We woke up earlier than planned which meant I could take my time getting ready. An hour later we were out of the hotel and at the tram stop. Everything ran smoothly until we tried to go through the gate to the train. Our one way ticket was for yesterday. Such a pain and a waste of money. But it didn’t cost us time thankfully.
We arrived at Schiphol at 07:18 and it took 90 minutes before we were through passport control. It’s worth keeping in mind if you are travelling via Amsterdam. For EU passport holders it’s much quicker as they have automatic scanning. Something I’m looking forward to when South Africa introduces this next year.
We had breakfast in the Aspire Lounge and then boarded the plane. I had chosen to leave the middle seat empty between Dave and I. It worked wonders on the flight coming here. But someone booked the seat for our return flight. She was happy to swap and then asked the flight attendant to move her if there were two empty seats somewhwre. So strange to have booked this seat then when she could have chosen seats elsewhere where two next to each other were empty. And she paid for her choice.
Two people were not allowed to travel so we had to wait for their luggage to be taken off the plane. And we had to wait for an oxygen bottle. Eventually we took off just over half an hour late. Lunch was served at 12 – chicken for mains and a cheese cake for dessert with a bottle of Chenin Blanc. We got a cheese sandwich at tea time made with Beemster cheese and bread from Carl Siegert Bakery who mill their grains using the windmills. From experience I can tell you its extremely noisy inside the windmill when it’s running.
I spent most of the flight reading and at 7pm Dave got us a snack. Supper was served at 8pm. A margherita panini and coconut cheesecake made for a perfectly light meal. With a bottle of Shiraz this time.
We landed 10 minutes late and the longest queue was the health check. Once that was done we went through passport control, collected the case and headed home. A very long day after a truly great time away.
We slept in this morning and our first task was to recce the route to catch the train to Schiphol. We bought the one way ticket we will need tomorrow morning. This will save us time and it’s easier knowing where you are going when you leave in the dark. From the train station we caught the metro which went around the outskirts of Amsterdam and then we went back to the older part of the city. First coffee in the Red Light District and then a lot more walking.
We went to the Jewish Quarter and it’s the first Synagogue we’ve seen in Europe without armed police or army presense. We walked along The Amstel and stopped in De Pijp for a beer. Then along the Canal Belt before getting tostis for lunch.
We ambled through Vondelpark after espressi and then did some shopping. Tonight is all about packing and getting ready for our 6:30am start tomorrow.
Once we had packed, we went to the dining room and had a picnic supper. Then normal bed time as we’ve set the alarm for our usual wake-up.
Our day started with getting to the Laboratory for our PCR Test.
We were very early but thankfully they saw us when we arrived. We had to have a nasal and mouth swab and it was not pleasant. But not as bad as I thought it would be. After that we came back to the Hotel, and Mark and Dave had croissants for breakfast.
We then caught a tram to the Museum area of Amsterdam and walked to Albert Cuypmarkt. We started with coffee and had a look around before going to Centraal Station.
On our first visit to Amsterdam Dave, Mark and I went to Pancakes Amsterdam for lunch. It was so good, that we came back with Mark on our last day together on that trip. So it seemed fitting that our last meal together would be there. We waited in the queue for quite some time and then had Dutch pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. We said our good byes and Mark headed off home.
Dave and I then did some ferry hopping across the water to various parts of Amsterdam and then we walked to The Cow Meseum close to Dam Square. We had coffee and headed back to the Hotel for the last part of the afternoon.
Dave wanted to re-experience a rijstafel so we went to Restaurant Blauw for dinner. It was a lot of different, amazing food and after supper we came back to the hotel and collapsed.
After packing up and tidying we set off along the Dijk for Utrecht. Eventually we had to cross De Lek and then headed into Utrecht. We walked around the old city, had the obligatory espresso and had hot dogs for lunch from a food truck.
After that we headed for Amsterdam. I had found a park and ride garage that cost €1 for the day which had a serious queue waiting to get in. But it was quick and it looks as if they allocate a few of the actual parking bays to the P+R. We parked, got caught in a rain storm and found a bus to bring us close to the hotel. We walked along the cobblestone, each dragging a suitcase and found where we needed to be with no problem. After checking in and sorting things out we went for a look around.
Back to Dam square and we had drinks in the LGBQT area before more walking around. Then Dave and Mark had beers while I went to Uniqlo. They made it for happy hour and I’m sure they were doubly happy to get cheap beers and to not have to look at jackets with me. After that it was back to the hotel.
We walked towards the busier part of where we are staying and found an Italian pizzeria for supper. Sotto do wood fired pizzas and they were generous and good. Dave and I had Sicilian wine and I finished with tiramusu. A proper Italian evening out, and our last one with Mark.
Our first task was to get a data Sim card and once that was done, Dave bought train tickets. We got the intercity from Schiphol to Dordrecht. Had I known there was free WiFi on the train I might have not bothered with the Sim until Mark was with us. But hindsight is twenty twenty vision! Mark was waiting for us and we drove to the old city where we had battered and deep fried fish pieces for lunch.
We bought cravettes from the fish vendor at the market and then sat down for a beer. Our vaccine QR code doesn’t scan but thankfully the owner accepted our vaccine cards. Hopefully in time there will be a universal system in place, if it remains necessary.
After that we shopped for whisky at a specialist bottle store and then headed to Nieuw-Lekkerland. We did grocery shopping for dinner at the supermarket and then Dave got fresh veggies from the green grocer and mince from the butcher. I bought a few things at the supermarket and a huge round eclair for dessert at the bakery. It is worth keeping in mind that many shops don’t accept credit cards for groceries etc. and you need a debit card or cash. Mark then dropped us off at the Guest House and left us to settle in. We had a lovely family dinner and a late night for all of us.
After packing and getting ready and dinner at home it was time to get to the airport. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and checked in without too much hassle. First stop is security where your passport, vaccine certificate and accommodation plans are checked. Then the actual check in where everything is verified. We had uploaded our documents the day prior to flying so that went smoothly. Boarding pass in hand we went through the security check and passport control with no problems. As the Bidvest Lounge is still closed we had a glass of wine at the terminal restaurant. R220 for two glasses shows what a captive audience means. After that we went to the gate and chose the best seats to wait for our flight. We boarded first and got settled on the plane. We have emergency row seats with three to ourselves. The space is most welcome. We left on time and had dinner just before 1am. Weird to eat at that time but breakfast is only served at 09:30 so best to eat. A Shiraz with dinner went perfectly with the very tasty chicken curry.
Once again the electric toothbrush battery has gone flat. It just ‘sees’ a plane and it happens. We are on a Boeing 787 and it’s so quiet I’ve decided to sleep without earplugs. But not without a sleeping tablet, anti-histamine and one Disprin to prevent blood clots (Doctors orders). Just as I was falling asleep there was a mishap so that woke me. I tossed and turned for a bit and snooze on and off. I finally managed some sleep and work up at 8:15. Snoozed for another half an hour then got up to brush teeth etc.
Breakfast was fruit salad, yoghurt with berry coulis and an egg sausage roll. All very tasty but the coffee was the most important factor 😂. By the time we were done I was organised to repack the hand luggage and get my boots back on.
Wearing a mask was not as bad as one thinks. I have the copper fresh masks which make breathing easier. We were not forced to change them so I will put it away for the return flight. I pushed it down a few times in my sleep but that’s because I feel like I’m being smothered if something covers my nose.
I packed away our in flight bags. Got the stuff we need for the terminal on top of the pile and sat back to relax for the last hour by reading my book. We landed slightly early without a hitch and disembarked row by row. I love this new aspect for getting off the plane.
Our vaccine passports were checked when we disembarked and then a long queue for passport control. We had a smooth experience as all my paperwork was in order. After that all we had to do was buy data and get on the train. It’s 12:47 and I’m signing off for the day.