Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Departing for Amsterdam

21 December 2011

For me, a trip always begins with the packing. I had a list, but I was still stressed I’d forget things. The list kept morphing. As I write this on the 20th, I don’t think I forgot anything critically important, but there certainly are some things that might have made the trip a bit nicer had I remembered them.
For example, I’d ordered some cashmere gloves from Gilt, but they sent the wrong gloves, so I had to send them back. I’d ordered a cashmere hat from Macy’s that matched some existing leather gloves I had, but then I couldn’t find those. Naturally, after I’d gone to Macy’s and bought the matching cashmere gloves (the last ones in that color in the store, matter of fact), I found them in the pockets of my down vest.
Liverpool’s known for being cold and rainy, so I packed (well, carried) my down vest and trench coat along with two cashmere shawls and the aforementioned gloves (both pairs) and hat. That way, I could cover a variety of warmth and wind requirements.
Beyond that, I opted for only silk shirts (because of the layering capabilities and warmth were better than cotton) and made sure I had sufficient socks and undies. For a long trip, I generally pack half as many pairs as days in the trip with a maximum of 7 and a minimum of 3.
I was completely wired all day Friday and Saturday, couldn’t sleep well at all. You know, if it weren’t for the fact that I typically start a trip sleep-deprived,I might actually enjoy the process more, but that angst never seems to fade, alas.
I was so wire I made breakfast (Brazilian cheese balls, mostly), but forgot to eat most of it.
It’s also heightened by international travel, which, even at the best of times, seems more complicated. In practical terms, more complicated mostly means packing your passport and ensuring your prescriptions are in their pharmacy-labeled bottles.
Oh, and then there’s the issue of power adapters. I knew I had at least two UK ones (which I never found), but forgot I had some for continental Europe (which I did find). I also have a universal adapter that turns out not to work in my hotel. Fortunately, I had bought another UK adapter. Combined with my dual-voltage electric power strip, I was all set.
Because I’m flying the much-loathed regional jets between European cities, I used my smaller new carry-on, hoping it would be small enough. It was just large enough for camera gear, CPAP, and vital necessities, though my 3-1-1 bag needed to go in my purse.
The CPAP always means I can’t fully pack the night before, so I set my alarm at 8-something so I can do all the stuff I need to before we leave around 11-ish for my 2:35 flight on KLM.
When I got there, the gate said that the flight time was 3:10, but I had checked and not gotten a schedule change notification. Unlike British Airways, which has split Rick and I up on long flights more than once, I got the seat I actually selected. Win!
However, I was stressed because I was getting hungry, and I knew I needed to make sure I was covered in case catering screwed things up, so I ran into one of the stores, grabbed a fistful of comestibles and some spare batteries for my headphones. When I put the batteries away, I finally found the ones I thought I’d forgotten because I hadn’t been able to find them. And yet, there they were in exactly the first place I intended to store them. Funny how brains work, isn’t it?
Shortly after take-off everyone was offered hot towel service, even those of us in E- (as regular economy is sometimes called in this day of Economy Plus seats for more money). Unlike some other carriers I’ve been on, the person ahead of me reclining didn’t jam the seat painfully into my knee, and I could still put the tray down properly.
My gluten-free dinner meal was correctly ordered, so that was great news. The fish was excellent.
Meanwhile, I still had a tangerine in my 3-1-1 bag from the other day, so I ate it early in the flight so I wouldn’t forget about it.
There were a number of movie choices, all of them subtitled in other languages, so I watched Water for Elephants. After that, I tried to sleep, maybe got 1-2 hours’ worth. I don’t normally have trouble sleeping on planes, but I have trouble getting enough sleep. Face it, coach seats aren’t designed for comfort.
After a surprising second hot towel service, breakfast arrives. More fish! This time, it’s rice cakes with salmon plus a hot tray with eggs and stuff. Yum.
Coming into Amsterdam is wonderful: there’s lots of modern windmills, some impossibly large three-bladed contraptions. Sometimes a farm will have just one, which probably supplies much of their power. Of course, the land is notably flat, but everything is neat and surprisingly green for this late in the year.

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