After the races Sunday night, we met Jonathan briefly back at his hotel; then he headed off to the skaters’ banquet as the rest of us had a final dinner together. (For me, chicken with pearl onions and some sort of small molded grain item – maybe couscous? – plus delicious sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes for passing around the table.)
Mom had been the happy recipient of Jonathan’s third victory bouquet, and wanted a photo taken of her and Dad with it. I suppose at this point I no longer need to reiterate an apology for my no-flash low light photography attempts … but I still feel a little bad that they didn’t come out better.
At first they looked sedately cheerful, pleasant, but not tremendously excited …
… but after we got them laughing …
… I got a slightly more cheerful photo.
They were happy for Jonathan’s success, and I think also with the other activities of the weekend, but probably were anticipating without a lot of excitement the evening’s drive – they planned to travel part way to Amsterdam and stay the night in Lelystad, if I remember correctly. (It definitely started with an L.) So very soon after dinner, they and Ryan hopped into their rental car and we waved them off into the night.
John and I had agreed to collect Jonathan after the skaters’ banquet; the group buses were not scheduled to drive back to the hotel from the after-parties until quite late, and since the day had marked the end of his season and he also would be returning to the US the following day, he didn’t want to stay out all night. A little time remained until he was due back to Heerenveen, so John and I walked a little, admiring (and attempting to photograph) the bright moon and talking before driving downtown. We found Jonathan quickly and without incident, and back at his hotel the three of us sat in the cafe a short while longer chatting – but since we all had early departures, we soon parted ways. He had tickets in hand to fly to Portland the following week, it was easy to say goodbye.
The next morning our trip to Amsterdam was beautiful; a foggy mist seemed to cover the land to the east which made for a beautiful, faded sunrise. I’d packed for security though so my camera was buried, which I regret.
For some reason though, despite being in a little bit of a hurry once we got to the airport to get breakfast and get through security in time for our 10am flight, I was willing to block traffic at the end of a moving sidewalk to spend three minutes digging out my camera to take some photographs of the hilarious Schiphol airport parking signs. It took a moment to register that each parking area is marked by a typical feature of Dutch culture or landscape.
For instance, you can park in “dikes,” “cheese,” “canals,” or “eating a small headless fish while holding it by the tail.”
I wish I’d been able to capture them all, but sadly John kept insisting that we had something called a “flight” that we had to “catch,” so I reluctantly re-stuffed my camera into the depths of my bag, and we continued toward the gate.
The Amsterdam airport was actually quite confusing for us in that when we arrived, two hours before our flight, it was listed on the screen as “currently boarding” which sent us into a mild panic. We collected our boarding passes and rushed toward what we thought was security, but after we had our passports and tickets checked … nothing. Shops, long terminal hallways, small restaurants … but no security checkpoint. We soon noticed that each gate had its own security area; I’m not quite sure why they have it set up that way, because from what we could tell it must have been quite a bit more expensive than the normal model, plus once you get through security at your gate, there’s nothing to do except sit there and wait. It did solve the “now boarding” scare, though – that evidently means that the security line is open at your gate, not that passengers are actually being allowed onto the plane.
The one sad note at the end of our trip was this: we’d left Steenwijk quite early and planned to eat breakfast at the airport, and on our hurried walk through it passed a nice looking grocery store full of veggies and fruits, and several good-looking restaurants, but in our fear that our plane was boarding without us we didn’t stop at any of them. Instead, once our gate was in sight we paused at a small cafe to pick up a few items to go. My last breakfast in Europe consisted of consuming a dry-ish, not great croissant (definitely the worst of the trip) and a small cup of cocoa while standing in the security line at our gate. I wish the final meal of our trip had been something a little more tasty and/or dignified – but I guess there’s not much left that’s dignified about air travel, is there? And if that breakfast was the price to pay for getting some photos of the parking signs, I think it was a fair exchange.
After a pleasant security experience (during which I got to keep my shoes on!) and a short wait at the gate and on the plane, we were on our way home.