I don't know what time it is body time, but it's nearly 1 a.m. Davis time and I have been awake about 20 minutes. (I wonder when my brain is going to realize i am on dry land and no longer give me the sensation of gentle rocking on the ship.) I didn't have to worry about cooking dinner. Walt and I sat down to watch the news, for the first time in two weeks. He had a glass of wine, I had a handful of Wheat Thins. Next thing I knew it was midnight and I had slept about five hours. I don't know when Walt went upstairs to bed. Polly informed me, very pathetically that it was way past her dinnertime and she was still waiting.
What a day. It could be titled "day of the gimp." Through the course of this trip, Char and I have probably experienced every kind of "assistance" that you can have. But if you have any kind of mobility problems, asking for wheelchair assistance is the way to go, I'll tell ya!
We met in the hotel lobby at about 4:00 a.m. and picked up bags of breakfast -- yogurt, an apple, crackers, cheese, and a bunch of other stuff. I ate the yogurt and left the rest at the hotel. I notice a lot of other people did too. We walked through the thick fog along the canal to a place where there were water buses waiting. It all looked very much like something out of a 1930s London spy movie, with it being pre-dawn, and the fog being so thick, dark figures huddled across the canal and bodies being loaded onto boats.
We got on a water bus and rode down to a bus station of sorts where we got onto vans for the ride to the airport. There was a bit of a kerfuffle getting into the airport proper with some gate that wouldn't open. It involved a lot of our driver getting out of the bus, angry words in Italian and a lot of hand waving, but eventually we arrived at the airport entrance, picked up our luggage and headed inside, where the crowd was enormous. I asked the Viking rep if we would make our 6;30 flight and she assured me that the plane would wait for us. I reminded her that Char and I had requested wheel chair assistance and it was amazing how many doors that opened for us. Wheel chairs were procured and we were whisked to the front of the line, to the consternation of those waiting for hours.
After we had been checked in our pushers took us on this wild ride through the airport and through security and then to our gate, which included being taken out to a contraption that has a ramp for wheel chairs, and room inside for several chairs. When it was full (6 of us on that ride)
When we were loaded up, it drove out to the plane, raised the box we were sitting in, and the back door of the plane opened up and the six of us hobbled on to the plane and we were headed for Amsterdam. Schiphol Airport is enormous. Like a small city. There we were put onto a conveyance that held 7 gimps and given a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride through the whole airport, getting from Gate C to Gate F. It was Christmas in Schophol.
The driver had several other passengers to deliver to gates, so we got a complete tour of the airport, all the while the driver was keeping up a happy banter with all of her passengers.
In fact, she was such a joy, so pleasant, that I had to take her picture when we finally arrived at our gate.
The 10 some-odd hour flight was enlivened by two babies who cried almost the whole way, I think. One was a boy, not a baby really, who looked about 3-4 years old, His family was sitting behind Char and he screamed most of the flight while his younger sister kicked Char's seat. When we arrived in San Francisco, this kid was still screaming in the customs line. But other than that, the flight was uneventful. I watched 3 movies which, with my noise-cancelling earbuds made the noise of the crying babies disappear.
I watched MacFarland USA, a wonderful movie with Kevin Costner in the real life story of Jim White, a failing high school football coach who creates a cross country team at his go-nowhere high school into a winning cross country team. One of those life-affirming movies which includes pictures of the real members of the team and an update on what they are doing today.
Then I watched American Sniper, which I had not wanted to watch when it came out because I don't like war movies, but I had been reassured that it wasn't so much a war movie as it was a relationship movie between sniper Chris Kyle and his wife. Well I'd like to add up all the NON-war parts of this film. Bet it would not amount to 20 minutes in this 133 minute film. I suppose it was quite good, if you can stand all the noise. I didn't like it.
I wasn't going to watch a 3rd movie, but we still had 3 hours+ to San Francisco, so I chose something that sounded like it would be the total opposite of American Sniper. I chose it strictly on the name alone, BoyChoir and was pleasantly surprised to find out, when the movie started, that it starred Dustin Hoffman and Kathy Bates. Sort of a formulaic film about a troubled boy with talent landing in a school for boy singers and how he fits in (and doesn't) and what becomes of him. Perfect antidote to American Sniper.
I am still kicking myself for not having my camera in when we flew over SF. I almost NEVER get to fly over the city, and especially not on a crystal clear day and especially not while sitting in a window seat. I'll just have to remember how beautiful it was to fly over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Our Gimp Experience was just starting, we discovered. There were twelve people needing assistance and only five crew to get us through customs. It was a real sight.
Those pushers earned their pay today, that's for sure. They were running their little tushes off, but they got us past all the line up at customs, through to the luggage, got our luggage and wheeled us past the security station and out into the terminal.
Then our grand adventure had come to an end. It was a wonderful odyssey but I sure am glad to be home. Waiting for me in e-mail was a special offer on Viking River cruises next year. Too soon! Too soon!!!!!
|All's right with Polly's world again.|