Thursday, March 7, 2019

Long Seattle Connection

Pleasant flight on Condor and we went through Global Entry and back in through TSA PreCheck without a hitch.

Our connecting short flight to Bellingham doesn’t leave until 6:20 so we used a couple of the Alaska Lounge passes that come with our MVP75K status to gain entry.

We can no longer gift the passes to anybody not flying with us (a rare Boo to Alaska) so we’re just going to use them on ourselves rather than buy another membership.

Condor... Eventually

A long walk to the gate, a long unexplained wait to board the bus, a long bus ride, but finally we are on board in Row 1 and ready to fly to Seattle.

AMS-FRA on Lufthansa

Nice flight and LH manages to serve a sandwich and offer beverages in Economy on about 45 minutes in the air.

A bus gate and then a quick stop in a Lufthansa Business Lounge after passport control.

Free samples of fine chocolates - yum!

We hope to board our Condor flight fairly soon, when the gate is posted.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

At the Gate at AMS B35

It always seems ominous to arrive at the gate 15 minutes before boarding and notice the plane hasn’t arrived.

But all’s well as it it pulls up at the gate.

Aspire Lounge at Amsterdam Airport

It’s a contract lounge for Star Alliamce, and we’re flying Lufthansa to Frankfurt this morning out of Terminal 1. 

They’re opening a brand new lounge tomorrow, but this one is pleasant enough.

Around Amsterdam

Above is the Albert Cuyp Market, and below an imposing row of buildings.

We stopped by a park.

The subway stations are impressive...

Another very Amsterdam-looking building.

The Artis Zoo is okay.

We enjoyed the walk-in butterfly zoo, similar to the one at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

We tried to visit the Van Gogh Museum on our final rainy day but it was sold out. Another time we’d buy advance online tickets.

Belthazar in Cape Town: Missed Meal

We wanted to return to this Victoria & Albert waterfront spot with its 250 wines by the glass ever since a visit there with Tom and Ellyn some years ago.

We had three different servers and told them our timeframe. One of them admitted he dropped the ball so we ended up leaving without a meal. We did enjoy the wine though.

The wine bar with the elaborate nitrogen infusion to maintain the quality of the wine in opened bottles- claimed to be the largest such installation in the world...

The wine is served with a tag, so you can keep track of what you’re sipping.

Amsterdam: Grand Café 1884

Just down the block from the Doubletree - our enjoyable grand finale meal with a surprise tasting menu... 

The sea bass was a highlight...

Monday, March 4, 2019

Amsterdam: Trains, Boats, and Bicycles

Our suite in the Doubletree overlooks the train station and the water. Fortunately the trains didn’t disturb us last night.

That maroon train below is the high-speed Thalys we rode with grandson Jake between Amsterdam and Paris, the same train that suffered a thwarted terrorist attack in 2015.

Bicycle Dominoes On a Windy Day in Amsterdam

Very windy at the waterfront for awhile..,

Ground Hold at Gatwick

After that long flight into Gatwick, we noticed our connecting flight onward to Amsterdam was due to leave on time but land nearly two hours late.

Connecting internationally here has been a breeze both times, perhaps because not too many passengers have such connections.

It was almost a push to reach the gate on time, in part because we stopped at the BA Lounge for a coffee (and a restroom) and the lift was out of commission when we left. Three flights of stairs and then a long walk to the gate.

There is wind in Amsterdam and they’re down to one runway. We’re sitting on the ground here until AMS ATC gives the go-ahead.

Our 80-minute flight is just about doubled, but on the bright side the captain is giving tours of the flight deck. Jolly good show on his part!

An easyJet plane also bound for AMS has joined us, and our A320 is not a bad place to sit for an extra 90 minutes, given that our hotel room may not be available until mid-afternoon.

Update: the engines have started and were predicted to land just before noon, close to two hours late.