We realized last night that we have come to Europe with no electronic devices other than our digital camera, and that includes no alarm clock. Needing to be out of the appartment by 8:30am to catch our bullet train, we needed to wake up early -- and the boys went to bed at an unprecidented 11pm last night, on the account of a very late dinner in a quatier Indienne. Fortunately, I told my self "wake up by 7, wake up by 7" so many times before I went to be that I woke up at 3 and 4:15 and 5:45 and 6:30, when I finally decided to get over with it and go buy an espresso at the bar downstairs.
We made the train with time to spare, having said our goodbyes and thank-yous to Reiko for her excellent hospitality. We boarded this grand train, staffed by stylishly uniformed French train attendants, serving yogurt as thick as sour cream and good strong espresso onboard. We chanced to sit beside a family with bags from Mountain Equipment Coop, quickly identifying them as fellow British Columbians. Elwyn sat right across from a boy Aden who was celebrating his seventh birthday and they had a grand trip rocketing across France and Belgium at a stunning 300 kmh. The train had to slow down from Brussels to Rotterdam because of track upgrades, but it still was a very swift and painless journey. Train travel is really a very civilized way to get around.
We got out at Rotterdam central station and quickly oriented ourselves with Elwyn using the compas attached to his adventuring belt. Three blocks stroll and we arrived at the flat of our friends Yvette and Johannas, and were very happy to meet new baby Mercedes. Elwyn was totally afflited with baby giddiness, giggling heartily everytime they made eye contact.
Today happens to be the day of a major brazillian-style carnival in Rotterdam, and we headed out for a walk on the streets. The entire city centre was closed to vehicle traffic and a huge parade wound around the town, with partiers and lookers on packing the streets by the thousands. We ducked through it and headed for a big saturday market area, buying some good fresh fruit, dutch cheese, and fresh fish.
We came back to their flat after the adventure and while supper was made, Yvette organized Elwyn and Alden to make little sailboats out of scrap paper and the little card containers that the fresh berries came in. We went out to the canal and tried to sail them, the punts flipping over from the mast without a keel. Doffing the sails, their toy punts drifted across the canal into the reeds to become building supplies for the nests of the resident ducks.
Had a great supper and visit before turning in to the little cabin that Yvette and Johannas have built in the backyard of their flat -- a place called This Neck of the Woods -- that Yvette runs as a respite for visiting artists.