18 September 2007

AlSo: Traveling Blues

we woke up entirely Entirely too early and got a taxi from Kadikoy to the airport. The taxi driver said it might cost 60, but we got it for 50, about what folks told us it might be. When we got to the airport, we learned that the flight had been changed to 8:55. we had gotten there about 5:30, and the check-in counter didn’t open until 7:00, so we had a while to wait. When the counter finally opened, it was more like a bunch of chunks than a true line, and this line spontaneously moved to different counters based on the activity of the employees. Someone should do a sociological study on this airport. We checked in and walked through duty free before going upstairs to the most expensive and paltry (not to mention rude) café in any airport. We asked for omelette and were told a fervent, “Yok” and quizzical look. Why would order something on the menu? Overpriced espresso that turned out to be Nescafe, and the guy actually slammed the 2 lira change when I added up our order for him and asked for the change. Wow. The security check hadn’t opened yet, but people were lining up anyway. A little kid was playing with all of the ropes, though, and I wondered what would happen if we all started to spontaneously do that, too. Why do people push in line when we’re all going to be on the same plane? It makes absolutely no sense. I’m thrilled to be the last person in line because it means I don’t have to sit as long. We got to the other side of security, and then we had to wait in line to get on the bus to the plane. Same scenario. Both times. People were snippy about their seating assignments, and for some reason this groups was positively manic about standing up and getting baggage even before we had taxied to the gate. Then the fun REALLY began in Dusseldorff’s passport control. The guy who graciously offered for me to go first out of the plane then shoved me out of line when it came to the passport control line. One guy was trying to show his passport while on his cell phone and was kicked out of line. Another guy started speaking angrily at someone after being asked to step aside and was shooshed. But the kicker came when a woman started yelling at the customs official after apparently being asked to produce identification, invitation letter and documents about how much she has in the bank at home. She said, “I have already paid” a number of times and then said, “get me the police. I want to talk to the police”. To which the customs official replied, “we are the police.” This caused everyone in line to laugh. She kept yelling and wouldn’t get out of line, so the customs agent walked out of the booth and into the booth nearer to us, which certainly sped us up! I’ve never seen anything so crazy. People shoving in the baggage claim and out the door. It was crazy!
So now we were in Dusseldorff and had no way to get to Mons. We checked all the car rentals who were all booked, all of the (god help us) airlines to learn nothing went from D to Brussels, and finally with gritted teeth we went to Eurail. $92 for both, which beats the $130 per ticket I’d been quoted online. YEAY! The train was smooth and fast and beautiful with the one exception of some opinionated American spouting out that Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a great President and there is a problem with Mexican immigrants and (this really got me going) the Army Core of Engineers is severely misunderstood. Please. Please spare me.
From Brussels to Mons and then to Shawn, Becc and Matt’s house. We had dinner and some GREAT beer. I bounced on Matt’s trampoline. We talked about the trip and Matt’s teachers. Matt had to go to bed, and we watched “Goblet of Fire” to see if it was Matt-friendly. Corey loves them. He has good taste. Sleep came relatively quickly.

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