Switch to dark mode 🌚
Increase font size
Decrease font size

My Trip to Europe: The Insignificant Details

Monday, June 20, 2022
We arrived at our gate in the Boston airport an hour and a half early. The terminal was crowded, but we found three seats in a row facing a dividing wall. Blocking our path to these seats was a long white charger that stretched from an outlet in the dividing wall to the phone in the hands of its hunched-over owner. The charger came to about half-way up my calf. To reach the seats, we each (Steven, then me, then Carter) had to lift our carry-on and step carefully over the charger. The owner of the charger appeared utterly unperturbed.
Once we sat down and put down our bags, Carter went looking for food, stepping carefully over the charger on his way out. He returned and went back over the charger. I left to fill up my water bottle, going back and forth over the charger. Steven filled his. I drank too much of mine and left to use the bathroom, over and back over the charger. Steven and I played cards. I went to refill my water bottle, over the charger, over the charger.
Finally, we were called to the desk at the gate to have our passports and vaccination cards examined. We picked up our bags and left one by one over the charger, over the charger, over the charger. After our passports were checked, we found different seats.
Moral: Animals, even semi-domesticated ones, are incredibly adaptive to changes in their natural environment.
Shar had arrived at the Airbnb first. She let us in, we picked rooms, found a restaurant for dinner on the internet and waited half an hour for SriRaam to arrive. He took a quick shower and then we left. After dinner, we went to a bar. Brianne and Terry, whose flight had been delayed, meet us there. They had dropped off their bags at the Airbnb first, though, and Terry had showered. He informed us that he had “kind of” flooded the bathroom and that the floor might be wet.
After one drink, Carter and I left to go to bed. When we entered the apartment, we learned that the floor was indeed wet. There was a pool of water in the hallway outside of one bathroom. An entire roll of paper towels was floating in the pool. The floor in the bathroom was also wet. I dried it and then tested the shower. There didn’t seem to be any leaks, so I figured that Terry must have opened the shower door and directed the hand-held shower head at the floor. Carter, meanwhile, was singing away in the other shower.
I waited for the water to heat up and got in. The shower, by the way, was a fancy one with one hand-held shower head and one overhead “waterfall” head. The floor of the shower was level with that of the bathroom, but angled slighted down towards a long rectangular drain. At the bottom of the glass door was a rubber lining, presumably to keep the shower water-tight. As I showered, the water level at my feet rose slowly, but I kept a close eye on the floor outside the shower and saw no spills. I lathered my hair with shampoo and switched on the waterfall shower head. After a long day of flying and stepping over chargers, it felt divine. The increased pressure immediately flooded the shower, bathroom and hallway.
Ah, Terry isn’t an idiot
, I thought.
I am
With the shampoo still in my hair, I dried the floor again. Then I carefully finished showering, keeping the water pressure as low as possible.
By the end of our stay, we had also clogged the other shower drain.
Moral: German-engineered shower drains are no match for non-German hair.
A couple of hours into the train ride from Berlin to Amsterdam, I walked down to the cafe car to get lunch. As usual, I scanned the menu for the vegan options and picked the first one - a “Wrap Sweet Chili”. The German and English menus both called it that. I guess it’s sort of like how there’s no English word for “taco”, except it doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, I ordered the Wrap Sweet Chili
. The man asked, “What time?”
Maybe they would deliver it to my seat at my preferred time.
That’s a cool idea,
I thought,
but I’m hungry
. “Now?” I said.
“No, what time? One, two,…?” the man replied.
It was already 3 pm. “Uh…” I said.
Then it clicked. “Oh! How many? Just one please.”
The wrap was pretty good, one of the best vegan Wrap Sweet Chili’s I’ve ever had. I went a second time to get another.
Moral: Communicating with other humans is difficult, especially if their only shared language doesn’t make any sense anyway.
On our third day in Amsterdam, Brianne bought seven tickets for us to go on a canal cruise at 3 pm. Before the cruise, we wanted to go to the Van Gogh museum which was only a few minutes walk from the docks. Carter had already been to the museum, so he said he would just meet us at the cruise. Unfortunately, the Van Gogh museum was sold out for the day. There were, however, many other museums in the square. We split up - three people to the modern art museum and three to the Rijksmuseum. I was in the latter group. It was a little after 2 pm by the time we got in line, not enough time to get our money’s worth in the museum before the cruise, but we could come back after. In line, however, we learned that there was no re-entry allowed. We went to the free sculpture garden instead.
At 2:45, we made our way to the docks. One canal cruise company had a storefront and a clearly designated dock. We quickly realized that we were with a different company at some other dock. The website said it was to the right of the Rijksmuseum, but didn’t specify if that was when you were looking at the museum from the dock or at the dock from the museum. At last, we spotted a boat with the name of our company on it. We went down to that dock. The boat was full, so we figured it must not be ours. It left around 2:55. We later realized that it was our boat. There was no signage or communication whatsoever.
Another boat arrived and a group of well dressed people who obviously knew each other began boarding. That must have been a private tour, so not ours either. A third boat arrived and even better dressed people got on. Not ours. These boats both left around 3:10. There were no other boats arriving, but, reassuringly, there were now a few other groups of confused tourists on the dock. Brianne called the company to try to figure out where our boat was. SriRaam and I walked over to another dock where a boat owned by the same company had just pulled up. We asked the captain where the 3 o’clock cruise was and if it was his boat. He told us, rudely, that he didn’t know and that it had nothing to do with him.
The person who Brianne talked to told us to wait to see if there was room on the 3:30 boat and that if that didn’t work, we could try the 4 o’clock one next. We waited. Shar left because she had to meet a friend at 4:30. Carter had been running too late to catch the 3 o’clock boat, so had given up on the venture entirely. Soon, the 3:30 boat arrived. We informed the very nice captain and first mate of our troubles. They said they would let everyone with tickets for the 3:30 cruise board first and then see if there was room for the seven of us.
“Oh, we’re only 5 now,” we said.
“Did the other two drown?” they asked.
“Yes, tragically,” we said.
All the properly ticketed customers got on and the boat looked very full. “Could everyone please squeeze together to make some more room please?” the co-captain shouted.
Everyone squeezed together and the five of us squeezed in as well and we all enjoyed a lovely cruise through the canals.
Moral: If you need to get a Covid test to enter the U.S., schedule it for before your canal cruise.