Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Enroute to Bruges

June 30, 2009

We are somewhere over the Atlantic on our way to Madrid. Our Iberia plane is comfortable enough, if economy class can ever be said to be comfortable. We were lucky to be given seats 9 A and C so we are together and not sharing with anyone. The meal was standard airline fare. We both had the chicken, which was in a salty, greasy gravy with ok mashed potatoes and some token vegetables. The salad was tuna salad and the dessert some kind of cherry cake. There was also bread. I couldn’t eat either of the latter two things because of the wheat allergy but Peter was not impressed with the dessert and declined mine. Not that avoiding wheat mattered since I am having a reaction to something on the plane and I have now taken two antihistamines to keep my nose from running so much. This is not a promising start.

Our Airbus is an older plane so the movies are on screens in the middle of the plane and the choices are uninteresting. Right now we can watch “Return to Witch Mountain” and later “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Mom would love that. I have seen it more than enough times.

I have done a little reading and studied a little Italian. I am really tired but I don’t know whether I can sleep. I almost left the CPAP machine and all of our travel documents at O’Hare, which would have been a disaster. I was boarding the plane and had to run back to the waiting area to pick up the case.

Every time we travel I find the actual trip harder and harder. Plane travel used to have a mystique, from the fear of flying that I had for so long through the excitement generated by the journey and anticipation of the destination. Now the cramped seat, pain from my legs being in one position for too long, which is not mitigated by frequent standing or ibuprofen, and the sheer length of the torture conspire to make me miserable. I long for the days of the transoceanic cruise ships although today’s huge ships are totally unappealing to me.

Breakfast was croissants, muffins, and yogurt. Peter ate all the pastry and I had the yogurt. It was not a very satisfactory breakfast for me but it is one if the hazards that I face in traveling these days. I will have to learn to ask for gluten-free meals on flights although it won’t matter on US flights since there is no food service any more anyway.

When we got to Madrid, we were running late and had to rush through customs and security to get to our flight, which was already in the process of final boarding. But we are now on our way to Brussels. I remember the first time we were in the Madrid airport and they actually held the plane for you. It is a much more modern operation now and it isn’t that many years later.

Once we found the train station at Brussels airport, getting to Bruges was fairly straightforward if not altogether comfortable. We got our tickets with an extremely early Saturday return and caught a train to Brussels Zuid. Then we took a very crowded train to Bruges. We stood in the aisle with our luggage until Gent. At that point we could sit down for the last 20 minutes or so.

Once in Bruges we took the bus to our hotel, Bruges at Night, a very nice B&B in a quiet area not too far from the center. We have a good-sized bedroom and a very large bathroom area. Then we ended up at a Turkish place for a snack since not much was open by 2:45 and we really needed to eat. We walked back to take a nap. Tonight we went out to the Market Square and had dinner. Peter had a salad and I had moules et frites. Then we came back, planned out our route to the museum for tomorrow and got ready for bed. The beginning of a trip tends to be exhausting but we are looking forward to the coming days.

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