Friday, August 21, 2009

Lauren and Tony's European Vacation

Thursday, August 20 through Friday, August 21

I'm here! I finally arrived in Amsterdam a full 24 hours after I left Houston. At least, that's how long it was with the time change. I feel like I missed something. I left on Thursday afternoon - when did it suddenly become Friday?

I was so lucky to be able to fly first class on the trip over. Lucky, or spoiled. One of the two. The flight was relaxing and I arrived without feeling the least bit travel weary.

At the airport in Houston, I was able to wait in the President's Suite prior to my flight to Paris. I felt fancy! The lounge was plush and quiet, well removed from the hustle and hubbub of the main terminal. I had a glass of wine, enjoyed some cheese and fruit and read a little, all while trying to politely convince some yuppie that just because my name is Lauren, I was not born post-1990, and am in fact legally old enough to drink. I'm not sure where he was going with that. It couldn't have been anywhere good.

I was so surprised when I boarded the plane to Paris and the flight attendant greeted me by name. He took my dinner order, and brought me a glass of champagne before we had even taxied from the gate. I could really get used to this.

Dinner was very tasty - shocking, considering the sheer number of comedians who make their living lambasting airline food. We started with warm nuts and a cocktail, then a wild mushroom demitasse, mini crab cake and spinach puff pastry with a cocktail, followed by pear and pecan salad and a cocktail, then a yummy steak AND A COCKTAIL. By the time the flight attendant brought around the cheese and fruit cart with port, I was stuffed. That didn't stop me from enjoying some brie and grapes with my cocktail, though. Finally, we were served ice cream sundaes with our choice of toppings, and a miniature cheesecake, tiramisu and strawberry tart. Did I mention that I was drinking champagne?

After dinner, I took a sleeping pill and tucked in my ear buds and slept. My seat reclined almost all the way, and even had an extending foot rest. It was so comfy. When I woke up, I was greeted with a cheerful "good morning" and asked if I would be joining the cabin for breakfast. Say what?! Didn't we just eat? And of course I'll be having breakfast. We arrived in Paris shortly after I finished my fruit, yogurt and cereal.

The airport in Paris was a little confusing, but I managed to make it to the correct gate after turning around twice, going through security unnecessarily, and riding on a bus. In the lounge in Paris, while waiting for my flight to Amsterdam, I ate delicious croissants and had some fantastic espresso. I also had an encounter with Helvetica Man. I see that guy everywhere.

The flight to Amsterdam was only 45 minutes, but they served lunch. And champagne. How are these people skinny?!

When I arrived in Amsterdam, The Husband was waiting for me. After more than two weeks apart, we were reunited in Europe. It was like a scene from a movie as our eyes met across the terminal. Only there was no romantic swell of music, and he had to wait behind a glass wall while I gathered my luggage. I guess it wasn't really much like a movie. The Husband asked me if I was hungry as we boarded the train into Central Amsterdam. After what seemed like hours of doing nothing but eating, my answer was a resounding "no".

The most amazing thing is that Amsterdam looks exactly how one might imagine it does. The adorable row houses, the canals, the cobblestone streets; everything looks like a picture from a travel book. The weather is fantastic. The air is crisp and cool and there is always a breeze. As we walked out of the train station, I unconsciously braced myself for the heat and humidity I expected when we stepped outdoors, and the beautiful climate literally made me exclaim my surprise aloud. This place is not Texas.

We are staying at the Hotel 7 Bridges (Room B). Our room looks out onto one of the smaller canals. The restored row houses across the canal are beautiful.

After freshening up (oh the glorious feeling of a shower after travelling!) we headed right down the street to Hooghoudt for a delicious dinner of mussels and king shrimp and tasty Brandt beer.

Tomorrow will be our first day to get out and see the sights and I can't wait!

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