking and the officers loving and adoring Mackie, without even looking at our mountain of stuff that we have rolled to them with. How many different teas I have brought with me... insane!!! and it is a food item…so they could have taken it all away...but Ganesha had removed all obstacles, and we had a very easy time arriving.

Be sure to "roll-over" the photo, (left) .
At last we start out for Hamburg. It's a cold windy morning and the new windmills (above) we pass remind us of Mercedes-Benz logos.

There are still old ones too. (left)

We cross over a many kilometers long dyke: it's a narrow road that goes across the sea of North Holland. And there, right in the middle, Detleff sputters to a stop and barely reaches the little rest-stop, before dying completely.
Donald:

It's at the Amsterdam camping place that we first really have a look at Detlef.

So, this is our new home. With about as much living space as our (former) kitchen's nook. Can we do this? This is what we dreamed of having twenty-nine years ago. Now we have it and the thought goes through my mind: Look out what you wish for– you just might get it!

But I know that these doubts are typical of the first days of any big travel. I know that the first few days' exhaustion is always compounded with thoughts of "Oh God, what have I done?" I look at Mackie and think: "Oh dog, what have I done?"

But this is exactly the question we've set out to find the answer to: Can an Old Hippie, (and his ever young wife), go back on the road? Are we too old? Have we changed too much to do it? Has Europe changed too much?

Some things are going to be different, very different: starting with our new little home.

Detleff is older and smaller than most, but not all, of the other camping cars.
Mackie does his first Hep La-bas! in Europe. We are in a big long promenade of a park. It is late afternoon, (local time)