European Steel Challenge Report Pt. 1
I've got so much news and so much going on it's hard to tell exactly where to start. I guess I could start with an update about the trip to Holland and the European steel challenge championships a few weeks ago. I had planned to get as much sleep as possible before leaving for Holland, but unfortunately, that's not how it worked out. When I got on the shuttle bus for the 1 1/2 hour ride from would be island to the Seattle-Tacoma airport I was already pretty tired. The ride to the airport, several hours wait in the Seattle Airport, and a 10 hour flight to Amsterdam didn't help much either. Fortunately, the flight itself was mostly just boring. I am not real crazy about the Airbus airplane to start with, but at least it reached Amsterdam without anything breaking or falling off, at least, nothing that I could see.
Once I had cleared customs and picked up my suitcase at the airport in Amsterdam, I walked out to the lobby of the airport and bought a train ticket to Winterswijk, where the European steel challenge championships was going to be held. with train ticket in hand, I took the elevator down one floor to the train station platforms. The train from Amsterdam airport to Arnhem departs every 15 minutes, and seems to run exactly on time to the minute. After a fairly short but relatively bleary eyed train ride through the Dutch countryside, I reached the train station in Arnhem. The paperwork that I received when I bought my train ticket not only told me the number of the train that I needed to catch in Arnhem, it even told me which platform it would be on at the Arnhem train station. Again, the train was exactly on time. If I remember correctly, the entire train ride from the Amsterdam airport to Winterswijk took a bit over two hours. since I was lugging a large heavy suitcase with me, it was difficult on some of the trains to drag the suitcase to where the seats are. In those cases, I hauled the suitcase to an area just inside of the train doors, and sat on top of the suitcase. In some of the trains, there was also some small fold down chairs along the inner walls, which I also used.
When I reached Winterswijk, I figured I would hire a taxi to take me from the train station to the hotel. Across the street from the train station is a small business that also has taxis. Unfortunately, their door was locked, and they were closed for the day. Next door, however, there was a shell station and minimart, so I walked over there to see if I could find a ride. I was talking to the lady behind the food counter in the minimart, when a fellow that she knew came in to pay for his gasoline. She asked him if he knew the way to the hotel that I was trying to get to, and if so, would he be interested in making a few quick euros? He did know the way, and we settled on five euros being a fair price. The trip itself was only about 2 miles or less, but the traffic at that time of day in downtown Winterswijk could be congested, so we took a slightly longer but probably faster route around the center of town. In a matter of minutes, I was at the hotel, and got checked in.
Once I was checked in and my suitcase was safely in my hotel room, I collapsed on the bed for a very short rest, prior to walking over to the range to say hi to everyone. The range is in the basement of the clubhouse, which is perhaps a block and a half away from the hotel. I wish we had a clubhouse and range facility like the one in Winterswijk somewhere near to where I live here on Whidbey Island. They even have a 200 m indoor range.
After a short rest, I walked over to the range and clubhouse. Since it was Thursday, and the match did not start until Friday morning, the only folks there at the range were the ones involved in setting up the match, or providing refreshments to those who were setting up the match. That means, the bar was open! After greeting and saying hi to a number of the match officials range officers, and bartenders, I ordered myself a strong cup of Dutch coffee. Even though the coffee comes in a cup about three quarters of the size of a standard American cup, the coffee itself is incredibly smooth, and has caffeine content of what must be very close to a full pot of coffee! If that stuff won't wake you up you are probably dead and beyond restoration.
As it was getting on towards evening, it was agreed that everyone would meet at the Chinese restaurant across the street from the hotel at 6 PM for dinner. The Chinese restaurant has a buffet dinner that is really quite good. Since I was scheduled to shoot the next morning, I excused myself a bit early so I could head back to the hotel room and get some sleep.
Here's a few pictures from the train from Amsterdam to Winterswijk:
to be continued.........