Song of the standby

June 27, 2019

Plan B and beyond

DL 0118 to Paris

The 12:19 to Amsterdam

The greater part of travel is nuisance and delay, and no reader wants to hear about that.

  Paul Theroux

Except my readers, who will hear about nuisance and delays because it’s an integral part of the meaning of travel for Carol and me. Carol handles nuisance and delay with the peace of a monk and the patience of a pointillist painter. My handling varies, but tends toward an Indiana Jones sense of imminent peril. Between the two of us, we have a travel approach that is a comforting blend of serenity and an urgent sense of gloom.

Another of Reid’s Tears for Fears selections

We arrived at LAX for the start of our latest European trek to discover our comfortable standby seat margin had disappeared, and it now looked like our flight to New York to connect to Prague was not going to happen. Over coffee and in the time it took to confirm we would not get the New York flight, I came up with an alternative that had us flying direct to Paris instead. We scrapped our plans to fly to Prague first, and now decided we’d book a train to Amsterdam out of Charles de Gaulle, essentially reversing the order of the two main cities on our itinerary. While waiting for the doors to close after boarding, I booked a room at what I thought was a convenient distance from the Paris airport.

We did get to pay homage to a great misfortune

The convenient distance wasn’t so, and with an apocalyptic traffic jam blocking all arteries (yellow vest protest?) In the morning, there was some question that my three-hour allowance for a forty-five minute shot to de Gaulle might not be enough. Couple that with a “I’m very close to tears” review of the accommodations from Carol,  and a double drop by uber that required us to walk home on deserted streets after midnight, and it did seem all that “we’re going to hell” good luck we’d experienced in our travels thus far had come to a grinding halt.

At 1:38 we were still waiting…

Then our train to Amsterdam that next morning was an hour and twenty unannounced minutes late. The Amsterdam apartment address we gave our taxi driver turned out to be a postal code, and any way, we’d need two more ubers to pick up the keys and get back to the apartment before we’d be ready for a late Happy Hour that evening.

Oh, and we arrived in Europe just in time for a noteworthy heat wave driving temps to near 100, and wilting locals far more accustomed to a light sweater this time of year. In mid June,  summer tourism was in full swing as well, swelling the streets and museums with my favorite kind of people. (The Ann Frank house was sold out until August.)

I know this sounds like complaining, but it’s the kind of complaining you do when your Bloody Mary arrives missing a pearl onion. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes a Happy Hour sweeter and go down easier than kicking back and recalling a day that was all hornets and snakes. We’re going to have a few of those it would seem.

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