Fri - May 12
After working until 3:00 PM PDT sharp, I drove home to be sure to have enough time to finish packing and freshening up and whatnot before I had to leave at 5:15 for the airport. I ended up having a good extra 45 or so minutes so I decided to for a quick 30 min swim. After the swim I got slowly ready, went downstairs and called a cab.
I called Yellow Cab and when I asked the dispatcher how long it would take he seemed very annoyed and said 20-25 minutes. I told him that this would not work for me and if there is something faster. He told me "no" and hung up. Asshole! I then called BackTop/Checker Cabs and the dispatcher here told me about 15-20 min. They arrived in just over 15 min - great. Off to the airport. As my cab was just about to drop me off at the terminal, I got the automated call that my cab (Yellow Cab) will be arriving in 5 minutes. Well, laadeedaa...
Esthi met me at the terminal and I had to check my baggage with Leeanna and Neelam [sic?], Esther's buddies. I got my Business Class (yay!) boarding card and we made our way the gate. Boarding started not too long thereafter and I sat for the first time in Business Class. Pretty sweet way to travel! Lots of leg room, champagne before take-off, good food, rest, the whole nine yards.
Sat - May 13
Needless to say we arrived in Amsterdam well rested. We cabbed it to the Hotel de Filosoof right next to the Vondelpark in Amsterdam and checked into our very (very!) small room. After a quick shower and freshen up we made our way to "downtown Amsterdam." Well, we actually only made it to Leidseplein. Heck, that is downtown enough. We had a number of drinks and went for dinner at some Italian joint in restaurant row near the Plein. When I wanted to pay with my Visa card the waiter came back and told me it does not work -- card be read. Damn! I knew the card had sometimes trouble since it is quite old and beat up. But I did not think to replace it before the trip. Anyway, not a problem, we paid cash or with Esther's card or whatnot and went back to the hotel. There we got word that my uncle Jens from Freiburg tried to call me. I tried calling back, but no answer. We went for some drinks to the hotel bar and I already told Esther that I think that this probably means that my sister-on-law has passed away.
Inge, my brother's wife, was diagnosed with primary and malignant brain cancer three months earlier. After an emergency operation that left her left-side paralyzed, things got worse pretty quickly.
When we got back to our room, I tried calling Jens once more and this time they were at home. Jens confirmed my suspicions and told us that Inge has passed away earlier that day. I decided to call Christian right away. He was obviously very sad and shaken, but overall composed and we agreed that I would call back the next day again.