When I was in the throes of wedding stress many decades ago, someone told me that anything that goes wrong will just make for better stories down the road. I’m not sure how receptive I was to that perspective at the time, but now it’s an outlook I try to apply to big events–especially when I’m stressed over details and logistics. It served me well on our vacation, because several things went wrong that could have ruined my vacation, although luckily they didn’t.
1. A smashed iPhone. I started my first day of vacation with a morning run before our afternoon flight. About halfway through my loop, my phone slipped out of the shoulder pocket of my Orange Mud Hydraquiver and hit the sidewalk. It’s survived drops like that before, but my luck had run out.
A smashed phone would have caused me angst on any day, but I was counting on having my phone to find our hotels, navigate sight-seeing, and triage urgent work emails. Luckily the AT&T store near my house had iPhones in stock, and I was able to get a new phone and get my information transferred in about 2 hours. It was $500 I wasn’t planning on spending, but I was grateful that iPhone woes weren’t going to ruin my vacation.
2.A delayed flight. I had allowed over 2 hours between our scheduled landing time in Amsterdam and our train to Brussels, which would have been plenty of time if our flight had not been delayed–twice. The first delay was about an hour–we were switched to a different plane and a different gate. The second delay was another hour, when they determined that our new plane needed new brake pads. By that time I had determined that if we missed our train we could re-book on a train 2 hours later, losing 50% of our original purchase price. Since there was nothing more that I could do, I decided to relax and let the adventure begin.
We ended up landing about 45 minutes before our train. We cleared immigration quickly, but had to wait for our luggage. We watched the carousel go round-and-round without our bags, while also keeping an eye on the clock. We got our bags with about 8 minutes to spare, and made it to the train platform with 3 minutes to spare. You couldn’t do that at any airport in the U.S., but a whole network of trains run right into Amsterdam’s Schippol airport.
3. Rain. We were prepared for a rainy weekend in Brussels, and actually felt lucky when the rain held off on Friday. It was wet on Saturday, but we were prepared with out rain jackets and umbrellas.
Were pet squirrels a thing in Jesus’s time, or in the artist’s time?
We spent the morning touring art galleries, and by the time we finished our late lunch, the rain was moving out.
4. Full luggage lockers. Key to our plans to watch a bit of Le Tour De France in Neuss (did you see my video?) was our plan to leave or luggage in the lockers at the Düsseldorf train station. Of course, with Düsseldorf hosting Le Grand Depart (the start of Le Tour), we weren’t the only people with that idea. By the time we got there all the lockers big enough to hold our bags were full.
Tour de France banners across the streets of Düsseldorf
Luckily my son’s girlfriend–who is fluent in German–was able to figure out that we could leave our bags with an attendant in a different part of the train station. That worked out pretty well, although we did have to wait for him to finish his dinner break before we could retrieve our bags at the end of the day!
5. A missed train. Our luck with trains ran out on our last day, when my husband and I were taking the train from Bremen back to Amsterdam for our flight home the next day. We got to the train station in plenty of time, confirmed the track, and saw that our train was running a few minutes late. When the time came, the train that pulled in was a local train instead of the long distance train we were expecting. We had missed the announcement that our train would be arriving on a different track, and figured that out just in time to see it pull out of the station.
Finally relaxing on our train.
I knew there was one more train to Amsterdam, and after waiting in a long line at the wrong place for help, was able to get us rebooked on that train for no extra charge–the customer service agent used the track change as our official excuse. We got to our airport hotel very late, but all’s well that ends well!
Enjoying a Belgian Tripel at Delirum Cafe in Brussels
Do you stress over the details when you make plans?
Have you had something go wrong that just made for a better story later?