Have ever noticed that the week before your vacation is often the busiest and more important week at work? All of a sudden everybody needs you, you are deemed irreplaceable and “who is going to do all the work while you’re gone?” is asked more than once during the daily coffee breaks leading up to your departure. Not that I am not flattered, but through the years I have learned that almost everybody is replaceable. I’ve been “replaced” in the past and so have many of my friends. I also learned that a visit to the doctor was in place to stop a sudden, but not entirely unexpected, infected toe nail that had returned from a long hibernation. The infection seems to wake up every time I am about to leave abroad on a trip where the main activity will be walking. My scheduled visit to the dentist was now to review her previous work as each time I took a bite the filling hurt. With half of my body aching from one or more ailments, a 32 year old octogenarian is ready for vacation.
I got an appointment with the doctor the evening before I took off for Atlanta. She seemed to be in the same kind as hurry as I was. She was about to leave on her annual ski vacation and a colleague had -unexpectedly- referred the bulk of his patients to her. Different job, same issues. Her waiting room was full and patients still were coming in. She had a look at my toe and looked worried. I was prescribed antibiotics to stop the infection. I was somewhat relieved when I paid her. Her worried look didn’t ebb away as she called in the next patient.
The Atlanta morning flight was ready and after being scanned and searched for thing I do not possess nor should I ever want to travel with –except for a serious bottle of water–, I bought some delicious Belgian chocolates for my friends at the other side of the Ocean. Neuhaus is and will always be my favorite brand as their taste is neither to sugary nor is their chocolate too fat. A tad pricey, but when you compare them to other brands (such as Godiva, Marcolini, etc.) they stand out as the best, believe me. Of course, les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas.
Captain Dave entered the plane. He was the Pilot and personally but casually informed us of the “current situation”. Polite and with the charm of a true Atlanta pilot he “could cut some corners” but it “still would take 9 to 10 hours instead of the usual 8+ hours due to a strike at the airport and a heavy head wind”. He and his co-pilot wanted to be home on time, preferable before 4pm, as they commute and didn’t want to be struck in traffic during the Atlanta rush hour. If we were nice and behaved, “they would keep on feeding us”. We all agreed. After all, only so few times a pilot informs personally all the passengers of a delay.
On board entertainment with Delta is absolutely fantastic. Yes, you can see the Four weddings and a funeral movie again should you so desire. So often during my youth this seemed to be the movie of choice during the trip, I now prefer the latest episodes from top HBO series. Today however, I continued to watch the seven part documentary on The Roosevelts. One family, two presidents. From different parties, from different times, they shaped the modern United States. It kept me going for over seven hours.
If there is one thing you have to know about me, it is that I like good food and a good glass of wine. Good food and enough food. The flight Brussels – Atlanta was being operated by Delta and all went perfect, if it weren’t that they offered one meal and one snack for about 9 hours of flying. The onboard entertainment might be one of the best, my stomach kept reminding me it also had a right to decent treatment.
First stop is Lithonia, where I will be staying at the house of a common friend. The first challenge is to find something to eat while driving towards, what can be considered as, an extended suburb of Atlanta. Snapfinger Road could be called “typical American”, with wide lanes crossing smaller entries or roads towards neatly newly built communities or providing access to community centers and churches. In the most unexpected of places you find the best food. Neither a nice front nor elegant chairs to accompany an oak table. Takeaway Fish steamed and spiced up to perfection. A relief after nine hours of flying. Long live Google Maps and fellow diners’ reviews.