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On the Plane Again …

October 23, 2011

It’s 3:00 am. I pull everything out of my locker and drag it into the hall to quickly re-pack for the next leg of my trip. With only two hours of sleep, I am not looking forward to rushing through airports.

I walk downstairs, turn in my key, and get my cash deposit back. I begin walking down Cockburn Street towards Princes Street. The plan is to catch N22, which should take me directly to the Edinburgh Airport. I find the bus stop easily and within two minutes, I see the N22 pull up. I begin to board, but decide I should confirm that this bus runs to the airport.

No. This bus doesn’t go to the airport. I am a bit confused because according to Airlink, I should be able to take this bus. I accept the answer and continue to walk the streets of Edinburgh in search of a different bus.

I pass several drunken teenagers. With a legal drinking age of 18, easy night transportation, and plenty of pubs in walking distance, Edinburgh has an ideal nightlife. They stumble past me. It’s a funny scene because you don’t see that many people walking in my town at any point during any day.

I walk back towards my hostel and decide to stop by my original bus drop-off. Luckily there are several others with luggage waiting by an empty, dark bus. I confirm that it should go to the airport. It is scheduled to depart at 4:00 am.

I board the bus, watch teens get kicked off the bus for loud profanity, and see many other tired tourist sneak in a little rest on the thirty minute ride. Once I reach the airport, I check my luggage and find a lounge for breakfast. I kill 30 minutes in the lounge, then board my plane.

When we should be able to take off, our pilot tells us that Amsterdam has delayed all incoming flights due to heavy fog. After an hour delay, we leave. I am nervous about catching my connecting flight to Brussels, which is supposed to depart one hour after we land.

The flight is quiet and reasonably quick. We land. I quickly walk off the plane and begin my walk through the airport.

I hit passport control. The agent begins to ask me a long list of questions:

“What is the purpose of your trip?”

It’s a business trip.

“What type of work do you do?”

I’m a technical writer.

“Why are you in Europe?”

To attend training so I can write a manual.

“What type of training?

Training for a new piece of equipment.

I get antsy. Can’t he tell I am about to miss my flight?

“What is the name of the book?”

It’s the same name as the equipment.

He looks around at the growing lines. He seems to be killing as much time as possible. He finally stamps my passport.

I rush to security. I take off my jacket, remove my liquids, laptop, and tablet from my luggage.

I get through security then begin alternating a jog on the tile with a quick walk on the moving sidewalks. I suppose the fog delayed several others with connecting flights. I see many jogging, a few running, through the airport.

I reach my terminal. It’s empty. I walk up to the gate agents. They assure me I just made it. I walk down the tunnel, down a flight of stairs, then board a shuttle that takes me to my plane.

I settle in for the 25-minute flight. I wonder if my luggage made it to the connecting flight. At this point is doesn’t matter. Worst-case scenario? I wait in the Brussels airport until the next flight from Amsterdam arrives or I ask the airline to deliver my luggage to me at the hotel.

Again, we land. This is the first time I haven’t had to rush through the airport in a while. I leisurely walk pick up my luggage. It’s here. I catch my ride to the Hilton Antwerp—home for the week. I can really unpack and relax in my private room.

I am exhausted, so I skip lunch and take a nap instead. I have no trouble getting comfortable in the large king bed with four plush pillows.

Early Human Anatomy Print

When I wake up, I walk to Plantin-Moretus, a printing press museum. I admire the early print, the hand-carved artwork on the printing blocks, and see early bound books. It is amazing the advances from the manual press to the presses using screens to the digital presses of today. With experience in a print shop, the concepts fascinated me. I was really impressed to see how early press letters were created.

I leave as they close the doors. Unfortunately the gift shop closed before the museum, so I was unable to buy any geeky typography souvenirs.

I walk through Antwerp, back towards the hotel to meet my boss. We stop by a few shops to pick up our required souvenirs. I pick up a monogrammed lace handkerchief, chocolate, and cards for a few friends and family.

Sushi!

When we have everything we need, we walk to Umi, a delicious Japanese restaurant. We each order miso soup, share appetizers of gyoza and edamame, then order a mixed boat of nigiri, sashimi, and maki sushi. It’s all so delicious!

I don’t have much energy to do anything else, so I take a relaxing bath, call home, then get sleep.

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