Flying back north: DBX via AAS to AAL Travel

By Marina Aagaard, MFT. Photos: Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard

Travelling, transport from one place to another can considered time-consuming and bothersome. You can also choose to be mindful and enjoy the ride while it lasts.

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4:30 the mobile alarm sounds. Rise and shine. Half an hour to dress and pack. 5:00 get a taxi on the street by the Hotel Sofitel, The Walk, JBR, Dubai.

At this time of day, traffic on the six-lane highway through town is still smooth and the trip only takes about half an hour, so we reach the airport DBX well in advance.

No queue at check-in, super. We have checked in online, so we just need two show our passports and check in our luggage, two old, worn, dirty Samsonite suitcases, which have served us well.

After check-in we go through the passport control. Super, no-one there, no queue. We go to straight to the inspector behind the desk. He looks without words in our passports and then on us. He gets up, still without words, and gives a sign; we must follow him?

So we trot along behind him. He leaves us by a long counter where an officer now inspects our passports very thoroughly. Without any exchange of words finally he hands us the passports and points toward security. We have apparently been cleared.

For two relatively talkative persons, the silence felt eerie. Still, we felt no urge to persist, we nod our thanks and go to the security scanner.

Here you have the usual stripping seance; shoes, belts and jackets off. Wallet, phone and watch on the tray, pc out of the bag, and then through the scanner. Pain-free, though.

We go to the departure hall. Find a chocolate café (with sockets for pc’s). Then we order an ultra-unhealthy breakfast: coffee, americano and latte, a muffin and a croissant. The price is astronomical, but then we also get a piece of ‘free’ fine chocolate in the bargain.

dubai_dbx_rullebaand_img_7451DBX smart: Conveyors with an overtaking lane, but not everyone discovers this feature …

We go to the gate. We meet the same couple, we met on the way out and have a chat about Dubai and the city’s attractions. Then we boarder the KLM plane, again a Boeing 777’er. Lovely. Ample space to stretch your legs and do some “onboard fitness” …

dubai_img_6215The 777 in the morning sun with glimpses of Dubai in the background.

7:55. Soon after take off a meal, an later another meal, and snacks and drinks on request. Extensive entertainment system. The 6 ½ hour flight-time passes quickly. Especially, when you also have to take the many, many mandatory pictures out of the small windows. Preferably with airplane wings in focus.

dubai_fly_img_5990    dubai_fly_img_6001dubai_fly_img_6017You know how economy seats look? So here is a photo of business class seats.

We land almost exactly on time in Amsterdam and quickly go through security via an advanced new scanner; here you do not have to take your pc out of your bag.

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We continue through Schiphol, a modern airport with art, internet center, spa, champagne bars and cafes with delicious, healthy snacks. More over there are a lot of shops.

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We have some hours before we have to fly onward, so we find a café (with sockets) and answer e-mails and enjoy a couple of smoothies and rustic eco sandwiches. It’s not that hunger is overwhelming, but the products on display are too tempting.

At four o’clock it is time. We board and fly the final stretch from Amsterdam to Aalborg with a smaller KLM aircraft. The trip only takes about 1½ hours and time flies …
We land safely and on time 17:15 in Aalborg. And surprisingly our luggage is almost first out on the conveyor belt. We quickly head for the car park (where parking is free; brilliant).

After a 1 1/4 hour drive (plus a two hour visit for dining with a friend) we are home again in cool, rainy, pitch black Djursland after an eventful week in a warmer climate … but on second thought some fresh, Danish countryside air is not that bad.

At 22:00 o’clock we turn off the light and go to bed.

To travel or not to travel? Boeing 777 Budget Trip!

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Friday night. Yes or no? A small trip. No time, not in budget. Surf the internet anyway. Find a same-weekend round-trip flight at a very reasonable price.

Under 2 K DKK (under 280 EUR) for an out-of-Europe trip. And with a reputable airline at that. So hubby contacts friend at the destination; can we stay in your apartment? “Yes”. So without hesitation we proceed and book the flight. Perfect time: You may get lucky and get a favorable price when booking well in advance or at the last minute …

Saturday; hectic day doing laundry and continuous packing in between other tasks.

Sunday morning

Departure by car to Aalborg Airport (AAL photo), which has free parking. Perfect.

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Sunday noon

Take-off. From AAL. 1:25 t flight.

Pleasant and short trip; we only had time for a a cup of coffee and a sandwich and reading Holland Herald before moving out again.

dubai_klm_aal_aas_img_4563Tiles, cows, clogs and windmills. It is not hard to guess the name of the airline.

We are to stop over in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, AAS. A so-called ‘tight connection’; as in really short transit time: 50 minutes from landing to departure. It sounds like plenty, but in reality it means 20 minutes from landing to boarding. Add to this, that Schiphol is a major airport and you have to go through passport control on your way onwards.

But of course we will make it. We sit quietly and our plane bound for NL takes off.

After a short while a message in the PA system: Captain: We will be delayed by about 10 minutes. Oh no, it may mean that we do not catch our connecting flight.

Sunday midday

Stopover in Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, AAS.

As the plane rolls down the runway for the gate, our bags are packed and we’re like springs, ready to ‘squeeze’ past the other passengers on the way out to the terminal.

Clear of the gangway we cover the distance between arrival gate B and departure gate F in jogging tempo despite fully loaded backpacks with pc’s and photo equipment. Fortunately, there is no-one in front of us at the passport control, so we sprint onwards.

We spot the gate and increase the cadence … and – along with two other Danes – board the waiting aircraft as the very last. Gate staff closes the gate immediately after we have jogged past.

In the cabin: One of the world’s largest aircrafts, the Boeing 777-300ER. 73.86 m long with a wingspan of 64.80 m, a max total takeoff weight of 351,543 ton and like the older jumbo jet with room for 408 passengers (in economy 3 + 4 + 3 seats across).

For a reasonable sum we were able to upgrade to business class, but even though the huge lounge chairs look very appealing, we declined this time around. It is after all ‘just’ a flight of 6.5 hours and the economy seats are spacious enough.

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One can tell, that it is a new aircraft. Stylish, spacious and entertainment system of high quality. You can choose between several of the latest movies, a large selection of older movies or play games or quiz show.

After having read for while and seen a movie (duller than the preview is suggested) I go for once in ‘gaming mode’, Jeopardy and Sudoku simultaneously with a favorite: Watching the in-flight viewed from the cockpit angle. Time flies (ha ha!).

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The catering on this tour is also fine: Ongoing drinks. Rather tasty (airline) dinner – you can choose a special dish or a choice between chicken or vegetarian pasta. We chose the latter. Oops! Finished everything again before I remembered the foodie photo.

Then more drinks (water and juice … or soda and alcohol) and finally a light late night snack and then the trip was over.

Sunday evening

A perfect landing. Smooth taxiing to gate. From there to the arrival hall. But then: Approximately 45 minutes of waiting in line at passport control, where the inspector is remarking, that it’s a long time since we last visited the city.
Fortunately we are let in without further charges.

Quickly we find a taxi, which via the six-lane highway, in 40 minutes takes us to the other end of town, where we are received in the street by our friend.

Sometime after midnight we enjoy a light refreshment and the night sky for a few minutes and then go to sleep.

A Club Hop City Walk in Amsterdam: From Nord to West to Zuid to Ost

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

Can you see Amsterdam by foot? Yes, you can. The evidence is clear.
Must you see Amsterdam by foot? No, you can take a tram, bus, taxi or bike.
Should you see Amsterdam by foot? Yes, sights are super and walking is healthy.

It is morning. Air is cooler than yesterday and it is cloudy. Nice walking weather.

The Club Hop route map as seen on the KLM Amsterdam Sneaker page: 10.6 km in approx. 2 h 13 min. Around 20.000 steps done just in time (including photo stops).
Club hopping? Yes, best done at night, I know … maybe next time.

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Today is ‘cheat day’: I could walk to the starting point, but to save time – as this is only a short trip – I take a taxi to Westergasfabriek. A former gas plant, now arty area, cafes and a tivoli in green surroundings.

Later in the day it is probable crowded. Now there are only a couple of snack bar guests and mothers strolling with prams.

    

From Westgazwerk I walk south-west along the main road. Residential and commercial areas on one side and on the other side a green area with runners and dog walkers.

I walk towards the city centre. It is a walk without any particular sights or attractions; flats in red bricks and small super markets and shops …

However, the walk gives a peak into the everyday in Amsterdam and that is nice and very far from ‘touristic’. Also you see things, you would not see if you were only in the center – and get some extra exercise.


Traffic sign: Alcohol prohibited and above that sigh: Smoking cannabis prohibited!
Is Holland maybe the only country in the world with a traffic sign like that?

If you take a closer look, you see many interesting things: Superman lives in Amsterdam.

Gradually there are more and more canals and tiny bridges to be seen. I am back in the Amsterdam city centre.

Arty details are everywhere. A stone cat moving up a brick house wall in Leidsegracht.

Are the bikes in Amsterdam like those in other countries? Yes and no. They have two wheels, but many, many colours … and there are an abundance of different bikes from 80’s mini-bikes over state-of-the-art road racers and mountain bikes to city bikes.

Creative builders: I walked out the same way I walked in. I walked out the same way I walked in. Stairs are art. Poetry is art. Stair-poetry is two-in-one street art.

How many canals and bridges can you shoot before you get bored. An almost endless amount. Water draws viewers (and photographers).

Predictable photo opportunity, Rembrandt Plein, where I had no success in getting af ‘solo’ photo of the great painter … when the Chinese tourist finally stopped filming after 10 minutes an Italian guy rushed in front of the monument.

I pass Club AIR Amsterdam. Holland is the country, that put truly electronic dance music on top of the charts with super clubs and parties and DJ’s such as Tiësto, Armin van Burren, Hardwell and Martin Garrix. Great music (mixes) also for fitness workouts.

Now heading eastwards to the docklands. Behind the naval museum, there is an area with residential and company buildings and old warehouses.

An organic building; Architectuurcentrum Amsterdam. A great ‘figure’.

Het Scheepvaartmuseum and a ship from yesteryear marks the ‘entrance’ to the dockland area with Kattenburg, Wittenburg and Czaar Peterbuurt.

In one of the old buildings you find Amsterdam Roest, the walk destination. It is a bar with live music and a relaxed atmosphere. The bar do not open until 12 o’clock, so a visit inside has to keep for another time (Google maps/earth: Dockland area).

On the way back to the city centre and hotel. More photogenic old buildings.

Amsterdam also has an Art Hotel near the central station. I put my footprint on the door mat: I’m not lost, I’m exploring! (Jana Stanfield).

Yet another ‘smokery’, rokerij, a coffeeshop … next to a cannabis shop …

The Dutch are progressive and fit. Apart from biking all over the place, I see many – adults – on scooters, skateboards and this balance-challenging motorized ‘wheel’.

Back in the hotel with the tile-clad reception desks. A cool detail among many. Initially the idea was to build a new hotel, but instead 25 old buildings were bought and restored.

After a lunch break. Back on the beat. A walk in the small streets in the city centre. Among others the Nine Streets, De 9 straatjes, an area with many shops with art and clothes.

          

Walking along the Damrak to the Central Station. It is crowded, full of locals and tourists.

The three crosses seen everywhere in Amsterdam, on stalls, benches, dustbins and T-shirts, are part of the city crest, however, their exact origin is unknown.

I could have walked past it, but saw a photographer lingering. I looked in and discovered a passage, Beurs Passage, with maritime mosaics from floor to ceiling.

The last looks on the streets, alleys and souvenirs of Amsterdams; an exciting city with everything from old-school til new-school.

    

A massive queue obstructs the pedestrian traffic. What is it? Something exciting?
To some probably; It is fries! Voted nr. 1 Holland Fries …

Amsterdam has to be the place in the World, outside of Italy, with the most Vespa’s. They are everywhere.

At the Central Station. Buying a train ticket. A friendly greating from the light panel.

The last glimpse of Amsterdam; Schiphol Airport. It is almost time for take-off.

Mission succesful. On the way back in the Cityhopper I note, that approx. 60.000 steps later, I have seen quite a bit of Amsterdam, knowing well that there is much more to see.

Iamsterdam.


Trip by kind invitation of KLM.

City Walk in 36.000 Steps: Amsterdam Sneaker Sightseeing

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

As seen on film! The scene in the reception might as well have been choreographed. It is going to be a good day!

06:30. I am heading full speed for the breakfast restaurant with map and papers in hand. But. What. I have forgotten my pen. I walk towards the reception desk. There are three men behind the tile-clad desk. One behind and one at each side. All three are well-dressed in dark suits.

They are in the middle of a conversation, but stop talking as I approach.

I ask the ‘middle man’ behind the desk “Do you have a pen, I may borrow”.
In a split second three arms shoot towards me, each with a pen in hand.
This event is perfectly synchronized and without any hesitation. Fantastic.

Sometimes small things or movements make the biggest difference.

The breakfast holds another surprise. Apart from a nice and colourful buffet with juice, fruit, muesli, nuts, bread, cold cuts, cheese, marmalade and more, you can order hot dishes. I can’t help it: I order a pancake (I think).

Then! I get a plate with four pancakes and fresh banana plus chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Surprising, naughty but nice, however, more than a morning pancake.

After breakfast my sneakers in Dutch colour are ready for walking.

At the KLM Amsterdam Sneaker page I have found the map Recreational Walk.

So my first move is to walk from the hotel to Vondelpark, the starting point.
I hit ‘Start’ on my Polar heart rate monitor (I am half Finnish).

Plant! You aren’t going anywhere!

Vondelpark. It is hard to tell from this photo, but the park is full of people and dogs.

Leaving the park and walking north-east I spot these amazing bronze reptiles.

The flower market is a surprise. Not only flowers, but bulbs in all sizes and shapes.
“We ship all over Europe”.

Across from the Central Station you find the Tourist Information in a separate building with a cafe, ticket counter and a toilet (loo) … decorated with a.o. Dutch houses.

The walk includes a ferry ride, but it is no problem: The ferries leave only minutes apart, a ferry ride only lasts 3 minutes and it is free. From the Central Station you go to the northern part of the city. More to see looking up and down and all around.

The walk goes through a residential area and ends at Nieuwendammerdijk. An idyllic area, where people relax in the sunshine outside a café.

I join in and take a short rest after this walk of 13.9 km, expected at 2 h 50 minutes: But it lasts longer due to more than a few photo-stops.

Then I head back. I walk for about one kilometer, but then jump on a bus back to the Central Station. I am (there) again …

From there I sail again and am ready for the Mighty Museums walk of 4.1 km, expected 50 minutes, from the EYE Film Museum to the Stedelijk Museum – or the other way around.

The EYE Film Museum is in an impressive, odd-shaped building, worth seeing (visiting).
In the building next to it, Lookout Amsterdam, at the top of the building you find two swings; you can have a swing with a view.

Walking back through the city full of art and street art. The only way is up!

Art is everywhere. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

In the museum part of town you will find the famous and formidable Rijks Museum.

One should dedicate a full day for visiting and seeing the works of the many famous Dutch painters. Not only Rembrandt and Van Gogh. There are many more; my favorite is Emanuel de Witte (1617–1692), his (architecture) paintings are outstanding.

The legendary Iamsterdam sculpture is almost non-stop full of tourists photographing each other or taking selfies.

There were no room for me at the Iamsterdam letters, so I settle for a ‘selfie’ at the mirror-sculpture by the Stedelijk Museum.

After the museum route I am ready for the Design Stroll, which starts close by the Stedelijk museum. This is a walk of 5 km, expected 1.2 h.

Starting point is the super-shopping street Peter Cornelisz (PC) Hooftstraat: Prada, Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Dior, Max Mara a.o. Excellent for shoppers or window shoppers.

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Moving on I see more interesting items for those interested in jewellery, watches and art. You will find goods in all sizes and price ranges.

The most elegant pedestrian sign I have ever seen – in glittering blue and silver-white glass mosaics.

Amsterdam of course has a Tulip Museum and many, many tulips.

A balcony with a giant butterfly. Party is imminent. Below are more unusual facade decorations.

This walk ends – after plenty of designer-boutique-window-shopping – in Harlemmerstraat. It is late in the afternoon and time to head back.

Clogs in all sizes, colours and materials are expected.

Almost back at the hotel. A gallery window speaks: And at the end of the day your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling. A suitable quote.

With a full mind – and an empty stomach – I opt for the easy solution. As I am on my own, today I will skip solo dining at a town restaurant; I go to the hotel Restaurant Jansz.
And enjoy a delightful dinner at the candlelit table by the window.

My choice: Tuna tartar with wasabi (some like it hot), Morano spiced salmon with couscous and for dessert strawberry creme brûlée. Delicious. The wine, too:
White wine Touraine (sauvignon blanc), from Loire in France, and red wine, Baron De Ley (tempranillo), Rioja Reserva, Spain.

Cheers!


Trip by kind invitation of KLM.

Aalborg to Amsterdam travel: A Holland sneak(er) peak

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Third time lucky! Twice I have been in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport lately. But only in transit. Now it is. Travel destination: Amsterdam.

The occasion? KLM has a march campaign ‘Amsterdam sneaker’. What is this about? Well, the airline is based in Amsterdam, Holland, and boasts, that the Dutch capital is so ‘compact’, that it can easily be experienced by foot.

To stress that they mean it, KLM has even produced a walking shoe, a sneaker, designed to get around in the city …

During march KLM have an Amsterdam Sneaker auction with sneakers including trips – and the full amount from this  auction is donated to UNICEF.

A good cause. I am happy to hop into a pair of sneakers, thank you, KLM, to investigate!

Wednesday afternoon. Aalborg Airport in northern Denmark. First a cup of coffee.

Shopping? I have a hard time resisting the Champagne family. But have to. Not because of the price of course, DKK 17.999 (more than 2000 EUR) for the ‘head of the family’ containing 15 litres, but because of lack of space in my carry-on luggage …

It is almost time. The Cityhopper arrives – gets ready – and we leave on time.

The online magazine Holland Herald matches my shoes. Or is it the other way around?
A coincidence? I think not!

Food is nice. On board food, too. When it is tasty, that is (not always the case). This serving was unusually delicious – and not just because I was pretty hungry.

I won’t get tired of a view like this; beautiful clouds seen from above.

A short flight of only 1:05 h. And so we land on time in AMS, Amsterdam Schiphol.
With a medium-sized aircraft you are not always stepping out right at the gate door.
But it is o.k. Here you get a ride in a solar powered bus!

Taxi or train? Taxi approx. 30 min., 42 EUR. Train approx. 10 min. 5 EUR. That settles it. I buy a ticket and find my way to the platform.

After a short train ride you arrive at the busy Amsterdam Central Station.

Immediately when you get out into the streets you realize that Amsterdam is a bike city. There are bikes everywhere. And hundreds of bikes are parked around the station.
There is even a bike parking house.

It is now evening and I find a map on my iPhone to guide me on my walk to the hotel.
I get a bit of night sightseeing as I find my way through a ‘red light district’ with many small cafés and ‘coffee’ shops …

In just 10 minutes I reach the hotel, Pulitzer, situated down a small alley alongside one of the numerous canals. Beautiful.

After a quick snack and a cup of herbal tea it is bedtime for bonzo.

Goodnight.