So, where was I? Oh yes, just about at the point where I pretty much didn’t know where I was, who I was, what time it was according to either a clock or my body, or what the hell was going on. The first time I went to Germany back in September, we flew on a Saturday, arriving Sunday morning, so we had that day to adjust a bit before going into work. This time jet lag kicked my ass. Likely because we flew on a Monday, arriving Tuesday morning, then went straight to the hotel (okay, not straight. We somehow got rather lost and to compound things I completely lost my ability to read a map, assisted by the fact that German freeway signs don’t indicate which direction you’re heading, only confirm that YES, I KNOW I’M ON THE EFFING A3 or whatever, and even knowing your vicinity on the map, I swear the little cities or towns on the signs were not in fact marked on the map! Also, driving in circles on zero sleep does nothing for my already nonexistent sense of direction. Stellar combination. GPS would be a must if I ever have to do this trip on my own.), dropping bags, and going directly into work. Disorienting to say the least. But after slogging through that day I did reset pretty quickly, thankfully.
The hotel we stay in has a little recreation room in the basement with a self-serve bar (you just write in the book what you drink, so innocently quaint) and a pool table and a kitchen the guests can use, so for Saturday night we had invited the guys from the lab over and had asked Walter, proprietor of Allegria, our go-to Italian joint in town, to cater the affair. Good, good times. The hoteliers and a couple other international guests (British and Brazilian coworkers, their Swiss counterpart had already departed) joined us, making for a raucous evening lasting until nearly 3 AM…knowing I had to get up by 6:30 at the latest to not rush to make my flight out. We’d procured for the night four bottles of red from Walter, plus a white from Seligenstadt, plus the president of our host company brought another bottle of red, plus the pony keg of local brew the Brazilian and Brit had purchased when the places for sledding they tried to patronize since the Brazilian had never seen real snow were closed due to too much snow (?!), and we went through all of it but the sad bottle of white, to my very fuzzy recollection. I definitely overindulged, and apparently they were talking about the things I said the whole next week (my coworker stayed another week after I left). I broke every rule of things you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, politics, religion….oh, it was SO fun! Incredibly refreshing to meet and converse intently with non-Americans willing to believe that not all of us are ignorant cowboy-hat-wearing-Bushies. Also, lemme tell you (and then stop using lemme as a word), inebriated packing the night before an international flight makes for hilarious what’slefttowearbecauseIknowbetterthantoevenunzipthatthing options the next morning as well as a great guessing game of whatthefuckispackedwhereinhere when you get to your destination. Though I actually managed to leave nothing behind in Germany that I’ve missed yet.
But yes, the destination! A couple of days before I left for Germany, I got a call from my best girlfriend. She and her husband had sat through one of those nightmare timeshare spiels where you get the free two-day cruise to the Bahamas, and at the last minute he couldn’t go, and it was supposed to be for her 30th birthday celebration. Since I was already flying back to the US the day before the cruise departed, I figured, hmmmm, let’s see what the cost is to change my destination on the return flight…would be a crazy last minute vacation for which I’d be burning a few to several vacation days this early in the year, but this is pretty much the one friend I have in the world I’d totally inconvenience myself for, because I know it would mean the world to her, and she’s probably one of only a few people on earth that would do the same for me, so again, eff it. Let’s do it! I changed my flight to arrive in Orlando instead of Dayton and thanks to Airtran was able to get a flight home the day after the cruise for less than $100 – and oddly enough did NOT get tagged for extra security investigation due to booking a one-way flight. I guess borrowing and checking her gargantuan suitcase so as to not have to ship some stuff back home was a good thing after all.
In addition to the ridiculous amount of cold-weather clothing I’d crammed into my tiny suitcase for a week in Germany, I had Mike ship a couple boxes of shorts, goofy T-shirts, sunblock and flip-flops down to my friend’s house in Florida. She picked me up at the airport with a smaller suitcase for me already packed with my stuff and headed to her Granny’s house in Tampa for the night. This additional stop was due to her not having a passport and not being able to find her birth certificate, one of which is needed to go to the Bahamas. Angel that she is, she got up at the butt crack of dawn to go to the Vital Statistics Office in the county of her birth to procure her documentation and left me to sleep a bit AND left me a hot cup of coffee to wake up to on the counter. She rocks, lemme tell ya. Shit, stop that.
So we truck it down to Ft. Lauderdale to get on the cruise ship. The cruise itself was…tacky, to be diplomatic about it. I think they run these two-day-ers just for the poor saps who get the free trips, and you definitely get what you pay for. The food was pretty bad, and there certainly weren’t mounds of it available at all hours as you typically hear about cruise food. In fact, we didn’t realize that you had to make “reservations” for dinner, so the first night both places tried to turn us away. This was patently ridiculous. Two restaurants open, and they know how many people are on the ship, but you won’t seat me because I don’t have a little yellow ticket? Time to bust out the evil eye (thanks, Mom!). We got seated. You still had to go pick up your own appetizer, soup, salad from the buffet, but then they brought the entreés. Neither of us even took a bite. Her prime rib looked like gelatinous leather, and even though I was up for trying the oxtail on my pasta, I somehow don’t think that would have been its best representation. We walked away and called it a night. After I went down to the other restaurant and made sure we had reservations for the next night, as absurd as that was.
The other absurdity of the cruise was that they were filming a reality TV show on this ship. One of the crew finally (they acted as if there were actual celebrities involved, or some real need for secrecy) told us the name of it: The Booze Cruise. To be seen on something called Tru TV. Thankfully, not the footage from this actual cruise; this is all just for the pilot. Phew. Glad there was no accidentally signed waiver that’d get my face on TV association with that! So there are a couple dozen early-twenty-somethings in huge dark sunglasses and crooked baseball caps (pet peeve, pet peeve!) doing everything imaginable to prove just how cool they are. So cool. Girls in teeny tiny dresses and five inch heels falling into walls (drunk or not, this wasn’t a huge cruise liner – you could definitely feel the motion of the ocean. Yes, I said that), crew meetings in the ice cream shop, directing these fools where to be at the appointed times, confessional interviews, the whole nine yards. We got a good laugh or six out of it. This guy was apparently the “star.” I’ll spare you the video of him and his buddies doing the Electric Slide. It must hurt to be so cool.
Finally, we get to the island. Originally we were supposed to go to Nassau, but they’d apparently changed the itinerary without telling any of the guests, and we went to Grand Bahama Island instead. Freeport and Lucaya, specifically. We could not have cared less, but there were some people that had paid to swim with dolphins and whatnot in Nassau, and they were PISSED. Can’t say I blame them, but again, you get what you pay for. I’d have paid a lot more than a plane fare change fee for this:
I could wax rhapsodic for days on how divine it was to have a day of this in the midst of an Ohio February, but it still wouldn’t do it justice.
I’ll eventually get to an aside about the crazy deep conversations longtime friends who don’t see each other very often get into on road trips (saw more of Florida on this trip than I ever likely will again), but to wrap up I will just show you this:
Awwww. He bought me flowwwwers. And cleaned the howwwse. Kind of funny, because after my first trip to Germany, I kind of got a little (okay, a lot, a metric fuckton) bent out of shape when he suggested that he not park the car at the airport and just pick me up at the door. OH HELL NO. JUST NO. I JUST GOT OFF A TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT PLUS GETTING HERDED THROUGH CUSTOMS THEN ANOTHER DOMESTIC CONNECTION, COME INSIDE TO BAGGAGE CLAIM AND CARRY MY HEAVY FUCKING BAG AND DON’T MAKE ME ASK YOU TO DO IT!!!! Yeah. I was a real bitch about that. But I guess it’s a fight we won’t have to have twice. I learned him good. He even got me a super sweet corny and sappy (my favorite kind) card for Valentine’s Day, which we don’t really even ever celebrate. Smooches. It’s very, very nice to be home.