Sun 20 Oct - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Onto the continent.

Di left home 7am to travel on easybus (minibus) to Gatwick airport. Easybus allow 90 minutes for the drive but of course early Sunday we did it in 60. Plenty of time for a minor immigration problem - where the British Airways staff said Di needed to prove that she had a plan to leave Europe within 90 days. A quick call to Hans who emailed a full copy of our itinerary sorted it out.

Di still had time for a final full English beeakfast before getting bored waiting at the airport. They all look the same!

Yep all airports definitely look the same - but Di thought she could at least pick out her BA plane...

Di checked in online 24 hours ago and got a great seat in row 5, where they allocated only 2 people in 3 seats. She settled in at the window then laughed when she opened the inflight magazine to the first spread and saw a promotion for Intercontinental's Concierge service saying "there is nothing like breakfast overlooking Sydney's Palm Beach."

Except it's not a picture of Palm Beach. It's overlooking Pittwater on the other side of the peninsula but still made her feel a bit home sick as we have eaten at that exact place.

It was a smooth flight and Di saw the English Channel most of the way.

Landing in Amsterdam Schipol Airport was an experience. The landing strip was in a different suburb to the terminals. A 20 minute taxi in the aircraft included crossing a freeway and miles and miles of farm land. All fine still and on time, with immigration a breeze. Di did not need the evidence BA had forewarned about - they believed her honest face...

Unfortunately Di's luggage did not survive the trip well and the rolling option was kaput. She opted for a taxi to the hotel instead of a bus as she felt she could not carry 17kgs (plus a day backpack) the distance to and from the bus stops. Her taxi driver was a very nice man and chatted along the way in perfect English talking about the Netherlands, the population and helping her to pronounce some Dutch words (very guttural).

Hotel Mozart turned out to be in an excellent location, facing a canal in the Centrum about 10 minutes walk from all museums. You can see Hotel Mozart across the canal here with it cream coloured signboard.

Di checked in but waited for room cleaning to finish with our room, then dropped her bag and headed out to explore for a few hours.

This is definitely an old part of Amsterdam with buildings in our street dating from 1699.

After some general wandering, in lovely streets, Di opted for the great European tradition of coffee and cake and found a rare spare table at a cafe by the canal. As it was Sunday it was quite busy with plenty of people drinking Heineken beers in the sunshine. The bloke behind Di clearly thought that what Di was doing was funny.

Tea and cheesecake was good but the cake was too rich for her to finish. €6 seemed a fair price in this tourist city.

Meanwhile, back in Sweden, Hans had a 4.30pm plane to Amsterdam, so Päivi had invited him and Mike for lunch on the way to the airport.

Mike helped Päivi out in the kitchen (maybe just chief bottle washer? Or just there for show?)

The happy couple ready to tuck into the lovely salmon gratin.
Hold on, Hans also thought it looked bloody delicious and dived in - and he was definitely not disappointed.

Päivi's cat posed for a photo.

Päivi's apartment is in a nice setting overlooking a park with the water behind the trees.

Päivi's Livingroom with Hajar, Päivi's daughter's bedroom to the right and the kitchen to the left in this picture.

After lunch, a cup of coffee each before Mike and Päivi drove Hans to Arlanda airport. Bye Mike, Bye Päivi, Bye Hans... See you... Later...

Hans had a pretty clear and smooth flight too. Here are some photos along the way over the Netherlands approaching Amsterdam Schipol Airport.

The Netherlands is so neat and tidy (Di noticed this too) with lots of straight lines (thanks to no hills and valleys).

Hans landed and went smoothly through immigration as an EU member (there was no other option, so his passport dilemma is still not over, a day return trip to London is probably the answer) and took a bus into town, arriving about 3 blocks from our hotel. Easy and without any dramas.

Hans walked in the door at 7.45pm and Hans and Di had their reunion after 9 days (ahhhhhhhh, so much to catch up on) but it was dinner time so we quickly turned around and hit the streets.

A couple of night photos in our neighborhood. Our hotel entrance...

Our canal along Prinsengracht at night...

We found a local pizza joint - there are lots of them and they all seem to do €5 pizzas (but no free tap water, that is explicitly stated in the menu).

Hans had a good Calzone and Di had a pizza of Tres Stagione (asking for peppers to be left off of the Quattro was making it just a Tres according to our waited) and a large San Pelegrino mineral water. Pretty good meal for just under €15. Here is Hans outside the pizza joint.

Just after 9pm we got home for blogging and some quiet time together. Good night.

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