Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Travel Oddities (Part 2)

The carnival atmosphere outside Fenway Park
Travel Oddities (Part 2)
travel memoirs
by Gregory E. Larson

 1.     Dirty Water at Fenway Park, Boston
           I finally made it to see the Boston Red Sox play in Fenway Park last July with two of my daughters, and I was able to check off another bucket-list item. We ate fast food along Boylston Avenue and walked over I-90 to the street adjacent to the ballpark. A carnival atmosphere permeated the entrance, where people were hawking t-shirts, programs, etc., and jugglers and clowns were walking among the crowd.
          Once inside, I looked in awe at my surroundings. I had that feeling of baseball reverence as I spied the green monster wall and saw the Boston skyline beyond. The ball field was an intimate space, with the crowd and the scoreboard packed around it.
Fenway Park is hallowed ground for baseball fans.
          I knew that one of the traditions was the playing of Neil Diamond’s song, Sweet Caroline, at the seventh inning stretch. What I didn’t know was the tradition of playing an old rock tune at the end of the game when the Red Sox won. I was having so much fun watching the game that I secretly hoped the Minnesota Twins would tie it up so we could stay longer, but they didn’t score in the top of the ninth inning, so the game was over.
          The speakers began to blare a loud guitar rift and the fans rocked and clapped like they were at a concert. The song, a 1966 one-hit wonder by The Standells, titled Dirty Water, was pumping adrenaline into the fans who stayed for the end of the game. I realized the lyrics were about Boston, although I wouldn’t consider a family crowd a target market. Here are some of the pertinent lyrics, which are sung with a snarly, devil-may-care attitude:

 Aw, Boston, you’re my home . . .
Yeah, down by the river,
Down by the banks of the river Charles.
(Aw, that's where it's happenin' baby)
That's where you'll find me
Along with lovers, muggers, and thieves. 
(Aw, but they're cool people) . . .
I love that dirty water!
I love that dirty water!

          The baseball crowd knew the lyrics by heart and they sang at the top of their lungs. I have to admit that I tapped my toes to the music and hated to hear the song come to an end. I guess there’s a bit of bad boy in all of us. I felt like a Bostonian as I walked out of the stadium and into the night along with several thousand fans.
Here's a link to Dirty Water:

2. Christmas in July
          The little hotel on the edge of Spello, Italy, was a perfect stopover on a 2005 bike tour across Italy. The building had previously been an olive mill and was converted into a hotel. The rooms had patios with unobstructed views of the mountains and the dusty-green olive groves that hugged their bases.
Countryside near Spello, Italy
         But . . . inside the room was an unusual art print above the sofa. It was a folk-art picture of a small Italian village on Christmas Eve, in which all of the townspeople were walking towards the church. While we washed our bike clothes and hung them out on the patio to dry, I mentioned to Gretta that I thought the art seemed unusual and out of place. She responded, “Yes, but I do think it is kind of cute.”

Italian winter scene in our Spello hotel room in July
          The next day we wandered around Spello. It was Sunday, and the shops and galleries were closed, but we did bump into a little gallery that was the studio for the folk artist who had created the Christmas Eve picture. Every painting in the window had little village people plodding along the streets. The artist appeared to have a following and was probably a revered painter in Spello.
          But Christmas Eve on the wall in the hotel room in July?

3. Puppet Bike

Of course! It's a puppet bike!
          April in Chicago wasn't exactly Paris, but a visit to the Chicago Art Institute and some street entertainment afterwards made me feel like I'd been transported to a land of varied culture with fine art and street theatre.
          Gretta and I were enjoying a weekend in Chicago with friends, and we'd just walked out of the Institute and crossed to the west side of Michigan Avenue. At the corner, I spied some type of bicycle contraption with a small crowd huddled near the rear of the bike where a large, fancy box was attached to the frame. Oh, I should have realized instantly that it was a "Puppet Bike!" Little doggie hand-puppets were dancing to an Elvis tune, and they had captured the attention of every passerby on Michigan Avenue. 

Doggie puppets rockin' on Michigan Ave.
          Pat-a-cake hand-jive, dosey-doh! I couldn't see any blue suede shoes, but a disco ball was included in the performance, along with the puppets waving dollar bills and pointing to the money box below the tiny stage. 
Here's a link to see a reporter's story on puppet bike: 
4. Prime Real Estate in Banff    
A nice hotel on the main street in Banff, Alberta
          Banff, Alberta is a beautiful tourist town at the edge of the Canadian Rockies. When trying to describe it to Americans, I tell them it is like Estes Park, Colorado on steroids. It’s bigger and a bit fancier – larger streets, multiple downtown hotels and curio shops with high-end merchandise. The adventure tour company booked us in the Royal Canadian Hotel, which was located on the main street in the middle of town.
          I assumed the real estate in downtown would be considered prime, but when I looked out the hotel room window at the house adjacent to the hotel, I was a bit shocked.

Driveway amenities.
          The house and yard didn’t fit the tidy little town appearance of Banff. I saw several dogs and cats, although I had to look through all the overgrowth and junk. The VW bus in the driveway looked like a permanent structure with little trees growing on the roof. The cottage in the back yard had its own issues.

A real fixer-upper in the back yard.
          All I could figure was the property was in a trust or stuck in a lawsuit. The only other thought was maybe the owner was holding out for a prime price.
          Hey, it would make a great Bed and Breakfast fixer-upper.

5.     Rag-tag Band on the streets of Florence
          I looked out the third-floor window of the bed and breakfast room in Florence, and my jaw dropped. The San Giovanni Baptistry was directly in front of me in the middle of the town square and the view to the right was the massive Duomo and the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral. Gretta and I used the central location to allow us to roam and sightsee during the day and return to the room for a deli lunch break. It was fun to sit at the window sill and people-watch.
View from our room in Florence, Italy
          On a Saturday we were munching sandwiches and swigging Coca-Colas when we heard a marching band. The noise kept getting louder so we looked out the window, only to witness a crowd following a rag-tag bunch of musicians with a strange mixture of drums and instruments. They were playing simple tunes and the crowd of tourists and locals looked like they were having a lot of fun.
Impromptu marching band at the square in Florence
          All of a sudden they turned and began to march around the square. As they passed our window we waved to the crowd and they looked up and waved and cheered back to us! Gretta and I felt like a King and Queen receiving a command performance from the people’s band.
          The mass of people continued to follow the band around the square two more times before they went on down the street. At one point, near the front of the cathedral, it seemed like the whole city was attempting to converge on one spot. The horse carriages, the band, the crowd, the vendors, beggars, a street sweeping machine and an ambulance were all vying for the same space.

There was a lot happening on the square that afternoon.
          The band was enjoying their march around town. It appeared to be a family affair, with all ages participating. Being in Italy, I assumed that wine was somehow included, possibly before, during, and after the march. I guess they decided to wake the town up in the middle of the afternoon. What could be better than exercise, music, sunshine, and the effects of wine and a happy crowd on a Saturday afternoon? Gretta and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

6.     La Forge - A Storybook Cottage Made from Stone
     Note: This anecdote isn't quite what I would consider an oddity, but the stone cabin was a unique place. it was a great memory - so I'll end this blog post with a moment in time I'll never forget.
     On a 2007 bike tour in France, our accommodations in La Bugue were on the grounds of a large French chateau. We were the lucky couple who got the keys to a private stone cabin down by a creek.
          “Wow, look at this,” I said to Gretta as we walked up to the bulding. “It looks like something out of a fairy tale.”
La Forge - The fairy-tale stone cabin
           Centuries ago, the building had been a forge for making horseshoes, and for a time it had been the bakery for the chateau. The main floor of the tiny cabin had a living room and a large bathroom. The bed was in a loft which was accessed by a glorified ladder with a rope for a railing.
Gretta in the storybook cottage
          Outside, there was a small creek and a little waterfall next to the cabin. A bamboo grove created a soft shimmer of green light on the surroundings. A giant sycamore grew in front of the cabin, making the building look even smaller than it was. Gretta seemed like a little kid playing house as she opened up the shutters and windows in the warm summer afternoon. I just sat outside on a chaise lounge while I sipped a beer, looked at the cabin and then decided to pinch myself.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Travel Oddities (Part I)

Travel Oddities
(Part I)
travel memoirs
Gregory E. Larson
It’s winter and I’m sitting by the fireplace remembering what I consider “odd happenings” from previous trips. These are not topics you’ll find in the slick travel brochures, or in magazine articles titled, “Top Ten Winter Destinations.” To me, these occurrences are the spice in the adventures. Sometimes it is when our preconceptions meet other cultures. Other times it is something that is just plain odd or funny. I purposely left out stories about European bathrooms or “the airplane trip from hell.” We’ve all had those. Buy me a beer sometime and I can talk at length on those subjects.

1. The non-existent B&B
          The B&B was supposed to be in a posh section of Birmingham, England, not too far from the airport. It seemed like the perfect place for Gretta and me to spend our last night of the 2008 trip to England and Wales before departing back to the U.S. After a day of driving (on the left side of the road) I pulled up to the address, and told Gretta to wait while I made sure it was the right place. I walked around a tall hedge and stared at what had been the B&B. There was a gaping hole in the front of the three story house, and workmen were pouring concrete at the front steps. They gave me odd looks when I told them I had a reservation.

Would you sleep here?

          The workmen went to get the foreman and I went to get Gretta. A tall Punjabi appeared in a turban and he profusely apologized for not getting the online reservations cut off in time to prevent us from showing up during construction. He snapped his fingers and barked orders to the workmen to “get these people some tea and American coffee.” In minutes, upholstered chairs were placed by the dumpster and a silver tray with creamer, sugar, and cups of tea and coffee were brought to us for afternoon refreshment.
Tea time in the construction zone
          While we sipped away, the owner/foreman/jack-of-all-trades found us new accommodations at Clovely Place B&B, just two blocks away . . . and a Clovely Place it was.

2. Calliope in Westermarkt, Amsterdam
          I love the sights and sounds that are experienced while riding a bicycle. This brief encounter occurred in the middle of a street in west Amsterdam. Our tour group turned the corner and pedaled down a long street towards the market. We began to hear some music up ahead, and as we got closer we discovered a huge calliope positioned in the middle of the street – no sign, no orange cones - nothing. The cars and bikes slowed as they passed the monstrosity. There appeared to be no one monitoring the contraption which emanated loud pipe organ sounds accompanied with cymbals and drums. What seemed strangest of all, it was blasting out the Bangles tune, Walk Like an Egyptian. The Doppler effect of the sound hit my ears as we passed it, and I laughed and said, “Just another typical day in Amsterdam.”

3. Japanese Tea House in Canada
Mile after mind-numbing mile passed before us on the highways of Montana, so Gretta and I decided to find a place to get out and stretch our legs once we crossed into Canada. The map showed the city of Lethbridge in Alberta as a good break point. As we approached the city, Gretta said, “There’s an authentic Japanese Tea House and Garden at a city park beside a lake.”
     A Japanese Tea House in the stretches of the wild west of Canada? It seemed a bit incongruous. What the heck. I knew nothing about Japanese Tea Houses. Maybe I could learn something.
Authentic Japanese Tea House
     Once we arrived at the park and began the walk through the house and garden, I was struck at the order and prescription of how a Tea House was designed and constructed. It had a very defined spatial arrangement of rooms, somewhat like we have for churches. This specific house had been taken apart, piece by piece in Japan, and shipped to Canada for reconstruction. While walking through the sculpture garden on the shore of the lake it seemed like we were transported to the orient. The brief tour gave me a much greater respect for oriental design.

4. Rockford Files and Wild Boar in the Apennines
     Unique cuisine after a long day of bike riding is always a treat. One night in the Apennine Mountains our guides took us to a small family-owned Italian restaurant for a four-star meal including wild boar stew. We walked across a bridge near a waterfall and went into a cozy dining room with a wood-planked floor and wood-trussed ceiling. 
     Adjacent to the dining room was a long bar where an old man was sitting. The TV was mounted above the bar and an episode of the Rockford Files was on the screen – except James Garner was spewing out Italian! The guides told us the man at the bar was the grandfather and owner of the restaurant. His family ran the restaurant and as he got older he liked to watch TV re-runs. 
          The Rockford Files continued while we ate the appetizers and sipped wine. The episode ended as the main course came out, and the family guided their father to the house which was attached to the restaurant. Gretta and I thought the patriarch and the TV were a nice touch of ambience for our meal of authentic Italian food in the Apennines.

5. Risk Management checks in to Ski Lodge
Gretta at Ski Tip Lodge
     For three winters Gretta and I went skiing at Keystone in Colorado and we always stayed at our favorite resort, Ski Tip Lodge, which was an old ski lodge with a colorful history. The architecture was a combination of original log cabin and Swiss ski chalet, and it catered to those who did not want to stay in a mega-resort condo.
No TV’s or radios existed, the food was first rate, Evening entertainment was sitting around one of the two stone fireplaces, where folks played cards, swapped stories and ate dessert. The guests were allowed to tend the fires and add logs when the fire burned low. In the dining room, real wax candles were in holders on each table. We knew the Vail Ski Corporation operated the lodge, and we were amazed they supported this old lodge which harkened back to a simpler time.
One of the large fireplaces at the lodge.
     It was our third trip when we noticed a change. During the first evening we discovered battery powered candles in the dining room. What? This was an assault on reality. Then we went to the fireplace and noticed a sign next to the hearth: WARNING – THIS AREA CAN GET VERY HOT.
     Gretta laughed and said, “Hey, ya think it might get hot by a fireplace?”
     “Maybe there was an inebriated guest that got burned while standing too close. Heavens to Betsy, don’t get me started on signs,”
     I immediately pictured long, drawn out meetings in a corporate conference room with a director of risk management, talking about the dangers of running an antiquated ski lodge, and the need to protect the guests from any danger. Ugh. There goes the way of a simple candle. By now, I’m sure the guests are no longer encouraged or allowed to tend the fire. That’s way too risky. People could injure their backs picking up the logs, or they might get burned tending the fire.

6. Baby Godzilla and the Swiss Motorcycle Wedding
          One of the odder memories I have from any trip was the time Gretta and I discovered an outdoor miniature museum south of Lugano, Switzerland, in a little town called Melide. In the summertime the place had a good throng of people walking about the grounds which were about the size of an acre. The landscape included a milieu of famous buildings around Switzerland. In addition, there were mountains with trains running through tunnels and lakes with operating miniature boats. Even the shrubs were trimmed to make a person feel like a giant as one walked through the Lilliputian world.

Miniature Park in Melide, Switzerland
          No detail was overlooked. Every building was a precise, replica representation of the original.
          A cathedral tower caught my eye and I began to look at the details. Lo, and behold, at the base of the miniature cathedral entrance were semi-circle rows of motorcycles all pointed to the doors where a priest was holding a wedding ceremony for the replica bride and groom. I wondered how many motorcycle weddings occurred at church entrances in Switzerland.
           Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a toddler whose dad had just let him down on the sidewalk. The adults in the group were having a conversation and were not watching the little monster as he began to crawl into the petunias and directly toward the cathedral.
          I said a polite, “Uh-oh,” and pointed to the kid. Just as baby Godzilla reached for the semi-circle of motorcycles, the dad swooped his arm and grabbed him just in time.
          My only regret is that I didn’t get a picture of the baby creating a Godzilla movie scene, but I do have a picture of the cathedral and wedding replica below.

Baby Godzilla attack was thwarted at this Swiss Cathedral replica


Monday, December 4, 2017

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock - Sedona, Arizona
watercolor painting by author
Cathedral Rock
travel memoir
by Gregory E. Larson

           Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Coffee Pot Rock . . . the names on the landscapes around Sedona, Arizona are as unusual as the formations themselves. Some are so large it takes a hike of several miles just to walk around them. Others look like pottery which has been fired by extinct volcanoes. Many people believe the rocks have a magnetic attraction and a spiritual significance.
          Gretta and I spent a week in Sedona in January of 2006 to hike and bike for some winter exercise. It didn’t take long for us to get drawn into the fascination of what we could find around every bend. At that time of the year we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Morning hikes required a jacket, hat and gloves, but by noon the warmth of the sun had us pulling off the extra layers and taking our time to appreciate the vistas.
Bell Rock - Sedona, Arizona
         During the week we used one of the larger rock formations, Cathedral Rock, to keep us oriented to our location. Finally, near the end of the trip, we decided to explore it. We drove to the small parking lot at the trail head, and as we started the hike I remember a sign that warned hikers of a strenuous climb of a mile or two, just to get to the gap, or notch, at the base of the towers. In retrospect, I thought it bordered on being a dangerous climb, mainly because of a stretch of near-vertical trail that required each hiker to independently climb the cracks in the cliff, seeking notches and toe-holds to safely make the climb.
Gretta climbing up the toe-holds in the rock (note the road and parking lot at the top of the picture).
          This was not a Disney venue! There were no handrails to grab at the cliff edge and no courtesy carts for the faint-of-heart. And woe to any hiker that might trip at an inopportune time.
          As we pulled ourselves up on top of the mesa at the base of Cathedral Rock, we began to reap the reward of our effort.
Gretta standing on top of a mesa.
          An amazing multicolor view of sky, rocks, and plants stretched out in every direction. The closer we hiked to the base of the awe-inspiring towers, our speech came in hushed tones, and I immediately felt more reverent towards the outdoors and the massive rocks rooted to the earth. We had entered a natural cathedral with the blue sky of thin air as the vaulted ceiling.
Gretta standing at the cliff's edge at the notch on Cathedral Rock.
          I remember it as a very happy time, one which we didn’t want to end. There were no other hikers at the notch. I did have a nagging worry on how we were going to step backwards down the cliffs and cling to the cracks and toe-holds, but the vistas were so striking that I quickly tucked that worry away for a while.
          I had Gretta pose for pictures at several locations in the notch, and I snapped one as she stood at the edge of a cliff shadow. If I were allowed only one photo to remember her from, it would be the one. She had that look of hers, a look of self-assurance, and of peak confidence and happiness. Her conditioning from biking, hiking, figure skating, and yoga, had made the hike seem like a piece of cake. She was happy every day, but she was happiest outdoors, and the photo shows it.
My sweetheart, at ease and full of happiness.
          I’d guess you could call our climb at Cathedral Rock a mountaintop experience. There was something special about it. We sat on a rock ledge, side-by-side like little kids, looking out to the horizon while we ate our snacks of fruit and cheese from the day pack.
Gretta standing in the middle of the notch (this is the ledge where we ate our snack).
          It was a time that made me grateful to have been born so long ago, just to experience the universe that was put before Gretta and me that day. We sat in the stillness, with the silence broken only by and a raven's call which echoed amongst the stone walls. How lucky we were to take in the sun, sky, and all that surrounded us, to appreciate each other and the spot that was a keeper for the memories.
A view for the memories - the notch at Cathedral Rock

Monday, October 30, 2017

Somewhere in Amsterdam

Bike Parking at Amsterdam's Centraal Station
photo by author
Somewhere in Amsterdam
by Gregory E. Larson

          I don’t know where I lost it. It fell off the cuff of my left pant leg on the first day in Amsterdam. I had two of them, and now I have just one. “What was it?” you ask.  It was a simple little neon-yellow strap with reflector tape and a Velcro strip.
A simple strap for the pant leg
photo by author
          Before my bike trip to the Netherlands, I found the straps in Gretta’s bike accessories, and I marveled at their simplicity and functionality. In the past, when I needed a strap for my pant legs, I’d used a big rubber band or a tiny bungie cord with a ball. But those items weren’t as nice as the yellow strap. It not only keeps the pant cuff from flapping in the wind but also has reflector tape to give visibility when riding in the dark. Most importantly, it keeps the pant leg from getting caught in the chain. I looked at the colorful straps that Gretta had used and thought they would be just the ticket for riding a bike in the cool and damp spring weather in the Netherlands. Besides, I hoped I could blend in with the natives while biking amongst the crowds.
          Most recreational bike riders in the U.S. don’t wear straps because they don’t wear long pants while riding. They wear outfits similar to those worn by Tour de France racers. The clothing basically consists of padded black underwear for shorts, a bright jersey, and a Styrofoam cup strapped to the head for safety. The shorts don’t have pant cuffs that flap in the wind, but if a leg touches the chain at a stop light, it will get a greasy “chain tattoo.” The racing threads work great in warm weather, but not in the winter, especially on cold days in the Netherlands when the wind comes off the North Sea.
          European riders, and especially those in Amsterdam, wear everyday clothes but no helmet, and they ride their bikes everywhere. To them, bikes are an everyday part of life. In Amsterdam, cars are a liability, because there is nowhere to park in the concentrated area of streets and canals.

Amsterdammers ride bikes of all shapes and sizes.
photo by author
          The city is flat, which makes pedaling easy. The steepest inclines are on the bridges that cross the canals. Persons of all ages and occupations are seen biking in every direction, on contraptions of every shape and size. There are seats and boxes for parents carrying children, and there are large containers built on the front and back of bikes for painters and carpenters to haul their tools and equipment with them. Some workers are dressed in suits and carry briefcases. Many are talking on their cell phones.
          Amsterdammers on their bikes believe they can do whatever they want. Many ignore the traffic safety laws, but accidents are rare. I learned very quickly that it wasn’t a good idea to slow down and stop at an intersection when the traffic light turned yellow. The first time I did, at least fifteen bikes swerved to miss crashing into me, and I’m sure that I heard Dutch cursing being muttered as the riders sped past to get through the red light.
          Back at home, whenever I put on the single strap that lost its partner, I always wonder where the other strap might be. It probably fell off at one of the busy intersections in Amsterdam while I was in deep concentration attempting to learn all the right-of-way rules for bikes vs. pedestrians, cars, and streetcars. I hope the strap has found a new home and has been liberated to someone else’s pant leg—someone who travels frequently across Amsterdam and the countryside.
          My mind wanders to the possibilities of where the strap might be. 
The Rijksmuseum and famous bike tunnel through the building.
photo by author
          I hope it has gone to the Rijksmuseum and along the historic bike street and tunnel that passes through the middle of the building. The tunnel has a storied history and is a famous symbol of biking independence in Amsterdam. There has been a long, drawn-out struggle between the museum and the city. It seems the museum has always wanted to take back the space of the bike street/tunnel and have it become part of the gallery space. The bikers have fought many times to keep it from happening.
          As recently as 2011, the Museum director attempted to convince the public and city officials to allow the museum to eliminate the bike tunnel. He said:

Bike traffic doesn’t belong here anymore. We’ve invested [$500 million] in this building; we didn’t do that to accommodate a covered bike path . . . For too long the discussion has been dominated by—not to say, held hostage by—the cyclists.

Not a wise thing to say in a city of bike riders. In July 2012, the city council voted to keep the bike path and tunnel. In the museum’s recent renovation, they made a feature of the bike by using big plate-glass windows in the lobby and galleries to allow the museum-goers to see the cyclists pedaling through the museum. I viewed it as true kinetic sculpture.
          I wonder if the strap will find its way down Prinsengracht, past the townhome where Anne Frank hid during the German occupation of World War II. In her diary, she recalls the happier days of riding her bike home from school, and of her concern that when a boy would ride alongside he would almost always become enamored and want to spend every moment with her.
          Before she went into hiding, her bike was stolen, and her parents gave their bike away to a Christian family to prevent it from being confiscated by the Germans. In one of the most memorable lines of her writing, she expressed her wish: I long to ride a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel young and know that I'm free, and yet I can't let it show.
          Now, in 2017, I see the strap as a small symbol of freedom. Sadly, freedom and life was taken away from so many people in the Netherlands during the German occupation.
          I can picture the strap in heavy commuter traffic, weaving and turning on the web-like network of canals and streets, negotiating the bumpy cobblestone pavers and rail lines, giving the streetcars the right-of-way and plenty of space.
          Maybe the strap is worn by a commuter who lives in a small townhome in northern Amsterdam, and it takes a daily ferry ride with its owner in the cool, morning darkness to cross the harbor waters where the Amstel River and the North Sea merge. Once the rider disembarks onto de Ruyterkade, the strap would reflect the light of the early morning traffic of cars, pedestrians, and public transportation around the Centraal Station.
                If someone in a family has the strap, I hope they use it on their weekend outings, to go on a picnic or just to enjoy the big green spaces and children’s activities in the huge Vondelpark.
          Following a long-time tradition in Amsterdam in the Spring, the family might take an all-day ride out west of the city to enjoy the tulip fields. Couples in love could take the strap with them and ride all the way to the Keukenhof Gardens in April and May, where thousands of people from all over the world flock to see the explosion of tulip color.
Keukenhof Gardens in spring.
photo by author
          Who knows, it might be on a rider that travels all the way to Rotterdam, passing the swans and windmills along the canals beside green fields of sheep and cattle.
Dutch countryside
photo by author
          I’ll never know what happened to it, but I’m beginning to think this is one lucky little strap, even though I don’t possess it anymore. I can only hope it is out there on some cyclist’s leg, crisscrossing the countryside. Gretta would be happy, too, knowing that the strap is somewhere in Amsterdam, free to roam a continent that always had a piece of her heart.

Information source:

Jordan, Pete, In the City of Bikes (The story of the Amsterdam Cyclist), New York, Harper Collins, 2013.