(From our trip in November 2019)
Travel Day & Day 1
Well you lucky bunch of blog following bastards – here is the first instalment from the Living in a European Wintery Christmasy Awesomenesss Adventure Dream (I’m gonna need to find a shorter name aren’t I). Our first stop is Amsterdam but just to refresh your memory here is the blog post that includes our itinerary and plans:- Itinerary awesomeness here.
Allow me to introduce you to my travelling companions. First up there is Scum Sucking….cough ahem, I mean there is Husband! I tried to sneak out the door without him but I think that damn guy has some sort of tracking device on me because when I arrived at the airport he came running up panting covered in sweat. I think he ran the whole way. Sigh….ok well I guess he can come on my Dream holiday but it’s looking a whole lot less dreamy now.
Next up I’d like to introduce you to Pretty Swirl and Black Betty. You may not name your luggage but I do. These babies are the heart and soul of any good trip, especially in Europe. They will be dragged across cobblestones, hurtled around conveyor belts, crashed and bashed onto trains, planes and automobiles and run over multiple toes. They will do all of this while fiercely protecting your precious possessions so the least you can do is name them and treat them with respect and gratitude. They can make or break your trip and if you treat them badly you will soon be the victim of seeing your dirty knickers and sex toys ::wait, what:: strewn all over baggage claim so you better be nice. Plus it saves time when the toddler is looking for something like his make up and I can say “it’s in Black Betty”. Anywayyyyyy…..say hi to the Real Suitcases of KellysonTour!
We were flying Qatar Airlines straight out of Canberra on this trip and I was super duper excited about this. Excited to support an airline who were offering international flights out of our little city and triple excited to experience customs in a smaller airport. As a born rule follower, when it says check in 3 hours before your flight I take that shit seriously. I will be there 3hrs and 10 mins before, waiting in line. I love the feeling of checking the bags and getting through customs and sitting down and knowing the adventure has started. Normally I find customs a bit overwhelming. I prefer flying out of Melbourne than Sydney as it always seems to flow better. But as you all know, customs can be rough and crowded and like herding cats. And the stupidity reigns supreme in the customs area. As an avid people watcher there is alot of fodder for my sarcastic mind but if I can skip the drama I will.
Jump to customs in Canberra and it was a whole different ball game. There was noone around. We literally walked up, smiled, a quick glance at your passport, not even a cavity search if you please and soon you were walking into a completely, no jokes completely empty international lounge.
For a second we wondered if we came to the wrong place but soon got over that when I spied a bar. Of course I was straight up there for a bubbles fix and the bartender informed me that noone ever checks in 3 hours before the flight in Canberra. I think he was a bit salty because he’d had to log off of Candy Crush or Grinder and actually do some work. Yes bitch it’s really really hard work to pour a glass of bubbles and charge someone $143 – really damn hard. (those airport prices, wowwee they hurt).
Sitting in the empty lounge sipping on my children’s inheritance, I wondered if this is what it feels like to be famous. Having a lounge to yourself, drinking expensive champagne, overlooking the jets arriving and taking off. It really is the life. I think I would like to be famous. Dear Diary, make a note to somehow become famous soon (and rich obvs).
Time whizzed by while I was dreaming about my upcoming fame and fortune and pretty soon we were on our flight. Everything would’ve been smooth sailing at this point except for the fact that I am married to well, it may sound harsh but, an imbecile. Yep I said it, fight me. You see, our packing list was 2 pages long and I did it all seamlessly and without one.single.thing being missed. Not a thing. Jump to trip eve and husband’s small headphones broke. He wanted to listen to a podcast while falling asleep so he asked if he could borrow mine. I said sure sweetheart, I live to make you happy, please do put your gross earwax all over my headphones, but pumpkin please remember to pop them back in my bag (hopefully sterilised) in the morning so I have them for the flight. At this point in the story you may think you know what happened next but you’d be wrong, oh so wrong. The sweet little prince did remember to pop them back into my handbag, he just forgot to reattach the little adaptor that goes on the end of the headphones. These are older running headphones (yes I ran….once) so with my new phone it has to have the little adaptor. Jump to me on the flight ready to pop some rainforest sounds on and get some sleep and the frakking adaptor is missing so there goes waterfalls and any hope of sleep. I think some of you may be reading this and thinking what is the big deal Lisa. The big deal my friends is that he had one job – ONE!!! And he stuffed it up.
So as he settled in with his $450 noise cancelling headphones and drifted off to an aggravatingly sound sleep, I proceeded to spend the next 73 million hours plotting his death. I mean obviously this isn’t my first rodeo, I’ve plotted his death many times before guys but my red hot rage opened up my creative mind in murderous ways it hadn’t gone to before and let me just tell you, some masterpiece options presented themselves so that dude better sleep with one eye open from now on. Nobody puts baby in the corner, or in this case, Lisa’s adaptor on his sidetable #hisdaysarenumbered.
So after a smooth first leg with delicious food (yessss I said it) and not the worst seats in cattle class I’ve encountered, we land at Doha airport for our stopover. Now I feel it is here that I need to confess my one and only screw up of my holiday. When March-2019-ME was looking for flights and found these beauties that were $300 per person less than anything else she could find with the perfect take off and landing times, she felt that an 8 hour stopover wouldn’t be too bad. March-2019-ME convinced herself that you normally have to stopover in UAE for 2-3 hours so what’s 5-6 more hours. It will be an absolute piece of piss I assured myself and husband. Hmmmm, ok so jump to November-2019-ME after many hours on a plane with no sleep because her f*@ker of a husband forgot that one thing, and it really wasn’t feeling like an 8 hour stopover would be a piece of piss. In fact, it was looking an awful lot like a whole tidal wave of piss and the whiny toddler I was travelling with was making it fairly clear how he felt about it by throwing himself on the floor and having a tante. Clearly he needed a nap and a time out so lucky for everyone November-2019-ME had a back up plan. They have fancy lounges in airports with food and booze and showers so of course let’s just go and throw a ton of cashola at this bitchuation and that’s exactly what we did. Wanna know how much it cost. It cost 85 fukyou dollars EACH to go into this overcrowded lounge filled with the stinking masses of weary travellers. So if we do that math, times 2 and lord knows the Prince will need the lounge on the way home as well, we are looking at a total expenditure of $340 so that $600 I saved off the flights, yeah in the end it cost 16hours of my life and we only saved $260.00. That’s a rate of $16.25 an hour although there were 2 of us so it’s really only $8.125 p/h each. I should never ever have done that math. And I will never ever tell husband that this was the situation. I think he believes we saved thousands and noone will be enlightening him – or else! (and if November-2019-ME ever sees March-2019-ME she will give her a swift kick in the vag)
The Onyx Lounge
The lounge was actually fairly nice, comfy chairs (when you could get one, we arrived when it was full to the brim but it emptied out about 4 hours in) and lots of food, although it was a bit basic in my opinion.
The one thing we were both excited for was the shower. You kind of had to “book” in with the attendant and when it was your turn they came out and escorted you in. It was a nice service and we both appreciated the freshen up. That was almost worth the price of admission….almost. The problem with paid lounges is people feel very “entitled”. Like, Bitch I’m gonna get my moneys worth and eat all the food, get smashing messy drunk, use a new dish for each item of food and generally become an asshole. I’m all for letting you do you guys but can we please not be complete douchebags. If there aren’t many seats please don’t lie across whole couches. And can you keep your efffing shoes on. I mean, this guy is taking the piss right now. It’s not clear in this photo but everyone who wanted to get food had to walk past these swollen, stinking, flaky disgusting flappers. That’s some dirty dirty stuff right there. Gag! #appetitelost
First time here and it’s BIG with a capital “this place is too much”. I always laugh at the high end stores selling expensive shit. Like, if you have a few hours to spare are you really gonna buy a watch worth $250k, a fur coat and a lamborghini??? Is this so people can offload their leftover foreign currency? Cause if it is I wanna be adopted by them. I mean who in the world has that kind of money to splash at an airport (and where can I meet them, date them and marry them).
And can we now, my darlings, turn our attention to this gloriously confusing thing. He looks like Big Ted off Play School, getting his hair did at the salon and they need to pop him under the dryer for a few minnies just to finish off his colour. Or perhaps he’s been a naughty bear and he’s detained in customs being interrogated under that bright light. Whatever the thinking, it’s just not art. I mean….puhhhlease. This probably cost a bazillion dollars and it’s tacky AF. (Ok I googled, I must apologise, this only cost $6.8mill, I exaggerated when I said a bazillion, get your facts right Lisa)
Time eventually passed and we were back zooming our way through the skies. I was very impressed with Qatar and would most definitely fly with them again. The seats were spacious with decent leg room for cattle class and the staff were excellent. They get a big tick from me.
Baggage Claim Blues
Can we talk about baggage claim for a minute. Have any of you ever in the history of suitcase hell ever had your bags come out first? I mean, seriously even when we fly Qantas and husband has rockstar status our bags never come out first. It must happen for some people because there is always a first bag but nope, the Kelly’s are cursed in this area. Like for realz every single time we are left waiting waiting waiting. And dont you think sometimes it’s a goddamn free for all. People shoving and pushing and swinging those cases off, giving zero f@#ks about who they assault, so long as they get their bag. Husband has this whole routine. He stands right beside the conveyor belt, choosing his spot strageically so it works best with A. the spot the case comes out from and B. to the nearest exit.
It’s quite a science that I could give zero F’s about but he takes this shit serious like. I’m to stand a few metres away with the carryon on bags ready for him to yell “is that our bag” at least 2 million times before it is actually our bag.
I don’t know about you but once the bags arrive I honestly let out a sigh of relief (if you’ve ever had a bag not arrive you’ll know what I mean – once we had 5 out of 6 bags not turn up when we were in Canada, in winter, in the snow). Once he does spot our suitcases he flings each one at me like his life depends on it. Then husband turns into 100m sprinter who mated with a drill sergeant. Why he insists on such speed to get outside to jump into a cab when we are on holiday and on our own time I’ll never know. Can’t we stroll leisurely and marvel at the fact that we have arrived into beautiful Amsterdam and admire the lovely architecture of the airport.
Nope apparently not. It is a race to be won (against who it is not clear) and we must move at lightening speed.
So when I book accommodation I have a few things that I look for. Price and location are key, then reviews to make sure it’s clean and has good service. I always set a “per night budget” when planning a trip and research like buggery to keep within that. After that the style of accomodation comes down to the city we are in and what the costs are. Some places I want charm to match the city and some places I just want somewhere to sleep. It all really depends on what my multiple personalities decide. For Amsterdam I kind of wanted something on a canal in a charming neighbourhood, if I could afford it. For a while during my research I was shocked at Amsterdam hotel prices. Gee whiz it’s exxy. I had heard this but I really wasn’t prepared for how high the costs would be plus leading into Christmas is considered peak so that didn’t help. I really had to keep chugging away on TripAdvisor and Booking.com for this accommodation. I booked and cancelled a million places, checking almost daily to find a deal and eventually I found this gorgeous place, The Singel Hotel. A pretty little boutique hotel right on the edge of the Jordaan area that is so picture postcard perfect and it was on a canal #winning.
The location was perfect for our stay. We were 5-10mins from beautiful streets and dining and 5-10 minutes from The Red Light District. So depending on whether you were hungry for food or hungry for naked women in windows, you were winning!!!! Our room was the teeny tiniest of our whole trip but what she lacked in space she made up for in beautiful decor and the friendliest staff and yummiest breakfast ever. Even husband liked it all and as we know his idea of roughing it is staying in a 4 star hotel instead of a 5 star.
The view from our room – yep, it’s not too shab-tastic my friends!
We dumped our bags and set off for a wander. The architecture is the first thing that completely captivates you. I was obsessed. Seeing all of the beautiful houses built along the canals – yep I could definitely live here. It’s beautiful with a dash of stunning. I love the symmetry of all of the buildings. Really ticks alot of my boxes.
Amsterdam is kind of built in an arc shape and the curved streets really had me struggling to get my bearings. I am normally soooo good with hitting the ground running and finding my way. I just really couldn’t navigate this city that well but I wasn’t too worried. A bit of aimless wandering wasn’t such a bad thing. In fact that type of wandering leads you past little gems like this shop. Yes it’s a Condomerie. Those dutch folk certainly know how to let their freak flag fly with their “coffee shops”, red light district and now Condomerie.
Perhaps I was stoned from all of the marijuana smoke wafting out of the “coffee shops” and that was why I couldn’t find my way. At least I was careful to look both ways before crossing roads. Husband literally nearly died and friends that’s no exaggeration. He forgot he was on the other side of the world and looked the wrong way and literally stepped in front of a car. It was all so quick and could’ve ended very differently. Stupidly I reacted quickly and pulled him back and so he lived to annoy another day (dagnabit, all those life insurance dreams ruined).
Wandering can make a girl thirsty so pretty soon we hit up a dodgy Irish pub ~the best kind~ for a pint. Slainte Irish Pub had a fun vibe and surprisingly cool music and was a nice pit stop. We sat in this raised booth and we thought we had totes lucked out that it was available because the rest of the place was fairly full. I was soon to realise why when I hopped up on the leather bench seat and kept sliding off it, over and over and over. I felt like I was in an episode of Punked because I literally couldn’t stay on the seat. If I was taller my feet would’ve touched the ground and I would’ve been able to balance myself but being toddler height I was unable to hold myself up. Husband thought it was hilarious and again I curse myself for saving him from that car earlier.
Now we all know I spend hours and hours pouring over food and booze venue reviews before a trip so that I have a great list of options for when we travel. I make my own maps (yes I do, shut up) with little blurbs about each place and it makes it so much easier than wandering around aimlessly trying to hunt and gather. So of course once we got hungry we referred to my Map of Magesticness for dinner options. Pffffft no of course we didn’t. We went somewhere we’d never heard of because it looked cool from the outside hahaha. And we were right. It was an awesome place in the Red Light District called Belushi’s Amsterdam.
The staff were how I like my bar staff – cheeky and playful and quick with service. Loud but amazing tunes playing, a diverse clientele and fun staff. Magic. A great menu with just what we felt like eating after travelling for eleventy hundred hours – “fast food”!!! Husband got the nachos (I can’t understand nachos, you make a huge mess when you eat, stuff drips off your face, well it does when husband eats them and noone looks cute eating nachos) and I got a chicken burger. Now it’s not gourmet food and I’m assuming you’d never get a Michelin Star for stuff like this but honey it was SOOOOOO good. Like crazy good. Husband says the best nachos ever ever ever and my chicken burger was a solid 11/10. I don’t know if it was the jetlag talking, or if after plane food our taste buds felt like they had won the lottery but damn it was good! Whatevs, you guys can look for my ribs when I’m dead……until then booze and food!!!
As we slowly wandered back to our hotel we thought we would stop for one last quiet beer at a place I had put in my little booze map called London Bridge. If you are wondering why we are going to an Irish pub and an English pub on our first night in Amsterdam I cannot answer that. We just did so fight me. I probs shoulda read a few more reviews on this place because the atmosphere was sterile, and emptyish and I kind of wish we hadn’t ordered a beer because the place was a bit yuk. Then as I’m sitting there surveying the room sipping my beer I see what I think is a mouse scurrying under one of the tables. I took my glasses off, rubbed my eyeballs, put in some eye drops and I still can’t believe it – yep it’s a friggin mouse. I mention to husband “there’s a mouse over there” and he laughs and says yeah right and I say yeah there is and he turns and says “frigg it is a mouse”. No shit Sherlock…..ewww!
At this point he looks at me with an expression that tells me he is so impressed with my calmness, that my poise and grace make him so proud. Meanwhile I’m thinking about starting to flip tables and get the frack outta there. Narrator: she didn’t flip tables, she didn’t finish her beer but she did indeed get outta there. The end!
After that kind of kooky excitement it was time to head back to the hotel for some sleepy byes. I’m still loving our room but I have to say the bed is a little too sinky soft for me. I know you are thinking, can a bed ever truly be too soft? Yes bitches it can because when you pee as much as me through the night and need a team to come in and roll your beached whale self out of said sinky soft bed each time – it makes for a broken sleep. I did think a couple of times should I just lay there and pee myself. Have you ever felt that lazy??? I know you have, don’t lie haha. I didn’t do it but I thought about it. Yay me for being such a didn’t pee my bed trooper!!!
I’ve got sooooo many “observations” I want to make and discuss with you all about Amsterdam already but for now I think 3,700 words written about an uneventful plane ride and some junk food for dinner is quite enough. Lawdyyyy this girl can truly make a mountain out of a proverbial molehill boring travel day recap can’t she! You’re welcome hahahahaha.
Highs – quick customs, location and quaintness of hotel, Amsterdam architecture, food
Lows – 8 hr stopovers, that I saved husband from car, mouse, sinky soft bed
Weather – High of 8, Low of 1