I told you to expect lots of blog posts and even videos from the inaugural World to the Wise Cultural Tour. Two things have retarded that process: first, leading the tour proved much more time- and labor-intensive, preventing me from taking the time to write meaningful posts. Here I readily admit to being enough of a perfectionist that I won’t settle for whipping out a mundane blog post like, “We visited the Eiffel Tower today. The weather was perfect.” (Although, if you’re my Facebook friend, you would have seen occasional posts almost that mundane.) I like not only to report on things, but to make observations and commentary – I suppose I’m saying I want you to be glad you read my blog.
The reason you haven’t seen any videos yet is twofold: it was virtually impossible to find the time to upload the ones we shot; and, more sobering, our video camera AND still camera were stolen in Amsterdam.
For those who like the gory details, here’s how it all went down: we were near the end of a wonderful week in Amsterdam, having savored its old world charm and culture, and taken a couple of great day trips. You are hopefully aware that the World Cup was going on while we were there, and that the Netherlands had made it all the way to the quarter finals. (We had enjoyed watching various matches throughout the tournament, starting with US v. England on the first day of our arrival in the UK.) We had determined to watch the quarter finals pitting the Dutch against the formidable Brazilians, and chose a convivial corner café right in the heart of the city and no more than a five-minute walk from where we were staying. We picked out a round bistro table just inside, elevated about three feet above the entrance level where there were outdoor tables, and separated by a wrought iron rail.
It was a great atmosphere, complete with a handful of Brazilian fans and a very international crowd. I had gotten up to use the restroom, and just as I was walking back to the table, the Dutch team scored the first goal of the match. Needless to say, the place erupted – everyone was on their feet celebrating. When we sat back down, my wife, Becky, looked at her feet where we had both placed our shoulder bags. Both bags were gone. All that remained was a black umbrella that had not been there earlier. My first thought was that someone else in our group was holding our bags for us. Reality soon made itself known, though, as the blank faces of everyone around us told the story: while we were all on our feet in the midst of the pandemonium, someone had deftly reached through the railing behind our table with the umbrella and used its handle to hook both bags in one fell swoop. The redundant proof was Becky’s water bottle and toothbrush leaving a trail from our table to the street.
If you’ve ever been robbed, you’re familiar with the feelings of anger mixed with remorse, in this case. The fact is, I should have known better. I’m a seasoned traveler. I should have noticed the gaps in the railing behind our table, opening to the wide open doors to the busy street. In Becky’s bag were our brand new video camera and still camera, her passport, credit cards, driver’s license, journal, and a brand new sweater she had bought for the trip. Oh, and a Ziploc bag with watercolors and brushes, which we had used on occasion to relax and respond to some of the beauty around us in various places. In my bag, just the essentials – passport, credit cards, driver’s license, journal, and a few sundries.
We decided Becky would go back to our Amsterdam house immediately, get on the phone and cancel all our credit cards, while I filed a police report at the station less than five minutes’ walk down the same street. While I waited for them to process my report, I heard numerous other similar stories. Every person who came and went while I was there had been robbed.
Now you know why you’re just now hearing from me – but you’ll have to read the next post to find out that this is not the end of the story.