5:51 a.m. Awake before 5, up at 5:15. TLB (the little boy) in me wouldn't let me sleep, even knowing that I'll probably be awake for over 30 hours as I was on my last trip. I can feel the tired/sleepy at the back of my eyes. Oh, well. Lots to do. First to finish the Dante's Circle galley and get it back to the publisher. And onward.
At Ohare, KLM Airlines gate M7. Fun so far. KLM is at the international terminal 5...about as far from the Blue Line where I got off as possible to get. Had to take a train to get to Terminal 5. Went to check my baggage. Clerk looked at my passport and boarding pass and disappeared for 10 minutes. Came back to tell me they are changing my seat. I had an exit door seat and obviously am too frail and infirm to grasp the concept of opening a door in an emergency.
Muggy, even w/air conditioning. Looked for a 3-prong plug. Found one at the base of a pillar. Plugged the computer in, green light went on. Goody. Sat down on the floor with my back to the pillar. Light went out. (Surprise?) Got up to go get a soft drink. $3.70 for a 20-oz Fanta orange. Brought it to seating area, opened it, find I could only take one sip due to the fact that I can't tip my head back far enough to drink more. You'd think, after 8 years, I'd have learned. I have not.
Going to try to save battery power, since I can't recharge the computer and it runs down fast. More later.
On board, one sardine among hundreds. It's a 747...10 seats per aisle (3-4-3). TVs on seat-backs hard to see (have to raise my head). As a Dutch airline, the flight crew speaks in Dutch. Fun.
We're moving. Later.
About an hour out of Amsterdam. Flight went pretty well (that is, passed pretty quickly) I started to watch “21 Jump Street” mainly for Tatum Channing,but gave up on it after about half an hour.Turnedto “J.Edgar.” That lasted less than 10 minutes.Then watched “TinTin” which was kind of fun.
I paid $69 extra for an “extra legroom” seat, which is probably why they originally gave me an exit row seat. When they reassigned me, they assured me the new seat was also “extra legroom.” If it is, I'd hate to see a regular-legroom seat.
Well, even though I'm not particularly tired now, I still have a 3 hour layover in Amsterdam and a 2 hour flight to Budapest. The adventure continues.
Now to save the battery.
Amsterdam airport. 58 degrees. Downright chilly. I may have to buy a light jacket at some point. Took 20 minutes to go from the plane to Gate C-18...which, as I'm sure you could guess, the absolutely LAST gate. Went through customs (again), but didn't have to take off my shoes. Belt, yes. Go through screener. I beep. I have nothing whatever metal, but I beeped. Very nice man asked if I minded if he patted me down...as if I had a choice. Found something in my back pocket. Kleenex. Did a pulling-down motion on my pantlegs which, with no belt on, made me fear I was going to be standing in the Amsterdam airport with my pants around my ankles.
Had I not known I was in Amsterdam, I could easily have mistaken it for any airport in the U.S. 423 Starbucks, a McDonalds or two, all signs in English. (On the flight over all announcements were in Dutch, later repeated in English.) Now have a 3 hour wait for the plane to Budapest. Found an ATM for getting euros, but Budapest (Hungary) is not on the euro. Szlotys, think? Since we won't be there all that long...half a day today and I don't know how long tomorrow I'm not sure what to do about money. I suppose just get the minimum I can.
Ok...now to read one of the four magazines I brought with me. Stay tuned.
2:36 (9:36 Amsterdam time)
Still half an hour until the plane for Budapest, and the time is beginning to catch up with me. I've now been up for 31 hours. I'll try to get a nap in on the 2 hour flight to Budapest, but am really concerned that I'll be so tired by the time I get there I won't be able to enjoy the city. Also, it is still cold. Oh, well.
Now for a quick trip to the restroom, then....wait some more.
Dear LORD! My boarding past for my flight to Budapest said Gate C-13, boarding at 9:40, leaving at 10:10. 9:45 came and went. No boarding. No one from KLM anywhere in sight. Finally ran to another KLM gate to ask if there were delay.
“Oh, that gate's been changed. It is now on D86.” And it is 7 minutes to 10. Do you have any idea where Gate D86 is, in relation to Gate C-13? You don't want to know. Endless corridors, several moving walkways, up an escalator, down more endless corridors, back down an escalator. I arrived at
Gate D86 at 10:11, and one of the attendants had to run to keep them from closing the door while another printed me out a new boarding pass. I walked in, and they closed the door. But thank God I made it! Oh, and when I sat down I realized that my luggage claim ticket was affixed to the back of my original boarding pass, which they kept.
You'll know in the next paragraph or two if I got my luggage. I have two hours to wait.
But vacations are supposed to be adventures. I can't wait to see what the next one will be! Shortly.
Finally arriving in Budapest, going on 40 hours without sleep. Went to baggage claim, no bag. I watched the carousel go around at least 10 times, looking for the Viking Cruise tag I'd put on. Naturally, there were at least a dozen similar bags with Viking tags. Finally found it by something of a process of elimination when all the others were gone, and was the last to join the Viking group waiting out front. (Interestingly, did not pass through customs or have to show my passport!)
Got to the ship around 1:30. If Amsterdam was sufficiently chilly (58 degrees) to make me consider buying a light jacket, Budapest neatly erased that entirely. It was easily 90+. They'd said in advance that we wouldn't be able to get to our rooms until 3, so I decided to take a walk around the city center, which they said was about a 10 minute walk away. Combining 95+ with no sleep, by the time I headed back to the ship I was literally weaving so much I'm sure anyone who saw me (and the streets were practically deserted except for tourists) I questioned whether I'd make it.
Finally made it back to the boat, checked into my cabin, took off all my clothes, which were all damp to the touch, and laid down immediately. Got maybe an hour's sleep.
Dinner was nice. I had a bowl of butternut squash soup and a great desert of mousse an ice cream and fruit. Met a very nice couple from Seattle. Odd, but I'm always happy when people approach me, but my initiating a contact is very difficult.
Posted photos taken from O'Hare to Budapest (pronounced “Budapesht”) to Facebook, too tired to post this blog.
Another blog—and many more photos—will be posted later today.
During his European River Tour, Dorien will be posting frequently. Photos of his adventures can be found on his Facebook page.