Amsterdam!

Trip Start Sep 10, 2012
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Trip End Oct 25, 2012


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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

            Early on in our flight we experienced a bit of turbulence and the seat belt sign was switched on.  A number of people got up while was on and earned the wrath of the cabin crew.

After dinner was served I settled down to watch the movie "The Hunger Games".  I ended up nodding off during it though and would watch the rest later. 

I awoke after an hour or two and noticed that once again the seat belt sign had been turned on.  Indeed the plane was bouncing around quite a bit.  I tried to go back to sleep again but was getting increasingly hot and flustered.  I started to feel a bit queezy and thought I was going to be sick and so I readied the barf bag.

I was really trying to wait for the seat belt sign to go off so i could go to the bathroom but it did not seem like it was going to happen.  I tried to call a flight attendant with the call button but no one was forth coming.  My mum had woken while this was happening and she told me that I should just go. 

I decided to risk the wrath of the cabin crew and dashed to the toilet.  In the end I didn't barf but was still a bit queezy and sought out the cabin crew for some water and told them that I wasn’t feeling well.  Instead of earning their wrath they allowed me to sit in one of their chairs in the back of the plane and bought me some water.  The crew commented on how pale i looked.  The crew then gave me some coke to drink, plus some sweets and chocolates to eat.  They said that stuff with sugar helps more than water.  I was allowed to stay sitting there for as long as I liked and enjoyed doing so, the air seemed a bit fresher and a cart with heaps of goodies was within arms reach. 

Eventually I felt well enough to return to my seat, mum even let me sit in the aisle seat.  I am happy to say that I never used the barf bag.  After having done quite a few flights previously this was the first time I ever got air sick.  One of the flight attendants for the rest of the flight made a point of asking me how I was doing every time he passed our seat, and stated that I looked much better.

I did not sleep much for the rest on the night and managed to watch the rest of  “The Hunger Games” and “MIB III”.

We arrived at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam pretty much on time.  We disembarked form the plane and it felt like we had to walk 5kms to the Customs Arrival Hall, Schipol is huge!  After travelling to the USA on my last couple of overseas trips, it was nice to go through immigration without a thousand stupid questions. The was just one:

“What is the purpose of you trip?”
“Holiday”
Thump, as my passport was stamped.

The next part of the arrival process is always a bit of an anxious one for me, waiting for checked baggage.  I probably worry too much about it, but when you have connecting flights that means to me that the odds are greater that it will go missing.  If anyone of my fellow Contiki travellers from 2002 are reading this you would remember the drama Cynthia had with lost luggage.  I was more concerned on this trip though for my mother’s luggage than mine, a about a quarter of her checked bag was full of her medicine for the next 6 weeks.  I was quite happy when both of our bags appeared on the carousel.

Our plane had arrived at about 6 in the morning so it was an early rise for Tante Trudy and my cousin Mark (Tante Rita’s son) who were at the airport to pick us up.  We loaded up the car for the relatively short drive to Tante Trudy’s unit where we would be staying.  It was still dark when we arrived and was quite gloomy, and it eventually started to rain.

After a couple of hours at Tante Trudy’s I decided to head into Amsterdam after freshening up.  I wanted to hit the ground running and get my body clock in step with the local time.  My aunt had advised me of two different approaches to get into Amsterdam.  Each way took me to a different part of the city.  One option was bus 80, which is the way I travelled to Amsterdam last time.  The other option was bus 179, which would take me to Sloterdijk train station.  From there it was a one stop quick train ride into Amsterdam Central Station.  I opted for bus 80 and headed off.

When I got to the bus stop I decided that I would walk into Amsterdam.  I had mapped it out before my trip and had worked it out to be 11km from Zwanenburg, where Tante Trudy lives.  It had stopped raining by this time and the sky looked pretty clear.  As I had been doing quite a lot of walking in the last couple of years I figured it would take me about 1 to 2 hours without really exerting myself.   As I really had no plans to see anything in particular on this day it really didn’t matter how long I took.

The path I ended up walking along was a bike path and I was not sure if pedestrians were allowed to use it.  I did come across a few other walkers so I guessed it was okay.  I do think however, some of the moped riders took delight in seeing how close they could get to me.

I was well into my walk when the sky got dark again and it started to rain.  It was not heavy though and my jacket was keeping me dry enough.

After a while I came across a train station and realised it was Sloterdijk.  As it was still lightly raining I decided i might as well get out of it and try my hand at catching the train.  I entered the station and found two automatic ticket machines and no ticket booth.  I came to realize that the machines only took coins and not notes.  As this was my first day i was yet to have any coins and decided I had to keep walking. 

After walking for about another half an hour or so the rain became a lot more heavy and I was regretting my decision to walk.  Just then a bus stopped next to where I was and the destination it displayed was Centraal Station.  I gladly got on and out of the rain.

I got to Centraal Station and although had been 10 years since I was last here, there was a great sense of familiarity to it.  I would almost say it felt a bit like a homecoming, I love this city.  I spent most of the day walking up and down many streets and along many canals, just taking it all in.

The only building of note that I took in today was St Nicolaaskerk (Church of St Nicholas), the main Catholic church of Amsterdam, which was not far from Centraal Station.  I really do like the older churches of Europe, and this was no exception, marvellous architecture, sculptures and paintings.

For lunch I treated myself to a cone of Frites (Potato chips) and mayonnaise, something I had been craving for as soon as I had made plans to travel again to this city.  Afterwards lunch I decided to take in a couple of beers at a city pub.  At the pub I noticed that they had bitterballen on their menu.  I knew where I was coming back the next day for lunch!

After a couple of beers the time was 1630 and I was starting to feel a bit worn out so I caught the 80 bus back to Tante Trudy’s. 

Back at Tante Trudy’s my mum appeared to be holding up quite well after all the travel we had done.  After dinner I was ready for bed and hit the sack at about 2000.  I was asleep pretty much immediately.
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