A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Well, we've had some issues but finally arrive in Amsterdam

sunny 22 °C

OK, a delay in starting this blog but not for the want of content!

After 3 years of delays due to Covid, we are finally off, first to Amsterdam where Andrew will attend the IBC Trade Show, then onto Edinburgh for a couple of days before heading to Glasgow to set off on our West Highland Way hike (160kms over 8 days). After this we will move onto Knockderry House to rest our legs and enjoy spending time in the place we married 8 years ago before heading to Glasgow for a couple of nights ahead of coming home via Singapore. Can't wait, sounds amazing, no doubt all will happen exactly as planned.

We've planned well for this hike, spent hours researching our packing needs, walked many, many km's wearing in the boots and planned all the outfits to cover the other destinations/plans/events (including business attire for Andrew) all whilst needing to keep the bags below 20km's each, as this is the limit the hiking company will carry daily between our walking accommodation with us carrying only day packs.

PXL_20220908_020028137.jpg

It's been a while, but basically it's like riding a bike, Sydney Airport is a breeze, we're through check-in, security and enjoying a glass of bubbles in no time, without realising how much we had to be grateful for at this point...

PXL_20220908_032603653.jpg

The Sydney > Singapore flight takes off on time, I'm in my happy place, ready to enjoy the next 8 hours or so, getting a little sleep and watching the entire series of 'Hacks' (can highly recommend). Still all good at this point.

PXL_20220908_052821008.jpg

OK, this is where things start to go a little off the rails...

The Singapore > London leg pulls back from the gate on time but the pilot informs us there will be a delay of 20 minutes or so due to airspace crowding issues on our approach to London. OK, no worries, we've got heaps of time (also impressed they already know there will be crowding issues), sit back, plan my viewing for the next 13+ hours and wait.

After 30 minutes or so the captain has some 'more bad news', there is a seriously ill passenger on board and we need to return to the gates so they can offload the passenger. Of course, you feel sorry for this person and it's completely understandable they would make this decision, apparently we're lucky the issue was discovered on the ground rather than in the air which would require us to divert to somewhere 'less friendly', not sure what the captain meant by this but would probably have to agree.

So the poor person and their travelling companion are off the plane, it's now at least an hour since our official departure time but, hopefully, we are still ok for that connection from Heathrow to London. Fingers crossed. Nope, we now need to wait whilst the passenger's bags are found and offloaded and there is no chance we will make the connection. Apparently, however, the people on the ground are working to rebook us on the next available flight and as soon as they receive the details, they'll let us know. At this point, it's important to know our bags were booked all the way through to Amsterdam.

Anyway, there's nothing to be done but carry on knowing that we had no other option at this stage but to leave our fate in the hands of others.

So, we're 90 minutes out of London and two things happen, firstly the captain comes on to tell us the sad news that the Queen had passed away, which felt all the more poignant flying into London for some reason. Plus, the crew had no news of our onward connection, despite having been able to give others their new details. We would have to check with the ground staff on arrival. Warning bells - this has happened at Heathrow before and it was not a good experience.

We land, get off the flight, the ground staff don't have any details for us and advised us we need to go to Terminal 5 (we were at Terminal 3) as this is where our original flight was going to leave from. Off we head to the transit bus for the 10 minute journey from Terminal 3 to Terminal 5, breathing deeply and resigning ourselves to what lies ahead. We've been here in the same position before and know it's going to be a bumpy ride.

I was aware of the fact our bags were also not going to make our original flight and that whether or not they were following us around the terminal was completely out of our control. The moment when we were confronted by the queue waiting to be helped with their various issues was very scary - we wouldn't be getting on a flight anytime soon if we had to wait in this queue. So we check the Qantas app (should have done this earlier) and learn they have rebooked us...on an Air Lingus flight to Dublin and then another flight from Dublin to Amsterdam. We're about 30 hours into our journey by now.

This flight leaves from Terminal 2 in about an hour. Back on the bus for the 10 minute trip from Terminal 5 to Terminal 2. We don't have any boarding passes and can't obtain them via the app, we're at the security checkpoint and think this might be a bit of a problem, but strangely this must happen more often than you would expect and they have a system for that (probably the only system that works in Heathrow) plus we're getting a little anxious about how our bags are faring out there in the wilds of Heathrow without us, so we find a nice lady behind a counter who manages to print our boarding passes and types our baggage numbers into the computer which she says, somewhat hesitantly in hindsight, that that should make sure our bags are also rediverted.

After a mad dash through the terminal, we make it onto our Air Lingus flight for our impromptu trip to Dublin, in most instances I would be very happy to go to Dublin but not so happy this time around...

PXL_20220909_122637946.jpg

PXL_20220909_112314716.jpg

So we find ourselves in Dublin, surrounded by Irish people heading off to Amsterdam for the weekend and getting an early jump on the festivities by the look of it.

By this point we are 34ish hours into the trip and have no idea what time, or even what day it is, but eventually, we board our flight for Amsterdam and land around 4:30 pm, 7 hours after our original arrival time. We're also very sceptical we will ever see our bags again - Schipol has been getting a lot of negative publicity regarding its baggage handling with reports stating there are currently 15,000 unclaimed bags sitting in the arrivals halls, the results of passengers who have been rerouted, etc.. Personally, I'm thinking it will be a miracle if our bags appear on that carousel!

Anyway, we need to get through border control first... the queue is the worst I have ever seen at any airport and the fact it took only an hour or so is testament to the fact the border officers were basically just waving people through.

PXL_20220909_151546715.jpg

We find ourselves in the baggage hall, we find our carousel and wait, and wait, and wait... and then the bags from our flight start appearing and again we wait, and wait, and wait. Of course, our bags didn't arrive, we never stood a chance really.

So, another queue, this one to lodge our file to have the bags traced and returned to us. Our hopes of ever seeing our bags again are plummeting even further as we look at the thousands of suitcases scattered all over the place between carousels and along the walls. Anyway, you can only try, so eventually we made our way to the front of the queue where another very nice lady, took all our details and suggested we might want to check the bags sitting around the carousels that arrived earlier in the day. She ominously added that we needn't even bother to try to contact the customer service number as they are no longer taking calls. We all jointly agreed it was very unlikely the bags ever made it to Dublin and are likely still in British Airways hands and could still arrive from Heathrow. A flight had just landed from Heathrow so she suggests we go to that carousel just in case... another long wait for the bags to come out and, of course, ours aren't amongst them. We are now on the roller coast ride involving many ups and downs in the wait for your lost bags.

Meanwhile it's now 7:30pm Amsterdam time, over 40 hours since leaving home and we are just about putting one foot in front of the other as we leave the airport sans bags to check into our hotel which turns out to be lovely, in a great location and the home of a very nice restaurant and lobby bar.

PXL_20220913_051137053.jpg

The plan now involves waking up early to head into the city to buy Andrew some suitable 'trade show' clothes from the only store open at 9 am in Amsterdam so he can get to his first meeting at 10 am..

PXL_20220910_071936066.jpgPXL_20220910_072728034.jpg

The search for our bags continues tomorrow...

Posted by janemooney 14:12 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

How we didn't expect to be spending our time in Amsterdam

I absolutely love Amsterdam! Most tourists concentrate their time around Dam Square but walk 10 minutes or so in the right direction (the wrong direction will find you in a whole different scenario that's best avoided if you're older than 25 and not all that fussed with exploring the seedier/sadder side of humanity) and you are in amongst the streets and canals of an almost fairytale-like world. Gorgeous buildings, treelined streets crammed with sidewalk bars and restaurants, extraordinarily attractive people riding bikes to wherever they're going.... bliss! Despite our rather fraught start to the trip, I am really happy to be here!
b702c220-dc4b-11e9-bb83-73c72416fc33.jpg

So having fitted Andrew out his 50 Euro business attire and sent him off to the trade show with strict instructions not to stand next to any open flames as, with the amount of polyester he's wearing, he will definitely go up in flames himself, I find myself in Dam Square with no real idea how to proceed.

PXL_20220911_080226408.jpg

It feels like the fate of our luggage is outside our control. We've seen the state of that baggage hall and can't believe there is any process for getting the thousands and thousands of bags back to their owners, but all we can do is keep an eye on the luggage tracking website and hope there is a miracle and the bags will be found and forwarded to us at our hotel but between now and when we leave Amsterdam in 4 days time.

I've been in pretty much the same clothes for over 48 hours and need some clothes (and shoes) to wear to dinner that night with our new owners. I can't bring myself to think about the hiking gear, the nice clothes I'd frugally packed for dinners and day wear, or the pool in Singapore. After a few hours of battling my way through the absolutely packed streets and stores of Amsterdam on a sunny Saturday when I should be happy to be in this beautiful, beautiful city that I love so much, I'm jet lagged, depressed and tired (sorry for the whinge) but I have everything I need to be able to change out of my manky clothes and head out to dinner at Bak Restaurant...delicious!

https://bakrestaurant.nl/en/

By the time we get back to our hotel it's around midnight, we're beyond exhausted but some fine food and wine has restored our spirits a bit... at one point we even entertained the thought our bags might be waiting for us at the hotel when we got back.

Sadly, this didn't happen but tomorrow is another day and my sole objective is to find those bags!

Posted by janemooney 05:10 Archived in Netherlands Comments (1)

A new day brings new hope

This bag situation is becoming all consuming (and very boring) and today's objective is to spend as long as it takes to exhaust every possible avenue to reunite with these bags. Andrew is off to the show again in the same clothes as yesterday and I'm back in my manky streetwear (got to keep the good stuff for tonight's vendor dinner).

It's another gorgeous day in Amsterdam, the sun is shining, it's Sunday morning and the streets are quiet. I walk the 30 odd minutes to the trade show with Andrew and back again and hit the laptop. By this time we have logged into the worldwide lost luggage tracking website about 100 times with the message still being the same - essentially we are still working to locate your bags. I'm just in the middle of writing an email to Qantas, knowing they probably can't help - we've already rung them to be told we've done the only thing we can do which is file a report and now we have to wait - when I return to the website to locate the baggage claim numbers and my heart soars, our bags are on the way to Amsterdam from London and will arrive at 9:50am. Thank god!!! However, without being able to get into the customs area to pick up the bags we still need to wait for the system to kick into gear at Schipol Airport to get the bags to us at the hotel. You can't ring anyone, all emails have gone unanswered so far but at least we know they are now here. I pretty much spend the rest of the day looking out the hotel window waiting for whatever means of transport is going to deliver those bags whilst trying to ignore the vision in my head of all those 1000s of bags stacked in that baggage hall.

I had planned to go to the Rijksmuseum this time around but instead I head across the road to Vondelpark, a huge parkland in the middle of Amsterdam where the locals are out enjoying their Sunday afternoon with kids and dogs and picnics. Again, I'm feeling happy and lucky to be here.

Tonight we have dinner with the guys from Editshare at a very odd restaurant just near the trade show venue before walking back to the hotel with the slimmer than slim possibility our bags might be waiting for us.

PXL_20220911_185740462.jpg

No, not there but so tired at this point all we want to do is sleep!

The next day is our last day in Amsterdam and we need to start confronting the fact we aren't going to get our bags before we leave here, if at all. However, overnight Andrew received a text message from a good samaritan who had arrived and seen Andrew's bag next to carousel 4 and, using the contact details on the luggage tag, texted Andrew to let him know. Apparently, this is now a thing at Schipol Airport, which is so massively understaffed that it can't possibly deal with the situation so people are taking it upon themselves to update their fellow travellers. We think about booking a flight to anywhere just to get to the other side of security so we can come back into the baggage hall.

Meantime Andrew heads off for his last meeting at the show and we plan to meet up back in Dam Square, the only area in the city where there are department stores you can buy reasonably cheap clothes that you don't really want, but now need, at 2:30. We need to plan for the worst and stock up on some cheap walking clothes from places like UniGlo that don't exist in Edinburgh. If you ever thought you liked the idea of heading off to the airport with nothing but the clothes on your back and shopping as you go for what you need, think again, it's no fun!

Anyway, we spend the afternoon, getting the bare minimum, planning to get new boots, poles, gaiters, waterproof jackets and the more important items at the outdoor stores in Edinburgh. We also need to fit this stuff in our carry-on bags as we don't have another suitcase at this point. This is the sum total of my clothes for the next 3 weeks at this point...

PXL_20220912_162836532.jpg

I know this is going on a bit but it really was pretty much all that happened in Amsterdam so we decided to stop thinking about things for a while and go out for a lovely dinner and a drink or 3... all whilst watching a sorry love triangle drama involving the rather handsome waiter and two gorgeous waitresses play out in front of us, very entertaining!

PXL_20220912_175756470.jpg

It's the end of a long day but we need to head to the airport early as we've been told by everyone we've come across that is also heading home from the show, plus all the media outlets, that the queues at Schipol are now averaging around 3 hours to just get through security. It's starting to feel like this travel business is a bit too hard at the moment.

Posted by janemooney 05:46 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Proof that every cloud has a silver lining

sunny 17 °C

Our time in Amsterdam has come to an end and, already, I can't wait to come back. In the meantime, we are heading to Edinburgh, another city I love even though I've only been once around 12 years ago. It's not unlike Amsterdam in many ways, it's a small city of around 600k residents, its architecture is stunning and the history fascinating, we've both been looking so forward to these couple of days before heading west to start our journey on the West Highland Way.

Having researched every possible way of getting into that baggage hall to get the bags we know are there, we are due to arrive in Edinburgh early afternoon and plan to stock up on everything else we need before having a full day to explore the city tomorrow.

An aside...we have spent hours trying to figure out how to update the forwarding address for our lost bags on the website but there's a problem with the system and it's just not possible, so....

Anyway, we're at the airport by 7:30 am for our 12 o'clock flight. The check-in counter queues are pleasantly (and surprisingly) short and by 8am we are confronted with the fact that we don't actually have tickets on the flight. It's a long and slightly embarrassing story on my part so I'll skip the details and we'll head over to the customer service area to stand in a queue to be booked on the next available flight. Obviously at this stage we are googling available flights and by the time we reach the front of the queue we pretty much know there are no available KLM flights today and any other flights will cost 1000s of Euros and take us to places such as Zurich, Munich or Helsinki on the way. But, who knows, maybe the people at the counter will be able to help...

PXL_20220913_063402458.jpg

Although extremely sympathetic and very lovely they can't help. OK, let's try the Qantas website....weirdly they can get us to Edinburgh via London City Airport leaving at 6pm and arriving at 10pm. Again weirdly the only tickets available are rewards point flights in Business Class, tick and tick!!!!

Ok, we have a full day at Schipol, so let's just try to get closer to our bags and maybe Andrew (he's faster than me) can bust on through the security gates into the baggage hall without being arrested! The other thought, a very long, long shot, was to go to 'Lost and Found', meant purely for those looking for things lost in the terminal itself but maybe they could give us some advice. Any advice!

So, we head downstairs to 'Lost and Found' and there is a note on the side of the window stating they do not deal with lost/unclaimed luggage but directing us instead to 'Door 16'. There is a glimmer of hope bubbling away as we make our way to the mysterious, and almost hidden Door 16, in a dusty far flung area of the terminal where we find a small queue of people waiting to be let into a secure door, one by one, where we can see 2 border control workers reviewing paperwork prior to letting some of the people through the magic doors, behind the border security lines, into the baggage claim area!!! OMG, surely after all the research and effort it can't be as simple as finding Door 16???

As it turns out we have the magic tickets...our original boarding passes for the flight we flew into Amsterdam on...we are in!!! There are 2 baggage halls and we run through the first to the second hall, past mountains and mountains of bags stacked along walls and in huge portable carriers. Literally 1000s of bags, but ours are here somewhere and we have all day so....

Heading to Carousel 4, being the last known sighting of Andrew's bag, we start the search...nothing there...OK, over to the wall closest to that carousel and a handwritten sign with the letters 'BA' (presumably British Airways) still searching frantically. We need to calm down, nothing so far, we've scanned hundreds of bags by this point and then...I see a luggage tag in the shape of a cat's head (a classy looking one, not a cheap and nasty one)...OMG, surely not, but yes, yes, yes, it's mine!!!! I literally squeal with happiness, drawing attention from the security guards with guns but I suspect they understand my joy and they just smile and give me the thumbs up :) Meantime, Andrew's bag is not near mine and, ominously, there is a gap just next to mine...but, no, I turn towards Andrew's voice and he has his too, found in another pile in the centre of the hall. We've done it.

PXL_20220913_072921577.jpg

So all's well that ends well. What started as another setback and the need to rebook flights and hang around the airport all day turned into the biggest bonus and we don't care one bit that there's still 7 hours and the longest security line ever to negotiate before boarding our flight, we now have our bags and, most importantly, those boots!

We are, however, now looking at all possible options available to avoid travelling through Schipol Airport on the homeward journey!!

I promise from here on in I will provide updates that include nice details of our trip and some photos of the scenery!

Posted by janemooney 06:10 Archived in Scotland Comments (1)

Beautiful Edinburgh

After a long (but very productive) day at Schipol Airport we finally board our flight to Edinburgh via London City Airport - the flight was slightly delayed because, yes, they realised just before take-off that they had forgotten to load the bags!!! However, crisis averted, our bags did make it to Edinburgh at the same time as we did.

London City Airport was interesting in itself, being approximately 10kms from the centre of London makes for some amazing views coming in and with only a small number of gates, it's super easy to get around. After a stopover of around 50 minutes we're back in the air for our quick flight north to Edinburgh and a late night arrival at our hotel. It's so good to be here!

Up until this point the Queen's passing had not featured heavily in our day-to-day travels but landing in London was quite poignant with all public spaces paying tribute of some kind and flag flying at half-mast.

PXL_20220913_202709704.jpg

Waking up the following morning to a beautiful, sunny day that would no longer be consumed with the need to purchase an entire new walking kit/wardrobe, Andrew consumes his first full Scottish breakfast including haggis and black pudding (urrghh) before we stumble upon a free tour just starting on the Royal Mile. When they say free, they actually mean you pay what you think the tour was worth at the end, which is pretty well guaranteed to ensure you'll be entertained and informed as the guide needs to keep you with her until the conclusion when it comes time to hand over the cash. Anyway, it was an amazing tour and we learnt a lot - if ever in Edinburgh we can highly recommend

Your text to link here... - tour guide Sonia, a slightly crazy Polish girl who really can make history interesting and fun. We learnt a huge amount and hopefully retained at least a little. The fact the city was protected on one side by a lake full of human bodies and waste and on the other by a sheer cliff of volcanic rock, plus a whole host of other details around the rulers of Scotland (and in some cases England) and the battles and controversies and also the horrible state of the conditions people lived in centuries ago were all fascinating to hear.

Edinburgh is steeped in history and tradition one of which is that on the death of a monarch the 'town crier' waits 3 days to proclaim the news from the top of a monument in the city's old town. This has been happening for centuries and, obviously, had just happened again a few days previously for the first time in 70 years with the death of Queen Elizabeth, the reason being that it would take 3 days for a horseman to ride from London to Edinburgh to impart the news.

PXL_20220914_103229822.jpg

As we pass through the streets, the Queen has now moved south to London and they are moving all the broadcasting equipment on:

PXL_20220914_104344004.jpg

I'm really running short on time here as we need to head off on Day 2 of our walk - I'll need to post the details of our first day later but here are a few photos of Edinburgh to go on with....

PXL_20220914_203225799.jpg

PXL_20220914_132044257.jpg

PXL_20220914_115408842.jpg

PXL_20220914_182727225.jpg

PXL_20220914_184119219.jpg

So happy to have visited and lots more stories to tell of our time here at some point...

Posted by janemooney 16:01 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 13) Page [1] 2 3 » Next