Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Joy Of Travel

We attended a wedding in Mexico City, poked around the remains of the Aztec civilization, then spent a couple of days in Amsterdam on the way back to the Southern Med. Some observations -

1. KLM long haul does a good job, cabin crews did a great job throughout the 11 hour flights.

2. Schipol airport uses the Norm Mineta model of random harassment - they scan you and your carry-on twice - once when you go air-side and again at the gate. And four armed immigration cops greet you on the jetway when you return. I wasn't even traveling under my al Gandalf identity.

3. Mexico City is safe provided you stay aware of your surroundings and don't let strangers get close - two families at the wedding who broke this rule both got robbed while sightseeing.

4. Big hotels in MC are ripoffs, but the smaller boutique one we stayed at was fine.

5. The English language newspaper widely available in MC is the Miami Herald, Mexico Edition. This is the most lefty Anglo newspaper I've encountered - all their stories come from AP and an outfit called Knight Ridder News Service. A typical headline "Faith may offer clues to Miers' positions", followed by a creepy story about her being Christian (and hence a radical conservative), which they'd never think of running on a muslim.

6. I maintained my disaster-magnet role, causing the unfortunate residents of MC to be whacked by Hurricane Stan.

7. Central Amsterdam is less safe than Mexico City. It's cute, has some nice hotels and pubs, but restaurants are lousy and bicycles, trams and cars come at you soundlessly from all directions - you need to maintain constant 360 degree surveillance. Plus I got food poisoning - still, at least the Imodium I took to Mexico wasn't wasted.

8. Dutch I talked to were all anti-US, what a surprise! A group in a pub were trading anti-Bush jokes, so I chimed in with this one (a modification of the Turkish one that's been going the rounds):

Schroder (calling Bush to to try to stop the US troop withdrawals):
Mr President, I had a vivid dream last night about your great country.

Bush (interestedly):
Mr. Chancellor, that must have been unusual, what was it?

Schroder (excitedly):
I dreamed I was flying across the US, and that above each office building, shopping mall and home there were great banners, each bearing the same message!

Bush (cautiously):
And waht was that message Mr Chancellor?

Schroder (triumphantly);
Each banner said "Long Live German/US Friendship!"

Bush (thoughtfully):
Why Mr Chancellor, that's real interesting, because I had a vivid dream last night too, and in my dream I was flying across Germany.

Schroder (excitedly)
Yes! Yes!

Bush:
And I saw a revitalized Germany ! Everyone at work; no more crummy 1950s buildings; factories working 24*7. And over each office building, shopping mall and home there were great banners, each bearing the same message!

Schroder (with cry of delight)
And what was that message, Mr President?

Bush (apologetically)
I don't know - I can't read Polish.

This joke was great ice-breaker, although this pub was the place I got food-poisoned...