Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Christmas Vacation: Day One

I have to tell y'all, I was more anxious than excited when we left yesterday morning. I was stressed because I was leaving the kitties. I was sure I was forgetting something. And I was really worried our flight to Brussels was going to get canceled, what with the European Snowpocalypse. I wasn't even sure what happens when your flight gets canceled, save for a vague idea about maybe putting us on another flight if they could after we slept on the airport floor and started to become deranged (I don't do well without sleep).

Happily I never found out what happens, because our flight was not canceled. Ours was the only flight we saw leaving our JFK terminal for Brussels at all--the rest were canceled. Thank you, Jet Airways. Thanks for the decent meal, too--saag paneer is such an improvement over every other airplane food I've ever had.

I think the anxiety turned over into excitement when we started flying over Europe. For the most part, we only saw cloud cover out of the window as the sun was coming up, but just before dawn we flew over some city that was all lit up and I stared out of the window blearily thinking, "We're really in Europe. This is for real," and from that point on I've been floating along happily in my jet-lagged state. The best part was when we were taking the taxi from the airport to the house. Everything is covered with snow and it all looks so not American. I think a part of me expected any developed area over here to look kind of like the US does, with pockets of much older stuff. But no: I forgot that the roads are different. The trees are different. There are hedges everywhere. The houses look different. The signs are like puzzles.

I learned on the flight that the Dutch word for bedroom is "slaapkamer." How awesome is that? Sleep chamber! But funnier! I kind of want to learn Dutch. I am such a chicken about French, and it's about like I expected: I understand very, very little. I couldn't understand, for instance, that we needed to go weigh our zucchini. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

Back to my happiness: I was even happy when we made fools of ourselves at Carrefour. Carrefour is, like, the Wal-Mart of Europe, and this one was particularly Wal-Martty. I may be saying that because I'm embarrassed and want a little revenge; hard to say. Basically, I just want everyone to know that 1) you have to either bring bags or buy bags when you come to Carrefour and 2) you should weigh your vegetables and get a little scan label for them before you try to check out, or you will be the dorky Americans who are screwing up the whole line. And the cashier won't speak English. But she'll still be pretty patient. Oh, and this part wasn't embarrassing, but you should have a coin with you if you want to get a cart. I still don't know what kind of coin.

Melissa is a champ about driving. She hasn't driven a stick in a while, but she practiced a little before we left and today she drove us to the store and back here and was absolutely calm even when we got a little stuck in the snow when we were trying to park back at the house.

The house, by the way, is cozy and lovely and we are curled up here on the couch watching Good Eats. There are cats, which make a house warmer, and the bed is comfortable. I think we'll be heading back to that bed soon. I am hoping that I can sleep a lot tonight and wake up in the morning on the right time zone.

Tomorrow: Bruges!


  1. Is it wrong that I am laughing at your shopping experience? Because that type of thing happens to me even in AMERICA. I would be soooo out of my depth there.

  2. It's probably a one-Euro coin you need for the trolley, er, cart. It'd be a one-pound coin here and they're not all that dissimilar in size.

    So glad your flight made it through :)

  3. Damn, we have a plastic coin in the car ashtray and we have tons of bags in the "boot" of the car. Sorry we didn't let you know about that.

  4. Dude, saag paneer? Did you request a veggie meal? I did that once, and ended up with a salad with no dressing and an apple. I've avoided it ever since.

    I know what you mean about the difference. Even when you're in an area covered in nothing but chain stores, it's quite clear that they're exotic chain stores in a foreign land.