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.
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.