Flashback to Iceland, 2003 (insert flashback wavy lines here)
Amelie and I were doing some comparison shopping on postcards at the various tourist information shops when our ears were accosted by the booming voice of a loud, pushy American (complete with reverse baseball hat and sports jersey) demanding to know:
"Where can I get A CUP OF JOE?"
The agent manning the desk flinched a bit and gave him a puzzled look.
He repeated his question in a louder voice, because loud always makes translations smoother: "A CUP OF JOE! JOE!"
Slowly, a dim light dawned upon him and then, enunciating each word, "Oh, coffee. THAT's. What WE. Call COFFEE. Cup. Of. JOE. Know where I can find some?"
Amelie thought she heard him add "And some CHOW," but that may have been a delusion brought on by the shock of his initial onslaught. Embarrassed by our countryman, from that moment on, Amelie and I became Scots and spoke with thick brogues for the remainder of the trip. A few days later, Amelie mentioned that she had a wedding to attend in Edinburgh (pronounced "Edin-burrrrrrah") in May, 2004, and invited me along. Aye, lassie, I'll join ye. . .
(insert return-to-present-day wavy lines)
And so, less than a year later, I came to find myself taking a cheapo bus ($35 round-trip) from DC to NYC to meet up with Amelie for another trip abroad. As always, you get what you pay for. Granted, I did not take the "Chinese bus where everyone is kung-fu fighting" as our appallingly racist driver warned us we would have to take on the return trip if we did not keep a tight grip on our little, yellow tickets. But, I did have to suffer through a chatty neighbor ("I wonder when we are leaving. I've never been to New York before. Oh, are you reading that book? How is it? I really like to read myself. Blah infinity blah."); I couldn't watch the movies ("Meet the Parents" and "Remember the Titans") because the woman in front of me sported a huge hairdo that Marge Simpson would envy; and I had to watch said bouffant-loving woman pop the painful-looking zits off her daughter's cheek for what seemed to be an eternity.
Because of the delayed departure, we did not arrive in mid-town Manhattan until 3:30 p.m., an hour later than anticipated. Amelie was nowhere to be seen, so I found a narrow ledge to sit upon that was close enough to see the street but far enough away from the crazy, toothless (well, that's not fair, she did have at least two teeth) woman who was alternately cooing and cajoling for spare change and screaming with rage at the imaginary thieves who were trying to steal from her. By 4 p.m., Amelie finally rescued me.
We dumped my gear at her place in the Lower East Side and walked to Vosges Haut-Chocolat, an ice cream establishment I had read about in the New York Times that featured exotic flavors of chocolate and ice cream. We sample the Red Fire ice cream which combined dark chocolate, chilis, and cinnamon (zingy, tasty treat) and the Naga ice cream which blended curry, coconut, and white chocolate (Um. Not so much).
Amelie's summertime roommate Angela met us for dinner at the restaurant imaginatively named "Supper" that, apparently, the East Village hipsters frequent when they want northern Italian food. Gotta admit, the tagliateli with porcini mushrooms was pretty good. We followed up our meal with creamy mochas at the newly-opened Ini Ani coffeehouse whose interesting walls, as I have come to learn, are made of 24,650 cardboard strips. For our self-imposed homework, we returned to Amelie's apartment and watched "Trainspotting" to give us a refresher on our Scottish accents (never mind that we were going to be in Ireland first and for twice as long). By 2 a.m., we were ready for our trip. No, we had not discussed what sights to see, where the locations of our lodgings were, or how much cash to carry. But we had ooor accents doooon pat.