Groundhog day….Or…..How to deal with a flight reservation when you have Covid-19 on the planet.

Remember the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray?

Just for laughs I am going to share our experience with flights…

First off we have NOT flown yet….this is JUST getting the flights organized

So BC. (Before Covid-19) we booked 2 tickets one for me and one for the admiral, who would arrive later and leave sooner because of a concert performance she had to give.
Me May – September, Admiral Jun-August

Then Covid-19 appeared…Because my early arrival was based on a dental appointment, I made the 1st change. Instead of leaving begin May, I changed it to leaving 1st week June with the admiral. A direct flight to Paris and a connecting to Amsterdam

So re-I book to the same direct flight to Paris and then Paris Amsterdam as the Admiral. Easy Peasy as they say …simple and online.

Then Travel ban and 1st round of flight cancelations hits everybody , so the flight to Paris was canceled, thus rerouted to Detroit and then to Amsterdam, with a 45 minute layover in Detroit. Easily done online and a small credit. By booking on a different plane the same day I get a better seat, a second free bag to checkin (2nd bag costs $100) all for the increase of $58.

Then it was announced, NO food and only a bottle of water handed out by staff for the transatlantic flight….
OH the memories of real china, real ice-cream and whipped cream, the welcoming champagne.
So scramble….we can get wine in the Tax free…….BUT how do we get a cork screw passed security…so we can open the bottle of wine to drink on the plane”

Then low and behold some flights to Detroit were knee capped. Unfortunately, could not do it on the web and had to call. “The average wait time for a representative is 2 hours”. At the same time Mike, the chef, asks me if I can run to the grocery store to buy a few ingredients he needs. So while I am looking for good Jalapeno’s, the airline calls back. Resulting to rebooked on an earlier flight to Detroit with a 4 hr lay over.

The fun begins, since more flights were canceled. and only a 6 am and a 6 pm departure to Detroit were available, meaning either a 10 hr layover in Detroit, or arrive 45 minutes after the Amsterdam flight left, resulting in a 23 hr lay over.

More enjoyment was being added because now face masks have to be worn, in the airport and during the flight.

Possible options, fly via Atlanta. (an extra 4 hrs flying for the whole trip ) plus 4 hr layover or a 4 hr drive to Detroit
BUT luckily we will be getting food again once during the flight. (you are allowed to remove your mask then)
After discussion we opted to drive, but but late night research showed a flight to Detroit at the correct time from another airport (1hr drive) if we leave a day earlier.

So call the airline AGAIN……”the average wait time to speak to a representative is 8 hrs…..we will call you back”
Finally you get the airline again….and after explaining, the flight is being modified and there is a good connection a day earlier, you hear some keystrokes and…….then……”sorry that flight is canceled just now”
So we finally settled (at this moment ) for a 4 – 5 hr drive to Detroit then mask on …check in, board and go to the barge

ONCE we fly we will update how empty …the flight was/ is

Currently we have 4 seats for us 2

Fly safe

OK so departure is getting closer… The flight DTW-AMS is still on. Got an email that the reservations changed, so I quickly looked, with a pounding heart and saw no changes. Well it leaves at 18:05 now, if that was the change?

Since I am on let me see flight from CVG or DAY to DTW and low and behold there is a flight from DAY arriving BEFORE the DTW-AMS leaves. So early am I call delta, and “it is too busy now, call back later’. A few more calls and I get a 1hr 45 ins wait time. While having lunch, thanks Mike! I get called back and after profusely apologizing for not being able to get use comfort + or 1st class we get main cabin…it is a small commuter one. So now we have a flight DAY – DTW at NO cost extra. Well yes Delta might be a few $ more expensive, but is was worth it in the end run.

Lets see how Sunday goes……

Lets see how Sunday goes……

Since we do not have to drive to Detroit we don’t have to rent a car etc. The next door oldest son agreed to drive us there, we would take the Volvo. A few days ago it started vibrating at some speeds, so the wheels had to be balanced. Unfortunately the only open slot was Saturday the 6th. Brought it in, and low and behold, the verdict came….tie rods need to be replaced. arrghhh. Andy mentioned we could use his dad big SUV, so that was no real worry.

Check-in time….all goes fast and quickly when using the Delta website. I get checked in, sign in for Deb and. “For international travel you can only check-in in person, at the airport”. GRRRRRRRR

We will see tomorrow.

So we never made it Sunday June 7. Saturday June 6 right after Dinner, I got attacked and had my throat and air pipe pierced, resulting in a 4+ hours Surgery visit and a stay in the ICU for a bunch of days. That is a story for another post or over beers/wine, this post is about groundhog day,

Deb who had to watch that horror event tried to change the flight that night, and was offered a later trip at double the price, then she tried to cancel the flight via text and was busy over 8 + hours.

My 2nd day in the ICU I got hold of Delta, shared the stabbing and ICU visit and the ticketing agent asked for some details about the hospital, and with NO cost she changed the flight till the 3rd week in July, giving me enough time to get better.

Oh Deb and I came up with the point that the large scar, from about ear to the adams apple was caused by vampire wrestling.

Woohoo so we made our trip later. flying via Detroit, and today ( June 20) I found out that the return flight via Paris is canceled. This will be change #12 ! What I really dislike is missing the leg flying with KLM. They offer upgrades the moment you check-in online, and upgrading for a few Euro’s you get business class plus use of the lounge ! Ah well, also dealing with immigration in Detroit will be the usual hassle compared to Cincinnati.

So giving Delta some time during the weekend, I waited till Monday to see what to do about the canceled CDG-CVG flight, but Delta kinda took care of it. they have us flying AMS-CDG-DTW-CVG. instead of just AMS-DTW-CVG. One small advantage. the flight DTW-CVG is on the upgraded 350 so we are seating economy premium now! Took only 5 calls to get into the queue to change the flight.

So we had the DBA Zoom meeting, and the 59 minute callback time of Delta, lapsed 2 hrs ago. Started the zoom meeting and saw some faces with names, and yes you guessed it…Delta called. Explained the wish to change, and the reservation agent did not wanted to ‘upgrade us’ so yes you guessed right again. “let me speak to a supervisor”. Finally the supervisor gets on, seems a bad connection on her side, so she had to call back, after dropping the call. That agent also did not wanted to budge on a free upgrade. since comfort + was full that Sunday, I dropped , lets do is Saturday, which still had comfort + seats available. Departure at 3pm, so no need for a hotel, saving $$

A new shower

The original shower was made out of wood, which was functional, but it had its limitations….sloped floor, drain with limited capacity, so it had to change.

For evacuation of the water I ended up with a Whale IC.

shower base . vandammekunstof . sides schulte douchemeister

How many females can he keep up with ….

Yes the other boaters in the marina are starting to ask..Last week your wife and 2 other females, This week a mother and her daughter.  Poor guy ..will this be the 583th time to the Rijks Museum, 293th time to the Anne Frank House, and 1,001st time you explaining Panne Koeken ( Pan cakes)

Yes it is fun to have a deluge of guests.  The sofa on the pilot house has been a great bed for me. ( it wil be a total of 24 days this trip ) .  We stil have the Murchland’s to come after this group.  And yes I am starting to feel a bit like the head steward on the “below decks series”.  I even adapted the “my pleasure” when a guests ask for something.

Today July 3rd, Peggy and Megan were still dead asleep at my normal waking up time of 5 am.  Hey, it is LIGHT outside so why be sleeping.  The sun starts pouring energy in the solar panels, so coffee is great.  Did work for Vetport, and ignored the usual verbal explosions of some of the people there.

The yellow part of the deck was covered with light pearls of condensation.  The part with was covered in primer was dry.  Yes the energy absorption is really noticeable.  During the day you can touch the Yellow without fear of being burned, but the part covered in grey primer, is hot enough to fry an egg.   So I grabbed the paint and roller as quiet as a mouse and snuck out, and started putting a first coat of yellow over the primer.    Now the top deck is nearly all repainted.  We still have to apply the 2nd and 3rd coat on some parts and some parts only need a 3rd.  Then when the sides are done I can apply a 4th and probably 5th coat.  When we bought Jan-Kees, the previous owner had not done much paint upkeep for a few years, so it was really needed.

Megan woke up, and I had to show her how you really slice Old Gouda. By the time Peggy woke up, it was time for me to go to the dentist, 2nd and final root canal this trip.  While cycling halfway I realized I forgot my big Iphone with music.  I NEED my noise canceling head phones and music to drown out any noise the dentist made.  Luckily I could download some music while cycling.  Yes I rather to to Iraq, Iran orLebanon, in high heels, lingerie and NO weapons, than to the dentist, and I would still feel more comfortable there than at the dentist.  But the dentist who is from Poland is good, and I am slowly loosing some of my apprehension.
IMG_3149.JPGComing back the girls were ready to go to town, explore, and say “wow that is cute’ at nearly every house.   At the shoe store, which had a sale, they just vanished, to come out 30 minutes later with a lot of new shoes.
Megan had to try the FeBo.  it is like one of these 1950’s automatic.   You put your 2 Euro’s in, look to the window and open it to get your snack out.  Great for midnight hangover snacks.  Megan grabbed a Sateh Croquette  ( spicy grilled chicken with peanut sauce in a croquette form), and I got her a Bami Ball ( deep fried Indonesian Noodles, so a VERY Dutch dish ).  She preferred the Bami Ball.




After that I had to dash to the town hall to pickup some papers,  Peggy found a coffee machine and grabbed some free coffee, and was surprised she did not had to pay 50 Euro cents to go to the bathroom.  At the same time Megan was making sounds like delighted squirell who found its nuts in the middle of the snow, because there was free WiFi



Since Monet lived and painted in Zaandam Peggy had to make a picture from the same spot Monet was sitting when painting his Blue House, which si 1 minute walking from the barge.

We did stopped at Albert Heyn, a nice grocery store ( Just in case you did not know they also own Red Lion, Piggly Wiggle and a bunch more US based grocery chains) . In AH ( Albert Heyn)  Megan was like a 4 yr old in a candy store, grabbing anything and anything in my shopping basket, until she grabbed some French cheese and I had to threaten her with arrest by the dutch police since we are very tolerant, BUT some things are NOT allowed.  Peggy was told a few time “MOM we are NOT at home so DON’T buy the same stuff you are used to at home” .  In the housekeeping department I did had to show them GLASSEX.

Back at the boat, after unpacking the groceries, we were met with the quack quack of the duck with her 5 ducklings.   Deb, Sarah and Cathy were well trained by mother duck to feed her and her offspring, so Megan took up that task,  she even climbed down on the construction floater, next to the barge.

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After some rest and RUDE interruptions by the constant ‘ping ping ping ping’ of Vetport, we walked to the lock for pancakes.  We decided on 2 large ones, a Mexican one and a Boeren Pannekoek ( Farmers  pancake)   Nicely filled with smoked bacon, ham, caramelized onions etc.  They were split amongst us 3 and vanished like snow for the sun. Too quickly gone to make a picture.
Megan chatted a bit with the waitress about differences in work.  We also put in an order for poffertjes with fresh strawberries and chocolate syrup.  It took  a while, Peggy did asked me a few times if I had put the order in, to which Megan corrected her with “Chill we are not at home eating quickly, enjoy it”.  the waitress must have overheard that because she came out feeling embarrassed …., because the owner just took a walk to his sons restaurant on the other side of the lock.


They were NEARLY devoured when Megan realized she had to take a picture.

A bridge too far ……….. ( plane trains and automobiles and a station too far )

So it started as a leisurely morning, peaceful breakfast, long hot shower for Sara.  At 9:30 it was time to say bye bye, hear the click click click click of the luggage wheels on the dock towards the car.   I picked up the upgraded car and met the girls at the end of the pedestrian bridge.  A smooth ride to Schiphol, even though Deb STILL had to remind me to take the Schiphol exit.  I seem to block that one out, because of the reconstruction or because ” I don’t wanna go home “.  Arriving at the car renall return place, we were greeted by the Hertz employees with the familiair “ws anything wrong” this solicited the …”YES the darn whiskey dispenser did not worked” . The one employee looked a bit “Whaatttt”, the second one smiled and replied . “well atleast the ice cube dispenser was working I Assume Sir?”   We all had a chuckle while a few other renters looked like “wait you can get a whiskey dispenser in the car?”   At the elevator there was a big line and Deb threw out ” Can we get a wine dispenser next rental?’   Finally we were able to get in and at the last moment another traveller jumped in and pressed a the door close and opens, on the same level.  The last traveller peeks his head out and looks to the buttons and remarks “is this 0?” .  Then mentions “I need to go to departures” . Since I was on a roll with the whiskey comment I flip out ” then why did you pressed rental cars?” .    And everybody got a chuckle.  Now it is 10 AM…we take the walk way and see we have to go to location 1A.   We reprint the boarding passes and I have to “take command” since sara sees a sign, passengers only, so she worries we should have dropped of the luggage somewhere else.  Finally we arrive at 1A, and we see a line, longer than the waiting line at the Anne Frank house on a sunny day.   ( btw if you do NOT reserve for the Anne Frank house be prepared to wait 3 – 4 hours in line then ) . I kiss Deb a safe trip and leave.     Well later I get a text ….\



In the mean time I was doing laundry and putting up some more primer on the barge.  The sheets dried in a few minutes with the sun shining down and the wind quite fiercely blowing.   Once the dry sheets were on the bed I could put up the last primer on the top, but it was so warm and sunny and windy , that the primer dried nearly as fast as I could put it on.

Then off to the railway station to pick up Megan and Peggy.  I had texted both of them a few times after they landed, but got no replies.   Caught the train and had to switch trains in Sloterdijk.  While waiting there I found out the train would have a 5 minute delay, making me arrive at the same time as Peggy & Megan ( but on another platform), so I called Peggy’s cell and get it answered by a somewhat sleepy voice and after asking Peggy?  Megan ? I hear it is Patty, who tells me to call Megan’s phone.  Ok………so I call…I get voice mail…   well we wil have to see then.  I arrive at Schiphol airpots train station, asked one of the NS ( Nationaal Spoor . = National Railway) what platform the Thalys arrives and she informs me of the platform and mentions it is 3 minutes late.  So I am perfect on time.  Rush down to that platform, stand there with my grocery bag with 2 bunches of flowers ( for the Hertz checkin gal who upgraded us) and look . and look and look and look…….then I walk the whole platform…no contact.  OK I Think, lets go to the meeting point, which I had texted Peggy and Megan earlier this week, JUST in case we would miss each other on the platform.


No luck there either, I walked the perimeter twice,   Back to the platform, again walked both sides, NO sign.   So I tried Megan’s phone and again voice mail.  I call Peggy’s phone..answered by Patty and leave instructions to have Megan call me when they call ‘home’.  I walk the whole arrival hall a few times, then go to the Hertz counter and drop of the flowers, to great smiles   ( yes ‘bribing’ works, we each time have gotten a upgrade.  PERHAPS we would have gotten these upgrades anyhow, but this is juist nicer).I walk the hal again a few times, NO sign of them two.  So I go to ‘le bistro’ grab a Radler since I am dried out’ and yes my phone starts ‘pinging’ .  yep you guessed it Vetport with an ’emergency’ . Since support does not immediately responds to Tom I get the familair “Are you there?” to which I reply …looking for the girls, but none of their phones are working and NO I can not help you with your vetport question.   Then I get thrown at my feet that ” you should have prepared them and JUST telling them what to do is not helping them” .
Finally I get a call from Megan, asking where I am…..and they could not find the meeting point, and that they are at the official taxi stand.  So I tell her to walk BACK inside and go to the meeting point can not miss it.  I also see the official taxi stand and don’t see anybody from there waking towards the terminal building.   Waited a few minutes,  walked around the meeting point again… I call Megan back, and find out they are in Amsterdam Central, even though their tickets say Schiphol Airport..  Instruct them NOT to walk around , stay at the front of the building . ( NOT on the IJ side  ..this is the water side) and rush to the train platform to jump on a train.   The door closes, the conductor bumps into me and apologizes .   I fired of …” no problem just give me a pint, this IS a Belgian train right ?”   He replies “yes but we can only serve Pintjes in Belgium, sorry” .  The doors close and …nothing…nothing ..nothing …until we hear the Belgian voice….”we can not leave on sign is on alert, we have no idea how long this will take” . Finally a few minutes later the train leave anyhow.    Just before entering the Central station I was able to get Megan again and made sure she would be in the front in the center of the building.  I rush out get outside …and NOBODY…so I call and Megan is trying to tell where they are…they are at a Starbucks ….to which I asked …which ONE ? there ar 3 at the railway station.  I am miffed, can’t these girl follow ANY instructions, so I check in , walk through check out’ and walk from Starbuck’s to Starbuck’s as if I am a homeless man looking for change.  There I see them…..but…well you will see later…..what gave me a heart attack……

I give them their OV cards, and we are off to the trains again to go to Zaandam.   And since they have to do as I say all goes smooth

THIS nearly gave me a heart attack…they had enough space for 2 years of travel !!IMG_3139.JPG

After feeding them I took them for bitterballen since Megan had bitterballen at the “House of Orange’ in NKY, and she thought they were horrible.  ( Hans .  I did not wanted to say anything at Kings day, but the bitterballen you serve are NOT the ones you get at every cafe, restaurant and bar in Holland…)

Deb always cracks open the bitterballen to let them cool down….now we have an imitator…Peggy

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