I don't have to get up too early. I would say thankfully, but it's by design. No point in making my life any harder than it needs to be.
My flight is at 12:25 and my plan is to leave home at 9:30. I get up a little later than my usual time, letting Dolores get first turn in the bathroom for a change. And I get a cup of tea in bed on a weekday for once. We say our goodbyes after breakfast.
Lexie said he wanted to say goodbye. I'm about to go up and knock on his door when he pokes his head down the stairs.
"Bye, Lexie. I'll see you in a week and a half."
No sign of Andrew, the lazy bastard. Bet he uses the pathetic excuse that he was working until 20:30 last night. He'll be working today, too. But too late to be checking me. He works on security at Schiphol, a job he really enjoys. I think because he gets to boss people around and they have to listen to him.
I'm taking the easy route to the airport. No, not a taxi. I value my bollocks too much to try that one. The bus route. 15 then 397. Maybe a tad slower than 15 to Amsterdam Zuid, then the train, but it involves less walking and no stairs. I am an old bastard, after all. And pretty lazy.
When I get to Haarlmmermeerstation, I seem to have just missed a 397. No worries. They're every six minutes or so. A couple of other buses clog up the stop for a while. As they leave, I notice the 397 accompanying them. Did that stop here at all?
Luckily, it's not long until the next. Which soon whisks me to Schiphol.
As I've silver status, I can waltz right up to a check in counter. Where I dump my trolley-bag. I'm travelling very light. I only have enough clothes for 7 days and I'm away for 11. Getting laundry done halfway through the trip is my cunning plan.
Security is a breeze and before I know it I'm in the duty free getting my obligatory bottle of Laphroaig. Why break with tradition?
I notice there's a new Dutch pub at the start of my pier. Let's give it a whirl.
"Could I have a Meibok, please. And do you have korenwijn?"
"I'll have one of those, too, please."
After a couple of lazy drinks, I stroll down to the gate. It's not long until boarding. With my silver status, I can early board, too. I really need to make sure I hang onto that. It makes time at the airport so much less stressful.
I've also got an extra space economy seat. Which is even roomier as the one next to me is empty. As soon as we're airborne, I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and find a shit film to watch. Something light and unchallenging. Just to pass the time. It is a long flight. Jumanji will do. Wasn’t she in Doctor Who?
The queue for immigration isn't crazy and soon I'm having my fingerprints taken.
"Are you here for business or pleasure, sir."
"Pleasure." Hopefully, lots of it. Though I don’t say that, obviously. Never joke with armed uniforms.
Bag collected, I go directly to the taxi rank. Do you want a horrible confession? I've never taken public transport in Chicago. Call me lazy, call me spendthrift, call me idiot. I just can’t be doing with the bother. Time is short.
I'm getting to recognise much of the route along the motorway to the city centre. Done it quite a few times.
My hotel is the same as on my last visit. Why not? It's handily central. And was surprisingly good value at around $100 a night. For a pretty decent hotel. The building is attractive, too. I prefer staying in something that doesn’t resemble the constipated crap of a concrete cowboy.
I stroll down the road to Jake Melnick’s, about the closest bar to my hotel with a decent selection of beer. It's not exactly a geeky craft place, but I couldn't give a toss. I'm going for easy. All I need is one reasonable beer. I’m remarkably easily pleased.
I sit at the bar. Surly Furious is on draught. That'll do. I've heard of it, but never tried it before. Not bad in an American-ey sort of way. Grapefruit beer is what Dolores would call it.
I’m feeling really tired and am yawning like crazy. I’d like to sleep, but I know that’s a bad idea. I really need to stay awake for another four hours. It’s 1 AM for me, currently. And it feels like it.
I order another Furious, despite my exhaustion. I must stay awake until 11 PM local time. I really must. Otherwise I’ll never get into the right rhythm.
I like the US. I wouldn’t come here as often if I didn’t. A slightly weird relationship, but I do enjoy being here. I think I understand US culture. In a way more than European. And they appreciate what I write here. Mostly.
I’m just pausing to let the US atmosphere wash over me. Cool.
Do I want to order food? I'm not crazily hungry, but wouldn't mind a bit of scran. Wings, maybe? While I'm still thinking about it, the bloke sitting next to me says:
"Do you want to finish my wings? I can't eat any more."
Now there's a win. They're pretty spicy. And about exactly as much as I want to eat.
I don't stay that late. Just long enough to give jetlag a thrashing. I sleep the sleep of the truly knackered.
Jake Melnick's Corner Tap
41 E Superior St,
Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: +1 312-266-0400
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