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We’re on the road again

Well, Lynn has done it again. She has planned a trip to Europe and is taking me along to provide bag handling and other services. This is a bit more elaborate trip than some. It involves 5 different countries, trains, spas, theatre, and some other stuff. I have pictured in my mind exactly how it will work out—sort of a trip fantasy. What I propose to do is tell you about the fantasy now and write about the reality as it occurs. That way you can compare the two and see how close I was in my imagination.

We first fly to Amsterdam, arriving about lunch local time—that’s just before breakfast Texas time. We will take a train to the hotel, which is just off Dam Square, in a part of Amsterdam with which I am familiar. If you walk across the square from the hotel and turn right you will be in the red light district. I assume the district got its name from a profusion of traffic lights in the area. We will spend only one day in Amsterdam eating, drinking wine and unjetlagging.

The next day we start using our 15-day Eurailpass and head to Cologne, Germany. The train station in Cologne is right by the magnificent cathedral. I’ve been through the cathedral before so probably will not visit again. Cologne also has Christmas markets, 5 of them. Christmas markets are rather like “festivals in the street” with booths of crafts, jewelry, and beer and wine. I don’t care all that much for crafts, and jewelry, but will go to the Christmas markets anyway. A real treat will be the Glühwein, a hot wine beverage that really warms you up on a cold day.

One night we will go on a dining and dancing riverboat cruise down/up the romantic Rhine. We will be aboard the steamship GOETHE, which is a “lovingly restored and elegantly furnished paddle wheel.” I love dancing and romance.

The next day we are back on the train for Baden-Baden, a very old spa town with baths dating back to the Roman times. Here we will stay in a small quaint hotel within walking distance of the main spa. The spa offers a variety of “cures.” I’m mostly interested in a “cure” that gets rid of the aches and pains of the aging process. In my fantasy here’s how it will work. I’ll arrive at the spa around 9 or 10 in the morning and will be escorted to the “Bath” area by a gorgeous blue-eyed blond who will explain the rules.

Blue-eyed blond—“You must take off all your clothes and sit in this delightfully warm sulfur and other mineral water until the toxins leave your body.”

The water will feel so relaxing that I’m in no hurry to lose my toxins. After some extended time of bliss I’ll be summoned by a beautiful but strong looking Swedish woman who tells me it is time for my massage. The Swedish woman is the masseuse. After several hours of massage I’m cured of all the ills I could ever have imagined. Although I’m too limp to walk, the spa provides a strong but beautiful German woman to take me back to the hotel in an exquisitely padded wheelbarrow.

Well, that’s the fantasy. I’ll let you know how the reality turns out.

Next we head for Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries in Europe. We will stay there a small amount of time and do nothing of significance, but will be able to report that we went to Liechtenstein.

After Liechtenstein we go to Oberstaufen for a week. Oberstaufen is another spa town about midway between Munich and Zurich and very close to the east end of the beautiful Lake Constance. In anticipation of a recurrence of aging pains I am planning more “cures.” If it can be worked in between “cures,” we will take the train to both Zurich and Munich for day trips. I’ve been to Zurich but never to Munich. I understand it is a spectacular city. In Oberstaufen we have tickets for an operetta I’ve never heard of. However, given the amount of good German white wine I plan to sample, I probably won’t mind the operetta.

After our week in Oberstaufen we train to Salzburg, the home of salt and Mozart. We will spend one day and night here visiting famous Mozart sights then on to Vienna, Austria.

We have opera tickets in Vienna for The Magic Flute or Die Zauberflöte, as they say in some circles. The performance is in the Marionettentheater. That should be good. A few more days of sightseeing and eating and drinking, then we head back to Amsterdam by way of Hanover.

The trip back to Amsterdam triggers another great fantasy. Have you ever read Murder on the Orient Express or seen the movie? I’ve done both. At Vienna we board a night train about 8:00 pm. The train has an elegant dining car with great food and fine wines. We also have a sleeping compartment reserved in the sleeper car. I can visualize gorgeous German and Swedish women furtively sneaking down the corridor of the sleeper car wearing skimpy, almost transparent, short nighties trying to secretly consummate some inappropriate liaison with dangerous looking men probably involved in spying. There will, of course, be the mandatory group of multinational spies on the train. I will try to avoid both the scantily clad women and the spies but, alas, circumstances involve me in the affairs of both—at least that is the fantasy. The next morning after an exhausting night, we change trains in Hanover, Germany, and make the short hop to Amsterdam.

We will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Amsterdam. Lynn has 2 or 3 pretty exciting things planned for those 2 days. Some involve food and wine. It really is shaping up to be a winederful* trip.

Sometime after Christmas we head home. I’m already tired just thinking about it.

*Nikki Gatlin invented this word