The first time I flew to the Netherlands was also the first time that I flew out of the country. I remember how cool it was go to the post office and get my picture taken for my passport, and waiting for it to arrive in the mail. (And nervously waiting for them to return my birth certificate, which they did.)
The first time I had a very short stop in London to visit another friend, so each way I flew British Airways. On the flight to London I secured an exit row seat, which was nice for the sleeping aspect. On the way there, flights generally take 6 1/2 or 7 hours from NY. On the way back to the States, it takes a bit longer due to head wind. I like to take a red eye flight (6:10PM or 9:30PM are the choices) when heading to the Netherlands and on the way back I take a late morning flight.
The flight to London wasn’t too bad, though I at best dozed. It didn’t help that my seat was right by the bathrooms – I would always hear the toilet flushing. The flight from London to Amsterdam was interesting because I flew out of London City airport, which is a very small airport. There was one security line for the entire airport (or maybe two). All of the airport passengers wait in one hall until their gate is announced. After my friend from London left to go back to his home was about when I realized my flight was delayed another two hours… so it was a long wait.
The airport was so small that we walked out onto the tarmac and used stairs to get up into the plane itself. The flight was very short – only about an hour, but it was already almost 10PM or something like that. I sat next to a guy who was rather nice but definitely enjoyed the free alcohol.
The most interesting thing about arriving at Schiphol so late at night was that there was almost no one in the arrivals hall – so it was very easy to spot Marco. The second and third times it was a lot harder. Of course my biggest worry was that all of the signs would be in Dutch only, but this was not the case. English was displayed predominantly, with the Dutch in smaller font below. Since it was an international flight, I had to grab my luggage before meeting Marco. It was a long walk, too.
We stopped at Starbucks for a quick drink. Amusingly there were two ladies behind us. They tried to grab our drinks, but exclaimed in Dutch about how cold they were — that’s because they aren’t your drinks and you ordered something warm!
The train ride home was great – I think the trains are rather spacious and elegant looking. It was also very cool to enter the Hague at almost midnight. There was no one around, so the only sounds were Marco and I talking, with him pointing out stuff, and the sound of my luggage wheels scrapping on the pavement.
The second and third flights I took KLM/Delta. I booked with Delta and all of the flights were branded Delta – I never had a plane branded KLM. For amusement I considered booking with KLM (they do have an English version) but the price always seemed to be slightly more expensive. The first time I flew Delta they had in-flight entertainment videos in the seat in front of you. The second time, there was only entertainment on large screens. The movie choices were appalling and it was very hard to sleep during. Every time the screen would go mostly white, it would be obvious even to your closed eyelids.
I’ll be glad after my next flight to the Netherlands. It’s hard to leave Schiphol to return back to the States since you know you won’t see your loved one for so long. The first trip home in Summer 2010 was especially hard – even Marco commented on how poor the air conditioning system was in the airport because it was affecting his eyes. And then right after we finally said our goodbyes and I got in the customs line, some woman tried to hand me some pamphlet or other about airport services. I don’t care lady, can’t you see I don’t care about that? But I took it anyway.
10 more months to go.