Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Saga

Can't say I have ever had a volcano cause a change in my travel plans before. Only the normal annoyances, like when you are about to depart on your honeymoon trip to Bora Bora and the first leg of the flight gets delayed by three hours making you miss your connection on the only airline flying to Tahiti for the next three days. You find this out only after sprinting through LAX for about a mile to another terminal with 15 lbs of carry on luggage hanging off your shoulders. Yea, this volcanic ash easily beats your most annoying travel story. Let me catch you up to speed on how our weekend played out.

We wake up early, early Friday morning to check the KLM website to see if the Amsterdam airport is still closed from the night before. They only update this page maybe three times a day, which is the first annoyance. You worry that you aren't going to have enough time to make it to the airport if for some fluke your flight actually gets to take off. Our flight is supposed to leave at 12:30pm. Here is the update KLM posts at 11am.

Ok. So, at least now we know now that no flights are departing or arriving into Amsterdam until 6pm at the earliest. This offers some sense of relief until you start to think about the hotel and the sweet discounted rate on your room that is non-refundable. Your mind starts to race trying to put possible alternative scenarios together. Do we just get a refund on our ticket? Do we try to exchange our tickets and go somewhere else in a couple weeks? Realize we only have one other possible weekend to hit up Amsterdam before tulip season is over at this point. Do we rent a car? Can we get a car? Can we even drive a car still? We haven't driven in Europe as of yet and haven't had a car for the last 10 months. It makes it a little more scary than taking a road trip back in the States. That elusive Autobahn...

We try calling KLM Switzerland to only be hung up on immediately. We call KLM USA. This time at least getting a message stating they can't take our call and then it hangs up. I email and of course get no response.

Screw it. I am not missing these tulips and this trip that we have been planning for months. Just rent a car, drop Stella off, and let's hit the open road. We somehow luck out and are able to make a car reservation online, still not believing a car will actually be available by the time we pick it up.

We make it to Hertz at the airport, walk right up, and start talking to an agent. I guess they gave our car away because Josh made the reservation for 2pm and now it is 3pm. Great. Again, our luck pulls through somehow and the guy tells us there is a car, we just need to wait for 30 mins. So, 30 mins turns into 45 mins, which turns into an hour. And, during this time the agent has come up to us asking our names again because he has "lost our paperwork". Really. After a little more than an hour of waiting, they tell us our car is ready. The last rental car in Zurich.

Next challenge is figuring out the navigation system. Sprechen Sie English, bitte? Insert DVD? What? Once we figure this feature out we are set. And, by the way, I love having a navigation system. We never would have made it to our hotel, weaving through the streets of Amsterdam, without it. Love it.

First road trip in Europe to commence! It's only seven and a half hours to Amsterdam. Just like driving from Fort Worth to Lawrence, right?

After following every sign to the very letter in Switzerland, we make our way across the border into Germany and the rush starts to set in. You see white signs with three, black, diagonal lines and cars zooming past you. I think we have hit the Autobahn! We topped out going about 160 km (100 mph) and there were cars going way faster than us. It was awesome. You have to double, maybe triple check your review mirror when passing because a car can look pretty far behind you, but when you pull out into that lane all of a sudden they are slamming on their brakes. It isn't scary at all. Maybe it even feels a little safer. People are more aware of their surroundings. Or, I just like going really fast.

Zoom, zoom, zoom...

Seven plus hours later and 65 euros to fill up the gas tank, we somehow find our hotel (thanks again to our navigation system we named "Mum" - she was British). Even in the dark the city looks amazing. Tiny stone streets, canals everywhere, bicycles upon bicycles lining the streets. We made the right decision on coming. The drama was worth it so far.

The saga continues tomorrow...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.