Amsterdam: Day 1 – 27.01.17 ……........Amsterdam via Wells!
Our flight to Amsterdam wasn't until 18.25pm so we decided to visit the City of Wells on the way ......as you do. I was dropping Milly off at her Uncle Batty's (predictive text, meant to be Barry's) at 9.00am and picking Maice up at 10.00am. Having hunted high and low for a pair of glasses out of the the ten pairs I know I have at home and plumping for the red pair, these being the only ones I could find, and then being stuck behind a tractor all the way from Dorchester to Maice's place, I turned up on Maice's doorstep at 10.25.
We eventually set off with our trusted friend 'Sat Nav Steve' with his dulcet Australian tones guiding us all the way to Wells. We were quite taken aback when we arrived in the car park with absolutely no mishaps. Was this the holiday where everything would be plain sailing, we mused.
It was only £2.40 for three hours in the car park but of course neither of us had thought to bring any change so at the meter I took out my mobile and attempted to register with the parking people in order to 'phone and pay'. I got so far and realised I didn't know my registration number so hot footed it back to the car and decided to complete the 'transaction' in the car, rather than outside in the cold. Maice said she’d register using her details as she uses car parks more frequently than I do so now using her phone instead and following the instructions we had to speak the car registration number into the phone. Before doing so we’d had a bit of a discussion about whose registration they needed. After the lightbulb finally went on and we realised it was the registration of the car that was actually sitting in the car park and not Maice's car which was sitting at home I then 'spoke' my registration into the phone. A recorded message then asked us to verify the registration which sounded like this...........'so what do we do, whose registration do we put in, surely it's yours not mine as you're setting it up, yes but your car is in the car park, oh yeh of course, right then, the registration number is PK.........' For some unknown reason the registration number wasn't recognised so we were instructed to do it again. Having heard our little conflab played back to us, we were by now in hysterics and made two further attempts at speaking the registration into the phone, but with little success. We were corpsing so much we had tears running down our faces to the extent I ended up with panda eyes, my mascara had run so much. Trying to be sensible, if that is at all possible, we made it out of the car and decided that we would have more luck at the meter but to no avail, we just could not stop laughing. Getting nowhere, I decided to take myself off to the 'talking toilet' leaving Maice to keep trying to purchase us a ticket. As soon as I entered and closed the door of the toilet this voice boomed out .......'you will be notified before the alarm sounds at which point you will need to vacate the toilet'. Of course, on hearing a voice like that in the toilet more or less telling you to be quick I was out of there like a shot to be greeted by a victorious Maice, who, after us arriving forty minutes earlier had finally managed to book us a car parking ticket. Ah, where would we be without technology!
By this time we were both in need of an alcoholic beverage, but as we were driving we settled on a coffee, and found a very nice cafe called 'Down to Earth' where we began to feel normal again, feeling able to visit the cathedral, which was on our list of things to do in Wells. We walked past this very big church called St Cuthberts and wondered if this was the cathedral. We couldn't see anything else that looked vaguely like a cathedral on the skyline so decided to ask a passing postman. 'No luv' he said. 'Cathedrals t'other end of town......you'll recognise it, it's a tad bigger than St Cuthberts'. To be honest, I think he was being nice as when we got there it was humongous, at least ten times bigger!
As cathedrals go, Wells Cathedral is pretty impressive and we spent a good hour having a good look around before heading off to find somewhere to have lunch. We decided upon the cafe near the car park which had been full when we arrived.......a good sign we thought. By this time it was two minutes to two and the establishment was empty. We went to sit at a table for four but were told to sit at a table for two as all the tables were set for the evening. ‘You are open for lunch aren’t you?’ we asked, it now being one minute to two. 'Oh, yes' said the waitress 'but we close at two'!. We decided that we wouldn't be able to order, eat and pay in the remaining minute we had left so went in search of another eatery and ended up in Pickwicks, where we enjoyed a very nice hearty lunch.
Back at the car park 'Sat Nav Steve' was reprogrammed to take us to Bristol airport and proceeded to direct us out of the car park, around the town, past the signposts indicating that Bristol was in the opposite direction to that in which we were being directed and we finally ended up back in the very car park we had vacated fifteen minutes earlier. We don't think 'Steve' was in a good mood today, so we told him to sort himself out and whilst waiting for his mood to dissipate, we managed somehow to direct ourselves onto the road to Bristol airport. Would we ever get there, we thought!
Sat Nav Steve had pulled himself together and attuned himself back to the big satellite in the sky and appeared to be directing us to Bristol airport, or so we thought. We came upon a conurbation which we knew was not Bristol, it being too small when all of a sudden we were informed to turn left at the traffics lights, after which SatNav Steve advised us that we had reached our destination. Now, we may not be the brightest two females who holiday together but we were both 100% certain that the airport was not around the corner in the middle of the town. So what was Sat Nav Steve up to we wondered. Was he sickening for something? We drove down the road, which just happened to be called Airport road, hoping this was a much needed clue, and carried on until we came across a signpost which, lo and behold pointed us in the direction of the airport. Having given Steve a good shaking he came to life again and informed us that our ETA was in fifteen minutes. It's just as well we left Wells early and when we finally arrived at Silverline Parking, what would have been a thirty five minute journey turned out to be one hour and twenty minutes! Carrying out a quick post-mortem on Steve's behaviour Maice thinks she may have programmed in Bristol Airport Road, instead of just Bristol Airport, so on this occasion Sat Nav Steve's reputation has been saved. I fear for the rest of the holiday after Maice's confession, I really do!
My bags, which seems to be the norm for me at the airport got stopped by security. They don't look suspicious to me but there's obviously something about them, or me, that looks dodgy! Finally having made it through without anything being confiscated we found it was wine o'clock and enjoyed some alcoholic beverage at the bar.....just as well we didn't wait until we got on the plane as the flight only took one hour, and being sat in the middle of the plane with the drinks trollies working from front to middle and back to middle they didn't make it to us as there was only ten minutes to land.
We touched down at 20.35pm and then spent the next ten minutes taxiing over bridges and canals and alongside fields until we finally stopped at the terminal. It was most bizarre. It then took us another half hour to find the information desk to pick up our iamsterdam ticket and to find the right platform to get the train into the centre of Amsterdam. Unknowingly we were sat in First Class, and very nice it was too. Leaving Central Station we decided to walk to our hotel. To be honest we didn't really have a clue where or in which direction to go, neither of us are that great at map reading. We did realise very quickly however that there’s an awful lot of cyclists in Amsterdam and it's wise not to be standing in the middle of the cycle lane whilst deliberating which way to go. So we decided, for our own health and wellbeing we would return to the station and ask the nice man in the little kiosk how to get to our hotel. He seemed rather bemused that we wanted to walk, rather than get a taxi or a tram as he suggested. It'll take fifteen minutes he said! Forty five minutes later, having tried to map read under lamp lights and mobile phone lights we arrived at our destination......Hotel Cappuccino.
It's a lovely little hotel in all respects, particularly room size. Our bathroom seems far larger than the bedroom which really only allows one person to move around at once, but we seem to have got the hang of things now and synchronise our movements so we don't bump into each other. Believe it or not we've even got a balcony, albeit a small one which if the weather was warmer we would be sitting outside playing cards and enjoying a G&T. As it was, we unpacked, got into our pyjamas and enjoyed the tiny bottle of gin I had smuggled into my hand luggage. It was lovely.
The room may be tiny but the comfortable beds really make up for it. After the day of travelling we've had sleep can't come quick enough.