Saturday, January 8, 2011

Free wireless internet at Schiphol airport and crossing the American border

Something new at Schiphol: two wireless internet sessions of 30 minutes each absolutely for free, noppes, zip, nada! After that you get charged a hefty fee, I’m sure.

It’s six in the morning. I got up at 01:30, having slept about an hour. The highways were empty, so was the immense corridor that leads from the parking garage to the departure hall. Gate E19, however, where the flight to Detroit originates, is full of fellow travelers; all wearing expressions of dismay and self loathing. Next to us the walking conveyer urges to ‘mind your step,’ whenever a walker boards, which is every second and a half.

Abandoned Schiphol Airport

I’ve seen dozens of airports but Schiphol beats them all. The signs are clear, the people friendly, and the whole place is dressed in that charming introvert exuberance the Dutch are known for. Christmas trees are arranged in rigid patterns, commercial signs are controlled and matter-of-fact. No shouting, no chaos. Just order on order, a line here a line there.

Soon I’ll be on the other side of the Atlantic, in the country I’ve felt at home in for so long. There’ll be bright colors and loud noises. There’ll be a squadron of heavily armed Chuck Norris aficionados awaiting us. They’ll have bullhorns and cattle prods, and drive us towards customs booths, where we must leave our finger prints and pictures. A sign with pledges of friendliness and curtsey will have slid behind the counter.

Am I here for business or pleasure, officer Burley demands to know after I’ve stood in the non-residents line for two hours.
“Little bit of both. I’m boarding a ship.”
“Where’d you come from?”
“Home,” I foolishly submit.
“Home is America,” officer Burley replies sternly. How could I have been so ill informed?
“I come from the Netherlands,” I say.
“Are you a terrorist?”
“No sir!”

He lets me in, this time, and there it is: land of the free, home of the brave. I’m still in love with this country. She’s like an ex-girlfriend who broke us up when her options lured, who’s changed the locks and warned the neighbors, but now lives on in paranoid seclusion frantically clutching the belief that she’s been wronged.

God bless America; their home sweet home.


  1. Arie: I found your blog by way of viewing Quantum Mechanics and the Bible on Youtube, which lead me to Abarim, which led me to this blog. To be honest, I've never really read (glanced yes, but read no) a blog before, but yesterday I saw that you had written about driving in Boston and I thought to myself, "Why on earth would anyone want to write about driving in Boston?", having driven and ridden there myself...and yes, I leaned out the window trying to get someone to let us in! Well, I howled as I read it, and LOL is my barometer to whether I think something is exceptionally funny or not. Well, today, I thought I would revisit your travel blog, and this time while reading about the US reception team, it happened again....another wonderful, heartfelt LOL!!!! Laughter is indeed good for the soul. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say, both about QM and all of the wonderful things it is opening up for me to see/understand, and your travel blog, having "itchy feet myself"!!!

  2. Hey i think of your blog is pretty and provides a great knowledge. I found it pleasant in Google and I put on my list of favorites would like to see more posts from u soon.


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