Tuesday, October 14, 2008

amsterdam > jfk

By Pauly
New York City

I woke up on my last day in Amsterdam and healthwise, I felt the best in days. Bad timing. I wish that I kicked that bug a day or so earlier.

Nicky packed her massive suitcase the night before and she woke up super early in order to catch a flight to London. I finished up packing my large backpack and walked her to Centraal Station which was about a ten minute walk from the apartment. I dropped off my bag at a luggage locker (which cost me $7) and met up with her on the platform. Most of the airport trains are all on the same platform 14a. We had a couple of minutes to kill before her train. That would be the last time we'd see each other for a while. We went four weeks without seeing each other, to having two plus weeks in Europe together, and now we won't see each other until the day after election day or three and a half weeks.

I grabbed a chocolate croissant and an orange juice and headed back to the apartment. I had about ninety minutes of writing before I had to tidy up the apartment. It was move out day and the Lithuanian chick would be stopping by to check out the status of the apartment. I wanted my €100 deposit back so I cleaned the dishes, took out the trash, and did my best to air out the apartment which still reeked of stinky nuggets.

Nicky called from Schipol Airport. She recanted a bad beat story from BMI airlines. Her luggage went 2 kilos over the limit and she had to pay €50 to check it to London. She had a choice of flying BMI or British Airways for the London/Amsterdam leg. She went with BMI because it was a lot cheaper than flying on BA... even though I was booked on a BA flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam. If you include the checked bag fee from BMI, the cheaper choice to fly would have been BA.

Of course she did not know about their checked bag fee and at the same time she did not think she'd buy a shitload of clothes when she was in Amsterdam. Yeah, Nicky went a little crazy at the Dutch version of H&M. She picked up all these Scandi-looking sweaters. If she actually needed to wear a sweater in Southern California, she'd look Eurohip. Alas, she only got to sport her new threads while we were in Amsterdam. She blended into the crowd and could have looked Scandi or Germanic especially with her Euroscarf.

I went under budget for the entire trip. I had over €300 left or roughly $400. Of course, the laptop died and even though my company split the cost with me, I squandered what I had left over for the London leg. I broke even in London spent about $400 less in Amsterdam during both stops. We saved the bulk of that cash on food by cooking breakfast and shopping at cheaper grocery stores. I was also sickly a couple of days and would have probably smoked a couple of hundred dollars worth of local product had I been up to it.

I have a separate budget for travel so the extra dollars got rolled over into the next trip, which in this case is Rhode Island and Budapest. I splurged and decided to ride business-class ($40 extra each way) on a train from NYC to Providence. I'll also have a few extra dollars in Budapest which I can use for bribes and taxi rides.

I checked out of the apartment without any problems. I only had a small backpack with me and headed to Abraxas 2 coffeeshop around the corner. I wandered over to an internet cafe to do my football picks and write a bit. I still had several hours to kill. I bought Derek an ashtray for his birthday. I grabbed lunch at Burger Bar. I got yelled at by a surly waitress for smoking in a non-smoking section at Grasshopper. I sat in the alley in front of Kandinsky and a group of five Russian teenagers approached me. One kid had a wad of cash and showed it to me. He pointed at the coffeeshop and wanted me to buy hash for him and his crew. He had two hot jailbait Ruskie girls with him. I muttered something about the girls giving me a handjob for hash. He wasn't picking up what I was putting down so I did not buy him anything.

I headed over to Centraal Station to retrieve my big bag. I did a quick repack and hopped on the next train to the airport. Checking in via a kiosk was quick and I tried to change my seat but my flight was full. The line to drop off my luggage at quick drop appeared short but there was a problem with two passengers and they held up the line for ten minutes. The lines around us went by quick and I made a command decision and skipped my line even though I was next. Good choice.

I had some time to kill and ate a bad ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette for €4 and sat in the food court while a group of snotty French chicks trashed America as they stuffed their faces with McDonalds. I love irony.

Nicky called and said that she landed in London. She had a four-hour layover before she flew to Los Angeles. Lucky for her, she was flying British Airways back home and their brand new terminal is super swanky with plenty of things to eat or do.

My flight was on time. I had an aisle seat in the middle section. It appeared that my section was all Europeans, particularly Norwegians. There was a group of 20 or so women heading to NYC on a shopping trip. They would bring empty suitcases, load up on goods, and head back to Norway. I snuck a peak at the itinerary of the woman seated next to me. It was in Norwegian, but I could see all the names of different shops highlighted such as Bloomingdales and Bergdorf Goodman. They also listed different nighborhoods that had good shopping.

I flew on an older plane which meant that there was no individual TV system in every seat. I guess that I have been spoiled on my previous international flights. Instead of getting a choice of 30 or so flicks, I had to watch the flick they played for us. It was Get Smart. I saw it in Hollyweird with Nicky and I fell asleep mid-way through. I was reluctant to watch it but had no choice. They showed one episode of The Simpsons which I had never seen before. It was the one where Homer is an opera singer and can only sing when he's on his back.

The serve free booze on KLM. I got free red wine with dinner which sucked. It was a cab/merlot hybrid and I only took a sip. It came in a small bottle with a screw cap. I offered the rest of it to the old Norwegian lady next to me and she accepted. She knocked back a bottle of her own and even ordered another drink after food service was over. She passed out shortly afterwards.

We landed 20 minutes early which is a shocker. The immigration line went fast but our luggage got delayed for about 20 minutes so we ended up breaking even time wise.

I grabbed my bags and headed out to the taxi line. As soon as I slid in the back seat, I knew that I was finally back home. For now...

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