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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Return of the Little Red Bag

The little red bag has been on many trips.
Carry-on size, easy to stow overhead,
it can be pulled through airplane aisles
and crowded airports without difficulty.

The little red bag made the tour 
to visit the National Parks last year,
and was the carry-on during the cruise
on the Rhine and Danube rivers.

We had three bad days on that expedition, 
the last being the trip home to Boston.
Woke up at 2:30 a.m. to be bussed to the 
Budapest airport for a flight to Amsterdam.

Time for a leisurely lunch in Amsterdam,
then off on the seven hour flight to Boston
First we had to stand in line for a grilling
by Delta reps before boarding.

The little red bag with us, we were treated
to a nonstop conversation by two loud
Eastern Europeans sitting in front of us,
thus ruining any chance for sleep.

Down in Logan Airport in Boston to be
herded in long lines through three 
separate machinations by customs officials,
the little red bag trailing behind.

Finally we were able to get to the baggage area
and retrieve our two large suitcases.
When we tried to exit, we were herded to 
another room for baggage inspection.

With about two hundred passengers lined up,
it looked like we would be another hour.
Suddenly the customs crew decided to wave
everyone out the door without inspection.

Now at this point, we were brain dead.
We had the two large suitcases in a cart.
Barbara was going to pull the little red bag.
I took off like a shot, pushing the cart.

We had been back and forth on the phone
with Ray, our limo driver, who had already
been waiting an hour for us, then called 
him again to say we were on our way out.

At this point, memory is clouded.
All we can say is that when we arrived home,
there was no little red bag in the car.
Ray said he never loaded such an item.

Despair.  Is it gone forever?
Not so;  nine days later, a latino voice
informed us that they (who?) had found
the bag (where?) with no tag (somewhere?).

He said he would send it on to Delta, 
then abruptly hung up, without further explanation.
Meanwhile, we had filed a lost item report 
with Delta, and were awarded a case number. 

A week later, Delta emailed to say they
could not find our little red bag.
A day or so after that, a lady called to 
say they had it in Delta lost and found.

So we asked Ray to pick it up on one of his 
runs to the airport, which he did, delivering 
this precious item right to our front door.
Inside a pocket was Barbara's card, written on.

This is another reason why we have taken an 
oath never to travel outside the country again.
Now we understand why we saw no other 
old people on either of the transatlantic flights.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Viking River Cruise

On our stay in Amsterdam before the cruise
we fulfilled a lifetime objective of 
visiting the restored Rijkes Museum, 
a splendid all-day experience.

The works of the Dutch masters
were displayed in the great hall
in separate enclaves for the most famous,
leaving room for photos of their paintings.

But we have taken an oath
never to travel out of the country again.
The outgoing day was difficult;
the return passage was nearly impossible.

In between were highlights and disappointments.
The promotional literature summoned up seeing
beautiful vistas while slowly gliding down the rivers
with occasional stops at interesting venues.

The reality was an unbroke regimen of 
herding large groups of passengers into buses,
then dropping them off for two hour walks
on cobblestone streets through medieval villages.

The guides spoke nonstop into walking radios
on the local history of governance and disasters
through the centuries, and on the lives and
scandals of the royals and clergy therein.

Naturally, we ignored the lectures and
took pictures constantly inside and out.
Fortunately, the dates of each shot will
help us to remember where we were.

We focussed on the churches,
ranging from lofty cathedrals and
brilliantly decorated rococo chapels
to somber reconstructions of WWII ruins.

Highlights included climbing up to a genuine castle,
walking through a walled town in a modern city,
and a slow tour through Buda and Pest, with
lights ablaze on the major buildings.

At one point, we were so exhausted
that we had to take a day off to remain
on the ship while the hardy tourists 
walked around Bratislava in the rain.

A low point was our transfer from one ship
to another, because the low water level
prevented our first boat from transiting
the locks on the Main River canal.

Although the food was somewhat bizarre, 
we enjoyed sitting with different people
who came from all over the U.S.A. and
as far as Australia and New Zealand.

The ship itself was super clean, with
service provided by bright youngsters
of many nationalities, who smiled constantly
and were anxious to respond to our requests.

Our conclusion is that the Viking River Cruise,
as it is currently operated, is beyond the
capabilities of most elderly people like us,
and should be marketed as such.