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July 18th 2019
Published: July 19th 2019
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Today we start a stint away from hot weather and beaches as we make our way to Amsterdam.

Corfu airport is totally chaotic. As we drop off our trusty little hire car, a long line of buses pulls up outside the arrivals area, and what feels to us like thousands of people are now packing themselves into the small terminal and spilling out onto the footpath outside. We join a queue, but soon find that we should only be in it if we want to go to Bristol. I’m sure that Bristol’s a very nice place, but it’s not on our agenda for today. A Russian sounding lady with a very loud voice is barking orders at everyone, trying to get them into the right check-in queues. If the queue for their flight isn’t open yet she tells them that they must go outside and stand on the footpath. This gets her into an argument with about half the passengers in the terminal who tell her that someone else has just ordered them to get off the footpath and go inside. She looks very scary. I hope that we don’t get into an argument with her. Issy says she must have been a teacher in a former life. I had her pegged as an ex-guard at a Siberian prison camp. She tells everybody to keep moving along the lines. She says they must “stay close; you must love each other”.

A disproportionately large number of the people here seem to be of the British persuasion; a very disproportionately large number. We look at the departure board. There are fifteen flights listed, and only one, ours, isn’t going to somewhere in the United Kingdom. The UK must be almost empty at the moment; all its citizens are here. I hope it doesn’t get invaded while no one’s keeping guard. I queue for some food. The Brits are certainly very keen on their burgers, hot dogs and chips. These are being snapped up like there’s no tomorrow, while the shelf holding the salad sandwiches remains virtually untouched.

We fly to Vienna with Austrian Airlines. The cabin crew makes lots of announcements, and every time one finishes all the passengers clap enthusiastically. We’re not sure what’s being said because it’s all in Austrian, but whatever it is it must be exciting. Eventually the crew gets to the English version of the safety briefing. This also finishes to rapturous applause. I never thought of Austrians as being easily excitable people, but it seems I may have been mistaken. The applause as we land reaches thunder pitch. We conclude that a lot of the passengers must have had fairly low expectations of surviving the flight.

We transfer to our flight to Amsterdam. “Transfer” is probably the wrong word. It seems that we’re getting back on the same plane that we came here on, and it’s even at the same gate. The transfer gods are clearly smiling on us today. This is karma for the horrors they inflicted on us the last time we had to endure a transfer.

We arrive in Amsterdam. The airport is massive and seems like a small town, complete with shops and public transport. We take a taxi in to our apartment. We feel like we’re back in the real world again after a couple of weeks in tourist world. There are bikes everywhere. Our apartment owner Paul tells us that everyone in Amsterdam owns at least one bike, so there are more bikes here than people. He warns us that the cyclists here are not particularly obedient, and we shouldn’t assume that just because a traffic light says we can cross a road that we won’t get mown down. The steps up to our second floor apartment are more suited to mountain goats than people, but once the shock of climbing them evaporates we see that it’s very nice, and even has a small balcony overlooking a canal.

We have arranged to meet my English cousin Barbie here, and we catch up over an excellent meal at a Thai restaurant.


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