The most frustrating airport departure experience since I began this chapter of my life. Manchester terminal 3. Big security queue. Heaving lounge (although the meat pie and millionaire slice helped ease the pain) and a delayed Ryanair 737. Albeit only a half hour frustration.
For the first time I experienced the “we’re putting your hand luggage in the hold”. Fortunately the Ryanair Gestapo started the process with the people immediately behind me at the gate. Note made to be earlier to check in gates with these guys. At least I already keep my Afatinib and passport in my pocket so if I do cop for it I’ll just grab the iPad and let them do their worst.
Landing was fun. A huge queue for passport control. Questions. Nervousness. “Where are you visiting?” – “Eindhoven. <pause slightly too long> And Amsterdam.” – “Business or pleasure?” – “Business. <why did I say that?> No, pleasure.” – surprised they let me in!
€3.75 for a bus ticket. The web site said it was €2.20. The machines all rejected my plethora of credit cards. I had to use the radical concept of paying cash on the bus.
Checked into the hotel. Lovely room. No working wifi. Went out to McDonalds for wifi. System down. Bought milk for the sole tea bag in my room. Had a bath. Slept.
I’d rejected breakfast at the hotel on cost grounds and, after negotiating the train ticket machine, zapped the card on the barriers and grabbed something resembling a bacon sandwich, a coffee and an orange juice for a respectable €3.
Another double decker train arrived, just as I’d experience in Bratislava, and I clambered up the stairway to find ordinary people in ordinary seats in a full carriage. Eighty minutes later, witnessing only a single windmill, we arrived in Amsterdam Central.
Being totally unprepared I exited the station on the wrong side. Google maps looped me round to Anne Frank’s house where I looked at the queue, took a picture and moved on. Strangely enough my random walk brought me back to the station some time later.
It was a walk that made me see the city for what it is. Ljubljana on crack. It has the water and the bars and even some of the architecture of the Slovenian capital but it’s massive by comparison. And the cyclists, mopeds, cars and trams mean you have to have your wits about you. I’m beginning to understand that however nice a city is, if it’s too big or busy I’m not going to get the same buzz out of it that the USA South West national parks give me. Or Ljubljana, which is exquisite.
I had a Dutch pancake, which tasted suspiciously like every pancake I’ve ever made and then handed over €11 for an hour on a boat. It was interesting enough with recorded location information in four languages. The city is very, very nice. But for me a day is enough. Been there, done that and my back hurts!
The train journey home was a disaster. For some reason the service terminated at Utrecht. It took 45 minutes to discover that a train had argued with a person and services were cancelled for hours on the line.
I grabbed the opportunity to see Utrecht, muttering about the inconsiderate person who was, by now, presumably an ex-person. It’s a lovely place. Canals, churches, bars clinging onto the banks of the waterway and a fabulous square that reminded me of a mini Kraków. But feckin bikes everywhere!
Food and drink and back to the station to discover trains were running again. The Netherlands is very flat. As scenery goes there are fields and canals and little else. The Amsterdam to Eindhoven line runs through something like Lincolnshire. Nice enough, but not all that interesting.
Its been a tiring couple of days. I might take a travel timeout between this trip and Boston.