Saturday, September 27, 2008

jfk > amsterdam

By Pauly

Travel days usually suck. If you get up super early to travel, it sort of fucks up the rest of the day. If you have a later departure, then your morning and afternoon seems rushed, if not lost.

I had a 5:40pm flight out of JFK, right in the middle of the rush hour for European red eye flights. I called for a car service to pick me up at 2:45pm. I was early. At 2:56pm, I called the car service to ask what was up. They said the driver would be on his way.

15 minutes late. They used up all of their buffer time. The driver was someone I recognized. He used to deliver pizzas to me and now he's a professional driver. Except he didn't act like a pro. He bitched and moaned about ever slow down or red light. And he was a horrible driver. I stopped counting the number of "what the fuck are you doing" honks from cars behind us that he almost sideswiped.

We experienced a bitch of rough traffic to begin but the rest of the ride was smooth. I got to the airport at the exact the time I wanted.

Check-in was a breeze. I scanned my passport via the kiosk and it spit out my e-ticket. I dropped off my one large backpack and headed to security. The line was backed up. And to complicate matters, there was an AirIndia flight about to leave within minutes. Of course about 100 or so passengers on that flight showed up at the aiport at the last minute so were funneled to the front of the line... right where I had been patiently waiting.

My flight was delayed and I sat at the gate and played online poker for about an hour. I tooka massive hit early on but rallied within minutes of having my row called. I broke even and boarded the plane.

During check-in I tried to see if there was a better seat. The flight was 90% full but I had an aisle seat with the middle seat open. That was sufficient. A British woman sat in the window seat. Three Hasidic Jews sat down in the row in front of us. Everything was kosher until about half-way through the flight. That's when two of three got into a vicious screaming match. At one point they were shoving each other back and forth. They woke up the British chick next to me and she was pissed.

I watched three flicks... I Am Legend, Jumper, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I only watched Jumper because it had Rachel Bilson in it, otherwise it was awful.

I also recognized one of the flight attendants from previous flights. I usually fly KLM to Europe, so that's not unusual.

Despite the late departure, we had a sick tailwind which put us into Amsterdam almost 45 minutes earlier. I hopped on the train and I was at Centraal Station just about the same time as the morning rush was beginning around 7:30am. I stashed my bags at the station and wandered around. I had to kill several hours. Check in was at 3pm and I hoped to get in earlier around 12 or 1pm.

I wondered if any coffeeshops would be open. I spotted one that was sort of sketchy. I had been there in the past and they had overpriced and stale bud. I kept walking towards my old neighborhood. I came across Barney's. And it was open.

Barney's has the best shit in Amsterdam. Their stains continuously win Cannabis Cup medals. Year after year. The last two were head turners... Willie Nelson and G-13 Haze. I tried both and they were top notch.

It was just me and a French hippie couple sitting around and smoking while random Euro techno-dub pumped over the speakers.

I stumbled outside and I saw the wave of bikers making their way down the street and towards Centraal Station. The locals ride their bikes to the train then head to work. Some ride their bikes to work. I wandered over to the corner store, Brood and Kaas, for a croissant.

I killed several more hours hoping from different cafes and coffeeshops. I checked out my old apartment alongside the canal which I shared with Benjo and Johnny Mushrooms. I went in search of my new apartment. That's when I freaked out.

Thee was a 10% doubt in my mind that the apartment I rented was a part of a scam. I couldn't explain why, but I grew super suspicious as I wandered down the street of my apartment. It was listed as #4. I found #2 which was on the corner and #6 which was a gay bar. But #4? It was a building with a bricked up entrance.

"Awwww, fuck," was my immediate thought.

I freaked out and called the office. No answer. I called Nicky to tell her that I was worried about a possible scam. An hour later, I called again and got in touch with the company. They agreed to meet me 2+ hours early. I met a young woman in front of Centraal Station. She was Lithuanian and showed me to the apartment. I had my streets mixed up. The actual apartment was around the corner.

She got me set up and handed me the keys. I had an apartment, a home, a flat for three days. Time to rage solo...

Yeah this post is three days late. I finally got around to publishing it on the morning I depart Amsterdam for London.

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