Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Travel Tails

Cruising the Canals

After touring Madurodam, the mini-city that surely tickles the child in everyone, we had a spot of lunch back at house. Afterwards, we were to meet my cousin, Peter and his lovely special someone, Annabelle for a cruise through the canals on his speedboat. Though speeds are strictly regulated in the city canals, as there are many houseboats homes lining them, he was able to go out into open water where he could play with it as well, so his desire to own such a boat is understandable. We piled into the car and headed to the harbour, to meet them.
Cruising the canals in a lovely boat, is a lot of fun. It gives a whole different view of Amsterdam, and it’s a wonderful experience for a couple of prairie, country girls. Of course, they took us through the red light district, which is a whole lot better to view from a boat than on the street, at least as far as I’m concerned. Just like we’d heard, there were the girls, standing on display in the brothel windows, prices listed beside them. When sweetpea looked at me, an expression of query on her face, I knew what she wanted to do.
“May I?” she asked with a little grin, tipping her head slightly towards the shop windows and the women hawking their services, so to speak.
“Sure,” shrugging, I smiled, “after all, they’re standing in windows in full view. I think it’s pretty public already.”
Well, my little girlchild, took a picture of a young woman sitting on a stool, funnily enough, dressed in an American flag, one-piece bathing suit. We didn’t know what to expect, but that girl lost it, quite seriously lost it. She was so irate, it was a bit crazy, especially considering what she did for a living. Though we laughed at her reaction, we were all grateful that we were on a boat, in the middle of a canal. Still, being the people that we are, when we came upon the next building, where a couple of ladies were standing in windows flanking the entrance to the brothel, sweetpea looked at me, and I nodded again. This time, she took the shot and the women smiled and waved … go figure. Sweetpea smiled and politely waved back.
We continued to cruise slowly along. Meandering our way, through the maze of canals, amazed by the sights, like the many arched bridges, we passed under. What was of great interest to sweetpea and I, was to see how gravel is delivered, to downtown Amsterdam. It’s delivered by barge and unloaded by a tiny backhoe, onto the street. It makes sense, as there’s no room on the narrow city streets for heavy trucks of any size. Necessity really is, the mother of adventure.
Eventually, we stopped at an area, where there were shops lining the streets on both sides, food shops and restaurants. Anyway my uncle, Annabelle, sweetpea and I, went to find some delicious Dutch foods to eat on the boat. Of course, my uncle knew exactly what he wanted and where he was going, and we tagged along. He reminded me so much of my father, just as tall, just as purposeful, and completely in charge. After collecting what he wanted, he was off again, the rest of us practically jogging behind. Back at the boat, we took to the water again and enjoyed a picnic as we slowly putted along. It was definitely the way to see Amsterdam. No crowds, nobody bothering us, good food and good company. It felt like something out of a movie.
Eventually, all good things come to an end, and our leisurely cruise was also done. Peter and Annabelle returned us to the docking area, closest to where we’d left the car. We left with many a hug then stood there for a few minutes, to wave as they motored away. Still smiling as we turned to walk towards the car, we were stopped in our tracks. Where there had been a steel walkway, when we’d crossed only a few hours before, now was a big gap, big enough that we couldn’t have leapt across. Well … maybe the girlchild, but certainly not my uncle or aunt, and probably not me either. We were, quite simply, stuck. We had a bit of a conundrum before us. It must’ve been opened to let a larger boat through, and not reclosed. Not only that, but there was quite literally, no one around … no one at all.
Being the country girls we were, sweetpea and I didn’t have to share our first thought, we knew what we were going to do. The steel bridge that was supposed to span the gap was on rollers. All we had to do was, close it. While my aunt and uncle waved to try to get the attention of Peter and Annabelle, now little more than a dot on the horizon as they sped away, we sat, put our feet against the framework, gripped the railing at our sides, and pushed. I’m sure my aunt and uncle thought we were crazy, yet we’re not wimps. We pushed hard enough that we were able to close the gap again. Jubilant in our success, we had to chuckle. Lo and behold, there were Peter and Annabelle, returning. They’d actually seen the desperate waves of his parents, and had returned to see what was going on. We said goodbye all over again, then were off.
The next morning, we were taken to Schiphol Airport, which at the time was the fourth largest airport in the world. That’s a rather amazing thing, when you think about it. Such a small country, with such a limited amount of land, has a huge airport. There are roads that go under airport runways, which is rather cool. Think about going under, when a plane is crossing above you, or possibly a ship. Imagine a huge ship passing above your car on its way to the ocean. It’s really amazing. Anyway, it’s a really huge airport, so huge, there are electronic billboards, listing the airlines that fly out of each section. If a person is let off at the wrong end of the airport, there’s a very good chance, they wouldn’t make it to their gate in time. Our flight was leaving out of the very furthest reaches of the sprawling airport, we were very grateful that we were dropped off at the right area.
We were in plenty of time to catch our flight, until the strangest thing happened. Officers were checking our tickets, the handsomest young men as a matter of fact, when sweetpea’s boarding pass, suddenly slipped out of the hands of one particularly handsome fellow, did a bit of a loop in the air, then disappeared. Just disappeared … gone, poof! We all stood there, staring at each other with a sense of perplexed disbelief, for a few moments, then they began to madly search. Search as they may, it wasn’t to be found. It was simply gone. We had to go along with the one, young fellow to get a new ticket, and thankfully made our flight. Still, it was a pretty funny thing to have happen.
We were still chuckling over the incident as we took to the air. The Netherlands was quickly falling away behind us, Glasgow was ahead, and very soon, we’d be horse trekking in Scotland. More adventures lay ahead, and we eagerly anticipated whatever came our way.
We called the relatives to let them know when we landed in Scotland. What they told us had us sharing a wide-eyed look. It had started to rain right after we’d left. Apparently, it rains in Holland a lot. Luck had been on our side, when we decided to wash all our clothes. If it had rained, we would’ve been completely out of luck. As it was, we’d been lucky enough to wash and air-dry our clothes, on the perfect day. It actually rained for several days afterwards, as well.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB