I have the worst sense of smell, like ever. Friends mock me for holding food directly under my nose and taking a big whiff before scarfing it down. But don’t feel sorry for me. A poor sense of smell comes in handy in many situations, particularly when travelling through SouthEast Asia. Things have to smell really rancid for me to register, which is why I was so perplexed by the horrible scent that followed me home on my recent journey.
I was retuning from a week sussing out Christmas markets and Old Masters in Amsterdam. It’s pretty much all self-serve at Schiphol Airport, so I wasn’t surprised when loading my suitcase onto the baggage belt to get a whiff of something most unpleasant. No biggie, lots of people around, what can you do?
After an uneventful KLM flight, I was one of the first to get my luggage off the carousel. What luck I thought, until I was assaulted again by another foul scent. Seriously, dude! There were so few of us around, I was aghast someone would pass gas in such a small setting. Whatever. I quickly wheeled away and crossed my fingers I wouldn’t get questioned on the artistic license I used on my customs form. As usual, I escaped undetected.
As I trotted towards my shuttle bus, I put the recent unpleasantness out of my mind, taking in great gulps of air to clear my senses. My driver was an elderly, frail looking chap, so I insisted on hoisting my 24 kilo suitcase into the van.
And then it happened again. Another silent, yet very deadly bomb. The driver was the only other person around, but he was old, and we all know how that lot isn’t so discreet about their bodily functions. Still, I thought it was rude. No tip for him!
I wish I could say that was the end of my nightmare, but noooo! The fourth and final blow came while negotiating my suitcase out of the trunk. At that point I ditched my blondeness and whipped open the bag to see if a dead rodent had burrowed its way inside. There the culprit lay.
Behold, my impressive selection of fancy French cheese! I had completely forgotten about the bounty I procured at an outdoor market the day before. Let me tell you, it was no easy feat.
First there was the haggling, then I had to sit through the judgment of my French colleagues as they pooh-poohed my Le Rustique Camembert, but proclaimed my choice of brie and chevre magnifique.
Back at my hotel there was no mini-bar, so I had to rig a system whereby my goods (including charcuterie, a ready-to-eat M&S quiche, plus a caramelized onion and goats cheese tart) hung outside my window that opened but a smidgen.
Home safe and sound there was only quadruple bagging to be done, before hiding my crack in the crisper. Ever since I wedged Livarot (the oldest and stinkiest Normandy cheese) between the huz’s suits on trip to France, he’s not been a fan of my imports.
Sure, his suits reeked during his meetings, but I saved $25! Anyhoo, case closed.
The moral of the story? Keep packing pungent cheese, but don’t give the stink eye to others.
What products have you brought back that didn’t travel well?