Dearest Rachel –
It’s weird to realize it, but the flight from Amsterdam to Basel takes less than an hour, but it’s going to take eight days to get back here by ship.
As we landed here, it occurred to me what I had forgotten for today’s trip; a cap to keep the rain out of my eyes. When we were taxiing in, the windows looked like the plane was going through a car wash. Fortunately, by the time we were being bussed out to our commuter plane (and although the E175 isn’t like one of those machines you see at Palwaukee, it definitely is a small puddle jumper in comparison to the 787), it had more or less let up.
Ironically, I actually muttered something about having forgotten the cap when I stepped onto the bus, only to have some gentleman interject, “Your wife?” I didn’t get the chance to chide him for his rudeness, as he acknowledged that he had lost his wife fairly recently as well. Granted, it was a little more than two years previously, and to cancer. I pointed out that he’d had time to get used to the situation, to which he shook his head: “You never get used to it.”
No, no, I suppose not.
In any event, he’s basically doing the same thing I am; taking that trip they always meant to, but never got around to. And he did it with less planning than I did, having only booked everything within the past week.
And I thought I was crazy, putting this together in a month.
Given the length of this trip, I try to make myself small, so as not to bother my seatmate (there’s two seats an aisle, and two more seats; that’s how small this plane is). For the most part, it’s doable, but it is a little tricky whenever I feel the need to cough. At least I can point myself toward the window, so as not to disturb him too much.
Believe it or not, they actually have a drink service on this flight; you’d think they’d actually be coming in to land before they finish handing out drinks everybody on the plane. They even offer sandwiches, although I have no taste for egg salad. I do, however, find myself thinking about that line from What’s Up Tiger Lily: “Whoso maketh the best egg salad shall rule heaven and earth. Don’t ask me why egg salad; I’ve got enough aggravation.”
Yeah, it doesn’t make any more sense in context. That’s why it’s funny.
It isn’t too long before we’re coming in for a landing.
The Basel airport isn’t quite as small as as Orange County California, but it’s not that big. So when I get my bag, and head for the exit, I’m a little surprised not to find a car and driver waiting for me. Sure, they were supposed to be here at 10:40, and we’re a good thirty or forty minutes late, but that seems like all the more reason to be expecting someone to be here. I try to dial the number of the organization that that’s supposed to be providing the driver, but I just get some recording in French which I think is telling me that the number I’ve dialed is no longer in service. Finally, I go over to a girl who is holding the board for a different cruise line, and ask if she can help me make the call.
It turns out, I’m on the wrong side of the airport. There’s two exits; one on the French side, and another on the Swiss side, and I’m supposed to be going out the Swiss side. And in order to do that, I need to take an elevator to the next floor, walk over a few meters, and take another set of elevators back down in order to get where I’m going. This is what happens with a town sitting smack on the border, I guess.
Unfortunately, the Swiss side doesn’t offer any more answers. There is no driver waiting for me over here, either. but at least, there is an information booth, and the girl there attempts to page the group that’s supposed to pick me up. But there’s no response.
Finally, she tells me to take the #50 bus – it’s free, apparently – and it will take me right to where I want to go.
Or so she says. It’s not obvious to me, as none of the stops reference Centralbahnplatz, the street where the hotel is supposed to be.
It occurs to me at this point that I’m having an adventure. The other thing that occurs to me at this point is the old saying about adventures: they’re never fun while you’re having them.
Finally, we get to Bahnhof SSB, and I get out, wondering where I’m going to go from here. I’m in front of a railway station and I take a look around…
… and sure enough, I’m in the city center. I may not see the street name to confirm it, but you might notice that little blue building at the end of the block to the far left. That’s my hotel. And I didn’t need a driver to get here.
Granted, it does occur to me that if the driver was there and waiting at the scheduled time, and came back to the hotel empty-handed, I wonder what happened to him?
I suppose it doesn’t have to be my concern, but I still wonder. Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and I really should go look for something to eat; I am absolutely famished at this point. Don’t know what there is, but I suppose I can talk about the city and find out.
Until later, honey. Take care. I love you.