I got back to overcast Los Angeles from a sunny afternoon London on Wednesday during evening rush hour (5 pm Pacific). By 7 pm I had such a sinus fill-up that I was praying for a Dristan ad. Sienna is still in London until tomorrow, as she is working on the Print Fair for a few days.
We left LAX on Wednesday the 10th and got to Heathrow Terminal 5 on Thursday morning. We then hopped a one-hour flight to Amsterdam and stayed until Monday. The Netherlands were a lot of fun: we got to go to the Rijksmuseum twice (once for free and we even wound up on TV), went to a windmill museum in Leiden (which was mind-blowing as well as air-blowing), and even went to the Cheese Weighing in Alkmaar (which was... ancient scales and guys hauling giant wheels of cheese in front of Russian tourists). IC trains in the Netherlands have wifi, which saved me from complete disconnection.
We also went to Rotterdam and wished we'd spent longer. It's Brooklyn compared to Amsterdam's Vegas: hip, calmer, more tempered. We rode through the actual town of Breukelen on the way to Rotterdam.
Oh, and my Dutch language skills came back with a vengeance. This came in handy when we were in Stupid, Sexy Flanders. We stayed in Bruges, which was cute and had lovely local brews but too many other tourists.
We also went to Ghent, where we passed the building in which they signed the treaty that ended the War of 1812 -- of course it's now an Esprit store. We hit Saint Bova's Catherdral and saw the original oil painting. Ghent is messed up in that they change the tram plans in the middle of a work day due to construction but even the locals don't know. We stood at a platform waiting for the ride to the Psychiatry Museum with about 200 high school students. We all slowly figured out that the train was instead coming from another direction and stopping at a patch of lawn. So we gave up on being guinea pigs, got Turkish pizza and went back to Brussels.
Brussels was wonderful as always. We especially fell in love with the breweries we hit, Cantillon in particular. I picked up some graphic novels and a Spanish grammar book for French speakers.
Then we took Eurostar to London. Sienna had food poisoning, so I went up the street to the British Museum by myself. It's really jarring when you realize the Rosetta Stone, all sorts of Trojan artifacts, and even stone boxes the size of assembled beds were stolen from the rest of the world and dropped in this building... because they could. Sienna theorizes that the Europeans do not understand the invasion of native cultures because they are themselves natives to their turf. The thought of auctioning Hopi masks in Paris, a grave offense to the Hopi people and a serious crime in the US, is respect for "property law". I assume that auction house never wants to do business in North America.
To be fair: the non-stolen stuff in the British Museum (especially the Roman Britain, currency and clock sections) are mind-blowing and very very very worth the suggested donation of 5 quid (to be realized as whatever Euros you have left in your pocket). They even have a section showing the stacks of counterfeit US $1 bills that went through the donation buckets in the last year, wrapped in more counterfeit bucks.
We went to the London Canal Museum and the Tate Modern, both very worth it. We also trekked to Haggerston section of Hackney for a beer-powered meal at Duke's Brew & Que.
After I mailed myself about 20 lbs of books, I headed home. The books arrived Friday afternoon -- 60 hours! That rocked. Yes, I buy too many books.
I took Thursday off as jet lag recovery, which was vital. I also got something done at the DMV and changed the fluids on my car. Friday I worked my new position as an official team lead, which meant I got a new queue of tickets and had an empty queue for the first time since I got hired. I had to take a screen shot of that.
I miss Sienna. The kitty snuggled between my legs helps, but I will be happy to have her back tomorrow. For today, I'm heading to a friend's place in Altadena to game and whatever else. Being awake early just gave me more time to make a good breakfast and 12 ounces of espresso.
So yeah I wanna work on my Spanish since Dutch happened so fast. I have this gift for languages but I barely notice the extra one all around me. I can read Spanish billboards, but I just assume everyone can. It turns out they can't, that it's not obvious, that I have something useful to offer.
-traduisances zijn buenas, Dante
P.S.: the Cheese Father! Oh man, way too much cheese...