Friday, February 27, 2009

Feb 27, 2009: Memoirs of "The Geisha"

Hello out there in space somewhere - it's Andrew adding a bit since I just got back from an adventure in The "Netherlands" (Oooohhh - doesn't that place sound scary....)

Yesterday morning at 4am I got up and left in the Toyota with my trusty GPS for Vught NL. I had a meeting at hotel Vught at 1pm and another one at 4 in Zandaam. It wasn't an issue getting to the first place, and I had a nice meeting with my customer and a collegue from Venray NL. Anyway - after that it was time to follow my "Geisha" to Zandaam....

The drive between Vught and Zandaam is only about 112 Kilometers (oh, an hour or so) - it looked pretty straight forward. All was fine until the "please turn left", "please turn right", and "please turn left then right" directions put me down by the docks North of Amsterdam. The last direction I remember was, "Please board the ferry..." - what else could I do but drive on the little boat stacked with bicycles and tractors? Luckily, it was only 1 Euro point fifty and it only took five minutes (see the attached pictures - and then tell me, have you ever gotten stuck on a ferry on the way to a customer meeting???). Luckily, I arrived on time, even though I had to have my customer guide me the last mile or so while talking on our respective cell phones....

After that meeting I headed to Amsterdam to have some dinner, watch some football (that's soccer to you Anglo Saxons), and let the traffic die down before heading back to France. In that time, my car was broken into (see smashed window pictures), my GPS Geisha was stolen (along with my sunglasses, iPod headphones, and ten dollar Bananna Republic Jacket [touche' Mr Burgler]), and my window was smashed. None of this would have been a problem except: I was six hundred kilometers away from home, I didn't speak/read Dutch, I didn't speak/read French (well, maybe a little....), and I really didn't know how to get around all the rivers in The Netherlands and make it back to Caen. I decided that sleep was a better option than adventures on the road for this night....

The next day, at 4am once again, I was able to get Dutch Mapquest directions from the front desk - these directions would supposidly get me from Amsterdam to the Brussles International Airport (where I could exchange my busted car and get a new GPS [side note: yes, you do want to get the "full insurance" option when offered by a rental car company]). Unfortunately, I still couldn't figure out what the deal was, and I ended up in Germany of all places. I knew this had happened because the city names all started to have those cute little pairs of dots over the Oh's - I was lost without a clue.... About eight hours later - and a new GPS to boot courtasy of a Belgian version of Best Buy - I made it back in time for the last hour of the day at work on Friday.

The best part of the day was getting home and having a birthday dinner with Kate, the Girls, and my Parent's. Dessert was courtesy of my French tutor Pierre from Lake Forest, IL (and yes, his name really is Pierre and he's French) - more pictures of the celebration are attached, too. Ella made a great birthday card that says, "I wonder what you will look like when you're 37" along with a picture of she and I holding hands and a red, white, and blue Steal Your Face - a girl after my own heart.

On the books for tomorrow is the return of the busted rental, the dropping off of my parents at the train, and some kind of adventure for Kate, the Girls, and I - hopefully it will involve something with pints of beer and football (aka soccer) - but for some reason, I doubt it :-)......




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  2. Wow, Andrew...what a time you had. So glad you arrived back home safely! Have a wonderful birthday!

    We sure are enjoying the wonderful blog! Just sorry you had to go through such a rotten day!

  3. To me, it sounds like a scene from Stripes:

    John Winger: C'mon, it's Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick 'em up, we zip right out again. We're not going to Moscow. It's Czechoslovakia. It's like going into Wisconsin.
    Russell Ziskey: Well I got the $hit kicked out of me in Wisconsin once. Forget it!

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