Saturday, June 2, 2007

Chapter 2 - Arrival in Amsterdam

After a hurried jaunt acorss the channel, the Notorious cut through the dense cloak of fog surrounding Amsterdam. Upon docking and arriving in port, I received a communique via messenger that my uncle had been unavoidably detained en route, and would not be available until later in the evening.

I decided to spend the remainder of the day sightseeing, as arrangements for my personal effects were completed. I hold the city dear, but realized that I could not see everything, so I decided to only visit the, shall we say, places that held a sentimental value to me.

My first bit of business, however, was to procure acceptable transportation, meaning... a bicycle. Not nearly as ingenious as Miss Paravane's Monocycle, but still an effective means of transport around the city.

First stop - see the park, better known as the "Hortus Botanicus", or the Amsterdam gardens. It was originally as an herb garden for doctors and pharmacists over three hundred years ago. See, the East India Company's ships brought back exotic seeds and plants from other countries that they traded with. In season (of which I had the fortune of being in), the blooms are indescribeable. Also, there is fantastic medicinal herb garden that attracts students from all over the world and visitors can view one of the world's oldest potted plants. (My poor camera simply could not do the colors justice!)

Being that it was still early in the afternoon, and after the constitutional I indulged in, I took the opportunity to dine at one of my favorite restaurants, a small little establishment adjacent to the Grand Canal. After a coffee and a small pastry, I hurried along, as there was one more place I needed to visit before seeing my uncle Francois.

The last stop was actually the last place I spoke with a paramour from my younger days. The Amstel/Amstelstraat, also known as the "Blue Bridge", was where I wished my friend goodbye prior to my departure to England, to continue my studies. With an ornate leaf bridge, it combines brick and sandstone into the shape of a ship's bow. Very picturesque, and still looks quite good after all of the years goneby.

Finally, I arrived at my uncle's domicile, which hadn't changed since the last time I visited it years ago. Upon approaching, I was greeted by Dedrick, my uncle's manservant.

"Ah!, Dokter Fabre, it is good to see you again!", smiled the immaculate butler, beaming with recognition and pride. "You have grown so much since you left here - a vertiable giant of a man!", he said, opening the door as he gave a slight bow.
Looking around, as to not obvioulsy violate propriety, I gave Dedrick a slight bow, then caught him off guard with a friendly hug.

"Dedrick! It is good to see you - you haven't changed a bit!", I said, grinning.

He chuckled, "Oh, well, I have a bit more grey of my thinning scalp! Please, follow me, Rafael - you uncle gave me instructions to bring you to him immediatly."

Dedrick was more of a friend than a servant, a bit more leienant with me as a youth, as Uncle Francois was perhaps excessively strict. Whereas Uncle insisted that I be "toughened to face the world", Dedrick would always give me a quick wink or smile during his monologues, pass me an extra sweet, or just talk to me whenever I was in the doldrums.
As we climbed the stairs, he expalined that after my Aunt Marionne passed away, Uncle became more withdrawn, corresponding with his compatriots less and traveling less, making this absence a bit peculiar. This journey certainly must have tired him, but stil,l he would show no emotion of the journey, being the old war-horse he was.

We reached the huge double doors to his study, Dedrick knocked firmly and announced...
"Generaal, Dokter Fabre has arrived and wishes to see you...", he said as he opened the door for me... and perhaps opening one of the more adventuresome episodes of my life.

No comments: