Netherlands – Concluding comments

Netherlands – Concluding comments

ell, if you made it this far on my blogs, you win the prize (eye-strain and headaches, most likely). Anyway, I’ll just wrap up our trip home and offer my own thoughts.

The day after the tulips, we left. Our activity director, Danni, was in charge of getting us transport to the airport. Apparently, the Gate One people listen to my brother in setting up connections – sure, leaving two hours before our flight seems like a great idea, right? So what would we do – sit on the boat and watch the old passengers leave and the new ones come on (hope you bought your own AC, guys). If you are waiting around to go to the airport, hell, just go. Waiting there is not much different from waiting here, other than the fact that you can get through security, find and confirm your gate and get a meal. So Danni moved mountains and got one of the small transport cabs bumped up to a van so we could right with another person over to Schiphol.

And it’s a good thing we did – they were blocking off the entire freeway. There was a wreck that closed the road to the airport. And the alternative road added 50 km to the trip (like, what, there are no other roads?). So we added about three-quarters of an hour riding around the city with a cursing driver.

And, of course, when we did get in, my buddies at Icelandair did not have their gates manned so we got to stand and wait with everyone else until they all drifted in. Funny, nobody says, “We’ll take you shortly” or “Thanks for waiting; we’ll be ready in a minute.” They just ignored us and we just stood there.

All sorts of hassles in security; of the four of us, three of us got our bags yanked for inspection. When we finally did get some lunch and get to the gate, it was a small boarding areal packed with people (the guy in the chair next to me was eating a smelly salad, just crunching away with his mouth open). The room quickly became stuffy and we slipped past boarding time.

Finally the announcement was made that all passengers for our flight in holding pen A should proceed to holding pen B. So we all trooped up stairs and walked about 200 yards to this new place, where we jammed in and waited. I noticed no plane, so that didn’t look good at all (I wasn’t overly worried about missing my return connection, but I’d rather make it, all things considered). And then, after loitering for 20 minutes, they instructed us to go back to holding pen A. So back we trooped. And there was a plane. The gate attendant pretty much said “Fuck it. Everyone get aboard”. Another mad rush for the gate.

So we were an hour late, which put us from our comfortable two hour connection to a one hour dash at Reykjavík  again.

We managed to make it through the airport a second time. Got another tram to the plane (does Reykjavík even have ramp bridges? We never saw one while we were there. Always exposed stairs in the cold). Got on the plane, took off, and as soon as she could, the woman in front of me dropped her seat right back into my lap for the entire eight hour flight. I’m still stiff and sore from that.

So, about this whole seat thing – fuck it. Keep them locked upright. All I know is everyone dropped their seats on me and when I dropped an inch or two the flight going east the guy behind me turned into a berserker, chewing his shield and kicking the seat. I hate that airlines do this; everyone ends up hating everyone and we’re all jammed in like sardines. Let’s face it – air travel sucks and for profits, they make it even suckier.

So Icelandair has this thing where you can pre-buy meals or purchase them when the cart comes. Feeling clever, we bought a couple of wraps each (for JB, mom and myself) in the airport and brought them in with us. The drink cart was about half the plane away so we all had a wrap and waited for the cart to get water before starting our seconds. But here’s the deal – regardless of whether you buy before or buy then-and-there, the stewardess had to run all the way to the back and nuke your meal. And everyone is quibbling – the cart took almost an hour to get maybe twenty rows. But the worst – the absolute worst – was when the Dutch couple opposite us fulfilled their stereotype for being stingy jerkoffs. The cart was finally there, right next to us, and the stews turned to them first. And it turned out they didn’t have their preorder meal type – either others had eaten it or there was a mixup in provisioning. And of course, the couple had to take five minutes to dress down the staff and fuss about it (if I could have pulled your meal out of my ass, I would have, trust me). Another meal was offered. Not good enough. So they wheedled and whined and finally agreed to a replacement meal and free drinks. And at that point, they needed the menu read to them (including prices, so they could get the most expensive drink) (had it been a bucket of frothy piss, they would have drank it down just to get the deal). I mean, this took twenty minutes to resolve. Those jackoffs were behaving like this was a four-star hotel restaurant, not a second-rate airline. I could only sit there and hope this, this being a Boeing aircraft, the bulkhead near them would blow and send them tumbling to their deaths. On the positive, think what the airline might offer them for that. Two buckets of piss, possibly.

Got into Orlando after a long flight and happily got off the plane/prison hulk. At customs, it was pointed out that JB and I had not signed our new passports. You know, we’d gone through three other checks and nobody noticed it. Fortunately the security guy didn’t give a shit and waved us through. My brother was there and took us straight home (for that, I was thankful). So nice to get back to our house and tumble with the cats, without canal locks scraping by and meal seatings and a constant parade of new places. I love it, but traveling does get old. Still, I’ll miss the coffee and cookies I enjoyed in the aft lounge at 5am every morning.

And then I got Covid.

We were masked for most of the flight, so I don’t think we got it there. Might have been a fellow ship passenger, someone in a café next to us, an Uber driver, who knows. But, weirdly, mom and I both got it while JB and Sister Pat did not. My mom had a bit of a rough patch for two days but it was nothing more than a mild flu for me. I missed two train club meetings but got a negative on my dance card in less than a week. Right as rain.

I did ride my bike to my coffee shop the other day like any good Dutchman, locking it up with my new chain (my brother says it’s worthless, but hell with it. It’s easier to transport than a D-ring).

So yes, regardless of all my ranting above, I really did enjoy the Netherlands. I did learn to never trust a ninety-minute airport connection and confirmed that a good book at home is the same as a good book in the airport. Travel sucks, and I’m pretty much off every going to visit that slag-dump, Iceland.

I did learn to like Uber. Pretty neat.

The Dutch (with the exception of the idiots on the plane) were admirable people. I enjoyed their bustling cities (unlike the cold concrete mausoleums American cities are). I enjoy their easy-going lifestyles, the biking, the lack of auto-dependance. Of course, I don’t live there – bike theft is pretty bad there and after they steal your bike, they chuck it into the canal (I don’t understand this. I really don’t). Never had a problem communicating with anyone – everyone learns English as part of school (and then there is our blanketed exported culture to reinforce it). So yes, I loved the country and would like to see more, possibly turning it into a rail trip someday. We’ll see.

Again, thanks for reading this blog. Hope you enjoyed all nineteen pages of it. And if you do like my writing, you can always >>>BUY A BOOK<<<