Monday, September 7, 2009

A Bridge Too Far, Arnhem

Warm and sunny
Camping Warnsborn
By Claire
We rode the bus to the city center today, walking through the pedestrian only shopping area and making note of a few places where we wanted to return.

I couldn't resist these perfect little shoes for some lucky little girl

We are so impressed with the bike lane infrastructure in this country but also live in fear of being run down. It truly is amazing how many people make use of these lanes, although from this picture you'd think no one did. We were just early. That pink road with the dashed line is not the street, that is a two lane bike way.

We've seen a lot of these cars.

So tiny, they use a bike lock to keep someone from stuffing it in the trunk of their car and taking off.

Our goal was the bridge in Arnhem. Between September 17, 1944 and April 1945, 188 citizens of Arnhem lost their lives. The principal causes were the Allied bombardment of September 17, the fighting that followed between the Germans and the British in the city and, eventually, the fires started by the Germans. By September 18, residents of the city were fleeing by bicycle or on foot. Others spent the nine days that the Battle raged in the city in the cellars of houses and gardens in and around the city. While the Battle was still raging, the Germans issued an evacuation order, with the result that 95,000 citizens were driven out of their city. Those who returned found their homes heavily damaged and looted of all valuable possessions. The city was in ruins and had to be built again.

Walking through Arnhem and to the bridge was very moving, thinking about and imagining the people here and what they must have felt. They were just ordinary people like us. I can't imagine being under seige in my home.

We went to the Battle of Arnhem Information Center and were helped by a wonderful 82 year old man, Fred Camps. He spoke excellent English and explained everything to us and showed us around the large room. There were photos of British Soldiers, Dutch Soldiers and German soldiers, along with their stories. Some brought tears to my eyes. One amazing photo was taken by a press photographer with a camera hidden under his jacket. We watched clips from the movie, A Bridge Too Far, as well as a presentation that was very well done. I asked Fred if very many Americans came to visit and he mentioned a place further on where Americans were engaged. I asked if many Germans came and he said yes, and showed me the photos of two of them from that Battle that come by fairly often. He said that the Dutch are very reserved with them. There is a 65th anniversary of the Battle in a couple of weeks. Some surviving German soldiers wanted to come but the citizens could not bear it. The German ambassador is being allowed to come and speak.

There were so many incredible stories told by these men. It makes all the difference to be at the spot where events took place. The church in the background of this photo was seen in the movie, which was filmed on location.

Coming home with bulging backpacks full of groceries which included wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, potatoes, etc. -- in other words, heavy -- we figured out which bus to catch back to Homer. But, the time came and went and we began to get worried. We asked several people but the campground is located in an area most people are not very familiar with. One young woman even got on the next bus and asked for us, showing the bus driver the address of the campground. Even he didn't know. Amazingly, a young man stood up and said he thought he could help us. Apparently, our bus just didn't show. He was taking the same bus and he said it happens every so often. It finally did show up, after 50 minutes of waiting, and he sat near us and helped us figure out which stop to get off, and how to push the "stop" button. I noticed him helping an elderly lady at the bus stop, giving up his seat and then helping her onto her bus. He also helped another elderly lady off our bus. He wan't any older than 17 or 18. We were very impressed.

We cracked open some beer, sliced some good Dutch cheese and cut up some fantastic bread we had picked up at the bakery. Add a sliced apple and we were set. Sitting in the sunshine was so warm I had to rig up a shade contraption with one of our blankets. We decided to do some late laundry but I'm pretty sure it's almost dry. At 6pm, it's 78°. I think we're in for good weather for the next 10 days at least. This is according to the weather report which, as you know, is about as reliable as bus schedules.


Camping, €17.50
Internet, €5.83
Bus, RT for 2, €4.40
Groceries, €29.02
Homeless guy donation, €2
Bolt for Chuck’s bike, €.40
Hema Dept. Store stuff (clothes line,gum) €4.25

Total: €63.40

Running Total: €26,350.00

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