Very close to the end now. Last night we were up late visiting again with Sebastian and watching his wedding video, and we visited (or actually the brothers) grandma a little more, and off we went on an all nighter, driving to this German town near the Netherland border. I tried to sleep as much as I could, since I anticipated driving some eventually (Oskar did most of the driving the whole trip, myself a little, and Robert a bit less than that). I awoke to see us pulling over for some Polish cops, who busted Oskar for going 30 km/hr over a speed trap. We were a bit worried, but our fearless Polish leader received only a warning after much conversation with the officials, in the backseat of a police car. We arrived at the Polish/German border sometimes afterwards and showed our passports to a group of men (at the German crossing) who all had slicked-back hair and leather bomber jackets, they reminded me of some kind of Gestapo. They asked us if we had beer or cigarettes (in German), Oskar gave a clueless look and Robert quickly blurted nine, and we made it through (evidently Robert understood well enough to fork over an answer). At some point the sun rose, but I didn't see it. I switched off later with Oskar, and drove the autobahn and managed to drive top speed at 185 km/hr for some time. I was told this was about 120 miles per hour, which is more than normal for me. The car handled better than I expected at the speed (and certainly better than my MR2 would), except when driving by trucks, which would cause a bit of a wake. We finally arrived in the town, it looks like we will drive to Amsterdam airport on the morning of the 26th. We got here earlier than expected, so no one was home. We decided to walk a ways to find some breakfast beer or something else, all we had was 15 deutsche marks. The first shop we came to (could have been the only one as far as I could tell) we looked in a bit, and the brothers recognized their aunt, who was running the place, what a surprise! We got some breakfast beer and a place of fries with ketchup and a plate of fries with maynase (yuck).
25 - Emsburen
Yesterday late afternoon we went with Oskar's aunt and uncle to tour the town. It's fairly small but very quaint. We saw a small farm where I was told that men used to 'sleep with the goats and cows', I think to keep warm, yeah that's it. It had some sort of historical marker. Oskar's relatives live in the third story of a house, which looks fairly nice. The German's here keep there yards very emaculate, neat and trim. And for a town of 8,000, it seems they have a disproportionate number of pubs, about 15-20 I think. In the evening we stopped off at Oskar's aunt's mother's place (whew!), and had some dinner beer. I wasn't privy to most of the conversation, like in Poland, but I managed to show off what little Polish I knew, which was probably more than the average American. I inquired as to the police presence in this town, and was told they had 1 guy for a whole area of towns, sort of like a county I think. Apparently crime is a non-issue here. We got back tot he house and had some dinner of bread, sausage, and cheese, which set plenty well with me. That's what I had anyway, but there was some Polish deserts and vegetables. In the morning (which is present tense for this writing) I had a nice shower. To understand, for the last 2-3 days we've stayed with Oskar's grandmother, who had no hot water in her entire building and block, for a month of maybe more? Apparently parts of the Polish city were taking turns without, as the government repaired pipes, or something like that. So, we had to boil some water, and use a bucket (thank goodness I wasn't spoiled as a child, or I might have had a few choice words about that!). It was akward, but I don't feel unhappy about it, actually it's fairly amusing. Today, I think we're supposed to spend some time and a beer with the town's mayor. When we arrived yesterday, Oskar's aunt told several of her customers we were from Texas in the good ol US of A. I think by now we're the talk of the town, and maybe local celebrities. One more night, then an early drive to Amsterdam (I think).
Well, it's night now. In the morning it's off we go. We left with Oskar's uncle to visit some Castle, but before this we went to a very large store which sold mostly plant stuff. Apparently Holland is known for its flowers and such. Oskar's uncle had seen some wooden shoes in this store before, which Robert was wanting to get for their roommate Joe. This store had alot of other stuff, including a chipmunk. I was deterred from buying it, as I might not be allowed to import it in. I instead picked up a couple things, for my sister (including wooden shoes). The town we are in (Emsburen) is right on the Holland border, so it was a short trip. After this shopping trip, we went to see the castle. Oskar's uncle didn't know the history behind it, but we got tickets and explored it, it was cool. It was built in the 1100's, and we saw alot of old stuff, including armor and old bedrooms.
After this we got back to the house for awhile and had some lunch. Oskar's aunt has a German furbie, that has provided some good entertainment. Late in the afternoon, we walked to the mayor's house. I say walked, because he lived right behind our hosts. To further show how small this town was, just down the street lives the mayor's parents. He drove us around (Oskar, Robert, uncle, and myself) the town showing us everything, including many equestrian schools, recreational areas, and homes (which all look similar to one another, both old and new -old school German fashion). He spoke a few words of English only, so he spoke pretty much only to the uncle, who in turn said it in Polish for the brothers, and sometimes one of the brothers would translate to me in English. So it was German to Polish and Polish to English. Oskar and Robert do well in understanding maybe half of the German they hear, so sometimes replied right into English from the mayor's questions, which responded with surprise and delight that they managed it so. Also, Oskar's uncle sometimes translated right to English (he lived a year or more in Canada previously). I also found out what the 'ass' smell we've encountered from time to time during our whole trip. Apparently, Europeans pickle their corn (stalks and all) to preserve to use in feed for the winter, for livestock. After seeing alot of things, including a couple locks, we headed off to a pub for a couple brewskies and a shot. As I write, I am almost on my third shot of whisky, just keeping up. I may have gained some weight this trip, yesterday I was 66 kilos, which I think is about 146-7 lbs. At some point, we got to get a photo of the guy busting ass, which we've seen on signs in Germany and Austria (we never got the pic). Germany has some interesting signs, like people getting run over and 2 cars hitting each other.