*note: extremely long post…but it’s a fun story :)*
About a week ago I got an e-mail from Ineke informing me that President Bush was coming to Limburg and the town was going to give away tickets to see him. On a whim I decided to e-mail the town and inquire about it, not really expecting much at all. I didn’t hear from them for a few days so I had just about decided to forget about until Wednesday I got an e-mail from them telling me when and where I could pick up my ticket. Well, even though I had a ticket I had no idea how I was ever going to get there. The e-mail said that I needed to pick up my ticket between 5am and 6am Sunday morning in Margraten ie. nowheresville, Holland…I had no idea and so I asked Ineke and Robbert for help. Since no trains ran that early (or to that town for that matter!) I had to stay there overnight. We called around and for a long time it looked like I was fresh out of luck because everywhere was booked. Finally we stumbled across the website for a camp ground called Kamperen bij de boer (camping with the farmer) and even though at first they said they were also booked the mother overheard and said “Just one person? Oh there’s always room for one person!” So…I was going! I was a bit nervous about going by myself simply because I still wasn’t totally clear about how to get everywhere I needed to be but I figured I’d regret not taking this chance. So here’s how it went…
Saturday, 7 May 2005-
8:15am: Finished up a bowl of Corn Flakes and Ineke gave me a ride to the train station so I could catch my first train.
8:45am: Caught my first train which would take me to Eindhoven.
9:59am: Caught second train to Sittard
10:55am: NS is doing construction between Sittard and Maastricht all weekend so I caught a bus to some itty bitty town where I then got on a stop train that took me the rest of the way to Maastricht
11:46am: Wonderful train ran late so I “ran” to the bus stop just in time to see my bus pull away. (What I was doing probably couldn’t technically be called running since I was lugging a, I kid you not, 53lb bag along behind me!!! Honestly I wish I had a video of me hauling that thing up and down all the stairs and in and out of the trains and busses, it really had to have been a funny sight, lol) Checked the bus schedule and the next one was in an hour…:P
12:46pm: Caught the bus for my final leg of the trip into Margraten
1:03pm: I got off the bus because this was the time I was supposed to be at my stop (the signs where covered in orange plastic announcing the busses wouldn’t be running due to President Bush’s visit) I should’ve just asked, it was not the right stop…
1:08pm: Found a sign “Margraten 2 kilometers”! *sigh* Note: at this moment, as if on cue a nice little drizzle starts…I thought “man, my luck better not be this good the whole trip” I started walking (still dragging around that 53lb bag) and giving every car that passes the most pathetic look I could muster up.
1:20pm: An extremely nice man with a sleeping child in his back seat (so I figured that made him safe) pulled over and offered me a ride. I gladly accepted and he asked me where I was going. I reached in my pocket to pull out the paper with the address and name of the place and it was no longer there. I sheepishly told him I didn’t know but it was the camping place by the cemetery (I am just oh so slick aren’t I? lol) He was really cool, stopped at a bike shop and got directions and then drove me the rest of the way there.
1:35pm: The family that owns the farm/campground greats me and showed me the camping spot. The younger son offered to help me put up my tent which I accepted. Just as we were about to start the mother comes out and said, since it was raining I could set my tent up inside a shed they had so it wouldn’t get wet and dirty (yea!)
not bad hé?
2:00pm: All set up…now what? lol
I’ll just see how many times I can bounce this ping pong ball ( I got to 191…)
Then it stopped raining so I went outside and took some pictures of the farm
Beautiful isn’t it?
After that I went back inside and met a little girl. We played inside for awhile.
7:30pm: Since I had to leave to pick up my ticket at about 4am (I needed to be there by 5am and I had to walk 3 kilometers to get there) I’m went to bed. Unfortunately I was without dinner. I didn’t think about the fact that I’m in the middle of the country and there are no cafes around! Just another glowing example of my genius, lol
12:00am: I heard “are you asleep?”. After an initial moment of panic that I’d slept in and missed the whole thing I opened my tent to see the farmers wife and his son outside my tent. They told me that they had a ticket for me already so instead of me having to leave at 4am I could ride with them at 6:30am. Yea!
Sunday, 8 May 2005-
6:25am: Down by the cars ready to go and after about 10 mins we were off. Since the farm is directly behind the cemetery we got stopped two different times, once by a police car and once by an army truck, and had to show id’s and tell them where we were headed.
7:15am: We had finally cleared security and were loaded on a bus to the cemetery (we weren’t allowed to drive there ourselves)
There were 10,000 people there…and all of them had to come by bus!
8,300 American soldiers from WWII are buried in here. Most of the crosses had the soldier’s name and the state they were from on it…
but sadly there were a few like this:
“Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms known but to God”
We got to the cemetery and had found our seats by about 8:00am (Bush wasn’t going to speak till 10am!) I was a little worried about how late we were leaving because the ticket said “first come first seated” and that the first bus left at 5am…I figured it was a much better idea to get a ride with them than to walk on a narrow country road in the dark though. When we arrived we found out that the tickets were according to sections with the green ticket being the farthest back, then the red and then the blue. We had red tickets so we ended up with front row seats in the red section. Not bad hé?
Me in one of the little rain jackets they passed out waiting for things to get started.
My new friends that helped me sooo much!
8:30am: The son got a call on his cell phone from the nephew who gave us the tickets asking how we were and where we were sitting
8:35am: The director of the cemetery came up to us and told us that we’re sitting in the wrong place. He lead away from the red section and all the to the front of the blue section to a sectioned off area! The only people in front of us were the WWII veterans and dignitaries! God is so good isn’t He?!
9:00am: The ceremony began with different local groups doing some songs and things
10:20am: Finally, President Bush arrived!
The Prime Minister of The Netherlands, President George W. Bush, Queen Beatrix and Laura Bush during the playing of the national anthem
President Bush giving his speech
It was a good speech. Afterwards we walked around the cemetery and little bit and then headed back to the farm. I went inside and had pie and coffee with the family and then packed up my stuff. The son gave me a ride to the station and my trip back was fairly uneventful. It was such a great trip! I had a wonderful time, met wonderful people and now have a great story to tell *smile* I hope you enjoyed the story. Sorry about the length. This weekend I’m off to a music festival with Caitlin so after that I will post about my vacation with the family and everything. Have a great weekend!