Tuesday, November 11, 2014

To Netherlands - meeting a friend after 43 years

Although my Scengen journey started with my landing in Hamburg on way to Kiel in Germany, but the travel forward from my launch station is when my Schengen countries travelogue actually started. 

Perhaps the first phase of my Schengen Travelogue may not have been as elaborate in Netherlands as it turned out to be for one big reason: A friend and class fellow of 48 years whom I had not met for the last 43 years. I knew he, or should I say Tariq Hashmi, was there somewhere in the Netherlands, but had no clue where. 
 Friends of 48 years of association - last met 43 years ago (above) when they left their secondary school - now in a bid to meet again (below): Left to right: Jalal (that is me), Masood and Hashmi

And then the magic call came from another friend, Zahid Masood Khan, who is presently in England, but had been in the Netherlands many years ago and who happened to be a mutual friend. And this gave me an opportunity to get Tariq's phone number and that is how Netherlands became my first Schengen Travelogue destination.

And thus one fine September morning, we rented a BMW 330d and started our two countries tour of Netherlands and France through Belgium. Starting from Kiel, Germany, we out skirted Hamburg and Bremen and headed towards Groningen.

En route, we came across lush green fields were cattle and horses were grazing and houses with sloped roofs - a typical European countryside landscape.

All along the road journey, I kept looking around rigt and left to catch a glimpse of the typical and traditional wind mills - something that has been the trademark of Netherlands. But unfortunately, most of these seems to have disappeared owing to the advancement of technology and have been replaced by giant three-bladed wind mills now being used to generate electricity. And found these in abundance, coming our way.

However, I was lucky enough to see one from right under it when we went to Dolfinarium in Harderwijk near Amsterdam two days later. I will talk about it along with a small video clip in one of my future posts.

Groningen, like Kiel in Germany is a northern city of Netherlands and almost of the same size.  I will talk of Groningen in detail in my next post.

Thanks to the excellent navigation system installed in the BMW cars that we reached dot at the house of my friend as his address has been fed into to the navigation system of the car. The 330d used by us, as seen above, even had a HUD (Head-up Display) like the one in the fighter aircraft which displayed the speed, speed limit of the road and the navigation information right in front of the driver's portion of the wind screen. This allowed me to know all possible driving information without taking my eyes from the road.

And when we reached my friend's house, there he stood with the same smile to meet and greet me after 43 years - as can be seen in the above photo. You can well imagine who exciton it is to meet a friend after so many years - specially when lads in teens have become almost as old as touching their 60s.
I do not have to describe the moment as we just rushed to each other for a warm and hearty hug while wives from opposing sides met warmly, and so did our sons and became instant friends. We were to stay at Groningen for four days to enjoy the warm hospitality of Hashmi and his family. His wife cooked some of the most delicious foods that I have ever tasted in my life and made us feel as we were in our own home.

It was from here that we went to Amsterdam and Dolfinarium in Harderwijk and finally departing for the Hague and Rotterdam before exiting Holland for Paris through Belgium. I will be covering our stay in Groningen in more details and Holland in coming posts.

* All photos have been taken by me and are accordingly copy righted.

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