The Ultimate Accordion

September 12, 2023

First, sit down, grab some coffee, tea or other beverage of choice… this is going to be a LOOOOOONG post!

It all starts out with a single word… a name…. “Gola“.

The name is said with a certain level of reverence amongst accordionists and aficionados. The Hohner Gola is undeniably one of the most prestigious and expensive accordions in the world… the acknowledged Rolls Royce of ALL accordions.

It is… the legend.

There has never been a Gola that was built to be placed for sale, except for the first few in the late 1950’s that were created by Giovanni Gola as an introduction to the world. Instead, each and every Gola since then was (and still is to this day), commissioned by a singular musician and hand-built to their specifications. You simply choose your model, select your specifications and then pay the exorbitant price (in full!), up front, wait 1-2 years for it to be built and then pick it up when is completed.

Today, the price for a BASIC modern Gola today STARTS at $60,000US and any addition or modification you add, from extended keyboard, color, microphones, MIDI, registration, custom tuning, addition of Free Bass… ANYTHING… raises that price significantly. Do enough customization and it would not be hard to create a Gola that is in the 6-digit range!

A Brief History of the Gola

The Hohner Gola was originally conceived in 1952 by the world famous accordion designer, Giovanni Gola, with the first models leaving the Hohner production line in 1956.

Born June 26, 1907 in the small Italian town of Stradella , a small town near Pavia (Northern Italy), Giovanni Gola started his accordion building career as an apprentice at the highly respected Dallapé factory, where his mother had worked for many years.

There were several accordion companies there at the time, and almost everyone in town earned their money in this industry. Mariano Dallape ran the largest factory.

The company has previously always remained in the hands of the Dallapè family; after Mariano, the company passed to his son Onorato, then to Giuseppe (Mariano’s nephew) and finally in 1969, to his three sons Mariano, Amleto and Fabio.

Note: In August 2010 , the Dallapè family finalized an agreement with Roland Corporation for the sale of the brand (which resulted in the sampled sounds of the Dallapè in their V-Accordion line). The production of accordions in the Stradella factory ended at the end of 2010

Back then, Gola’s mother was a buyer at Dallapè and so young Giovanni became an apprentice. There was no vocational training as a hand-pulled instrument maker in the modern sense with theoretical lessons, exams, etc. back then. The training took place in the company and consisted of purely practical instruction and execution. The company owner, Mariano Dallapè, recognized Gola’s musical talent and suggested sending him to flute lessons. He played in the town band of Stradella and later studied flute and percussion at the Piacenza music school.

After his apprenticeship, he became a tuner at Dallapè, worked in final inspection, made new designs and created/completed players’ technical wishes when custom orders were received. As head master, Giovanni Gola was made responsible for all technical aspects of the accordion at Dallapè.

Amongst other things, he constructed a 6 treble reed instrument with 7 reed bass and a “basso pedale” to determine the pedal point. This accordion “with liturgical sound” was presented to Pope Pius XII in 1942.

As mentioned, after serving his apprenticeship, Gola began full time employment at Dallapé as an accordion tuner. He was then promoted to the design department, and eventually became responsible for all the technical aspects of accordion production. It was at this point that be began to build several one off accordions, including a six voice instrument with seven sets of reeds in the bass and a basso pedal, which was specially commissioned for the Pope.

Meanwhile, back at Hohner Trossingen, The current Hohner head of design, a fellow Italian, Venanzio Morino, was fast approaching retirement age, forcing Ernst Hohner to begin looking for his replacement. The well known Swiss accordionist, Albert Achermann, put Ernst in touch with his good friend Giovanni Gola and the three men met in the town of Lugano. In June of 1952, Gola accepted Hohner’s invitation to visit Trossingen. A contract of employment was signed, culminating with Gola, along with his entire family, moving to Germany in September of that year.

In 1953, shortly after starting work in the famous Morino workshop, Gola produced his first accordion for Hohner. Like many of the instruments that he had previously produced for Dallapé, it was designed primarily for classical music and featured an incredibly rich and mellow tone. This design was further enhanced, and in 1954, the characteristic “Gola grill” was added for the first time. By 1956, Giovanni had refined his design to a level where he felt comfortable to release a brand new model bearing his name that combined all the best features of his previous accordions into one instrument.

The Hoher Gola was born.

This world class accordion featured a truly outstanding sound, which is in part due to the exceptional quality of the hand crafted reed plates, each of which were individually selected from the town of Castelfidardo in Italy by Gola himself (some say those first reeds were made by Borsini, but this is not verified).

Ensuring that the initial response of each reed occurred at an identical air pressure, this was a highly time consuming and precise task, so in 1956, Giovanni brought Dallapé’s head tuner, Pietro Fillipazzi, over to the Hohner company to assist him with this.

Not many know this, but In 1956 Andy Arcari published “il grande virtuoso” with his Excelsior accordion. He commissioned a piano instrument from Giovanni Gola that would have the same technical parameters as his Excelsior. Since then, the base model piano Gola has been modeled on this very instrument from Arcari.

Each and every Hohner Gola from this period was personally hand finished and checked over by Giovanni Gola himself, who was well known for his fastidious attention to detail. For example, when tuning a Hohner Gola, Pietro Fillipazzi had to use emery paper rather than a file to avoid scratching the reeds, purely as an aesthetic consideration. Only when all of his exacting criteria were met, would Giovanni personally add the famous Gola stamp on the reed blocks and under the grill. The Hohner Gola quickly became the choice of many world class players, and was produced in small batches of only twelve instruments a year.

The kinship was strong within Hohner and Venanzio Morino along with Giovanni Gola’s 3 closest colleagues were Pietro Fillipazzi, Jakob Wölfle and Albert Reinauer.

In 1962, Lloyd La Vaux, who called himself “The Poet of the Accordion”, received a custom-made Gola with a converter system (like the one used today by jazz accordionist Richard Galliano). He later used this instrument during performances supporting USA troops in Vietnam. According to his reports, he carried it overhead while slogging through deeper waters. He then gave it to American aircraft mechanics for “repair.” The fitters opened the instrument and discovered that such a mechanism could not be repaired by them and it was only later put back into operation at the Hohner Trossingen Gola department in Germany. It has since changed hands and is still working to this day.

After 20 years with the company, Giovanni Gola retired in 1972. In 1975 he returned to Stradella with his wife. He died there on October 18, 1978, surrounded by family.

Giovanni Gola was considered a sensitive, introverted person. He was a devout Catholic and rejected any kind of violence against people. At the same time he was a passionate hunter as his sketches and models demonstrate a high level of dexterity and technical meticulousness. Anyone that knew him knew that he was a perfectionist and had high aesthetic standards.

After his death, the Hohner Gola stayed in production in small numbers for many years, and is still available today, although only by special order, with its design and build process more or less unchanged since 1956.

Jerry note: It’s been noted by people that have maintained/repaired the more recent Gola accordions that the quality has unfortunately dropped some. The highest quality reeds were used from the start to until 1985 when Hohner decided to make changes to the company… sending a lot of work to China for many parts and lower end accordions and also making small changes on the Gola with the effort of maximizing profits. For the Gola, slightly lower quality reeds and some mass produced internal mechanics (though still “A Mano” reeds), were used in it’s latest iteration. The story goes that they started out with Bugari reeds, then moved to  Salpa reeds. (Salpa later merged with Antonelli to become Voci Armoniche. There are Gola accordions out there with “Bugari” or “Salpa” stamped on the reeds as well as some with no stamping at all… the rumor is that those with no stamp on them are the ones of highest quality from them all.

Also, the look of the most recent Gola has been modified somewhat. Likely the biggest visual change is the changing of the right hand register switches from the round white ones to traditional black ones, dropping of the 24k gold left hand registers to plastic ones on converter versions of the Gola and less gold accent on the treble grill. Finally, a move from a 24k gold “Gola” insignia to one made in a similarly coloured brass piece. In the opinion of many professional players and expert accordion repairers, this new Gola just does not sound as good and is down a lot on quality when directly compared to the earlier models.

My history with the Hohner Gola

It’s 1972, I first heard about Free Bass while listening to a CBC radio show airing where an accordion was being played, but it was a sound that I knew was impossible to play on a “normal” accordion. I did some research and discovered the word Free Bass and was amazed. My mother, father and I looked around and looked around. We found that Hohner made a few Free Bass accordions, and so out went the letters and we ended up contacting Hohner Canada that directed us to Hohner Trossingen Germany. A few phone calls to family members and we had some contact info for Hohner Germany.

A catalog was eventually sent to us and arrived a couple weeks later. A couple weeks after that and a phone call to Hohner Germany made by my parents resulted with the completion of an order for a Gola 454. Time to make? Per Hohner… 3 months.

Three months later my parents got the OK from Hohner via phone call that the Gola was ready and so flew to Germany to pick up the accordion. When they arrived and spoke to the people at the office, there was no employee under that name and no Gola available. I kind of feel that someone else got “my” Gola, as they were hard to get and by then (early 1973), in great demand. My parents were basically convinced to take a Hohner Morino VI N which took 3 more days to complete assembly, and that is the accordion that they came back to Canada with.

Since then, I’ve loved and played on my Morino, and would NEVER part with it, but I also played several Gola accordions, and secretly in my heart always wanted one. This was etched a little deeper when I played several Gola Free Bass accordions while I was at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. There were many Gola but only one Morino VI N, mine.

Now, seriously, I don’t have the money for even a new basic Gola, much less a Free Bass model with other options… my only hope is to find a used older Gola with the specifications I like… and pay a ton of cash for it… if it exists.

You see, Golas are rare and Free Bass Golas are even more rarer still, so chances were very low that I would ever find one that matched my desired specifications.

The only good news about the situation was that older Gola accordions are actually a little more affordable and also known to be BETTER than the newer ones in several ways, thanks to cost cutting measures Hohner implemented over the later years and the original group of builders, tuners and assemblers that made the “better” Golas were gone by the mid 80’s and Giovanni Gola left Hohner in 1975. Things started to slide down in the quality department by the mid-80s. That is why one of my criteria was to get a Gola produced no later than ’81-’82 in my searches, and indeed that came true, my soon to be discovered Gola was built in 1980.

Now, the best one to get would be ideally a 1960’s Gola 459, but truly, golden hen’s teeth are easier to find than a Gola of that spec!

Addendum: June 2023

Back in June, I started to do some hard thinking. That’s not always a good thing for me to do, because not only do I usually end up giving myself a headache, it sometimes isn’t good, and leads me in to some pretty expensive situations (like my Z06 Corvette)… lol

About the start of the 2nd week in June I had made a decision that would forever change my life… I am getting to the age where things are starting to slow down and I want to truly enjoy my life. Yes, I’ve had a beautiful life, with many wonderful family and friends around me… but no Gola.

Those that know me, know the story about my Morino, and how it was initially supposed to be a Gola, but that this never happened thanks to Hohner’s goof-up of our order, and so, in a way, I suppose that I always felt that there was a small gap in my life.

Around this time, after a lot of thought, I gave myself permission to see if I could fill that gap. In other words, see if I could find a Gola 454 or more preferably, a Gola 459.

A new one was out of the question… the hellacious price of well over $65,000 US and 1-2 year waiting time was *way* above my means and even had I won a lottery, I would never order a new Gola as they are simply acknowledged by the experts as not being as good as the earlier generation ones. Also my personal opinion is that the new Gola don’t even look as pretty as the older ones.

And so, I gave myself over to open that door, but I still wanted my family to be OK with this as well. I discussed things with my them, and though a bit intimidated by the amount of money we were looking at, they were very supportive (my family is always my sanity check!).

Next step was to posted and alert everyone that I knew in my “accordion world” circle that I was on the hunt for this specific model of Gola.

Of course, everyone I spoke to knew what it was, and most had their own personal stories about a Gola.

All but one of the people that I spoke to had stories like “we just had one here in the last 30 minutes/yesterday/week/month/a couple months ago and it sold…” or “yes we know where there is one but the family doesn’t want to sell, so they keep it in a closet…”. If all were true, I had missed the opportunity to find at least a dozen or more Gola accordions, which I doubt there were even that many made… haha!

Now, that last one personally drove me nuts, not because someone was not selling their cherished accordion but because ANY accordion not used regularly is lying there basically rotting away, and the thought of a Gola in a closet somewhere rotting away is such a crying shame!

The word was put out and time passed.

The searches initially came up a bust… nothing in Canada, nothing in the USA… so let’s branch out the search, adding Asia to the list.

Well, there was one in Japan, and I did reach out, but I discovered that the damn thing was a complete mess… a perfect example of everything NOT to do with an accordion as precious as a Gola!

After some communication and research, that one was not just overpriced but severely abused, had some serious damage and even sadly worse, very low quality repairs done on some serious damage by someone completely clueless.

The reeds were tuned by a hack, likely using a Dremel tool, there were some badly hidden cracks and poorly done repairs in the keyboard (what a waste!), and being located in a part of the world that was near impossible to bring safely back home without spending TONS more money resulted in a hard “NO” for me on that one.

The searches continued on a weekly basis until around June 16th when a fellow accordion forum member reached out saying that there was a Gola 459 in the local Holland “marketplace” (that’s Holland as in the Netherlands!). I asked him to find me the contact info and reached out to the client (he also lives in the Netherlands, that’s how he found the ad for the sale of this Gola in the first place).

Well, that seller ended up being rather “unique” in that he was away from home a LOT more than he was at home, so communication was never very fast or regular… we are talking generally 1 day at home, 3-7 days away.

Then there were the other circumstances… he was selling the Gola for his “friend” and that instantly set off little danger bells in my head. We exchanged more emails and finally began to advance a little. I was sent a picture of him and his friend and they BOTH had near identical Gola accordions with Free Bass, and it was my accordion forum friend that somehow found a couple of YouTube videos of the man and his friend playing at an Amsterdam accordion club using the Gola!

When I saw this picture, I assumed instantly that the seller is on the left, the first and original owner of the Gola for sale is on the right.

So what kind of Gola was it? It turned out that it was a real Hohner Gola 459… extended keyboard, 5 sets of reeds on each side AND the very much desired MIII Free Bass option. Now, THIS should have been the accordion that was supposed to have come back with my parents from Trossingen Germany back in 1973!

OK so now, we have a REAL Gola in the possession of a REAL person, and we can start the negotiations.

“Time to shit or get off the pot!”

I do several calculations and research the approximate price of airfare, duty fees, hotel, car, a 2nd seat on the way back for the Gola to “sit” beside me and expenses. Calculations made, I decide to make one (and only one), offer. If it is refused, I had made the decision to simply let it go and continue the search elsewhere.

The email was sent. THREE days later (see what I mean about the communication issues?), the answer comes in… and… holy crap…


And just like that, my world is now turned upside-down!!

Addendum: September 11, 2023

OK, so at this time we are not even sure if this is all going to go through and there is a LOT of faith happening on BOTH sides. But, by Thursday (no rush really, our man is gone again until Friday, which I must admit he is very good at informing me about to set proper expectations), I would want the flight, car and hotel all booked and done for departure on the 21st, pick up the accordion on the 22nd and fly back on the 23rd. A freaking whirlwind run to Europe and back is planned!!

OK, so now we need to start to rock and roll…arrange payment method, book the flight, car, hotel. Of special note, I will be booking 1 seat going there, but 2 seats coming back! I want that puppy beside me all the way home!

One of the things that I did ask for were pics of the reeds. This is a little of what was sent:

Addendum: September 15, 2023

Today we completed another couple tasks and are again one step closer!

  • Airline tickets for me to Amsterdam and back: CHECK!
  • Airline ticket for the Gola from Amsterdam in the seat beside me on the way home: CHECK!
  • Hotel room in Amsterdam reserved: CHECK!
  • Car rental for me in Amsterdam reserved: CHECK!

Addendum: September 18, 2023

Well, I thought that as the date starts to get a little closer that the nerves would settle down a bit, but indeed it is the opposite. The tension is growing and yeah, there is some apprehension too. Such a huge purchase and it is so far away on the other side of the world… so many things can potentially go wrong.

Then there were the challenges of setting up the payment. Getting the funds on my end was time consuming but simpler than setting up safe and secure payment. Seems the Netherlands has this thing about NOT using banks and tellers are nearly a thing of the past… everything is done over the internet, which is really odd and a bit disconcerting. We’ll find a way around it.

Addendum: September 19, 2023

Another day down… today I did some packing and preparing. Since the time I am going down is literally a day and a half, there is not much needed, but I still prepped 2 complete changes of clothes, all toiletries, medications and my iPad and mini Apple keyboard… it is going to serve as my computer and alarm clock at the hotel that day to help me pass the time before I have to go. As an aside, all my electrical plugs are North American style, but many years ago, I won at a work event an international plug adapter. Thanks to this, I will be able to easily plug in to any outlet that the Netherlands use (which by the way they use the standard type C and F plugs, both are included in my kit).

I also printed out all the documents that I could think of that would assist me with the process and I added all addresses that I will be going to or coming from in to my cell phone for directions.

Lastly, I am even taking along a SEAT BELT EXTENDER, just in case one is needed for my accordion case, but I doubt that I will need it as the airlines already knows the dimensions of my case and should have their own extenders as required, but you never know.

Addendum: September 20, 2023

This is being entered late morning of the 20th. I’ve tried completing a few things… improving the bill of sale, entering the quick check-out info for the car, and tried reserving my seats… which I cannot, until I am checking in unless I want to pay, and I do not. I also placed my seatbelt extender in my carry-on, just in case. I also added a few more addresses of places I needed to have on my phone for direction purposes. I am still a bit on the numb side in terms of emotions. I suppose inside I am thinking about all the ways this could all fall apart and trying to make mental preparations about how to resolve and avoid anything that would place a kink in to things.

Addendum: September 21, 2023

In roughly 5 hours I step in the car to go to the airport and as I was talking to my mother this morning, we were talking and the word “bucket list” came up.

It struck home hard with me… yeah, the Gola was pretty much always on my bucket list, something that I absolutely had to have at some point in my life, and it represented something that I absolutely wanted to do, but the timing was never right.

The fact is, I feel that should have gone after it hard with everything that I had 40 years ago. For one I would have had a Gola that was made and touched by Giovani Gola specifically by him for me, and for another it may have possibly prevented me from stopping my musical journey like I did… and had that happened, my entire life could or would have been drastically different.

I am not regretful of my life, but at some point I think everyone looks back and says “I could have done that differently”… this is where I think I could have done things differently. The one big thing was that I always knew that I could not earn a good living from music, and that was one of my concerns where I strongly felt music failed me.

Maybe it was valid… maybe it was not. What is odd is that I never thought about just keeping the music going for me and not for everyone else that I felt was so heavy on my shoulders… it was either out of my life or it was to rule my life. Perhaps a little immaturity prevented me from seeing all options.

I know that I am living a wonderful life, better than so many, there is no question of that. It was often hard, challenging, sad, but it was also amazing and now, it continues to be so even more so, in a much better way. This is one of those life-changing events!

Today I go to live an adventure and tick an item off my bucket list and at the same time ADD an item to that list. I start the journey to get a Gola, and I start the journey that takes my music back in a direction that I had started over 40 years ago and stopped.

I am blessed and grateful beyond words.

TODAY I step on a plane, determined to make this happen.

The adventure starts with the ride to the airport… we left early enough but its not progressing very well as already there is construction, but we are moving.  Moving at 8 kph, mind you, but moving.   We finally get there, and the unloading goes well… fast and easy.  I already took the time to complete my boarding pass and I have my seats.  I like the window seats for the leg from Montreal to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt to Amsterdam.

Addendum: September 22, 2023

I’ve watched a lot of that TV series called “Border Security”, and always chuckle at how stupid some people are, but I also learned that when travelling and carrying over $10,000, you have to tell them else they could seize it or fine you.  First CBA agent that talks to me,  I notify them of this.  His look said it all… he could not care less.  Maybe in my stop-over in Frankfurt?  Definitely in Amsterdam, right? Nope, I walked half way across the globe and every official I told could not care less.

All throughout the flight, my mind is filled with too much negative.  Is this a scam, if it’s not a scam, is there a real Gola?  If it’s a real Gola, is it the one advertised?  If it is the one advertised, is it AS advertised? Even after that, am I doing the right thing?  This is a hugely expensive venture, the accordion, flight, hotel, car, expenses and so on!

This was the biggest financial leap of faith I had taken in my entire life. No shame to say that I was scared, as there is a lot that could go wrong and there is a lot that could happen to derail it.

The flight to Frankfurt was interminable.  I would be checking the flight info every 10-15 minutes and it seemed to crawl along at a turtle-like 980mph on the little TV screen that was facing me the whole way.  I tried to sleep, knew that I had to, else I would be too tired to function once I got there… but nope, that was a waste of time and effort.  I was just too excited, too stressed to sleep.

Eventually I would have to traverse on this endless flight and ultimately get there, right?

Well, seven hours later we FINALLY did, and arrive in Frankfurt. I then had to transfer to another flight for the 1 hour hop to Amsterdam.  That was a little faster and less eventful… up until I got to the Schiphol airport.

That place is a design nightmare.  Everything is a 1 kilometer walk!  it’s 1km from the debarking area to the core of the airport area, 1km from core to where the car rental place is… it’s 1km from where the rental store front is to the car. Wow, what a way to start the day!

By the time I got to the car, my legs were hurting and I was covered in sweat!

Next challenge, find the hotel!  Not a huge challenge thanks to technology (ie: Google maps and my cell phone), but Amsterdam is not a place I am used to driving in and so I drove a little slower (the guy at the car rental place sternly warned me that Amsterdam is riddled with speed traps and that they are brutal about ticketing, so to be careful. And careful I was, but not one speed trap was seen, though they do have their share of police cars).

Not that I really wanted to drive too slow, the Opel that was provided to me was a complete DOG, I found myself revving it to the redline several times looking for a bit more power in the first 3 gears that just never came.  I gave up on that soon after, realizing that there simply was no real power to be found.  To this day I believe that my lawnmower has more  torque!

Finally arriving at the hotel, I know that I am very hungry, it’s been about 12 hours since I had a tiny in flight meal that the airline provided.  I first ask if they serve lunch at my hotel… nope, just breakfast and dinner.

Great, I’ll eat later. 

I call our Gola seller and let him know I have arrived and am somewhere like 15-30 minutes away.  The voice on the other end is Dutch accented but speaks a nice English and sounds friendly and welcoming.

I do a record speed shower, shave and change of clothing and am off to the location, his home.  The location is a beautiful village just outside of Amsterdam.  I whip the car around as I see that I just passed the house number, but glancing in the window, I am not seeing the man I was expecting in the window… in that one instant, I get it… the man I thought from the picture that was supposed to be the seller was the owner and visa-versa. I had the faces reversed!

Entering his home, he asks if I wanted something to drink, and I was parched so asked for water, which was quite welcome.  I then spotted the Gola, it was on the floor.  He asked if I wanted to try it… DID I EVER!!

Now the last Gola I tried was Keith’s 414 and that thing made the hairs on my arm stand up.  Now while I play through some chords to get a feel for this Gola, it gave me chills playing it, but it did not feel as crisp as Keith’s. Keith’s Gola was tuned and massaged by a master to perfection and was a 414.  This one needed a little work it seems?

But it was all there. The responsiveness, the easy of playing and dynamics, and the creamy tones… my heart melted… wow, an amazing experience and the Free Bass… so mellow sounding and linear and as dynamic as the right hand!  And then a small surprise… it had something that I very much liked and noted that other Free Bass Gola’s did not traditionally have… a triple reed musette AND the same register WITH the piccolo reed added (quadruple musette?? 🙂 ), a NICE, UNEXPECTED AND UNIQUE TOUCH!  Running through the registers, I noticed that they were not in the traditional order and that this would take some getting used to. No great challenge and I am up for that!

There was a LOT that I was in love with right from the start.  Decision made… this Gola was the one, VERY dirty, small flaws and all, but this was it and I would now make it mine.

My plan now was to pay for it, get back to the hotel, eat and CRASH… but something happened, a kind of connection between me and the seller just happened, we started talking accordions, Golas, and just music in general and some of his favorite Dutch accordionists (why Harry Moorten wasn’t more famous is COMPLETELY beyond me… he played two LP records for me of Moorten and he was an AMAZING musician!). During that talk, he showed me how to add a button that could disable the 2nd musette reed, a very cool option, but I am in no way inclined to drill in to my Gola at this time… haha!

We finished our chat, 4 hours later and in that time, developed a sincere friendship. I paid the amount we had agreed to and we started the process to get the Gola packed.

Once packed, I made it in time to the hotel for supper and thats where I first took a little breath of relief and relaxed a bit, but just a little.

Supper was fantastic!

After supper I came back to my room to this guest:

I just quickly wiped down the Gola (it was quite dirty), played it a few minutes and then packed it well with bubble wrap on the sides and T-shirts as additional padding over the top… it was late and time to go to sleep and I was so tired!

Addendum: September 23, 2023

1:00am my eyes opened… I was wide awake. I had been asleep a mere 2 hours and now even more tired yet unable to fall asleep. I kept trying until about 5:00am, then just gave up, shaved, showered and went for breakfast.

I was too early for the kitchen, but they were super nice and just for me, brought out fresh eggs, ham, sausages, cereals, fruits and coffee strong enough to give me a heart attack. I ate my fill then loaded the car and set off to the airport.

Returning the car, I already knew it was a 1km walk to the airport core, then another 1km to the Air Canada area to check in and get my boarding passes. Then another 1km to go through security and another 1km (or more) walk to get to the gate. This all took 5.5 hours and I am SO happy I went early, because had I gone the requisite 2-3 hours in advance, I would have no doubt missed my flight.

I also had purchased a small roller trolley and brought it from Canada because carrying the Gola by hand would have been simply impossible to do walking those distances. It saved me… but after a couple of kilometers of walking and the angle at which I needed to hold it caused me a very painful strain to my lower back, so I found one of the larger metal baggage holders and that made all the difference in the world for me.

Getting to my gate I am looking at the clock… 30 minutes to go, nice, I can finally take a breath… oops, the sign changes to a flight going to Aruba… what the heck?? I quickly look for 5 minutes to find a board with the flights/gates and see none… giving up because my legs are already burned out, sit down and google/find/install the app that shows current flights/gates at Schiphol airport.

Aha I find the needed info! Its not far away, I move to that gate. Yes it’s showing the flight to Montreal… oops, the sign changes to a flight going to Nigeria… again, what the heck?? Back to the app, it shows the change, this one was a short 5 minute walk, but by now it felt like a 5 kilometer walk, I was tired!

I get to this gate, see the right flight and recognize the Air Canada employee that gave me my boarding pass. I smile and wave. She comes over and says that I will be called out to follow the people that require wheelchair access and early boarding needs, and I am grateful.

I finally board the plane carry the Gola to my seat, place it there and secure it.

I’d like to say that the flight was uneventful, but a stubborn Chief Stewart twice tried to get me to place my accordion in to a closet somewhere, but refused to guarantee it’s safety, so I refused to permit it to be moved.

It was another loooong flight. The person sitting beside me must have had some kind of syndrome because the involuntary kicks and elbows in to me were frequent and frustrating, but I just hung on to my Gola, which was in the window seat (I was in the middle seat), and stayed in my happy place.

We finally made it to Montreal, I got through Canadian customs (and that is a story unto itself!).

Amazing! I was elated because I had ALMOST made it… one small final challenge left, and that was to get home from the airport.

Thankfully, my sister was the one that picked me up and brought me home, and finally once I was in my driveway, I took a huge breath of relief and was super happy to be home, take the Gola in to the house, unpack it and place it on the dining room table. I was bone tired but could not stop smiling.

A trip from Montreal to Frankfurt to Amsterdam and from Amsterdam direct to Montreal… all in about 2.5 days, and I completed it and brought home an amazing accordion… my DREAM accordion!

As tired as I was, I had to put it on and futz with it for a few minutes before calling it a day and going to bed. Suffice to say, I crashed and slept a good 11 hours straight through!

Though this story may be over (and honestly, there are a dozen small stories that I left out), but the story of me and my Gola… well, that one is just about to begin!