2003-12-18 Basel

Drove down to Basel for a cup of coffee. That was at least the premise that I told Volkmar. It was a simple merging of friendship circles, but I didnít want to promise Volkmar too much, because we really were just driving down to see Kelly, Ian and Pierre. I of course wanted to see Basel, but that wasnít really the impeutus. Found the three economists at a café in the centre square. Ian and Kelly had arrived from their respective homelands a few days before so they had been warming up to the Swiss life. As with many countries, Volkmar and I felt immediately poor. It was like being back in Britain, except that one didnít know whether to speak French of German (not so often a problem in England). Kelly was not feeling so well because of the night before coupled with jet lag, but we wandered around in the cold for a bit. Drove a bit of a ways out to the Modern Art Museum and a thoroughly good time there (and affordable thanks to student discounts!), although Kelly chose to sleep in the car. Us four lads had the long awaited and far travelled coffee. Then Volkmar and I dropped the three in town and headed towards Freiburg. The Van just died on the Hauptstrasse Bridge, but Volkmar managed to fix the electrical problem quite quickly, even with the traffic roaring by.

We made it to Freiburg and crashed at Uteís place. It was four stories above a butchers and the smell was so pungent up the stairwell that I doubted the air was suitable for vegetarians. Had a good filling home cooked dinner in the fun apartment. Went to a Fachhochschulefest and stopped by now-a-teacher Cloedís. Ah the story of ages.

 

2003-12-19 Strasbourg

Returned to Strasbourg for the first time since 9/11. Not so nice without the greenery or the snow and the Christmas market was not as large as I expected, but then again, Stuttgart supposedly has the largest in Europe. We wandered around and I made the necessary purchases of groceries, as well as copy of Matin Brun. This was over a year after it was in vogue, a drawback from living in a different cultural scene. Volkmar and I went to a small out of the way bar for coffee and a blanche, and that was it. Back on the road to Cologne.

2003-12-20 Cologne

Crashed at Carol and Coreyís little apartment and spent a happy couple of days having long breakfasts and exploring a cologne crammed with Christmas Shoppers. The gluehwein hit me quite hard, or maybe it was because it was too early in the morning. Went out to a Cuban bar with Yvonne and friend as well, Cologne really seems so much more the city at night. Even went to Janaís old restaurant for dinner.

2003-12-21 Maastricht

The last stretch of the road trip, at least for me, took us to Maastricht Holland where I flew out with lovely Ryanair. One can never feel too old on a road trip, and indeed Volkmar and I are not. But the more you travel, the more obligations you pile up, whether they are debts or missed friends or family. The urge to stop increases, but the pressure of the obligations keeps you going. So you do, scared to stop, worried that you canít go on forever. And you canít, but life is trying.

It is a small airport. My passport bemused the custom officials. I think they train people at the smaller airports for the big ones, so the senior official was doing the run down of the procedure. At least I got another stamp!

2003-12-22 London

Swung through London on the way home. Only enough time to crash at Ianís place for a night, then it is off to Heathrow where I had plenty of time to write all those Christmas Cards I sorely neglected over the week. Better late than never!

2003-12-25 Toronto

Christmas in TO. I landed, went home, and pretty much went about decorating the tree that Margaret had picked out from the farm. Not as full as last years, but farm grown, which is all that counts! It was a good holiday break in TO, New Years was spent at my Grandparentsí Bridge Party in Burlington. As fun a time as Iíve ever had on New Years.

 

2004-01-12 Vancouver

Yola hosted a Ukranian Christmas party in olí Quebec St. The guests didnít seem to mind the large hole in the kitchen/living room interior wall that is evidence of the burst pipe above our unit. The water had been stopped from flowing down into the foundation half a week ago, but there have been no more repairs since. The food was delicious and plentiful. It is a pleasant challenge to have to stuff perogies down, because there are so many and so tasty. And Ukrainian Christmases are traditionally vegetarian, so that suited me.

Another celebration of national origins was held at Ritaís on Januray 25th. We had a Gung Haggis Fat Choi pot-luck, which went over quite well. I made a vegetarian Haggis that Yola Ďkilledí at the appropriate moment during the reading of "Address to a Haggis." Good food and good times with a largely Boo-Tweeds crowd of old.

Went to the Made Woman of Chaillot with Lins, Julie, John and Bryce. The trip out to Langara involved an impressive range of emotions. John was grumpy, anxious, inquisitive. I spouted sayings that were either worthy of a 10 year old or a 100 year old. Lins hopefully just accepted it as wierdness, on our part, but the play added to that with its own surreally presented production. The plot was quite simple, the argument very week (but being a lawyerly economist kind of guy, you probably werenít expect me to agree completey.) But it was fun to be in the Theatre, even if it is a free student theatre production.