Yesterday I came by airplane to the island of Hawaii. Here is what you need to know if you have not gone by airplane. The cabin crew will run through the safety of the plane in English, French (in Canada) and sometimes they will do it in one more language. On this plane, they did it in Hawaiian. When Mom, Dad, Robin and I came to the big Island it was supper time, so it did not mess us up too much. On the way back it will be hard to get readjusted back to Halifax time. At least I will not be going back to school. If I was, I would have more freezes, more of whatever it is that looks like a seizure but is not, and I would have my hands over my ears a lot.
It will be July when I come back. The last trip I took was when I was in grade 8 and I went to Rome, London England, Berlin, Paris, Scotland, and Amsterdam. That was an 7 month trip. On the way back we stopped in Berlin again. This time it was for two week. Here is a picture of the apartment that I stayed in with my grandparents, my mom, my dad and Robin for fourteen days.
Now back to the Big Island. Mom had found a bakery that would sell her so food that was already cooked so that she did not have to cook supper last nigh. We have a car here too. I will show you a picture of the car. We will do a lot of hiking here and outdoor kinds of thing such as swimming, walking, hiking and so much more. I will have a lot of stories to tell everyone a school in September. I am coming home on July 11. Here is a picture that means July to me. The plane ride to the big Island was a lot shorter then I had thought it would be. I will tell you all more later but I want to stop writing right now.
I called Air Canada and the person to whom I spoke (Neil) found us a flight today back to Halifax. We are on the way to the airport in 15 minutes. The vacation has been over for a few days (mentally–there was no stopping that). We should be home tomorrow some time. Phew.
I am coming home tomorrow. I have enjoyed my time away but I am happy to be coming home because it is time to go home. I have learned how to cook on a fire lit stove. It is not as easy it sounds you have to watch out for a flame and not put anything near the flame or it will catch fire. I can’t wait to go back to school and see you all again. I have to go because it is time to go on the plane see you all again soon.
None of us wanted to leave Rome except that it meant returning home. We are all anxious for that. After a perfect morning, we went to Ciampino airport to check in for our RyanAir (discount carrier) flight to London and then off to Halifax the next day. The next day part did not happen because Heathrow was closed. We are still in London.
We allowed about three hours in the airport because we did not want any problems getting out. Hah. When we arrived there was a line that was hundreds of people long. It stretched from the agents’ desk and filled the entrance to the airport. It then stretched across to the security area of the airport before bending at right angles to continue towards the restaurants and convenience stores. It was a long line.
We queued up and began waiting. There were three agents working the desk. An hour passed. It was hot. When we finally made it to the entrance area (this was the main serpentine queue that eventually would lead to an agent) we knew we would have lots of time before our flight and remained happy. Not everybody shared our joy.
Then an agent left for a lunch break.
A group of three young men (one wearing the stars and stripes as a pair of shorts over his pants) attempted to move to a new part of the queue. Another man got angry at the agent who was leaving for lunch. A lady got angry at the moving young men. People pushed. The queue then gave way to a shouting and crowding mob that formed a tight semi-circle around the remaining agents at the desk. We were about twenty people from the front of the queue when this happened.
I have mentioned the incessant honking of car horns in traffic and the shouts of motorists before. I had thought that Italian, or at least Roman, impatience was a cliché (and it is) but being in the centre of a gesturing and shouting crowd was quite an experience. The hubbub subsided and a replacement agent came to the desk and the check-in procedure returned to normal, albeit without the previous queue and with a tight semi-circle around the desk. We actually had to force our way out of the mob to get to the security checkpoint.
I should point out that everybody in the line was going to be able to fly that day. There were no closures of airports at that point. Even the people who were getting tight on time were taken out of the line and directed to the desk for immediate service. It was just the result of long waits and tired travelers.
Although both girls were jammed in close quarters neither got upset (confused is technically not the same as upset) and we all managed to laugh about it. The disintegration of the queue was very strange sensation for us as people who are trained from an early age to stand in queues and wait for orderly service. For couple of the Brits in the mob (obviously feeling that the queue is an essential part of daily life) I had visions of shaky recollections to therapists as soon as they were back on British soil.
All in all, our morning was an idyllically Roman experience; the afternoon in the airport was somewhat less idyllic but it was a counterpoint to the morning and gave us far more to talk about. Besides, we got to see a lot of new hand gestures.
Today is my last day in Germany so we need to pack. I have the smallest bag. It will be the lightest, but it will still be heavy. My bag will have my clothes, books, pencils, and all the rest of my stuff.
I still love Berlin but I want to see Paris a lot and to do that, I must leave Berlin on a plane to Paris early tomorrow morning and pack today. I wish that I could stay longer but I can’t because someone else will have our apartment in two or three days. But I am glad we are leaving because it is very hot on the second highest flour.
I don’t like planes a lot but it’s nice to ride one after it is in the air. I don’t like taking off or landing because I don’t like heights. They scare me a bit.
Since last mentioning the upcoming travel between Halifax and Amsterdam, and sagely pointing out the knowledge of jet lag, we have all succumbed to jet lag and are asleep–even me. I am writing this in my sleep.
The trip to Iceland was long and dark. That is not exactly true. The flight was long and began dark. The sun began to rise sometime around midnight Halifax time and we landed in a bright morning in Iceland. It was about 5:40am (Iceland time, +3 hours from Halifax) and we flew in to the sight of geysers and startlingly green patches of grass. The light was amazing and I am fully in love with the beauty of Iceland. I also hunted down a video from InspiredByIceland that has just pushed me over the top for visiting Iceland for real on the way back.
After a breakfast of heavy yogurt and banana (the choice is very limited at 6:00am in the airport in Iceland) we forced ourselves to stay awake until the 8:00am flight to Amsterdam. I think everybody slept a little on this flight. We were beat. We landed at 1:00pm in Amsterdam (another +2 hours).
My first impression of Amsterdam is one of rather incredible foreignness. I mean foreign in the best sense. We came in across a large installation of off-shore windmills. This was my first taste of the scarcity of land. My next taste was having the airplane taxi across at least two highways (using overpasses) to get from the runway to the terminal.
I should have mentioned that we cleared customs in Iceland. Having most of my experience travelling to America with somber border guards that gave the impression that every person is a threat to the country, I found the process of describing my vacation to the Icelandic guard bordering on pleasant. And I certainly did not feel he was taking security lightly when we passed through the narrow sliding-glass doors after our discussion. He also felt that the time spent travelling was well worth taking kids out of school. I did not question his authority on this matter.
Amsterdam airport gave us a long walk to get our bags. This was followed by a short walk through the “Nothing to Declare” door out of the baggage area. Travelling has been very straightforward with the signs being posted in English (not necessarily the first language, but always there–at least so far) and the exceptional helpfulness of workers nd strangers. Going from the airport to downtown was a matter of buying tickets for the train (with two strangers and two workers glancing at our tickets to make sure we were not going to end up in difficulty).
After arriving at Centraal Station we had to figure out how to get to Orange Bike on foot–it is just across from Centraal Station. However, Centraal Station is rather huge so “just across” constitutes a couple of kilometres of walking before we found the place. A smarter traveller would have had both a map and an address. Having only one is a bit of a poor way to wander the city (“do you know where Orange Bike is” … this inspired puzzled friendly looks–an expansion on the just friendly looks we experienced earlier). It is a bit of a long story but we are renting an apartment from one of the people that works in the shop.
One last long walk from the bike shop to the apartment (you can see a Google Street View of the place–it is the second floor of the brick building). The nondescript and NOT NUMBERED doorway is the entrance. We were slightly uncomfortable trying keys in doorways but it was the first one we tried so all was well.
Our packs were heavy and our bodies were tired so while Robin and Sarah and I landed on the nearest couch while Janet (and this is an indication of her fortitude after a long day) walked out to the nearby store and picked up some juice, bananas (again with bananas), bread, and cheese for supper. Just after she came in it began to pour rain. We ate, arranged beds and are now asleep.
This was a good day. There are more first impressions of central Amsterdam but they will have to wait until tomorrow.
As all travel logs must begin somewhere, this one begins in the Halifax airport waiting for a flight to Iceland. Our journey begins in about 20 minutes and will end tomorrow in the early afternoon in Amsterdam. We are tired already and prepared to be jet-lagged for a few days. There are pictures and thoughts to be recorded and that will start as soon as possible. For now, we wait a little longer and chase off the last few butterflies.