Along with thousands of other people we suffered our share of travel misery the last weekend just before Christmas. We were due to spend Christmas with our family in the UK and were supposed to fly from Amsterdam to Bristol on Friday 18 December. Our flight to Amsterdam was 12 hours late and when we did get there in the early hours of Saturday morning it was to find that the Bristol flight had been cancelled anyway. We stayed up the rest of the night so that we would be amongst the first people to be dealt with by Easy jet when the desk re-opened at 6am the following morning. Little did we know when we set off that Friday morning that the weather in Amsterdam was causing chaos and that the airport had not been able to cope with the unusually severe weather conditions by the time we did arrive. People were sleeping wherever they could find a space – some in luggage trolleys, some on the ground, some in the Christmas decorated areas – Santa’s throne, for example. When we went in search of a cup of coffee at 6am we were told that it was free. Just as well as our airline had not given us any vouchers for hotel accommodation or refreshments of any sort.
We spent a few anxious hours in the airport trying to get ourselves sorted out. The departures area was a heaving mass of frustrated humanity as people struggled to drag their luggage to departure gates from where they were not going to be departing. Eventually we realised that it was easier to move around on the lower (arrivals) level. We later learned that no flights departed that day, the arriving flights were cancelled and in the UK both Heathrow and Gatwick airports were closed. By 8.30am we had booked ourselves into a nearby hotel and took a taxi there although we were not able to take possession of our rooms until early afternoon. The hotel we had booked ourselves into was comfortable, good value for money and only 5/6km away from the airport and Amsterdam centre and on a bus route. As far as we were concerned, we could have been stranded in a much more inhospitable city than Amsterdam which we know and love. We were far from averse at having to spend a couple of days there.
Amsterdam in the snow was a completely different experience from our previous visits (usually in spring or early summer). Skating rinks had been set up in some of the squares as had some Christmas markets. On Sunday afternoon we walked from the Leidesplein to Rembrandtplein and then along the banks of the Singel canal to Spui where we wanted to explore an area called the 9 alleys which was reputed to have some interesting shops, bars and cafes and a good variety of canal-side architecture. We decided that this area was not the most picturesque or interesting and eventually returned to the Leidesplein where we had to wait another hour in the bitter cold for the bus back to the hotel.
Here are some of the photos I took:
what tickled us most was that Holland had changed its regulations regarding smoking in “coffee” shops since our last visit. Previously smokers could smoke a mix of dope and tobacco. Now they can only smoke neat dope!! People who want to smoke an ordinary cigarette now have to go into a special smokers room.
I think this quote perfectly sums up our weekend in Amsterdam:
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain”.
I don’t know who said/wrote this. If anyone knows, I would be pleased to hear from them.