Category Archives: One’s Travels

The Worst Journey Anyone Has Ever Had

So dear readers it’s been about a month since I returned to London town from glorious Amsterdam, and in that time I have mostly been attempting to recover from an absolute disaster of a trip, a nightmare of journeys so shocking I’ve thought twice about writing of it all, lest the terrible badness of it leaks straight through my keyboard and back into my BRAIN leaving all living folk within a five mile radius bereft and melancholy of the mind. I’m not being dramatic. It was that bad.

 

This is how I came to return from Amsterdam. If you’re thinking of going there at any point, and returning some time later… don’t. It’s not worth it.

 

WHERE IT BEGAN
WHERE IT BEGAN

 

Step 1: The Lying Train

 

The first step in a journey of many halves was a train, a train travelling from the centre of Amsterdam where all the fun is, to Schipol Airport, where there is none of the fun.

 

After a brief battle with an argumentative ticket machine we secured tickets and bounded excitedly onto the platform, enthused by the idea of double decker trains and slightly drunk.

 

Unfortunately what awaited us at the platform was not a train, but a screen. A screen bearing bad news. There was no train. There was never to be a train. This train was delayed. By ten minutes. And then twenty. And then twenty five. And oh look, another train leaving shortly from another platform. Off we flounced.

 

Moments later we emerged on our second choice platform, where we enjoyed an uninterrupted view of our first choice train pulling away from the platform, full of smug little faces who decided to stick with the elusive double decker train of deceit. Whatever.

 

 

Step 2: Is There Really a Plane at All?

 

Some time later we emerged (long after we were supposed to emerge) at the airport. We ran through the departures lounge, desperately hurling our bodies through the air in the general direction of some sort of gate. We needn’t have bothered. The plane was, obviously, delayed.

 

A 10 minute delay became 30, and then an hour, and then two hours, and before long we were, of course, unforgivably drunk. Disappointingly our time in the glorious bar of the departures lounge (where free nibbles were provided) was then cut short by the annoying arrival of our plane. We rushed towards the gate, before commencing another twelve hours of sitting.

 

At this point I thought we best check we had all our required documents. We, of course, did not.

 

What followed was a sort of reverse chick-flick scene in which the man sprints through the airport away from the girl asking various strangers if they happened to have picked up his tickets whilst girl becomes increasingly fretful about the “gate closing” sign above her head and wonders if the boy will ever return at all or if she’ll just be stuck here, in this airport, for the rest of time.

 

Boy remerges 15 minutes later, slightly sweatier but still without tickets.

 

Idiot lost tickets couple then approaches wizened hag of an Easyjet representative, who tells them to stand in the corner because she’s too busy for this shit and she thinks they’re on a later plane because she ISN’T LISTENING TO THE WORDS THEY ARE SAYING.

 

Soon after she realises everyone is on the plane except this strange panicked pair and decides she should probably let them get on the plane before they stab out her eyes with the tiny orange biros provided. So she escorts them on personally, to make sure everyone knows it’s them who are to blame for the hold up and no one else. Just them. Glare at them, people of the plane. They are to blame. (This is what she says with her feral eyes).

 

 

Step 3: The Pilot Who Cannot Be Trusted

 

Delighted by our appearance on the plane, we begin to relax. At this point the pilot appears at the front of the plane. A hushed silence. He speaks.

 

“People of the plane,” announces this man who may or may not be a qualified pilot. You can buy pilot outfits anywhere these days.

 

“Beware! There’s a storm afoot.” This is what he said, but I have adapted it to make it sounds more piratey. I like pirates.

 

“London’s having a HURRICANE. It will be very bumpy. Hold on to your hats. We’ll be jumping around all over the shop. It’ll be like a roller coaster, but not a roller coaster of love. A roller coaster of DOOM.” (He didn’t say that bit. The first bit though he really did say, I swear.)

 

He then sauntered back into the cockpit and just started driving the plane. He didn’t even give anyone a chance to get off. We were stuck in this tin tube of terror whether we liked it or not, and there was a mad man at the helm!

 

It wasn’t actually that bumpy, as it turned out.

 

 

Step 4: When is a Gatwick Express not a Gatwick Express?

 

We arrive! At last, we trundle our little suitcase through miles upon miles of corridors. We then come across a passport reading machine which apparently is qualified to decide whether you are you or whether you are actually another person entirely. How does it know? Who does it report to? These are questions which need to be answered.

 

After it was confirmed that we were ourselves and not pretenders, we began the 18 mile hike to the Gatwick Express.

 

The Gatwick Express was, of course, not working. We were left to fend for ourselves, i.e. board another train which was not express at all. We reluctantly wandered towards the required platform, then stood awhile waiting for the train to crawl into the platform.

 

At this point I was stung by a wasp.

 

 

 

The End

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London Grump Visits Amsterdam

Famed for both its culture and its slightly dodgier side, Amsterdam is one of those places you have to visit. So I did. Last weekend. On Easyjet. Brave, no?

 

The capital of the Netherlands is chockablock full of things to see and do, making it just about perfect for a city break weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight from Gatwick too, and my does that time fly by (ha ha ha).

 

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Stuff We Did that You Should Do Too

 

The I Amsterdam Sign

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Photo opportunities galore. Prepare to selfie. Instagram everything. No one will judge you here, they are all doing it.

 

Red Light District

De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt

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No one visits Amsterdam without taking a tour of the Red Light District, and a very eye-opening tour it is too. We strolled around the area after dinner to browse the prostitutes prancing about in neon underwear, I don’t know why. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Whilst there you can amuse yourself by playing the well known ‘spot the shifty looking man scuttling out from behind the curtains’ game. Sadly we only saw one. And yes he did look shifty.

 

Red Light Secrets – Red Light District

This is a tiny yet wonderful museum in the thick of the Red Light District. Here you can wander through make believe brothels and even sit in your own red light window box, for the authentic Amsterdam experience. There’s also a wall of bizarre confessions which you really need to see. I hope they were made up but I fear they were not.

 

Anne Frank’s House

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Something you must do when visiting Amsterdam. Unfortunately everyone else visiting Amsterdam must do it too, which is probably the cause of the biggest queue I’ve ever seen in my LIFE. It stretches through entire streets, like a giant shrieking snake full of screaming children and grumbling teenagers. We reached the end of the queue to find a four year old child named Oscar being asked by his ADULT parents if he felt like queuing up for the rest of his life so he could see Anne Frank’s House. Oscar said no, wise despite his diminutive size and leaking nose. I said no, too. But I did see the outside of the building so you know, it’s sort of the same. If you are planning a visit be sure to bring sustenance, you’re going to need it.

 

The Flower Market

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Another thing you are supposed to do. I’m not really sure why. The flower market is a series of floating stalls on the canal selling millions upon millions of tulips and accompanying tat to tourists. Not hugely exciting, but ok if you’re wandering past anyway.

 

The Torture Museum, Damrak 33

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This is next to the disappointing flower market, and it is, in true Amsterdam style, completely weird. The place is done up like the London Dungeon and full of grisly implements. Do not sit on the guillotine, you could lose your head.

 

Sex Museum, Venustempel

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Probably the only thing in Amsterdam weirder than the Torture Museum. You must go, they’ve got flashing mannequins.

 

Cheese Shopping – Everywhere

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These people love their cheese. There’s a cheese shop on every street. Cheese shops are like the Dutch version of Pret. Make sure you get some gouda, it comes in ALL flavours. We got pesto, and upon opening realised the cheese was a disturbing shade of green. Tastes nice though.

 

Coffee Houses – Everywhere

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There’s no coffee here. If you want coffee you need to go to a café instead. This is very important.

 

Souvenir Shopping – In the big square where the backpacks congregate

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All souvenir shops in Amsterdam seem to have a secret yet not really that secret back room stocking frankly alarming produce. One we found was full of weed plants, and books about how to grow weed at home. Most sell ornate glass bongs designed to be smashed to pieces on the way home. Another, for no reason at all, stocked a wide variety of tacky souvenirs and yet also STAB VESTS and TERRIFYING KNIVES. Beware of the souvenir shops.

 

Street Art – Everywhere

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Amsterdam is home to some of the world’s finest street art, so keep your eyes peeled as you wander around. This one’s my favourite – anything featuring ET rates highly in my book.

 

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After this I endured what I can only describe as the worst possible journey anyone has EVER had, but I’ll tell you all about that another day.