4:11 a.m. train cancelled. Find out at 10 p.m. Decide to take 2:56 a.m. train. No difference for students: staying up all night anyway. 2:00 a.m. breakfast in dining room. Closer to normal breakfast: fruit, cereal, coffee, yoghurt. No beans, Marmite, mushrooms, fried tomatoes, etc. Keithy stays away. Avoids culture shock.
2:30 we leave for station. Many cheers shed by hotel staff. Departure board says 4:11 train running. Confused until station staff explain it is not. That would be why it is listed as running. “Ah…” says Bob. Train arrives. We get on. Told to get off. We get off. Go to end car designed to hold suitcases. And students. We get on. Train takes off.
Uneventful train ride. No events, not full. Just ride. Students look at phones, sleep, zone out. Looks like music theory lecture.
Arrive at airport. Drag suitcases and sleeping students towards terminal. Immediately get separated. Walk through several terminals before finding everyone. In a line. A long line. Engineers waiting for us. There since midnight. Obviously desperate to get home. Two KLM staff to handle checkin. Not efficient. “Lineup’s so nice, we did it twice.” Canadians asked to stand aside for earlier flight. Do so. Then discover later passengers getting ahead of us. Line up again. One staff member leaves. Can’t face us. Prescient: First in line Alec’s visa problem makes everyone wait. He talks nice. They let him through. Future in politics for him. Everyone processed. Except Kyran. Last in line. Passport expires 3 months to the day. He talks nice. They let him though. Ah. Found Alec’s running mate.
General boredom and sleep in flight lounge. Not enough duty free. Actually, nothing is free. Wait is ploy by airport to get us to spend money. Students are broke. Bad combination. Announcement, last call for flight but gates haven’t opened. Cause/effect time sequences not operational for Manchester/Schiphol. Travel is so broadening.
Get on flight. Front rows full of drinking louts. Like bad comedians: think they’re funny, nobody else does. Embarrass British passenger in front of Bob. Flight lands. Louts being reamed out by KLM managers in breezeway. Many loud protests of innocence. Not by KLM. Passing passengers grin. Group disintegrates at top of breezeway. Annie, Kjel, Kyran abandon us. Happy to leave us for culture. Rest of group rediscovers Schiphol. Still there.
Flight takes off. So do we. Good coordination there. Flight lands, so do we. Reunited with baggage, head home. Except for Alec. Spends much time talking nice to Immigration. Explains why he should be in Canada with expired Permanent Resident card and no student visa. They do not talk nice to him. Travel is so broadening. Especially for old men.