Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My Guido Bergna Susy Stovetop Espresso Maker

I was dusting off my little Guido Bergna Susy Espresso Maker tonight, as tomorrow's guest favours real coffee over my expensive Nescafe Instant everyday kind of coffee. But seeing ye olde Expresso Maker again, brought back memories of every trip I've made through customs with this 'interestingly-shaped cannister' in my backpack.

Can you imagine how it looks on an x-ray machine, post 9/11...

I wrap it up in my clothing to avoid damage, but initially pack it close to the zip, knowing that I'm going to have to explain myself and its presence and inevitably, I'll have to do a show and tell with said espresso maker. I guess there's not so many who have tried traveling with them.

The Canuck is popping over tomorrow ... which reminds me, I never did quite get round to writing up my adventures of last week, en route to and from her place near Brussels ... I'm not sure I should. I may have foolishly written something about feeling rather adult while riding a train bound for Brussels.

Well ... there were one or two small incidents. Alison didn't receive my reassuring sms (text for the Kiwis), letting her know I'd made all my tram and train connections and might be there earlier than expected. In my defense, I had successfully used her number on previous occasions, and it was programmed into my cellphone ... What can I say, I have no idea why the last digit was wrong this time, although this might explain why a Dutch sounding woman answered Alison's phone last time I'd called her ... enough said.

I caught the tram to the train station, found my departing platform, and was loitering in that casual'I-might-be-a-European-going-to-Brussels' kind of way with the 'in crowd' (Antwerpen commuters to Brussels actually)... but then ruined it all by making a mad last minute leap for a train Gert said I could board, even though it wasn't my scheduled one ... you see he was on the phone at the time, making sure I was okay and not needing translations and platform-type information.

So ... approximately 30 minutes later, my train pulled in at Brussels Noord (North, for those of you not studying Dutch at this point in time), and there I platform-loitered, once again casually ... this time looking as if 'I-might-be-European-and-catching-the-train-to-Brussels-Luchthaven (Airport).

And why the airport, you might ask. Well, the airport is closer to Alison's place, and closer is better in rush-hour traffic.

I was feeing quite smug, and confidently remained seated while everyone else on the platform with me at Brussels Nord boarded a train, dragging their backpacks and suitcases. I had a timetable, I knew when mine was due ... however, just to confirm this, I did finally break and ask the train guard if this train was the one to the airport. I quite ruined casual when, arms flailing, I made a last minute leap for the open train carriage door.

Ruffled feathers indeed ...

So I arrived in the Airport, and Alison had warned me that it was best if I only moved up one level on the escalator, as our chances of finding each other once higher were markedly less. So I sent another sms, to that woman who never did answer, reassuring her I had a book and would read until she arrived at the airport.

At some point, I noted the phone silence, and it was only then that the memory of that surprised-sounding Dutch woman on Alison's phone came back to me... mmmm, and slowly but surely, it became clear (even to me) that I had the wrong number programmed into my phone and no way of contacting Alison.

We'd made a plan, kind of ... they knew when my scheduled train was arriving ... no need to panic, I was in Europe, I could always go back home to Antwerpen if all else failed.

How little faith had I ... on schedule, Alison smsed, she was upstairs drinking coffee with Andrew, ready to meet my train when it arrived.

Going back to Antwerpen that night well ... by now, I was au fait with asking train guards for guidance, so I confidently hopped onto the train bound for Essen, having been reassured that yes, the train would be stopping in Antwerpen's Centraal Station.

Trein Begeleiders (train guards really) ... where would Di be without them.
(Aachen, Paris or Amsterdam apparently).

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