Final leg of a long journey

Aaaaaand here we are at the end of a long journey. We’re out of the hotel in Amsterdam, past airport security and passport control, and inside the KLM lounge. In about 18 hours we’ll be in Fallbrook.

Hard to decide where to start with topics. We’ve done and seen so much. First, just a few observations given the last 2-3 days in Amsterdam, Bruges, and Southampton (briefly).

  • Bruges, perhaps all of Belgium, is spotless. Very clean and well-kept. Amsterdam, not so much. In fact, Amsterdam city center is downright filthy. The canals are beautiful, but…it ain’t Bruges.
  • Both the Dutch and the Belgians know how to make some fries. It’s a well-honed craft with them, and bless them for it.
  • I’ll never look at an Aurora Borealis picture the same way. Turns out they are seldom visible to the naked eye, but the more sensitive sensor on modern cameras picks up the glow easily.
  • Another lesson learned – if you’re going to try and see the Lights, check the moon phase. A full moon is the worst situation (what we had). A new moon or dim moon gives you a much better chance.
  • The trains in Europe are a marvel. We in the US are absolute morons in comparison. At the central station in Amsterdam, you see people boarding trains for London, Paris, and the little town 10 miles away. And the airports have the train stations on the same property (doh!).
  • And don’t give me any of that crap about the US being so much larger. Mass transit simply takes planning and cooperation, and in the US we have neither.
  • KLM automated systems – passport readers, boarding pass readers, etc. – aren’t working so well today. Or not at all. I wonder who did their automation, and if today is the norm or just a bad day?
  • Wifi access to Internet is a modern necessity, almost like air, water and food. You just can’t do much without it. Most sites and apps won’t work well on 5G cellular (whatever the fuck the local carrier defines 5G as). Life is too short to spend waiting on a spinning screen icon.
  • My $25 burger in the Amsterdam hotel was (a) a surprise price, and (b) not that good. But at that point I was too tired to care.

On another topic – US politics. I am very, very happy that the mid-terms were not a red wave, but in fact were a repudiation of everything MAGA and Drumpf. The 60% of the US with a brain actually showed up and voted. I think SCOTUS’ removal of Roe and the Republican’s alienating everyone not white, rich, and straight were the big factors. Now that the Republicans have started saying the quiet part out loud in terms of bigotry, hate, religion, and misogyny people are finally understanding who they are. Or maybe they always knew but had some cover due to euphemisms and formal talking points. But no more, and that’s a great thing. Fascists gonna be fascists, and once they fess up, you better believe them.

By the way, I forgot to mention that we saw the original Groot in the Nordic Maritime Museum in Tromso. He didn’t say much, but there he was in all his wooden glory.

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