Feb. 15/16, 2014: Day 1 of the Belgian Adventure
Bob arrives four hours early at YVR. No TV at home, so able to watch Olympic hockey. Cheap approach to cable. IMPART begins gathering at the YVR Food Court, well known as the place of entrées. Bob distributes GoGlobal teeshirts to group members. Fidelia and Angelique insulted that women’s teeshirts are size Medium. Check-in goes smoothly, but Security is the first of many holdups as students are queried about cables, audio interfaces, liquids, etc. It is not good to pose hypothetical questions to a group of academics. Security: “Did you pack this bag yourself?” Student: “Um, are you defining ‘self’ from Kierkegaard’s or Sartre’s perspective?”
Flight is delayed 50 minutes, so in waiting lounge group plugs in power bars and attempts to create macrame hanging out of extension cords. Fairly successful. Should sell the result to YVR for art display. Against better judgement Bob has Tim Horton’s coffee. Boarding and pre-flight instructions are normal, and a pre-dinner Scotch is even more normal. Dinner is lovely, but Bob has coffee with it. Bob is out of his mind. Two cups of coffee means he zaps awake at 2:00 a.m., and spends the next wretched hour and a half at the back of the plane trying to figure out if he is jittery asleep or jittery awake. Stare at Greenland and Iceland and chat with students.
Plane is behind schedule, so we circle in a holding pattern over London about five times (as one does when late) before heading for touchdown. Connecting flight leaves in 25 minutes, no chance of making it from the back of a 747-400, through the terminal to the train to three stops, to security to the gate. No chance until Brit Air announces they are holding the 3:30 Brussels plane for us. Mad dash by everyone, with Brit Air reps disgusted that we weren’t let off the plane first. Heathrow Security decides to outdo Vancouver Security and take several bags apart, while Brit Air reps watch impatiently. Dash through terminal, duck under barriers and make the plane. Due to number of planes the 3:30 flight finally lifts off at 4:40.
Land in Brussels, play carousel bingo, but none of us win. Go to Lost Luggage. Luggage coming in on next flight. We wait. Bob goes out to see Nicolas and Laurence. Big hellos of reunion. They go off to check the trains, Bob goes back to tell people where food is. Expensive food. Belgium airport food. Students settle for beer and Croque Monsieur. Bags arrive, we head down to trains. Ticket counter doesn’t want to accept our reservation because we weren’t there at 7:30. Warns us we may need to settle for standing room. Fine, don’t care. Have to pay more than original reserved fare. Fine, don’t care. Get to platform, train pulls in, empty. Good thing we were warned about standing room only. Eventually arrive in Mons and Laurance shepherds us to the Ibis Hotel. Well-organized front desk has things ready and waiting, and Nicolas and Laurance have swag bags. Happy people all around. Breakfast and first meeting tomorrow morning. Glad to be here!