and I’m back. kind of.

Short Version:
slept 3am-8am
traveled 8am Saturday – 4:30am Sunday

(Vienna->Paris->Dulles->DC->College Park, world capitals all)

Long Version:

Friday morning I left Jeff’s apartment with him and his friends as they left for a ski trip. I realized soon after waving goodbye at the U-bahn (metro) station that the directions he wrote to the hop-on hop-off bus while trashed were incomplete, so I instead went to an art museum and now risk dying without seeing all fo the Hapsburg dynasty’s palaces.

I came back around 7pm that night, cold and museum-weary, to discover that I had left Jeff’s keys inside the apartment that morning. After buzzing all of the American-sounding and blank names on the mailbox list to no avail, I’m about to

a. cry
b. beg for hostel money
c. buzz the German names and pray that my brother and his roommates hadn’t alienated the buildings native residents (fat chance)

Fortunately I was spared these fates when a 20-something German guy rode up on his bike and let me tailgate inside. When I tried to explain the reason he just assured me he wanted nothing to do with it. I try Jeff’s door and quickly gauge its picka/smasha-bility, and pretending I didn’t realize no one was home, I ask the guy if he knows which number apartments the girls live at. He clearly wishes he had made it those last few feet inside his place and shut the door, so I didn’t expect him to help out here, but my luck continued to hit the extremes and he gave me two numbers.

No. 9 proved fruitful, where a girl named Pearl opened the door after I said “Matt, Jeff’s brother”, even though she later said she does not know who Jeff is. I guess I sounded American enough or she really trusted that first locked door to keep her safe. Pearl ended up being my savior, calling various landlords and cleaning ladies until finally locating a liasion right int eh building to let me in. I fed the guy some crap about staying at a hostel but needing my luggage (Jeff’s landlord somehow thinks she can get away with charging 7 euro for any overnight guests they have, including female friends. Her track record in applying this fee is poor and these few instances involve her letting herself into the apartment with a spare key early in the morning to find naked coeds and empty beer cans.).

So I get in. Disaster averted. Now you’d think I’d take this as a hint to be extra super uber careful about my packing preparations. Well instead, I uploaded a video (post below) to YouTube and watched the rest of The Office Season 2 (I’ve been converted to the US version) on iTunes. I sleep 5 hours and thank god, one of Jeff’s roommates left behind a travel alarm clock.

I’m up and off to a good start in the morning, with a hot shower and uncharacteristically classy travel otufit (my usual UMD sweatshirt reeks of the Nautica cologne that shattered on it in my checked baggage on the way over). I leave with my two bags and successfully navigate a flea market, the metro, and a train line. The train arrives just as I get to it and as it pulls away from the station, I wonder where my camera is. Oh yeah, in my backpack. And my backpack is…

…still in Jeff’s apartment. There’s not enough time to go back now, although I might have tried anyway if I wasn’t locked out again and still sour from missing my connecting flight in Paris on the way over (that one was entirely the fault of – I don’t miss flights). So I convince myself I don’t really need my wallet, cellphone, apartment keys, American money, camera, et cetera x15.

And to think, Jeff had just recently questioned my habit of carrying my passport with me at all times. I guess it’s more necessary for me than others.

I had tons of time to kill in the airport, although no toys or Euros to kill it with. Dad, for the record, I was three hours early for the flight (ignore everything before and after this sentence).

On the plus side, no carry-ons to worry about! I’d really like to believe that somewhere there are people who truly find travel – not the destination, but the actual journey through an actual airport – relaxing, like it is in coffee commercials. They check their black leather luggage and stroll onboard the plane empty-handed with smiles on their faces. But between my father’s crazed travel mode and my own mishaps – nay, adventures (a sense of humor is key when you face being stranded in Paris) – I know the reality all too well.

The flights weren’t bad, the usual crying babies and all, but Air France actually has really good food, which is great, because I couldn’t afford any if I wanted to catch the Metro bus home.

All I really want to do now is crash at my place, dump out my bags, and turn out the ecosystem of receipts, coins, ticket stubs and other litter inhabiting my jacket pockets. But I am lucky that I went to UMD and have a place to crash (it will be really awkward if this happens in like three years, though).

My roommate doesn’t get home until Monday, so I should look sufficiently fatigued / dirty by work Monday morning. Pics coming soon, once Jeff mails them.

The irony of leaving behind my most essential daily living items but remembering Jeff’s extra clothes and already-read books is not lost on my fried brain. It’s time for bed.

Oh, and almost forgot – Merry Christmas-music-playing season to all. May Neil Diamond and the Muppets serenade you all season long.

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