Travel Diary

Northern Europe Once More

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  • Apr 03, 2015 - Back to Europe
  • Apr 04, 2015 - Amsterdam Revisited
  • Apr 05, 2015 - More Amsterdam
  • Apr 06, 2015 - To Bruges
  • Apr 07, 2015 - Beautiful Bruges
  • Apr 08, 2015 - To London
  • Apr 09, 2015 - London Revisited
  • Apr 10, 2015 - London to Dublin
  • Apr 11, 2015 - Dublin Explored
  • Apr 12, 2015 - Leaving Europe
  • Apr 12, 2015 - Summary
  • Apr 03, 2015


    It was all planned out. For weeks, I had figured out the planes, trains, and hotels. At that point, all I had to do was be at the right place at the right time and enjoy. Come to me, Europe. Better yet...I’ll go to you.

    This all happened surprisingly. Sure, I had seen huge deals on getting to good ol’ chilly Scandinavia in winter, but I hadn’t really seen anything cheap in regards to the other parts of Europe--as far as plane tickets were concerned. I knew the euro had been getting cheaper, and that was certainly an incentive to visit. But it still didn’t put Europe on my short list anytime soon. That all changed when some friends were going to Europe and invited me along. I couldn’t say no. This was Europe. And it’s much more fun to do when you’re hanging out with good friends. So, I made sure it was okay with work to take that much vacation. I also ensured I actually had that much vacation. It was all good.  I booked my plane tickets to make it happen. Once you buy plane tickets, you’re committed. Amazing what a mouse and the Internet can do.  

    At the airport parking garage (ParkSFO), I got a little surprise. All the cars were stopped at the entrance. Hey, what’s the big idea?! Oh, I see. It was completely full--first time I’d seen that, but oh, yeah, it was Easter weekend and a Friday. I guess others were traveling too.

    Hopefully not all to Amsterdam.

    I wanted to find a different garage, but they were having me move up and it was hard to back out then. Cars were coming up behind me. It was the usual “airport parking garage sandwich nightmare.” We’ve all had them. I was told to just leave the key in the car and that the valet would take care of the rest. But what about the price? I don’t want to pay more! Oh, would be the same? Okay, then. I could play that game. Just let me grab my booze from the back.

    I collected my bags and boarded the shuttle bus. The shuttle took me to SFO and I was surprised to see that TSA PreCheck was not an option. Well, I guess I kind of anticipated that since my ticket didn’t have the pre-check printed on it. I asked and they said it was not for international flights. I would be just like everyone else. Hey, I paid good money to avoid these lines. I hate long lines.

    However, the line was not long. It was actually pretty short. I was soon at the gates with a lot of time to spare, so I ordered vodka at the bar. It was a well vodka, but did the job. I had opted for a clear liquor as to avoid the congeners that darker spirits have. No fun having a headache on the plane--especially when it’s a 10-hour flight.

    I had upgraded to economy plus and it turned out to be a very wise choice. The seat had plenty of space, and I never felt cramped at all. I had a good deal of “time-passing” options for me, but I saw the lady next to me reading “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” so I inquired as to why she chose that book. I mean, once you’re done reading it in high school, most people don’t pick it up again. She said her daughter was reading it currently and that she wanted to know what it was about. I guess it’s still required reading in high school. Anyway, she seemed like a good parent.

    We chatted for several hours. She and her family were originally from the Netherlands and now lived in the East Bay. I enjoyed leaning about the differences she experienced in the US. Finally, since the meal was served and completed, I slept a little. Or maybe a lot. I woke up hours later and we had maybe two or three hours left. I watched the latest “Hunger Games” movie since I had purchased it for my tablet during a recent trip to Seattle and it was expiring in two days. Timed out pretty well. I was nearly done with the movie by the time we landed.

    Again, I reemphasize that the upgrade was worth it. It was \$135, but I found the extra legroom was fabulous, and I think the seat width was wider too. It was quieter up there, which made resting easier. The flight was also very smooth. Time passed surprisingly fast. I didn’t drink on the plane, but the two vodkas before boarding did make for a small headache during part of the flight. Annoying, since it was completely preventable.