#WOMBATSDOAMERICA Day 18
Posted by wombat37
Blogging our recent US trip day by day, four weeks after the event.
Friday 22nd August – Amsterdam
Yes, OK, it should be #WOMBATSDOAMSTERDAM, but then it wouldn’t fit with all the earlier blog posts and that would be just WRONG. Anyway, over the Atlantic, at about 9pm Eastern Time Thursday when it was dark outside, Captain Keith (not Crieff, thank goodness*) warned us that there was bad weather ahead, which would cause some turbulence. He made the flight attendants sit down. The aircraft leapt about like a mad eejit. We caught brief glimpses of lightning among dense clouds out of the window. That was both beautiful and scary.
I tried to sleep, but dozed only fitfully, even though I used my full snooze-arsenal of squidgy neck cushion, tilty seat headrest, and loosening of the trouser waistband. It seemed hours before rosy-fingered dawn was stroking my eyes. No, you fools, that’s not the blonde who served us with what purported to be beef stroganoff, but tasted like beef with lard lumps. That’s POETRY to describe us flying into the next day.
The plasticky seat was making my arse sweaty, so it was a true relief when Captain Keith told us that we were beginning our descent into Schipol. I did remember to do up my belt before we went through customs. Sorry to disappoint those of you looking forward to a trouser joke. We emerged from customs at Arrivals Gate 1.
“I’m at Arrivals 3 gate,” Yvonne texted, “See you soon.”
“On our way,” I replied. We followed yellow signs to Arrivals 3 which sent us round in a big pointless circle. Bloody stupid airport. Seriously, it took half a bloody hour.
“I’m under the Heineken sign at Arrivals 2” I texted, followed quickly by “Oh bumholes, I mean Arrivals 3.”
It was very crowded, so I went searching for one charmingly attractive Dutch woman among scores of them that were thronging the area. Seriously, die Nederlandse vrouwen zijn prachtig. Soon we were hugging hello, though, and I’m sure I wore a big daft grin at finally meeting one of my longest and best Twitter friends.
Yvonne drove us into the city in her nippy little car, and walked us across towards the canal. We passed massive queues at the van Gogh museum, and I revelled in being in my fourth country in two weeks. I loved all the bicycles, and the trams. We were delighted by random statues of iguanas, too.
Yvonne took us on a narrow-boat tour around the canals, which we boarded opposite Hard Rock Cafe, a nice bookend for the one we’d seen in Niagara. The cruise was superb, and just right for the cloudy day and our slightly hysterical mood. We passed a houseboat museum, Anne Frank’s house, a tulip museum, the Bimhuis concert hall, the Rembrandt Museum, Opera House, and all manner of bicycle thronged bridges, houseboats, and fine houses.
Afterwards, we retired for a pleasant coffee and chat in a pleasant coffee house. It really had been a lovely day. The heavens opened as we left the cafe and we were drenched by a torrential downpour. DRENCHED, I tell you, in DUTCH RAIN! It was WONDERFUL.
Back at the airport after bidding farewell to Yvonne we steamed quietly, waiting for the gate to open for our final flight. And guess what? Yes, after all we’d already experienced, the capricious gods of flight had one last twist to throw at us. A long delay brought on by the very storm that had soaked even our underwear was greeted by a shrug. We were used to such things by now.
Then, a gate change which meant a scurry clear across the airport. Knackered after a brilliant day that had had little sleep before it, we were simply going through the motions now. More security checks, more waiting, more annoyances. Finally we boarded, now desperate just to get home.
Still those Gods of flight had not finished, however. We crossed the North Sea and were finally over England. When we were low enough to see land we spotted Scout Moor wind farm, and from the orientation managed to figure out that we were flying over our house. We gave a weedy “Yay”.
Manchester Airport was surprisingly easy to get out of, and there was Martin, good old Martin, who’d dropped us off on Day 1 seventeen days before for what was to prove, quite simply, two of the most amazing, astounding, astonishing weeks of my life.
Thank you for sticking with the #WOMBATSDOAMERICA blog posts. They’ve been a joy to write, and have helped me to revisit all the magical things we did, and the incredible friends we met and made. Where will we go next? I’m not sure – San Diego? Michigan? Canada? We’ll just have to wait and see.
*one for ‘Cabin Pressure’ fans there. For non-fans, this might give you a flavour http://youtu.be/sHgeeGOypGI