Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Day 1: The Journey to Amsterdam

I busted out of work even earlier than I planned, and got on the Blue Line to O’Hare. At work people told me that international flights left from a special terminal reached via shuttle. I began to worry, because I would be highly embarrassed if I missed my flight because I was too retarded to navigate the airport. I guess that would be a strong indication that maybe going to a foreign country isn’t the best idea.

At the airport I found the shuttle to the international terminal easily and calmed down. Once there, I couldn’t figure out where to go or what to do. Everywhere there were large families, with huge mounds of luggage speaking strange languages as they waited. Something about the way they looked gave me the impression that they had been waiting for days and expected the wait to continue for more days. Boredom, impatience and nervousness bundled together with the crying young children to create a tense unpleasant aura.

Finally, after wandering for a while, I simply marched to the first counter without a line and explained to the man, “I don’t know what I am doing.” He looked at my tickets and told me that I was at the wrong terminal and had to take the shuttle back to the main airport....grrrr. Finally I found the spot to board, grabbed something to eat, used the bathroom and waited. There were several young women waiting for the same flight who seemed to be begging for an uncomfortable trip – stiletto shoes, super-tight, super-low jeans. It boggles my mind that anyone would choose these clothes when they will be confined to a seat for the next eight hours. Change into your cute clothes in London!

When I boarded, I had a window seat in the full-to-the-gills plane. On board, I ate some bad airplane food, watched some BBC, inserted my earplugs, put on my eye mask and fell asleep for most of the flight. When I woke up it was light outside, I ate some more airline food and watched the clouds for another hour before we landed in London.

I got lost in the London airport and this time had to ask for help twice from people. Again I just told them that I didn’t know where I should be and they pointed me in the right direction. Very nice, really. I had to walk by the smoking section several times, nas-tee. I didn’t wait long to board and I apparently slept for most of the short flight to Amsterdam.

On the topic of nas-tee, I noticed a smell on the flight to London that my brain strove to identify, but couldn't. It was also at the airport and on the flight to Amsterdam. I realized first that the source of the odor was me, and second what it reminded me of: Hamster Cage. Seriously, I smelled like a friggin' hamster cage: wood chips, pet food, rodent, urine/feces -- somehow my body was emitting smells to mimic this combo. I made showering a top priority when I reached the hostel.

Even though I had to metal-detect, go through customs and get my passport stamped, I didn’t get lost at this airport and found Frick waiting for me.

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