We were up at 5:30 am and instantly started to get ready. I worked on my backpack and getting my stuff finalized. I also headed to breakfast and had just had a bowl of cereal and a horrible coffee. Their breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express had not improved since the beginning of the trip. Alan was packing slowly. I was encouraging him to speed up for we were running out of time. I started getting our luggage out into the lobby area while he finished up. I checked us out.
We waited about 5 minutes for the shuttle to come and climbed in. The shuttle took us on a tour of the park and apparently it just parks in one place at the airport and you get out. It took a bit to figure out where we needed to go to find KLM. They do not have their own desks and share it with Air France. The luggage was not overweight YIPPEE and they didn’t charge us for the extra bag. YIPPEE again! We were soon on our way to the gates. Getting through security was not too bad.
We boarded the plane by crossing the tarmac and climbing into the back end of the plane. We were soon settled in and on our way to Amsterdam. The flight was short about one and half hours. We did get coffee and juice drinks with a sponge cake treat. We landed with a bump at the Amsterdam airport Schiphol and prepared to find our next flight.
Sometime during all these events Alan realized he didn’t have his hearing aids. So he contacted the Holiday Inn Express. He learned that they found them and would mail them back to him. They needed the address for he was not on the reservation being in my name. He seemed to think he had left behind other things like his new Scottish cap. I had thought I had checked everything in the room and I think that the bedspread probably knocked the hearing aids off the night stand or something like that so I didn’t see them on the floor? The hat could have fallen behind the ironing board which was part of this clothes hanging area. The only thing was the hearing aids and they were found. We have had problems with forgetting items in the past, so we try to be thorough and this time we had not been.
We did not know our gate number till 8:20 am. So we had some coffee. After 8:20 am we headed to Gate D1 which turned out to be a customs thing and they asked a lot of questions. Then we had to go to gate D47. This means we ended up walking back and forth in the airport. Fortunately they have those moving walkways that help you out.
We settled in some chairs to wait for our flight. Oh NO! Things started to disintegrate at this time. They delayed the flight because of an air conditioning problem so we waited about 1 hour and then a little longer and they announced that the flight was cancelled and we needed to go to T6 for a transfer. I was getting more and more tired and hungrier our little shared sandwich had not been enough food.
Schihol is not small, it is a huge airport, busy and confusing.
Off we went looking for this transfer gate and it was packed with people from the flight. Some ladies from Delta pointed to T2 as an alternative and there was a line there too. That took a good hour or more waiting to get up to the counter. The Delta Attendant was very pleasant. She reminded me of Merle Oberon the famous actress. She first booked us into Atlanta to Seattle, but something happened and she discovered she could get us on the direct to Seattle flight the next day. So she fixed the booking for us on and put us into the same seats.
Unfortunately we were going to have to stay overnight in Amsterdam and I didn’t want to at all. She handed us shuttle tickets, hotel room stay tickets, and food vouchers to use in the airport, about 20 Euros.
We found some chairs to take a break and rest up after all that mess and standing waiting. About 20 minutes later we headed out to find the shuttle to the Hotel. This was Amsterdam and we didn’t realize it but we had to go through Customs! This took another 20 minutes to wander through the line of people. We spent about 3 minutes with the customs officer who seemed unhappy.
The first shuttle to the hotel https://www.hotelschiphol.nl/en/ was mobbed and Alan and I didn’t make it. So we waited for a second one to come and that took another 30 minutes. Fortunately, we found a bench to rest on. It was the Valk Hotel Schiphol A4 that we were going to.
As we waited we chatted with others who had suffered the same flight cancellation. This couple had done a Viking Cruise so that was fun to learn about. The shuttle arrived and we climb on. The shuttle was really a huge bus. It took about 15 minutes to get to the hotel which was out in the country not near the airport at all. My husband said it was about 5 miles. I was impressed with the bus driver’s ability to manage the tight streets.
We again waited when we got in line for the hotel reception desk. The helpful receptionist put us into our room, gave us our keys and food voucher for dinner and breakfast. I suddenly realized we didn’t have our luggage, our clothes and things and some meds. They had kept our luggage at the airport. We headed out in search of our room which was down through the lobby, this long hallway to a lounge area next to the convention center of the hotel. I had our instruction paper that read “Stranded Passengers” at the top in my hand. The receptionist came running and handed us 3 personal kits. We then used the room key by placing it on the pad to open the doors to the hallway to our room. This was a big hotel.
The room was on the ground floor but it was really far away and took a while to get too. I was tired, hungry and unhappy. So everything was twice as difficult.
Our room was ultra-modern with a painting of Van Gogh looking at us. There were two single beds pushed together. A big window with a patio door covered most of one of the walls. Looking outside was a patio, grass and then construction. The rug looked like wooden boards. It had a Keurig like coffee maker but small.
We headed to dinner, which was passed the reception desk and so we had to retrace our steps and this is the hallway outside our room.
We found the restaurant and the maitre de greeted us and said to find a table and help our selves. Something like “pop on in.” Their dinner was a buffet style which was good. I filled up my plate twice and got a free glass of wine from the nice waitress who took pity on me. Why do I get the feeling that this hotel has done this before? Help stranded passengers?
We had not eaten much all day thinking we would be getting on the plane, big mistake! I was really beyond sanity and that is not me.
The dining room had these huge vases filled with elaborate flowers. On one wall was a mural with flowers which seemed familiar?
I began to think that Valk was a painter and we later found out that was true. Once our tummies were full we headed back to the room and pretty much fell into bed.
We had a power problem and tried to figure out how to charge our electronics because this was Amsterdam and different than Scotland. We only had one piece that we could use among our electrical plugs that would work for their electrical current, so we had to charge our electronics, one at a time.
THE NEXT DAY
We were up about early and got ready for breakfast. We both tried to work the Keurig like coffee maker. My hubby can be determined so he figured it out. The coffee packets were tiny about 1/2 the size of a Keurig. The coffee was okay. We just dithered in the room.
We eventually headed to breakfast and I took a table in the middle of the room this time so as to avoid the kitchen traffic. I had to pick and choose breakfast because things were a bit odd. I filled up my plate as much as possible so I wouldn’t have to walk back, I was still tired. I tried their coffee machine — Yuck! Hubby had a lot of fruit and then went back for the pastries.
We didn’t have much to pack because we didn’t have our luggage it was still at the airport. Alan decided to take the personal kits they had given us which contained toothbrushes, toothpaste and shaving kits and more. We cleaned up, packed our backpacks and were out the door with the small roller luggage that I had as carry on.
I returned the key to the front desk and inquired about the shuttle at 10 am. It turned out it was right outside waiting. We hurried and got on board. The bus left about 10 minutes later. That was a bit close.
They drive on the proper side — the right and out the window was flat land and what looked like hot houses. I saw a casino and a McDonald’s. I have now placed my feet on the European Continent four times. One time was Trieste and Rome years ago but this trip it was the Amsterdam Airport and the hotel. I have always wanted to travel Europe but have not quite made it.
The shuttle dropped us off outside the main terminal. We had to walk past the taxi stand and other to get to the main terminal. We entered this huge room which was like an airplane hangar bay. It was bustling with people, noise and more. It was overwhelming.
Slowly Alan and I reasoned out what we needed to do reading signs and trying to stay out of people’s way. We headed to the D1 to D? signs and found an information booth and double checked with the attendant. She confirmed that we needed to follow the D1 signs, head up the escalator to security and that we didn’t need to go and check in.
So we headed out and up the escalator to the next floor following the D1 sign and came to Security. This was very thorough and a bit intrusive to me and Alan physically. I don’t think I have every had anyone check my bra by swiping my front. I had to help Alan with my roller luggage because he didn’t know what was in it. He was busy with his backpack telling the security guard. This was not the nicest security experience. We had to go back down the escalator to the gates.
Once that was done we headed to D1 and did the questions all over again for US customs. We also learned that the flight was delayed 1 hour and that made us nervous. The man at customs gave us D49 as the gate. We sat down and rested after all that fuss.
Then we headed in the general direction of the gate and stopped at Starbucks and used or 20 Euros for nice cups of coffee, a sandwich for me and cheese thing for him. We leisurely ate our meal for it was now 12 noon. I was not going to make the same mistake again about food. Hubby wanted to use up the food voucher so he was pleased.
We arrived at the gate and I found us seats behind a glass area and hubby spotted a charging station and hooked up. He talked with the gate people and learned it was a different plane than the one the day before. That was a good sign that things were going well. I saw activity that assured me that they were preparing it for flight and the crew came and boarded.
I think we waited about 1 hour and then I saw signs of more activity that was looking like people were preparing to board. Hubby asked an employee what line we needed to be in. He turned and pointed to the line by the window and he would follow. I was almost to the doors to the ramp when he caught up with me and we boarded together. We found our seats which were just past first class on the left. We were settled in quickly and I took the window seat this time. I was checking out our progress to flight time on their screen in front of my seat.
We were on our way. The captain explained that we would have to taxi to the far side of the field and that was why the long time for boarding. The plane started to move and clapping erupted from behind us. I watched out the window as we taxied on the field. He crossed two freeways to get to the flight take off area. There was cheering as we went out on the field for takeoff. When the plane left the ground there was more cheering. We were all very happy travelers.
What a relief! We were on our way home and it would take 9 hours 54 minutes. Once in the air I decided to watch Cars3 and do a marathon of movies. I ended up including Hidden Figures, The Darkest Hour and Paddington2. They were all different movies but by the 4th I was tiring of doing that and had a movie headache. Dinner was good I choose the Chicken Picante. I also had a glass of wine. People closed the windows of the plane and settled into to watch movies or sleep. The plane became quiet and dark. I dropped my magnifying glass on the side of my seat and Alan had to reach across me to retrieve it. I was using it to light up stuff so I could see in the dark rather than turn on the lamp above the seat. I tallied our customs list and it came to £199 pounds.
I don’t think either of us slept on the plane. I did the movies to keep me going. I spent the final hour just relaxing. It was great to see the land below and recognize Seattle between the clouds. I think I saw Mt. Baker peeking through the clouds but no other mountains. We came into SeaTac from the north to the south.
First stop was the restroom, then baggage claims, then customs which was very easy. There was a Beagle working his nose probably checking for drugs. He was very serious.
We ended up in the middle of the baggage claim level. Hubby’s son found us in an odd place from what he knew. He had parked the car so that was good. It was great to have him help with the luggage.
When we entered the house, I found Sneakers and Ebony were in the green chair and a little puzzled as to what all the noise and fuss was. It didn’t take long for them to be glad to see us.
We were home at last. THE END May 28, 2018
PS: I have a lot of research ideas and books to review as a result of this trip. We will see what comes out of it.