Don’t think I have ever experienced pre-cruise travel days as stressful as yesterday and today. If the hotel had not had our reservations, it would have been the trifecta in bad luck. However, the hotel is great but I digress.
Going back to Thursday night. I was shutting down the computer once I had finished the first day travel blog and was hoping to get a good night’s sleep before our trip began the next day. The time was 9 pm-ish. I looked up and saw our cat Pumpkin on the back deck sniffing the grill cover. I jumped up almost spilling the laptop to the floor, yelling “there’s Pumpkin, there’s Pumpkin.” Why all the commotion over a cat. Well, Thursday was day 11 that Pumpkin had been gone and presumed dead. We had not seen him since 9:30 pm on a Sunday evening. We had stopped calling for him throughout the day, scouring the neighborhood, leaving the garage door cracked for him to come in, etc. I had stored away his toys and cat tree and just that day had given is uneaten catfood to some neighbors who feed strays. We were overjoyed to have him home. He was thin but appeared unhurt.
But, I had a lot to do. I contacted the cat sitter again so she could take care of him while we are gone. Friday morning, we had to go to Walmart to stock up on food and litter for him. Hated to have to leave him on Friday after just getting him back but it would have been so much worse if he had showed up on Friday night and there would have been no one to welcome him back and he would have had no access to food or water.
We got to Groome’s transportation in East Ridge at 2:30 for the 3:00 shuttle. I started to have a bad feeling about Friday afternoon and getting to the Atlanta airport. I started wishing I had chosen the 2:00 shuttle instead of their recommended 3:00. This is the first flight we have taken in many years that was late at night. Typically, we have taken the shuttle the day before, spent the night at an airport hotel, and flown out early the next day. Nice and easy.
My fears were answered when the HOV lane shut down right before the downtown connector. The driver’s GPS signaled that he should get off the interstate and go through downtown. That, too, was a nightmare as we caught all the downtown office people getting off work and hit every red light. It was so frustrating to see that we were only 10 miles to the airport but we couldn’t get there. All the people on the shuttle had international flights except 1 woman whose Houston flight was to leave at 6:15. We got to domestic at 5:40. I wonder if she made her plane.
We got to the International terminal at 6:00. Two hours before the flight was to leave instead of the 3 that the airport recommends. And, boarding was to start at 7:00. My stomach was in knots by now. I thought we could breeze through security because we has TSA precheck. Nope. They closed at 5:30? Why? People fly all night long. They need that line. All the precheck got us was we didn’t have to take our shoes off and could keep the liquids in the bag. The security line was huge.
Finally found our gate and we shoved down a McDonald’s meal and then there was the announcement that the plane was still being serviced so we would start boarding at 7:30. Also, my Delta App showed Chuck’s bag was on the plane, mine was still “processing.” OMG, we put them on the conveyor at the same time. What is happening?
Finally got to board and we took off about 8:30. We were in Delta Comfort which gave us a little more leg room. I didn’t mind the seats but if I had a do-over I would have gotten a little farther back in Comfort. The lights of the galley were annoying. They did provide food, a sleep kit – pillow, blanket, sleep mask, and ear plugs. All came in handy. We both dozed on and off all night. We were woken up at 3:00 am for a continental breakfast because we were going to be make our landing into Amsterdam which is 6 hours ahead so it was 9:00 am there.
Disembarked the plane at 10:30. Followed the signs to baggage claim. However, we were stopped by a large crowd that had gathered in the area that fed into passport control. There was no lines, nobody telling anyone what was happening. It was a huge mess. I could finally see a sign that said it was very busy downstairs (passport control) so they were only letting a few at a time go – mostly European passport holders who could use self-assist kiosks. Finally, we made it to the front of the mob when they finally said everyone had to follow them to a different gate and use a different set of passport controls. Nightmare.
Took an hour to finally get through having our passport stamped and now we had to keep walking for baggage claim. Of course, now we are in terminals B and C and our luggage arrived at terminal D. Finally had to ask an airport official what carousel had our bags because we didn’t even see Atlanta listed. Once we finally made it to Carousel 17 in the terminal D area (where we should have been able to go through passport control), I could see very few bags still going round and round. I saw Chuck’s bag and we got it. Mine – nope. I sweated out 5 or 6 more minutes and then I saw mine. Hooray!
Of course, we are now one hour late for our shuttle. I did have an email that said if we were late just to let the organizer know and they would put us on another one. We were allowed to board one of the two 12:30 shuttles. The driver was very frustrated with the traffic. Seems Amsterdam does all its roadwork on the weekends and only in the Summer. Highway traffic was snarled so he had to take the backroads (Atlanta all over again) with bicycles, small cars, and scooters zooming around us. I did find out that “shit” is pronounced the same in both Dutch and English as our driver used it many times.
The Banks Mansion is in Amsterdam Centrum which is downtown across from the canal. Beautiful day with people walking and bicyclists everywhere. At that point, I would not have been surprised if the hotel had lost our reservation. But, we were fine and the room was ready. So thankful to drop everything off in the room and brush my teeth.
The room is small as compared to most American hotel rooms but it is very nice. It overlooks the canal so I watched the canal tours for a while. The lounge area has a complimentary bar with beer, sodas, and water. The room’s mini-bar is also complimentary.
We both were extremely tired but knew we had to keep going to orient ourselves to the new time. We walked up and down the streets around the hotel mostly people-watching. So many people. People don’t wear bicycle helmets. Not even the small children who are riding in baskets on the bikes. Did I mention those bicyclists just fly down the road ringing their bells to make people get out of their way? Geez.
Came back to the hotel a little after 4 and had their complimentary wine and cheese offerings. They even offered bowls of Pumpkin soup although I am not sure how it goes with wine and cheese. Nevertheless, it was good. We spent a good amount of time talking to a very nice couple celebrating their 50th anniversary with time in Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Paris. They were from Florida.
I came up to the room and pressed my clothes for tomorrow and then we went wandering again. Sat outside a café and people-watched. Finally, at 8:00 Amsterdam time we came back to the room to go to bed. Chuck is already asleep as I am finishing up.
Breakfast is from 7 – 10 in the morning and we need to leave here no later than 9:45 to meet our guide who will give us a walking tour of Amsterdam tomorrow. I hope the bed sleeps as comfortable as it feels.
A very stressful 2 days but I am hoping for better days in the weeks to come.