Wednesday, May 28, 2008

And Lead Me Into Temptation

My job, if I decide to accept it, is to get this very tired and caffeine deprived group of people from the airport to the train station in Brussels and then on to Bruges. We grabbed our luggage and hit the almighty ATM machine for some much needed Euros.Then off to the ticket counters to get rail passes and some much needed train info. Except there is no train info, no schedules or maps. It's online, if you know how to look it up,but it sure isn't convenient to print it out. Our fine agent tells us where to go and we are off. There is nothing like dragging your luggage up stairs to try and catch a train. As we watched everybody pile into one train car, we said screw this and got into the first one. It sure looks like a good decision for several minutes until a conductor comes by and tells us we are in first class. He cuts us a much needed break and lets us stay until our next stop. With more fun luggage handling, we finally board our train to Bruges. Good god, I never knew how lovely the inside of my eyelids were. One hour later we are in Bruges and there are two large taxis to take us to De Drie Koningen. Our lovely hosts Ann and Nico, greets us with open arms (Which they may regret latter on) We get a tour of the rooms and everybody has quickly fallen in love with this place. The first and last shower this country will see for the next 13 days falls as we get our self situated. Boys and girls, It is drinking time!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Bengel Has Landed

So how do you fit a 6'6 person in a 5'6 chair? You don't! Armed with two polyester pillows that even my cat would find small, I attempted the impossible. I was going to try to sleep before take off. As we took off into the night sky, it felt like taking the red line (subway) out of Boston to go to Harvard. Once up in the air, any chance of sleep was going to be a very short one, as I found out that flying is just like taking the bus with a group of rowdy teenagers. Except for once, that wasn't us. It was a two prong attack as our lovely flight attendant's were up and down the aisle every minute. Half of the time running their carts into my knees.The other half asking if I wanted something. Another part of the problem was when somebody got the great idea of blasting the TV sound throughout the cabin at 80 plus decibels. You're not sleeping yet. Why the bags under your eyes only look like half full malt bags. Then there is the guy in front of me. Every 15 minutes he gets up to go to the bathroom. There is one small problem, he forgets to take out the dead animal in the bathroom that has CRAWLED UP HIS COLON AND DIED! Six plus hours of this and I am ready to bust open a window. The actual flight itself was fine. The turbulence we ran into was better then it is on the R5. Total sleep time on the flight, an hour, tops. It is going to be a long day, but a very happy one. We are in Belgium.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Say Hello To My Little Friend

So, how does a guy who is getting ready to get his AARP card in a couple of weeks, has never flown before? Was the fear of flying? Was it all those horrific crashes we have seen ad nausem on TV over the years? Maybe it was 9/11. Is it the fear of heights? Claustrophobia? All of the above? Some of all the above? I wasn't sure either, but the day has come when I have to keep my promise of going to Belgium for my (gulp) 50th birthday. It started innocently enough one night over a year and a half ago on the deck at the Northside. As usual, drinking large amounts of beer with friends will lead to some kind of asinine discussion. It eventually turned to me getting on a plane. Then I said the magic words, "I will get on a plane to go to Belgium for my 50th." What the hell was I thinking? There is no way on earth they are going to forget I said this. I'd better come up with some type of plan. Well like all things, I put that part of the plan on hold. Hell, there is plenty of time I thought. Instead, I focused on finding a place to stay for 28 people. I think I'd looked at every hotel, bed and breakfast, rental property and farmhouses for rent in the whole country. We all decided to stay in Bruges and the place we ended up picking, turned out to be one hell of a great decision. But that is little help to me now. I am sitting in Philadelphia International Airport waiting for our 8:40pm plane to board. Anxiousness is to the left of me, nervousness to the right. Here I am, stuck in the aiport with you. I don't know what to do with myself. I have read the airliner magazine about what noises I will hear on the plane, so I am good with that. I've read enough about flying being the safest form of travel in the world. It ain't helping me all that much at the moment. So I reach into my bag and take one of these. I wasn't real big on taking a bunch of drugs, those days are long behind me. But I needed something to take the edge off, and this looked like a sure thing. In just under an hour, I was yawning trying to stay awake. All the feelings I had of clenched teeth and hands were long gone. It was go time and nobody had to drag me on the plane. I am going to Belgium.