Tuesday was the last day of my trip, the day before departure. Packing was first, so I could figure out if I needed an extra bag. Everything fit in, even the gift. The key was having some items that were used up and thus space created, and an expandable suitcase. I walked to the Rijks to do a fond farewell. I had saved the Art is Therapy https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en tour for this special occasion. Showed up, and the no line that hasn’t been there the whole time went all the way to the street.And these were folks with a museumkaart. I was staggered. Where have these people been? Of course, I went at 10 instead of 9. Who knew the difference was that great? As I assumed, but had never tested, the early bird finesses the line. It was starting to rain – and was forecast to increase as the day continued. Took me two seconds to decide to move on. Adios, excellent art at the Rijks.
And all your ships at sea.
I took the tram to the Royal Palace (plan B) and joined that line. It wasn’t too bad – maybe 15 minutes. Worse was the rule you had to leave you purse, no matter what size, in the coatroom. That line took half an hour. One old man in sunglasses and shoe polish black hair was the only person behind the desk. He moved with great deliberation, while the line increased exponentially. Free at last, with all my money stuffed in my pockets, I walked around the palace. Turns out there is marble in Amsterdam. It’s all here! Marble floors and pillars, marble statuary, even marble ceilings.
People often ask me, just what does a Key Grip do? I found a statue of one at work at the palace.
Lots of nice paintings, but difficult to see in the dark, formal, cold rooms that smelled like mildew and damp tourists. For once I felt sorry for royalty, stuck in these moldering, musty marble piles. Surely they have more comfortable, brighter rooms upstairs. I hope so. I was done in less than an hour and went back to the same line to get my purse. Another 30 minutes elapsed because it was the same elderly retainer. About 25 minutes into this shuffling line, someone called in reinforcements on a walkie talkie. As I was leaving, they were closing down the entire palace because too many visitors had come and they didn’t have enough personnel.
Raining steady now. Pulled out my umbrella after a few streets and set my Google maps for Spui, the outdoor antique market. Got there, and it was closed, due to the rain. Headed back towards the B&B, thinking lunch would be nice. Down a side street, I stopped at a hole in the wall that served french fries. Perfect! Crispy, smoking hot, salty, mayo on the side in a paper cone. The whole day brightened. A little further on I stopped in a bakery and bought a square of apple pie and a mozzarella/tomato sandwich for my dinner.
Back at the B&B, I saw the check-in email for the flight home. Looked at the flight online and saw some open seats in first class. I’m hoping I can buy my way in. (didn’t happen) Noticed they have changed the departure time for the third time, but not that much different, and tried to check in online only to get some kind of Dutch error message. My intrepid hosts, whom I cannot praise highly enough, straightened it out with a phone call. Thanks Oki and Frank!
The next morning I was up and out the door before 8am, en route to Schiphol airport via Uber. The first line stalled out when the DIY luggage machines quit. They look like a line of igloos. You place your bag inside the machine, it spits out a sticky tag you loop around your handle and a claim ticket for your boarding pass. A plastic dome comes down and when it goes back up, like a magic trick, poof, your luggage has vanished, on its way to the cargo hold of your plane. Only problem: three of the four machines jammed and the clueless tourists who were hefting their bags in were stuck waiting on the automated luggage check machine repair man. Eventually, order was restored, my bag was checked, and I tried to retrieve my VAT tax money. Another line and I waited in this one to be told I could only send paperwork to Paris via envelope. Not what I was told in Paris, but we’ll see. Finally at the gate where the security/customs crew waited. That was painless. Trans-Atlantic flight remains a grueling endurance feat for me, but my economy comfort bulkhead aisle seat, while not quite as comfy as business class, was tolerable. I sat next to an interesting fellow from the bayous of Louisiana, headed home from a stint on oil rigs in the Black Sea. He slept nearly the entire nine plus hours, and I read on my Nook.
When we landed at Hartsfield, medics boarded the plane to assist a stricken passenger seated in the tail section. We retrieved our bags and waited as instructed. My roughneck seatmate assessed the situation, muttered ‘go go go’ and hustled us out the door of the plane onto the walkway (bulkhead seats, remember?). I guess you don’t get to be an oil rig worker without a healthy dose of initiative. Off to baggage claim where a drug sniffing beagle passed up my luggage.
Through the customs gateway and into the loving arms of Emily, who in an awesome welcome home Mom gesture, painted my Prius rims.
Yeah, that’s how I roll.
Next trip, LA. June 4-9.