As we drive to the airport, I still have no expectations really. I’m not super excited or nervous. I’m just…normal. We have a quick goodbye drink with my sister and brother-in-law, and they’re off again. Now it’s just us. My favourite. We have our bags wrapped and tagged and checked in, but we’re two hours early. So now we wait.
We take a quick look at duty-free, and it’s very big and cool, but not so much my type of shop. It’s still expensive. We take a stroll to the smoking lounge, where we will wait. It’s quite impressive, I must say. It has this amazing Jazz Lounge-like vibe with blue lights and mirrors everywhere. The chairs though – not so comfortable. But uncomfortable would get a whole different meaning soon. There are few people in the room, but next to us are two Eastern European girls, speaking a low, monotonous gibberish, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the movie Hostal, and you might be losing some organs soon. They seem ominous in their very clear girly excitement.
Finally we can board, and as we walk I look out the windows at our plane. It’s huge! But then I got freaked out. The whole airport was covered in this spooky mist, and the planes’ lights were just adding to the effect. I see ten different, horrible scenarios playing out in my head. I might have watched Final Destination too many times… Behind us, waiting to board is a group of loud Dutchmen, and to my front, a couple with their kids…One of which is a baby, already crying. Fun.
Finally we are in, and we start taxiing. There is a very distinct dizziness in my head and a warmth in the pit of my stomach spreading like fire down to my legs. We take off, and it’s not so bad as soon as we clear the mist, and I can actually see the sleeping city below me. We settle in, a start watching a movie. We get a Heineken (which, by the way, tasted horrible) and dinner. Finally everybody settles down and starts sleeping. All is quiet but for the never-ending crying of the no less than three unhappy kiddies on the plane.
Sleeping was no fun. But we finally arrive in Amsterdam, and I am so relieved to get off the plane and stretch my legs. We pass relatively through customs, and we see the waiting family. The holiday has begun.
As we drive from the airport, I get a very distinct Cape Town/ Newlands impression. It’s green and filled with trees. We drive past a huge amount of office buildings, and I see a lot of graffiti. I did read up a little bit, and I know that the graffiti culture is huge in Amsterdam. I do understand now why people think Amsterdam is a dirty slummy city. The graffiti gives it that image. But as soon as you get into the heart of the city, away from the office buildings, you are overwhelmed by the beauty. We turn into Spinoza straat, and the buildings are old, and beautiful. Along the canals people are basking in the sun, and there is a hazy glow. It’s summer, and it’s lovely.
Our hosts, live in a three storey house, in a 5 story building. We occupy the bottom three floors, and their neighbours the top two. They have a separate entrance though, just for the record. We step outside onto the patio, and the smell of jasmine overwhelms me. It’s gorgeous, and quiet and peaceful. The kitchen is big and wonderful, a place where people sit around and cook together. They stairs are quite tedious, they are small and slippery. It’s dark wood everywhere, and the place is so incredibly warm.
I really needed to have a shower, and brush my teeth. The shower, oh, the shower. You sometimes take the small things in life for granted. Simple things like a shower. But if you’ve been on a plane for 13 hours and haven’t seen a bath in more than 24 hours, a shower is heaven. The shower head is as big as a dinner plate! It was fabulous.