Wednesday 12 June 2024


 June 11th.  Fine but the weather forecast predicted rain between 2 and 3 pm (and that is exactly when it fell)

Sunday we travelled via Easyjet from Stansted to Schipol.   Only a short flight with high security at Stansted, and virtually none at Schipol!   Easyjet has an unusual method of loading passengers onto the plane - presumably to ensure a quick turn around.  We were all passed through the boarding pass check and then herded onto the staircase leading down to the tarmac.  So three across and accompanied by the staff saying”please move forward there are other passengers boarding” we waited about twenty minutes while the air grew fetid and the temperature rose.   Tempers rose a little too!   Eventually we went out to the tarmac and up the stairs to the plane.   There was a back and front door and steps at each but everyone except one family used the front door so you can imagine the confusion as baggage went into overhead lockers and people scrambled to their seats.  We had seats 6a and 6b but of course, the passenger in seat 6c was already boarded and had three pieces of luggage with her - on her knees, between her knees and at her feet.  She and her baggage stood up and moved so we could sit down.   The stewardesses, few in number, offered no assistance nor did they check boarding passes and Easyjet with a reputation for being tough on luggage requirements is, in our experience, not so.

The flight was 40 minutes and very smooth and at Schipol we walked and walked and walked to the Baggage Claim.  It is a big airport.   Through Immigration where a cheerful young Dutchman said to Little Sister, “you were here last year!  Do you like it?”  He waved a hand and we were through, picked up our suitcases and with no customs check whatsoever exited by the Nothing To Declare gate.   Everybody was exiting by this gate.   

The taxi driver had to persuade his Satnav to accept the address which did nothing for my confidence but we did arrive safely and are now resident in Amsterdam for three weeks.   Little Sister’s grandson recognised her and there was a beaming smile of welcome but he was rather unsure of the woman with her and I got sideways looks for a while.

Somehow in the Easyjet leg of this journey I have caught a head cold so both Little Sister and I declared Monday a Day of Rest and devoted our time to entertaining The Grandson.   His mother, his grandmother and he had a morning at Montesorri and during the afternoon he thawed out sufficiently that I was allowed to read him a story.   His vocabulary has now grown to include “arnji “ which is sufficiently recognisable to warm the cockles of my heart.

Tuesday morning Little Sister and I walked to the neighbourhood hairdresser where I got a tidy up and feel much better for it.   Then we caught a tram into Central Amsterdam.   Would you believe it?   For some reason the tram was diverted from the usual route but the “information person” on board kindly assisted.   We got off at Dam Place and walked a few blocks to find Stephen and Penelope, the renowned knitting shop.   It was smaller than I had expected, very well stocked and Very Expensive.   Here, for the first time, I had to not only enter the PIN of my credit card but sign the receipt too.  

Along that street were two stores selling rubber ducks.   

And many stores selling a wide variety of souvenirs including many varieties of artificial tulips.   The season is over so these may be the only ones I get to see.

Next door to Stephen and Penelope was a haberdashery store stocked to the gunwales with fabric, notions, buttons etc and many many customers.   We had a good look through there but I wasn’t persuaded to leave any € there.

We walked back to Dam Place and found The Corner Shop to have some lunch.   Both of us settled for a cup of tea, an omelette and toast and a glass of water.  The hot water came in a glass cup with the tea bag separate - the customer makes their own!  Here the brand seems to be Pickwick and it is certainly good but  has not knocked PG Tips from its prime position.

On the return journey we caught the tram to the stop for Albert Heijn, the supermarket.   Here we put the items through the self checkout and were mentally patting ourselves on our backs at managing all this in a foreign language when the machine stopped and a little message came up.  We had no idea what it was until a young girl on staff uniform came up and said she had to scan our items.   I asked why and her answer was “it’s a cultural thing” but she quickly agreed when I said “you do random checking”.  So I’m not really sure why.   To exit the store you must scan your till receipt before the gate will open.   From that one experience I’d say it’s easier to get into The Netherlands than out of an Albert Heijn store.

Amsterdam is just like I imagined.   Old buildings, canals, bicycles,

And in one street where we walked many shops offering cannabis.

And there are flowers


Maggie said...

I didn't realise you had family in Amsterdam, I hope you have a wonderful time and you certainly deserved that day of rest with all the sight-seeing you've been doing.
I've heard of Steven and Penelope's shop and how expensive it is, but nice to look around none the less.
Looking forward to hearing about the sights you see in your time there.

Clare-Aimetu said...

I don't think I've ever had baggage check goung into a country, always Customs/Immigration who stamp our passports. Hopefully you both feel better after a rest day. Enjoy Amsterdam, it's a lovely city with plenty to see.

Leonore Winterer said...

Oh, I had forgotten there was another leg to ypur trip - how fun, almost like a bonus chapter for us reading along from home! Hope you are enjoying your time in Amsterdam.