Amsterdam


It seemed to take forever to get here, from one characterless airport to another.  Singapore Airport (Changi) would have to be the pits, especially with too much time to kill between connecting flights.  It was so expensive and full of ‘designer’ boutiques, i.e. Gucci, Prada, etc.

The flight from Singapore to Frankfurt was marred by a trio of Swiss people in the seats in front who insisted on leaving their seats fully reclined for the entire journey.  It made the travelling so uncomfortable for those of us in the seats behind and we ended up in a big verbal stoush.  I don’t usually get into verbal affrays with people, but the arrogance of these fellow travellers quite upset me – the view that I will do what I want and too bad if it adversely affects you.  When seats are jammed so closely together these days, it is really quite rude to recline you seat back as far as it goes, particularly if those behind are attempting to eat a meal.  I recline mine a little for resting, but would not impose myself so much on those seated behind.

Enough of that whinge.  On reaching Frankfurt, my travelling companion and I realised that we only had one hour before our flight to Amsterdam.  There was a walk of at least 1.5 kms through the terminal buildings, plus a couple of queues in relation to security and passport cheques.  The security check was the slowest that I have ever seen.  Each bag was xrayed and studied for some minutes before proceeding to the next.  Because my shoes have a metal trim, I took them off to avoid any dramas but I still set off the alarm (phone in pocket) and has the most detailed (and solemn) frisking to which I have ever been subjected.  We finally got to our boarding gate 5 minutes before take-off was due, and were relieved that we were allowed on the flight.  We were especially thrilled on arriving in Amsterdam today to see that our bags had also arrived.  I was expecting that they would be flying, rudderless and homeless around Europe.  Untrusting me!

As we approached Amsterdam on top of the clouds, dawn was just breaking.  The vibrant pinks and oranges at that crept over the horizon and tickled the clouds was quite beautiful.  When we broke through the cloud layer, it was still dark underneath.  What looked so amazing though were acres of glass houses, all illuminated with golden lights. They looked so bright. I took a photo, but don’t have the resources at the moment with which to upload it.

Dogs and cigarette butts are the first things that hit you about Amsterdam.  There were dogs accompanying their owners in the airport terminal, and the minute that you step out the door of the building, you are picking your way through a carpet of butts.  They stink too.  Nobody bothers about putting a butt in the bin – it is obviously not part of the local culture.

It is winter here of course and so quite chilly, but there is no wind today  meaning that the temperature is not as icey as it might otherwise be.  Everything is just grey.  The view from the train windows was full of lots of apartment blocks, all looking like lego blocks, but very utilitarian.  They looked dismal places to live and have none of the character of the central and older parts of Amsterdam.

We had to catch a ferry from along side the Central Railway station to get to the area of Amsterdam in which we are staying.  I was surprised  when the ferry drew up to the landing area, and discharged a mass of people not just on foot, but many of them on Bicycles and motor scooters.  The ferries, which are free to use, are not very big and so everyone is jammed in tightly and they are built to accommodate the bikes and scooters also.  It seems a very sensible approach.

Having just had a very Dutch meal of bread and cheese and ham, I can feel that exhaustion and lack of sleep are catching up with me.  Time for a kip.

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