Norn Iron people are generally reluctant travellers outside the 6 counties. However the Belfast Bloggee and his adventurous current wife are an exception to the rule: the recent trip to an exotic European hotspot is a case in point:One can do Belfast to Amsterdam, door to door, thanks to EasyJet. In the air it really doesn’t matter what aircraft you are in as they all hit the ground with the same velocity. Just try and get on the thing in the first place.
At Belfast International Airport, you don’t walk far to get to any departure gate and there you can have a pint of Guinness in a modicum of comfort.
And then they call the numbers. The PPW and I were 12 & 13 and the nice lady in orange mumbled that people holding tickets from 1 to 30 should proceed to gate C12, or wherever. We did this, along with about another two hundred fellow travellers. The PPW is a teacher and appeared to be slightly dismayed at the standard of education afforded to our new friends. She expressed this in much fewer words.
The flight was fairly non-eventful, orange fluffy boys named Julian or Justin flogging cheap tacky smelly stuff to make up for the cut price tickets. (I bought a packet of Pringles, original.) It was made slightly less tedious by the toothy old queens in the seats behind, whooping and squealing as we bumped above Schipol Airport while the driver tried to get the machine on the ground.
Our hotel, The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, is bang on the fringe of Dam Square and an easy spot from which to negotiate the city. The PPW and I had been here before and had previously dashed about everywhere on foot trying to take in everything in limited time. The climate on this occasion did not lend itself to leisurely strolls. It was exceedingly cold and the usually benign breezes rushed up each canal with shameful bitterness.
The Red Light District is immediately behind the ‘Kras’ and is a curious mix of sex, drugs and all things weird, pretty much the same as most mainstream religions. There is a vast gothic style church with massive vaulted ceilings just beyond the more notorious of the crack dealing streets with ladies in windows along the way. The ladies are quite charming and smiley, but the pimps and minders who linger outside are not nice at all. We forewent all offers to ‘score’ and found ‘The Lord in the Attic’, an absolute gem, where a wealthy merchant of bygone years converted his loft into a place where those disposed to Catholicism could do their stuff. The Prods weren’t too well disposed to that sort of carry on in those days.
On our way out of the RLD we passed a couple of nuns in full habit charging over a bridge. The PPW glanced at the legs of one of the sisters and concluded that it was a chap. ‘Fine leg for a button boot’ as my auld ma would say.
At Schipol Airport, the size of an average city, you walk for miles before ending up in a cattle pen for twelve with three hundred ‘drugged up’ evacuees crammed in. The numbers game started again, met this time with shouting men in football shirts, tattooed ladies and lots of arms flying about. The PPW and I managed to get on EZY4422 where I bought another packet of Pringles (cream cheese and onion) and a beer from fluffy Justin.
The captain was Elaine Galvin, who did wonders for the cause of girly drivers everywhere
Good romping stuff but give me the certainties of Duns any day