We Made It! And Amsterdam is (was) Wonderful!

As I write this we are packing to leave Amsterdam, brave the craziness of Schipol Aiport and fly south to Athens. We have loved staying two nights at our favorite hotel in the world, the Banks Mansion.

Us in our seats. A shot to send the grandkids

We had a fairly uneventful flight to AMS. We were flying in Business Class on Delta—this is what the airline calls Delta One and we were not incredibly impressed. Everything was just “fine” and if you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that “fine” means that everything was OK but nothing that really stands out. We did have decent, lie-flat seats but they were tight with not enough leg room for me. The padding was a little better than we had on British Air on our last foray to Europe in 2019. And they did feed us pretty well as you can see. Not the best airline meal we have ever had (that was on Cathay Pacific) but good and filling.

We touched down in Amsterdam a little early and thought how great that was as we taxied towards the terminal but then our pilot came on and said that because we were early, they had no place left for us to park the plane s we would just have to sit there and wait until the plane that was at our gate left. Then we were told that the plane at our gate had a mechanical problem and would not be moving so we had to wait to be assigned to another gate which might be an hour. How fun. In the meantime, I was getting texts from my brother that their experience at the airport (they had arrived about three hours before we came from LAX) had not been a good one. Lots of lines and lots of waiting for luggage. So we expected the worst.

It was not to be. In minutes after getting his text, the plane found a gate, we were off, got to passport control and where we were the ONLY ones in line, got to baggage claim and (after walking by rows and rows of unclaimed bags that did not meet their connections) our bags appeared on the belt within minutes. We grabbed them and were off to the hotel. Where this had taken my brother and sister-in-law (from this point on referred to as Steve and Jamie 😁) almost 2 hours to do, we landed, exited the airport and were at the hotel in less time than that. I certainly hope our trip today is as uneventful. But we have been warned to be at the airport EARLY. So we are about to go eat breakfast and head to the airport at 8:00 am for a 12:20 flight. I will pause now and be back to you soon.

And now we are sitting in the Aspire Airport Lounge at Schiphol airport. Getting into the airport and through security was nowhere near as bad as we expected. Our cab came for us at 8:15 and we had an almost uneventful ride to the airport (our driver got pulled over for not wearing his seat belt—which he was—the police just didn’t see it). It was easy to get in and check our bags and then about a 35-minute security line and now we have found a lounge that accepts the Priority Pass that we get free with our Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa cards and are relaxing for a couple of hours before we head to Athens.

A couple of quick notes about our travels so far. Kathleen had recently found us some new, LIGHTER luggage. Our two big, checkable bags had gotten really old and were falling apart. It was time and she found us some wonderful and very LIGHT bags from TravelPro. They come with wheels front and back and are really, really light. But they are plain and boring looking and don’t come in a lot of colors. Basically blue (hers) and black (mine). The problem is, that they blend in with every other bag on a luggage carousel. We used to rely on some orange handle wraps but now everyone has those. And then Kathleen found us some really cool luggage covers and I love them. When we got to Schiphol I can guarantee you there was nothing like them on the carousel. They are made of a lycra-like material with a zipper at the bottom and on the sides and you just pull them over your suitcase and zip them up. For less than $20 they were an awesome find.

Our stop in Amsterdam

Now that you have heard about the trip, here’s what we did in Amsterdam.

  • Checked into The Banks Mansion located almost in the center of Amsterdam. Steps away from every place. Museums in one direction, the port and downtown in the other. We stayed there before in 2016 and loved it. We literally think it is the best hotel we have ever stayed in. The beds, bedding and pillows are the most comfortable hotel beds ever, the included breakfast is fantastic and very filling and the view of the canal from our (upgraded room) windows was amazing. You can see one of Amsterdam’s largest canals and the street the hotel is on. You can see Kathleen, Steve and Jamie in the window of Kathleen and my suite here. Forgot to mention that the Banks is all-inclusive. No extra charges for everything including the bar in the “Living Room.” And the service is amazing. Ask for anything and it just appears. Like a taxi or a boarding pass printout.
  • Went to dinner at Moeder’s, a traditional Dutch restaurant. Moeders in Dutch translate to Mother’s and the restaurant is completely COVERED in photos of people’s mothers. They are still accepting them so we could have left one of our Mom’s pics if we had a print with us. The food was good, and the service was excellent.
  • The next morning after sleeping off our jet lag Steve and I went off on a pre-dawn Photowalk. Got some great pics of downtown and near the port as a glorious sunrise made our early morning walk worth getting up for. Photos from that walk are below. Don’t forget, if you click the first shot, you can then scroll through with your arrow keys or by swiping…and PLEASE…don’t look at my photography on a phone. Please…
  • Then it was back to the Banks where after having a wonderful breakfast, we were picked up by Hans from Tours By Locals who took us on a tour outside (mostly north) of Amsterdam. Since we had seen most of the city during the 2016 visit, we wanted to see the outlying areas. Hans did a great job of showing us the countryside including a visit to a still-working windmill (one of the few). See the photos for more info about that tour.

It’s time to head to the gate for our flight so I will have to show you our windmill pics in the next post. See you in Athens.

Air travel dehydrates people.  —Michael J. Knowles

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