Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Home again, home again

Having packed most of my things last night, the morning was free and easy, too easy. What could I do to fill the hours before leaving for the airport? By 10:00 am, I was showered, shaved, and ready to move my things downstairs on the way to breakfast. Due to the treacherous nature of the stairs, it was not worth risking a broken body part taking both the carry-on and the backpack down in one trip. I brought the carry-on down and left it in the hallway where luggage sits and waits. I dragged myself back up the stairs, did one last check of the room and grabbing the backpack said good-bye to my sleeping accommodations.

Of all of the personnel at the hotel, the one guy who worked the three day shifts, I like the least. He is not as service oriented as the others. Lest I be considered persnickety, I overheard others comment the same thing. He is not as quick to clean up the dirty tables as the others are and he is not as responsive about checking the coffee pot or the juice. Yesterday, one guest waited a good ten minutes while he sat at the desk. I thought I heard the sounds of an old fashioned adding machine, but could not see over the desk. In my mind, if you know you have a guest waiting and you are not working with a guest on the phone or at the desk, you stop what you are doing and give priority to the guest. The others seem to do this, but not this guy.
He also irritated me when I went to put my backpack behind the desk. He was off somewhere and when he appeared he did not give the appearance of having been too busy. I did not go behind the desk, but put my backpack with my coat on a built in chair to the right of it, recessed in the wall. Rather than being polite, he came upon me and said “Excuse me, but what are you doing?” I turned and with an authoritarian tone that seethed with “I am a paying guest, you twerp” said “Theo told me when I checked in that this would be safer back here. It had my computer in it.” Theo was the magic word since he is the owner. However, he was still snippy enough to ask me when I would collect it and if my coat could live somewhere else. You would think it were the queen’s throne the way he was carrying on. I said I would collect my coat after I had my breakfast as I was leaving for a few hours until I left for the airport. He did not seem to appreciate this, but he did not refute it.

The breakfast room was almost full. At first I thought I would have to share the table with my new Costa Rican friend/neighbor, but one table was free, so I sat by myself. When a couple of French women came down, a table emptied, but it was still messed from the last guests. They stood there waiting and Mr. Attitude asked them if he could help them. If he were paying attention, he would have known they wanted a seat with a clean space. When they told him they were waiting for a table, he said “If you just wait, I will clear one.” Smack his face, why don’t you?
Now I was faced with hours to kill before getting the tram to Central Station to take the train to the airport. I did what I have been doing the last four days, I walked. I walked to the park that was designed by the same landscape architect as the famous gardens I spent the day at on Sunday. This park was lacking flowers, charm, and appeal. It did not seem to offer much except walking paths. After 20 minutes of a fast walking pace, I turned around and went back the entrance.
Finding a cozy bench in a canal, my book was a diversion for about 15 minutes, until my blue fingers caught my attention. It was decidedly colder today, feeling more like autumn than spring. The thought of walking to the Rembrandt Museum and tour the gift shop seemed like an idea I could warm up to.
From there, the coffee shop around the corner from the hotel was the next logical choice for some warm respite where I could read for an hour before collecting my luggage. When I returned to the hotel, Theo was there and I was pleased to see him. He is very hospitable.
On the tram, I was able to buy a one time ticket for 1.60 Euro and headed to the train station. My timing was excellent as the train was there and left within five minutes of my boarding. At the airport, I found Wizz Air and was checked in in a matter of 10 minutes. Now I am sitting in the Diners Club lounge with an hour to spare before I head for my flight. The DC lounge is not spectacular, but more than adequate. There is no WiFi access and the use of Internet is charged. They have drinks, but the snacks are limited to chips and small packages of cheese. It could be worse; they could not have a lounge at all, like in Paris.
Wizz uses the ‘H’ lounge, a kind of generic lounge with no amenities. The sign asks that you do not enter security until your flight is displayed on the screen. Once it has, you go directly to the gate and board. Other than the child behind me that screamed for 80% of the flight, it was uneventful, but efficient.
As soon as I arrived, I turned on my mobile and there were four SMS messages from students, then one actual call also from a student. For a minute, I felt like I had never left.
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