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Unread 12 Jul 15, 11:50 AM  
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Gill H
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Happy Amsterversary! Day 1

<<Pre-trippie

Goededag everyone, and welcome to our Amsterdam trippie. If youve read the pre-trippie youll know all about the how, when and why of this trip. If not, just click on the link above and all will be revealed.

OK are we all ready? Then lets begin!

You join me at about 2pm on Thursday 18th June. Im at home, Ive packed, tidied and cleaned up, and Im just waiting to hear from Peter that hes finished work.

As you probably know by now, yesterday was our 20th wedding anniversary, and we went to our favourite local Chinese restaurant for a lovely relaxed meal. Well, 20 years is a China anniversary, and since we dont want any china and certainly cant afford to visit China, we did the next best thing and went to the North China restaurant!

Today has been a normal work day for Peter, but fortunately a day off for me. Just as well, as I spent most of the morning getting my hair cut and coloured ready for the holiday. But now Im all sorted and impatient to be off.

At 2pm I decide that even though Peter doesnt finish for another half hour, I will start to make my way to the tube station with the case. And its a good job too, as manoeuvring the heavy suitcase and flight bag downstairs takes a while. What makes it even worse is that I suddenly realise that I havent put a luggage tag on the case so I have to sprint back upstairs, open up, grab a tag from another suitcase and lock up again! Then its over the road to the bus stop, and by the time Peter phones Im already on a bus to the tube station.

Peters got a lift to the station from a friend at work, so its not long before he joins me, and we make the short tube journey out to Heathrow. Its only 20 minutes or so, but the tube is not the most comfortable way to travel right now, as we are sharing a carriage with a class full of excited children on their way home from a school trip. Fortunately they get out a few stops before us, and we dont have to try and squeeze through with our luggage!

We arrive at Heathrow and go over to bag drop, as weve already done online check in the night before. But then we realise that not only did I forget the luggage tag, I also forgot to bring a lock! Were not happy leaving the case unlocked, so Peter nips round to WH Smith to buy a lock. We then have an entertaining few minutes in the queue trying to get it out of the incredibly fiddly packaging, but by the time we reach the desk, our case is secured. Bag drop is quick and efficient as usual, and we head over to Security North just a few steps away.

Unfortunately, just as we get there, they announce that Security North is closed for temporary. Temporary what, we never find out. So along with all the other people whove just arrived, we leg it over to Security South, which is not that far away, but is now rather crowded!

We scan our boarding cards and join the long queue for security, which seems to take forever. At the belts we are separated Im directed to a queue on the left, Peter to one on the right. We shrug and sort our belongings out, sending them through in their trays. But then we queue for ages to go through the scanner. Everyone is being given the full scan, and patted down afterwards. For some reason they have put all the women in the queue on the left, while the men are being allowed to go through with minimal hassle on the right. Imagine a Fastpass system arranged by gender, and youve got the idea. Very unfair indeed!

Eventually I get through and join Peter, and we discuss where to eat. Several times now weve eaten at Gordon Ramseys Plane Food, which normally does an express two-course meal for 16. At the moment, though, the kitchen is being refurbished, and although the restaurant is still open, they arent offering the express menu. We decide this is a good opportunity to see what else Terminal 5 offers, so we go over to Huxleys, which serves traditional British food and popular favourites. It looks quite nice and not too busy, so we head in.

We are served by a friendly French lady called Ophelie, and soon Peter is enjoying his bacon cheeseburger, while Im happily tucking in to fish and chips.





The restaurant is fairly quiet, apart from the occasional crashing noise of the staff throwing bottles of drink into ice, which initially made me think they were breaking glasses! Eventually a party of French people sit at the table next to us, and Ophelie expertly takes orders in two languages. We decide on some Judes ice creams to finish our meal. Peter has chocolate and strawberry, while I have chocolate and ginger. Both are delicious. This is definitely somewhere I would eat again.
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WDW: Port Orleans Riverside Dec 10; SSR Nov 14

Edited at 09:58 PM.
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Unread 12 Jul 15, 11:54 AM  
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Gill H
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Location: London

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After our meal we go to see whether our gate has been called, but there is a message on the board saying please wait. Uh oh. Please dont say weve been delayed? We go downstairs anyway, and a few minutes later our gate is called. Unfortunately its in section C, which means we have to use what they call the transit. Now I thought transit was something Gok Wan talked about in yoghurt adverts, but here they mean the little shuttle that takes you from A to B, or indeed to C. We power-walk over there, because time is now pushing, and we find a huge crowd ahead of us. We almost dont get on to the transit, and we have to use our finely-honed London commuter skills and sharpen our elbows to withstand the pushing and shoving from the harassed throng all trying to force themselves on. We just about manage to squeeze into the carriage, and fortunately its only a minute or so before we are getting off at section C and power-walking again round to our gate. Despite the fact that we left ourselves plenty of time to get here, were slightly worried to see people boarding already! It turns out these are the priority boarding people, though, and the economy types like us still have a few minutes before the queue opens.

Were soon through and walking the incredibly long passageways to the plane. Seriously, it feels like were half way to Amsterdam before we even get on. Then theres a long wait at the plane entrance, while a woman with a huge piece of carry-on luggage attempts to manoeuvre it down the aisle and into the overhead locker. But eventually were in the plane hooray! As we go in, I ask a steward for an extender seatbelt as I usually do, and he reaches into a small locker and hands me one straight away. For those of us whose bodies are less Baywatch and more Baymax, its nice to know that airlines usually deal with this with no fuss at all.

Were soon settled in our seats, 20 E and F. We chose these because the third seat hadnt been taken, so there was a chance wed have all three. But no such luck someones in the seat next to me. Its no problem though the seats are nicely roomy, and in fact they feel much more comfortable than our last long-haul flight.

Before long, the safety video is shown yes, the one where the kid drops the toy rabbit, and everyone has impossibly skinny arms and legs. But then we seem to sit on the tarmac for absolutely ages. Eventually theres an announcement that we have been given a different departure slot, and meanwhile theyre going to power the engines down while we wait.

I dont know if youve ever used one of these new fizzy drink vending machines they have at some shopping centres now the ones which make a series of wooh woooh WOOOH! noises as they get your drink for you. Well, thats exactly what the engines sound like powering down. We have to wonder whether the crew are all getting themselves a Coke !

Eventually they start up the engines again and we taxi over to somewhere right the other end of the airport. And finally we take off, a good 40 minutes after our scheduled flight time.

Ah well, at least our flight is smooth, and the flight map is quite cool to watch. They have some whizzy graphics showing the plane turning round on a big yellow circle, gliding up a white strip, and then along it and down the other side. It looks like the worlds strangest Total Wipeout obstacle.

About 20 minutes into the flight, the crew start bringing round some cans of drink and bags of snacks, and no sooner have we been given these than the pilot announces that soon well be preparing to land! The flight itself has been less than 45 minutes. Its hard to believe were in another country already.

However, getting off the plane takes almost as long as our flight did. Firstly we have to wait ages for them to attach the tunnel to the plane, and then Mrs Big-Luggage is causing hold-ups again. Meanwhile I take my phone off airplane mode, because I need to contact our taxi driver. The hotel have arranged for him to meet us at the airport, and said he will know if the flight is delayed, but we need to contact him as soon as we land. Well, as it turns out there is a text from him on the phone already! His name is Leon and he says to call him as soon as we are coming out of the airport.

As usual, the walk through the airport to baggage claim and passport control seems to take forever. I sometimes wonder whether its a cunning ploy to reduce the risk of DVT by giving us vigorous exercise after the flight! The queue to get through passport control is huge, but eventually were through and our suitcase soon appears. Once were through customs I call Leon, who explains that hes across the road outside the Sheraton in a black Mercedes (wow, taxi driving is obviously a lucrative career here!) We soon find him, and it turns out he does all the driving for the hotel, and knows pretty much everyone whos stayed there. His English is flawless, with a vaguely American accent, which we will soon discover seems to be the norm here.

As we journey, Leon points out some interesting sights and chats with us a little. All goes smoothly, until were almost in reach of our hotel, but then we find ourselves stuck behind a car which is being towed away for parking illegally. They evidently dont mess about here with dishing out fines. Instead they come along with a truck, pick the car up and put it on the truck to take it away. Leon tells us that he can tell by the number plate that the owner is local, and should have known better than to block such a narrow space.
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WDW: Port Orleans Riverside Dec 10; SSR Nov 14
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Unread 12 Jul 15, 11:54 AM  
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Gill H
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Eventually the truck drives away, and we continue round to the market square of Niewmarkt and then pull up outside Hotel Misc Eatdrinksleep. Rachel, a vivacious American, is there to welcome us and give us information about the hotel, the room, and various things to do. Shes lively and friendly, rattling off dozens of helpful tips, but right now all we want to do is find our room and get to sleep! Interestingly, once she hears of our plan to buy the iAmsterdam card, she warns us to think carefully whether its worth it, as it doesnt cover the Rijksmuseum or Anne Frank. She says theres some info in the room about the various museums and discount cards available, or they can book packages themselves if we wish.

Before we head for our room, we ask if we can have an 8am breakfast tomorrow. Breakfast at the hotel is from 9am onwards unless you ask otherwise, which feels rather late for us as we want to beup and doing by then to get the most out of our day. Rachel says this is fine, no problem.

Pepjin (prounounced Pep-EEN) is Rachels husband. Hes Dutch, and hes definitely the quieter of the two, but nevertheless just as welcoming. He kindly takes our case upstairs to our room, negotiating the notorious narrow Dutch stairs to do so. Now we were warned that the hotel is a typical old Amsterdam house with steep and narrow stairs which I took to mean that the walls either side were close together. Not so. Its the steps themselves that are narrow barely big enough for half the length of our feet. Plus, spiral steps! Definitely a watch your step moment. Were on the first floor (hooray!) and we manage the staircase well, but you wouldnt want to bring toddlers or anyone with mobility problems up stairs like this.

Rachel has given us our hotel room keys swipe cards which work in a similar way to the magic bands at WDW, by putting the wi-fi symbol on the card to the matching one on the door. She follows us upstairs to make sure everything is OK with the room. Well, OK is an understatement. The room is breathtakingly beautiful. All the six bedrooms in this hotel are individually themed, and we have been given the Wonders room. Its highly decorated , with a gorgeous red and gold canopy over the four-poster bed, and furnishings which make the room look like an Arabian Nights fantasy. Fortunately, though, the facilities are resolutely 21st century, including coffee maker, fridge with free snack s and drinks, flat screen TV and a beautiful bathroom with a rain shower and Rituals toiletries very swish! The garden-facing bedrooms dont have air conditioning, but theres a pedestal fan provided, which cools us down nicely.

As we have let them know its our 20th anniversary, theres also an ice bucket in the room with two individual bottles of prosecco, and a box of luxury chocolates too. We couldnt ask for a more hospitable welcome.

Once Rachel has ensured were settled, she leaves us to enjoy our prosecco and chocolates, and soon afterwards we fall gratefully into the huge comfortable bed, and are soon asleep.

Goede nacht everyone!

>>>Day 2

INDEX
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Queen of Team Wimp
DLP: day trips 2000, 2003; Cheyenne Sep 2009, Feb 2011; Sequoia Lodge June 2008, May 2012; Elysee May 2012, Jan 2013, Sep 2013; Disneyland Hotel Mar 2015, Santa Fe Nov 2016; Newport Bay Sep 2017
WDW: Port Orleans Riverside Dec 10; SSR Nov 14

Edited at 12:59 PM.
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Unread 13 Jul 15, 07:26 PM  
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P&S
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Yeah you have started the trippie
Looking forward to reading it
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Christmas market anyone?
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Unread 13 Jul 15, 07:40 PM  
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RachelM
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Looking forward to reading the rest.
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Here we go again.
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Unread 14 Jul 15, 07:45 PM  
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Darwen Bird
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I've been looking forward to reading your trip pie Gill.
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Disneyland Paris here I come
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Unread 31 Oct 17, 06:35 PM  
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Cazzius
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What a fabulous first day.

Your hotel sounds amazing, what great hosts.

You did make me laugh with the comment about the walking off DVT through the airport after the flight as I often think that too!

Looking forward to reading the rest of your Amsterdam adventure.
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Yacht Clubbing
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Unread 31 Oct 17, 08:10 PM  
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geoffa
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Great start. Sounds like a wonderful hotel.
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Cancelled because of illness.
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