Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vacation - all I ever wanted!

"Vacation, all I ever wanted! Vacation - had to get away!" The Go-Gos

So its the first official day of my much anticipated vacation. When I planned it, I was in the midst of manic whirl of work, emotional turmoil, and lack of sleep. So it is a bit jam packed with activities and not necessarily all that restful but still - vacation!

I flew from Amsterdam to New York City yesterday - seasoned traveler that I am, I think its indicative of my mental state and the chaos I've been living in that I somehow got lost on the way to the airport. I go to Schiphol about once a month, at least, and I somehow managed to get lost. Granted, I shared a bottle of Prosecco, a bottle of sauvignon blanc, and some port with friends at a sunlit cafe in Amsterdam the night before so I was a little hungover but to get lost!? I blame it on my friend Jennifer who gave me a shortcut through the Amsterdam Zuid station to Schiphol from my house. Of course, it wasn't her that misdirected me, instead it was my hungover brain that made me misremember that and head to the Amstel station instead. I had to backtrack and that made me lose thirty minutes as I hemmed and hawed over whether to take the metro or a train. Then I missed the train to the airport and hadto wait another 20 minutes but hopped onto the wrong one. I caught my mistake and finally made it to the airport with only 45 minutes before departure. Luckily, I have an "elite status" with KLM so can check in with business class and cut the cue. Some seasoned traveler I am!

After an uneventful flight where I watched "the Watchmen" and "He's Just Not that Into you" along with a bloody Mary at the recommendation of my friend Mireille, I slept a bit and began to unwind a little. I zipped through immigration and customs at JFK arriving outside the airport about 30 minutes after I landed. Then I decided to brave the New York subway system to get to Harlem, where I'm staying with friends. After an uneventful ride, I arrived at Alka's house to a cold beer, good food, catching up and gossip. Slowly, the tension is starting to melt away.

So what's my crazy agenda like? Friday and Saturday - wedding festivities for Brian and Kevin in Brooklyn. I anticipate dancing like mad and laughing hysterically with my date and best friend, Alec. Sunday after a sumptuous brunch, we intend to drive back to DC where I'll stay catching up with old friends until Thursday.

Thursday morning, I fly to Omaha, Nebraska where I meet my sister and we rent a car and drive to George, Iowa.
for a family reunion. It's the 125th anniversary of my father's hometown and Alyson and I are trekking out there to honor him.

After 4th of July fun including: a street dance, duck race, tractor pull, and pie auction. Americana!!! I have made a special iPod mix to get me prepared for my immersion into my roots and to entertain my sister who is feeling a bit cynical about it all. She remembers our trip to Iowa as being filled with pig farms, corn, and 18 wheelers. I don't see why that is a problem but to cheer her up, we plan a side trip to the Corn Palace in South Dakota when we drive back to Omaha (even though its a bit out of the way). We are accepting other road trip destinations as well. Giant balls of twine?

On Monday morning, I return to DC and hop on a train to Chester Country, Pennsylvania where my good friends Rick and Cat will wine and dine me as we sit on their porch, drink great beer, grill out, perhaps walk around and look at the cows in their rural community, and reminisce. Their kids are gone to grandmas that week which means I'll miss them but it also means the adults don't have to be responsible and not stay up too late drinking for fear of children bouncing on beds in the morning!

On Wednesday, I return to JFK where I fly to Paris.

In Paris, I pick up a rental car and drive to Honfleur in Normandie where I will meet up with my old friend William and his fiancee. We'll spend a few days there drinking calvados, norman cuisine, touring the countryside and fattening up and then I take the train back to Amsterdam.

A bit whirlwind but sure to be fun as it encompasses some of the things I love the most: my family, my friends, road trips, and good cuisine.