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Published: April 7th 2010
I don't know if I'm happy or sad. I should be happy because I've just left the office and am sitting at the airport at the start of a short break to Amsterdam, a city in which I've had the pleasure of living, albeit 22 years ago. However, I'm should be sad because I've just left the office in which I've spent the past 26 years working and will not be going back.
It was difficult to say farewell to so many people and to so many friends. So many mixed feelings although I know I've done the right thing and the majority of those I saw today were pleased that I'd managed to escape! I guess I'm just a little apprehensive about the future - after 26 years in the same job who wouldn't be but I now have the chance to do something new and going straight from the office to the airport is probably the best way to take my mind off things! This is also a first in that I'm being accompanied by my other half, my better half, her indoors, the old lady, the trouble and strife!
The usual security formalities passed without difficulty and soon, we found ourselves waiting at the departure gate whilst the lack of communication between the ground staff and those at the gate led to farce as some twenty or so passengers were sent down to a plane which wasn't ready to receive them! I'm constantly amazed at travellers' lack of patience at airports when, as we all have seats, some look at the long queue, head to the front and ask whether boarding has started, wondering if, by some magic, the stewardess will greet them like some long lost sibling and personally escort them to the plane ahead of all others!
Nevertheless, we were soon standing in the cold wind whilst some numerically illiterate individual in Row 3 spent an inordinate amount of time putting their two oversized bags in the overhead lockers whilst the rest of the passengers in Rows 15 to 30 waited patiently in the cold!
Soon however, we were all seated, engines started, cabin pressurised and stewardesses showing us how to buckle our seatbelts as if the technology was beyond most of us! (Actually, looking at the couple in Row 9, I suspect the technology was
beyond them.) We hurtled down the runway and into a dull grey Manchester sky, where we turned through 180 degrees and headed towards mainland Europe.
Bing Bong. The pilot came on the intercom. “I'm sorry, we're all out at the moment; if you'd like to leave a message ...”. If only - that would have livened up the flight but instead, we were served red wine and biscuits. No complaints - with jazz on the iPod, it was a pleasant way to while away the hour.
Making our way through Schiphol was also uneventful (if you ignore the long queue to get through passport control - one Europe?) but on trying to get a train ticket into Amsterdam, I discovered that my bank card, recently reissued, was no longer Maestro/Switch compliant and was not accepted in the ticket machines! Twee enkele reisen naar Amsterdam Centraal
seemed to do the trick, as we stood at the ticket counter, breaking into a €20 note. The 15 or so minutes sitting upstairs in a Dutch train floated by and, before we knew it, we were standing outside Amsterdam CS at the taxi rank where Bringt u wij naar het NH City Centre in Spuistraat
was working wonders. After 22 years away from Holland, I'd lost none of the charm!!!
Despite the time, we dropped the bags and headed down to the bar - which, according to the notices was open until midnight and served food. Both were not true so our custom went to a small Tapas bar on Spui where as bottle of Amstel and a plate of meatballs sufficed as tea.
End of Day 1.
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