The Grand European Tour
-A short story depicting the travels of grandfather and granddaughter aboard a
300 foot river boat as they discover eastern Europe!
It was Saturday, July 31, 2010, at 3:30 in the afternoon when they arrived at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. There was a cool breeze about the air that gave the notion of an approaching afternoon thunderstorm as they removed their luggage from the Cadillac. Ashby and Molly strolled into the lobby in search of the Lufthansa ticket counter. Through the double doors and just to their left the vibrant yellow Lufthansa signs were not hard to miss, and neither was the line that stood in front of it! Molly retrieved the passports from her luggage along with the ticket information to present to the foreign man at the counter. After their extended wait and with his rough German accent the attendant asked for their passports, their ticket information and finally their luggage. Ashby's luggage weighed in at a whopping 15lbs, Molly's however, was almost a scale tipper at 38.5lbs, with the limit being 40lbs. The young man behind the counter in charge of luggage placed the ID tag around the handle and threw them on the conveyor as the man at the counter handed them their tickets and said,"Hav eh nice flight," in his deep, yet kind German accent.
Once inside the airport, and after one caramel frappe and one coffee from Starbucks, Ashby and Molly headed towards security and on to the boarding platform. Their plane was scheduled for take off at 6:15pm, but expectantly, they weren't off of the ground and in the air until 6:40pm.
Seven hours and fifteen minutes later the two touched down in Frankfurt, Germany. After exiting the plane, Molly insisted that they go ahead and go to the concourse and wait for their flight to Amsterdam. Ashby however, had a different idea, Beer! Molly tried and tried to convince her grandfather that they needed to go to the concourse, but age prevailed and the two American travelers missed their scheduled flight to Amsterdam due to the "freaking beer fest".
Once away from the excitement of the bar, the two headed for the security checkpoint. Molly and her carry-on go through the scanner and on to the other side. Ashby on the other had was stopped due to the bottle of sunscreen in his bag. The officer said," Mr. McCord you can not take that on the flight with you, it is too large. You are going to have to leave it here." Ashby didn't like the information the man had just told him. He refused to give up his nine dollar bottle of sunscreen to the security officer! So, being the man that he is, Ashby turns around and goes back through security to check it in. Oh our little miss Molly was livid! After ten minutes Ashby returns to the security scanner with no sunscreen bottle in hand, with fifteen minutes after boarding time.
The pair got on the next available flight as a standby, and soon got seats at the last minute. They were not sitting together, but after the past 3 hours, Molly didn't mind at all!
Molly was seated next to a delightful Irish woman named Deborah who lived in Amsterdam with her boyfriend. The two talked throughout the whole hour long flight, and that put Molly in a much better mood. Deborah informed Molly of exactly what to do and where to go once they were off of the plane, she even offered her house to Molly and Ashby for the night, but their river boat awaited them at the docks.
Once Molly and Ashby exited the plane she tells him exactly what they need to do, but in his wisdom, he went about asking people where "the Europe" was. Unsuccessful in his asking for directions he turns to Molly and allows her to lead the way.
Finally aboard the Viking Cruise Ship 'Viking Europe', the traveling pair got settled into their quaint cabin in the three hundred foot river boat! Ashby retired for a nap as Molly went out to explore her home for the next few weeks. As the clock reached seven o'clock, the evening dinner was served in the dining hall. Molly made her way to a table alone as Ashby, by choice, remained asleep in the cabin. At dinner a middle aged couple from Kent, UK, asked if they could sit with Molly, and she gladly insisted that they did. Their names were Maggie and David and they had one child, a girl, that was twenty eight. After dinner the couple asked if Molly would like to join them as they went into Amsterdam to look around the city. She quickly replied," Yes I would love to, just let me run and get my camera!" Amsterdam was such a beautiful city and she didn't want to miss it!
The travelers hopped in a cab headed for downtown Amsterdam. They walked through the heart of the thriving city, lit up by its boutique lights, neon tavern signs and the apartment windows. They passed bustling canals with their arched bridges that were illuminated in the night, and they accidentally ended up walking through the red light district of the city, a part of the city that should be avoided by conservative and humble tourist!
Around eleven o'clock they returned to the dock as the ship would be setting sail for Kinderdijk [Ken-der-dyke] at midnight. Once on the ship Molly spotted Ashby in the lounge enjoying a glass of wine with a couple he had met.
After a few minutes of conversing in the lounge, the weary travelers from Georgia head to their cabin for some much need sleep. With her ear plugs in and lights turned off, Ashby and Molly dozed off to dreams of windmills and water.