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Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021

In order to make our dinner legal we had to leave the dock. Amsterdam, as you know, has a 5:00 PM curfew for indoor dining. But we are now on board the AmaLucia which serves dinner at seven. The solution? Set sail at 6:45, serve three courses while chugging around the harbor for two hours, and return to the dock after desert. Because we really aren’t going anywhere until tomorrow afternoon.

In California we pay extra for that and call it a “dinner cruise.”

Other than that, it was almost a regular tourist day. Or maybe a revelation of how accustomed we are to the pandemic environment in Europe. I just noticed that in every outdoor photo I’m holding a mask in one hand ready to put on the minute I walk through a doorway.

Mask in hand

We started the morning learning about windmills, wooden shoes, and Gouda cheese. All standard except everyone indoors was masked. At 12:30 we lined up at the dock, distanced of course, to check on board. We each stopped under a canopy to have our temperature and our Swiss app checked. (This was just the final screening. We had all submitted a health questionnaire and uploaded our vax cards in advance).

Swiss app? It’s a blue and white icon with a white cross on a red shield which you buy at the App Store. It combines your identification and your Covid status of recovered, vaccinated, or tested to generate a “forgery -proof QR code” which is valid for a period of time dependent on your status type. I thought it was just for Switzerland when I first got it, but the EU has recognized it as a vaccination passport since September 7, 2021.

No, Switzerland is not in the EU.

Once on board ship social distancing is easy. The normal capacity is 150 passengers, but they are limited to 70% because of the pandemic. That would be 105 passengers. But actually there are only 65 of us, or 43%, so it feels like a private party. At dinner only people traveling together can sit together, so the Three Musketeers are seated at a table for eight, one seat apart, assigned for the duration.

Dinner partners for the duration

We can take off our masks only at the table or outside. The servers all wear masks. In fact all the staff does. We get lots of attention.

Tonight the activity board said to leave a slipper outside your door and see if you receive a visit from St. Nick or Krampus. I left one out for John (he’s asleep) and one for me. We’ll see who’s been naughty or nice.

And don’t worry. Eating breakfast while docked in Amsterdam is legal.

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. I intend to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, as a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary world crisis.

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