BattleMesh v6: Days -3, -2
Lazily awoke at 08:00, EDT. I was brushing my teeth when I somehow started thinking about women in engineering and why there are no swimsuit calendars. Then I thought about Radia Perlman in a swimsuit calendar. Somewhere in the world, John Day just choked on his morning coffee.
My flight is set to depart at 12:15, and I have no intention of leaving for the airport before 10:15. Fortunately, the cleaners just called. It's 39ºF and raining in Aalborg, and I have no wish to search for a coat there.
Drinking my bloody mary with a pseudo-ephedrine garnish. The bartender, a slightly gruff woman in her mid-sixties, asks me if I want a double for $2 more, and I say, "Hit me." Sure, it isn't noon, but when you're flying, everything goes--and this is Key West. She gives me a puzzled look, and says it's too early in the week for "Hit me," then suggests I come back Friday. Scandalous.
Watching the clear, blue water disappear beneath me, I feel the faintest sense of loss, and I realize for the first time that I really will miss Key West. I wonder if my appointed surrogate in the Midwest felt the same when she left.
* * *
Very comfortable flight; pseudo-ephedrine is clearly the way to avoid aerosinusitis.
The Atlanta airport is quite lively. Found a great sushi joint, but the sake bottle refused to empty. This cappuccino and cookie are clearing my head. Onwards and upwards.
* * *
Touch down, Amsterdam.
The flight had a rough start, and it felt as though the plane was dropping out of the sky several times on the way up. Certainly caught everyone's attention. The gentleman next to me, who'd been on countless international flights, said this was the worst he'd ever seen on a commercial jet. "On the upside," I pointed out, "they just increased drink sales by 30%." The scotch was a welcome arrival.
Managed a little sleep around the four-hour mark. Breakfast was an english muffin with egg in a plastic wrapper and a banana. Coffee was tolerable. Never knew they served Corona on these things.
* * *
AMS security line was a breeze.
A crowd of dreary travelers have gathered around the bar like moths to a soft, golden light. Here, the light is chiefly Heineken Extra Cold, whatever the hell "Extra" means. Those with places to go order a croissant and move on, while the rest of us watch the U.S. martial arts "breaking" competitions, where no one ever breaks as many blocks as they attempt.
I can't help but laugh out loud when this fat black belt (only in the U.S.) attempts a tall cinder block break, fails to reach the last block, puts half of it over one side of a support, and tries to hold it in place while he smacks the other half. When this fails--as, clearly, it should--he hits the block on the corner of one of the supports to make it break. Already, I'm cackling, but it gets better.
Next, he uses two fingers to break boards held by two little girls between their chin and clavicle. (I know I would certainly want to risk crushing my daughters' airways for a demonstration.) Then he feels compelled to tear off the upper half of his gi before entering finishing stance and roaring. I damn near fell out of my bar stool.
* * *
Aalborg, at last.
Unfortunately, the ATM wasn't working, which means the bus was out of the question. Fortunately, I was able to show the cab driver where I wanted to go on the iPad. Danish is just impenetrable--not because you can't recognize the words, but because none of them are pronounced the way you anticipate.
The receptionist was quite nice. Of course, I was early, and of course I had no idea how the reservation had been made, but none of this stopped her from providing me a key. After 24 mostly waking hours, I now had a room.
First order of business was finding a pub to work from, but which pub? Whenever I'm lost and searching for friendly soil, I look no further than the nearest Irish pub, and here, I was not disappointed. I was on my second Guinness (though not the "Extra Cold;" what in hell is this trend about?) when the proprietor asks, "Gettin' a bit of your vitamin 'G', are we? As in 'Good for ya'.'" He'd been getting into rum lately, and we talked shop awhile. The pours were incredible, and the Irish coffee was the best I've ever had, by far. My goal had been to reset my clock (I nearly missed the 'l', there) for Aalborg by powering through the next six hours, but it wasn't in the cards, and I dropped out after six, local time--only just after noon, Eastern.
It seems I left my card at the pub. I went back for it a bit ago, but an American asking the night bartender about a tab when they don't open tabs at night is not a welcome distraction. I'll be by again tomorrow for another look. If all goes well, I'll pull an HST, learning all I can about this place while making a complete nuisance of myself. As an American with no grasp of Danish and no experience with European culture, this strikes me as being the correct strategy. Yeesh, I just realized how small this room will be with three people staying in it. Yes, the pub is my home, now.