Thursday, May 5, 2011
Weird Easter Vacation
Me: Mr. Big, how many days off do you get for Easter?
Mr. Big: When is Easter?
Me: This coming Sunday.
Mr. Big: Well, in the US, I used to have off on Good Friday, if I remember correctly. Here, I don’t know, probably the entire month of April. Why?
Me: Because we will be the only two people left in Switzerland next weekend. Everyone else, except for the farmers who are going to be busy releasing their cows into the spring fields, is going “en vacances”.
“En vacances” is a state of being in Europe. You have to say it way up in your nose like this: Ahhhhhh Vuhcahhhhhhns. Les vacances are taken very seriously here and trivial things like work (unless that work involves cow maintenance) should never be allowed to interfere with something as important as leisure time. That’s what Americans do and that is completely gauche and um, American. (Isn’t it nice to be an adjective for a whole other continent?) Seriously, Euros think Americans work ridiculously hard. They find it amusing, but they are also glad SOMEBODY is working hard to keep the world’s economy going, just so long as it isn’t them. It goes along with their whole perception of Americans. They think we are adorable in the way that puppies are adorable. We are annoying, loud, untrained and if you don’t keep your eye on us all the time, we just might go pee behind the sofa. Yet, they love our spontaneity, our boisterousness and our unpretentiousness. Like puppies. See?
Back to my pending vacances. After blindfolding Mr. Big, spinning him around and pointing him toward a wall map of Europe, he picks Copenhagen. Copenhagen is up there in those confusing countries/cities that I always get mixed up. Is it in the Netherlands? Sweden? Denmark? Holland? Is Holland even a country?
Just to make me crazy (like I haven’t achieved that all on my own), Mr. Big tells me that he absolutely has to be in Tel Aviv, Israel no later than the Tuesday evening following Easter for work. He is such a diligent American workerbee! Well, I want to go to Tel Aviv also because I’ve never been there AND it would be my first trip to the middle east, albeit, the only non-Muslim country in the middle east, but it still counts in my book.
The plans evolve into a Laurel and Hardy comedy routine whereby we will fly to Copenhagen on Thursday. We will fly back to Lausanne on Sunday (Easter) morning to REPACK, (remember, it is still chilly in Copenhagen but it is hot in Israel), fly out again the next day to Tel Aviv on Monday morning and stay all week, basking in the sun on the Mediterranean. This was the plan.
I think somewhere about, oh, say, 1985, the government officials in Copenhagen threw in the towel. I can just imagine the meeting in the bowels of City Hall. “You know, Hans, we cannot keep up with the city maintenance. It is just getting to be too much work.” “OK, Sven, then let’s concentrate on the four or five main streets where the bulk of the tourists hang out and let the rest go to hell in a handbasket.” “Gut idea, Hans!”
Y’all, there was a bloated DEAD DUCK peacefully decomposing in the water. Disgusting! The mama swan had made a nest out of TRASH. Literally. Her nest was composed of garbage bags and coke cans. The water was only about 3 feet deep and you wouldn’t believe the mounds of debris you could see through the murk. Bicycles, hub caps, car batteries, etc. It was gross. In Switzerland, in Lac Leman, if there was even a sick duck or maybe even a duck with just a slight head cold, let alone a dead duck, the coast guard would have been called to scoop that sucker up faster than you can say Not In My Lake You Don’t, Daffy.
THAT front yard was pristinely clean and guarded by the Danish Royal Guard against, I don’t know, random marauders, wayward prostitutes and spray-paint wielding Picasso wannabees.
We arrived back in Switzerland on Easter Sunday and, of course, it was closed up as tight as a drum. I’m surprised they got the air traffic controllers to work on Easter. We scrounged up a baguette, some cheese and some sausage at the convenience store in the Geneva airport and went home to repack. After a nice, long nap and a shower that helped us recuperate from the slightly scummy feeling left on our skin from Copenhagen, we caught up on our taped episodes of American Idol and got ready to go to Tel Aviv. Which I will leave for the next blog post. Ha!