09 July, 2009

Day 2: In which I display some symptoms of latent Patriotism

30 June 2009 ...................................................On the flight to Amsterdam, one hour from landing

Local time: 9:30 AM. Time from origin: 3:30 AM, and since Cincinnati is one or two hours ahead of Salt Lake that means it's about four or five in the morning for me right now? However, this is a nine hour flight and I've slept for most of it, so I don't feel that bad. Red-eye transatlantic is definitely the way to go.

Here are the blessings from this flight:

1. I am alone in my row of three seats. Meaning, I get two pillows, two blankets (I feel greedy using three) and I can lie down to sleep.

2. I totally forgot to call ahead and request a vegetarian meal and I was so desperately hungry when I got on the flight I was open to eating pretty much anything. However, for the first time in my life, one of the two entree options was vegetarian: some sort of ravioli with a very weak pesto and undercooked pine nuts. Not fabulous. But still vegetarian.

3. One of the TV options on the flight was an episode of the "This American Life" TV show, which I am now officially fond of.

4. They also have "Lisa the Iconoclast," a Simpsons episode I am particularly fond of.

5. The stewardesses on this flight are nice and of the non-meddlesome variety. For example, while I was lying down trying to sleep we hit some very mild turbulence. The intercom asked us to put on our seatbelts, but I decided (as I am prone to do) that I was not getting up unless someone asked me to. No one did, even though they walked by me once or twice. Thanks, girls.

6. I forgot how much I love sleeping on a moving vehicle. It's like being rocked to sleep.

7. The stewardesses gave me water with breakfast since I didn't want coffee or tea and I drank it in one motion. This is a major accomplishment.

I was going to make a list of things that are bad/annoying, but now I can't think of anything. Except it's possible that I snored, but that's only annoying to others, not to me. Plus we're right about the wheels so it's really loud.

30 July 2009 ...............................................................................................@ the Schiphol Airport

The train station is, in fact, attached to the airport, so no worries about missing my train--it leaves at 2:20 and it's only 11:20. I'm not hungry enough to eat, not tired enough to sleep, and not really interested in shopping. All the stores here are American institutions: Burger King, Starbucks, the Body Shop, etc. I might look for an internet cafe so I can email Dad and let him know I'm alive, and I should also probably hit up an ATM. But right now I feel like people-watching.

I'm surprised how similar the people look here. Not to each other, to Americans. the men are a little more ruggedly handsome than I've grown used to in Utah, but the women pretty much look like me: dyed hair, no make-up, slightly haggard and only slightly more dressed up than the average American is while traveling. I brushed my teeth so I don't feel disgusting, but my shirt is covered with lint.

There are a lot of Americans here. Also a lot of stewardesses, who wear primary blue polyester suits that look so 60s I wonder if it's the same pattern from the airline's original uniform. I'm happy not to have a backpack, which seems to mark one not necessarily as an American, but definitely as a tourist. I don't like traveling with backpacks, because I hate what they do to my posture, I feel silly doing the "swing and snap" maneuver that is required when donning a large heavy pack (except when I'm backpacking, of course) and I'm paranoid about getting robbed, even though the only thing I'm carrying that is worth any money is my passport. My carry-on bag is a little heavy so it does make me slump to one side like a Hungarian grandmother, but the important thing is that I'm carrying no backpack. No backpack here, Hans!

30 June 2009 ............................................................................................About 45 minutes later

Did I mention I came to Europe for the food? It's true. Architecture is nice but peripheral. Culture? Meh. Art, well, okay, I like that too. But I just went to the grocery store in this little mall that I am stuck in for the next few hours, and purchased the following items: 1. a chocolate croissant 2. some European juice (passion fruit ... delicious, but not too sweet, just the way I like it) 3. a small block of cheese, made better because it is European, and 4. a pear, made better because etc. (see #3). Six euros only. And it's all fabulous. I could die right now. Which would be silly because I've still only seen the airport.

30 July 2009 .........................................................Ten minutes later after I got bored with eating

I realize that my above comment might make me sound hipster and snobbish, like I think EVERYTHING in Europe is better by virtue of the fact that it is European. Not so! I will now amuse myself by coming up with a list of things that America does better.

1. Pizza. I have sampled the pizza of three continents, and thus can say with some authority that American pizza is superior to everything except possibly Italian pizza, which I have never tried.

2. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. One in Japan simply isn't the same. Not that this is a great shock or anything like that.

3. Celebrities. Our famous people may not be classier, but they are, in fact, better at being famous. I mean, look at Orlando Bloom. Seriously, what the hell.

4. Rock music. European rock music is funnier, but it has no soul.

5. Ditto hip hop.

6. Customer service. I can't count how many times in Hungary I wanted to grab a store clerk by the neck and scream "I AM TRYING TO GIVE YOU MONEY IN EXCHANGE FOR GOODS AND/OR SERVICES!!!" only to have him/her continue to file her nails/ talk on the phone/avoid eye contact as of he/she enjoyed standing at a counter with a fat frumpy American standing idly by, clearing her throat uncertainly.

7. Infant and child safety standards. I haven't researched this, but some of these strollers do not look safe.

8. Flip flops. The ones here look stiff and uncomfortable.

I'm not trying to make myself homesick or anything. That's all I got for now, though.

30 June 2009..................................................................................................... Train to Paris

Sheesh, I'm tired. I was able to sleep until we reached Antwerp but now the train is much too crowded.

30 June 2009.................................................................................................. 4 hours later

French men are not at all shy about staring. They stare long and hard and smirkily (that's not a word). If I weren't traveling alone I would find it flattering.

30 June 2009.................................................................................................. 9:30 PM Aurelia's house

Want to know a fun game? Trying to find a person you haven't seen in ten years at a crowded train station in a country where you do not speak the language. Good times, I tell you.

So somehow Aurelia and I found each other at the train station and we took the bus to her awesome flat where she lives with her "husband" (the quotes are hers) and their four year-old daughter Liv.

Fact: French women are gorgeous, and I don't mean fashion-wise necessarily. They have lovely skin and long necks and are generally lithe and effortlessly beautiful. I spent the entire bus ride staring at the other passengers (the women and the men ... especially the black men ... whoa) and feeling like a hag. I heard from some people that French women are always dressed up, but they didn't seem dressed up to me. Then again, I live in Provo, where women wear high heels to the library. Anyway, not to self: make an effort w/ appearance tomorrow to compensate for lack of natural beauty.

Aurelia's husband, Renaud, is a handsome 40 year-old philosophy teacher (be still, Ashley Mackay's heart). He was surprised when I politely refused his offer of beer or wine, but was pleased when I liked the French cheese he offered (tomme deau savoie-savoie if I remember correctly). Both speak excellent English, but I still feel humiliated at my inability to speak French with them, mostly because their daughter is adorable and I'd like to talk with her. I can come up with words but not sentences. I guess now I know how my dad felt when he lived abroad.

Aurelia informed me that the bed I am sleeping in is very creaky and the neighbors can hear it. I don't know if she was implying something or what (my bedroom has its own separate entrance) but never fear. Operation French fling begins tomorrow.

I am kidding, by the way.

3 comments:

Ashley said...

What I wouldn't give for some kolbasz, a little sajt, some crackers and a Boci bar right now. Sigh. Your comments about the food made me think that.

What's wrong with Orlando Bloom? Am I out of the loop about something?

You're completely right about child/infant safety standards. I specifically recall seeing a baby on perched on a seat that was connected to the handle bars of a bicycle and now that I've had my own baby, I realize that it couldn't have been more than 3 months old--sitting UNsupported with only her little hands clutching a rail in front of her to keep her on it. Horrifying.

You think French men aren't shy? Think Italian, my friend. When I went to London, at least one Italian guy hit on me a day. I had way too much fun telling the ones who asked me out for coffee that I don't drink it. Though one skipped that coffee crap and said, "Why don't we order pizza and go back to your room or mine?"

Creepy. I told him I needed to get back to my mother, with whom I was traveling.

theFinn said...

While I enjoy seeing museums and other old things, what I REALLY care about is food. Italian pizza is pretty good, by the way.

Gordon said...

I had some pretty da17717 good pizza in Guatemala. I'm just saying.

Darth Vader Quotes

There was an error in this gadget

Andy Warhol Art of the Day