Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Park in the Airport, and Bieber Fever

I can't believe it's just shy of one month since my last post. 

I've been preoccupied with other things, the most important of which was my 97 year old grandmother passing away. One thing I learned is that it is incredibly hard to be so far away from family when important people in your life fall ill and ultimately pass away. No matter how many phone calls you make or emails you send, your efforts at communication can never compare with actually being with the people you feel you need the most. I have no doubt that this scenario will be the most challenging of all - it will never get easier and it will never change.  Unless, of course, we move back - but then it simply switches from being far from my family to being far from the hubby's family. It can summed up to a lose-lose situation. 

I have so much I want to share with you, but rather than a RIDICULOUSLY long post, I'll break it into many smaller ones. 

I wrote the following during a layover in Amsterdam: 

Travel time for my flight from Bergen to L.A. was 22 hours. That's not including the time it takes to get to and from the airport. All in all, the trip really took me at least 27 hours before I made it in the door in time for a cup of tea.

This amount of time is unusual - I try to keep it  under 18 hours, and always hope for something less than 15 hours.  That's enough time for a quick stop in Amsterdam to do some airport shopping with only minor stress.

I'm currently writing this post in Schiphol, the airport in Amsterdam, sitting in quite possibly the strangest lounge I've ever experienced. I took the escalator up to the wing where my gate was, and was amazed at the floor with a big green circle painted on it. Inside that circle were some fake logs and other trees (trees that look pretty real, with sap and everything!) directly outside the toilets. When I say that, I should translate to 'directly outside the bathroom', because if you're from America there's a good chance you're assuming that I mean in the bathroom, but near the stalls. So to be clear - there is no fake forest IN toilets/around the toilets/even in the bathroom, but rather in the common area near the bathroom.

This was definitely new, an update from the last time I flew through here.

Then I noticed the platform. The huge platform with an Astroturf  floor to give the appearance of grass. But, wait! There's more! More fake trees, another log, lots of fake plants. Oh, did I mention that they have bird noises playing in the trees?! Yes, the birds are tweeting away on the D wing of Schiphol. There are also nice recliner-esque chairs and…get ready….bean bags! The place was littered with them.

At first I thought all of this was very strange, but then realized how simply brilliant the whole thing was. You don't have to be a special member of a special club and pay lots of money to have a decent place to relax here. And as a traveler, when I have unexpected layovers after traveling for long periods of time, all I really want is to lay down and stretch out - let my body recover after being cooped up in an airplane.  And I also want a little peace and quiet. This place had it. Calming colors, calming noises, opportunities for relaxation horizontally. It was great.

This was what I needed. I didn't rest on the flight because of panicky thoughts that immigration was going to 'get' me on my way through Amsterdam. I only believed this because on my way out, they told me I had stayed too long and that when I returned I would be pulled aside for questioning. Not knowing what to expect, my imagination got the best of me and my flight was less than restful.

The time came for me to hand over my passport and I was just waiting for the guy to say "please step over here, ma'am…", and I would follow with my heart pounding. That is absolutely not what happened.

Here's our conversation:
Me: Hi. (I hand him my passport…heart still pounding).
Him: Do you like Justin Bieber?
Me: Uhm. I'm sorry?? I mean, I know who he is, but I can't say I like him…
Him: Oh. Well he just came through here.
Me: Really? (Completely uninterested).
Him: Yeah. He's going through security right now. Just over there (he points behind him to the security checkpoint).
Me: Well….(not sure what to say)…good for him!
Him: Okay. *stamp*. Bye!
Me: Oh - well, okay then. Bye…Have a nice day! *
*this is where I walk speedily away before he realizes that he most definitely did not do his job thoroughly because he was oddly preoccupied with a  14 year old pop star.

What a day. I needed nap, and luckily had the perfect place to take one. After some rest I was able to hop on my next flight to Bergen and finally get home to my own bed. 

It was quite a fast-paced trip but I was glad to get home.