Tag Archives: Netherlands

Seventy-One Days Away, But Now We’re Back

Our latest jaunt began April 27 with a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and it ended 71 days later with a flight from Los Angeles, California to El Paso, Texas. Along the way we took a transatlantic cruise to Spain, a back-to-back follow-on cruise in the Mediterranean to destinations in both France and Spain, a four-night stay in Germany, two nights in the Netherlands, and then three 12-night back-to-back cruises before flying back for a night in Los Angeles.

The Transatlantic adventure aboard Royal Caribbean’s smallish (78,491 gross tonnage/2,050 double-occupancy passenger capacity) Vision of the Seas allowed me to play a lot of bridge as we had seven days at sea before reaching the Canary Islands, and an additional two sea days before making port in Barcelona. The eight-day Vision follow-on took us to seldom visited ports of call such as Carcassonne (Sete), Toulon, and Corsica in France; followed by the Spanish ports of Ibiza, Cartagena, and Valencia.

Our three Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas (slightly larger at 90,090 GT/2,191 double-occupancy) back-to-backs included Iceland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland; followed by destinations in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales; and finishing off with six ports in Norway. That last voyage took us well north of the Arctic Circle where, during our time there, the sun never set. The farthest north we ventured was 71º 10′ 21″ North latitude, the northernmost point of the continent of Europe and a mere 144 miles/232 kilometers from the closest point to the resurgent Evil Empire that does not deserve mention. You may recall that back in March I pulled all articles on destinations to that deplorable nation.

All in all, not a bad trip save for one completely disappointing city, which I described to you in this recent well-deserved rant: Trashy Amsterdam and the Hellhole of Schipol. You just know the wheels went completely off the rails when I take time away during travels to produce an unscheduled PSA.

At any rate, I’ll be presenting this series shortly after the conclusion of my series on cruising the Southern Caribbean. I’ve not decided yet, but I may run a week of firearms articles between the two series. If I do, that series of three articles will feature a bevy of fun little Berettas — a 21A Bobcat in .22 LR made in 1986, a nifty .25 ACP/6.35mm 950 BS Jetfire manufactured sometime between 1978 and 1986 (I haven’t been able to narrow it down beyond that; hopefully a more knowledgeable reader can solve the mystery for me), and a .380 ACP/9mm kurz 84B Cheetah in remarkable condition dating back to 1982. The 950 should be a particularly fun article, as it is one of two candidates for the unspecified “very flat .25 Beretta automatic with a skeleton grip” Ian Fleming’s fictional spy James Bond used in the first five novels — Casino Royale; Live and Let Die; Moonraker; Diamonds Are Forever; and From Russia, with Love. Of course, we all know what replaced that diminutive “lady’s gun” Beretta, now don’t we.

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Filed under R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation

Trashy Amsterdam and the Hellhole of Schipol


Once was a great place to visit. Now, it’s pure garbage… literally. Ripped trash bags everywhere. Trash strewn about. Piles of trash on what seemed every corner. Trash floating in the canals. Trash, trash, trash. Has no one in this once great city heard of trash bins? Does no one in this city any longer give a damn about their image, or the impression given to their visitors?

And Schipol Airport? Don’t even get me started on that fiasco. Arrived over five hours early because of the security horror stories, and still almost missed our scheduled departure time by the time we got checked in (Hey, Aer Lingus, if you know there’s a problem then don’t start check-in only 144 minutes before departure) and made it through the world’s worst security (As bad as Barbados airport security is, they ain’t got nothin’ over these incompetent clowns). The security line snaked through, and even outside, the terminal for well over a mile, probably closer to two, with thousands, probably near 10,000 if not more, waiting to clear while unmanned security stations sat idle. Well over two full hours before we made it that far, only to find D gates were at least 16 minutes away, and our flight was about 20 minutes from scheduled departure. Time to start a brisk pace, weaving through the throngs of tired, weary, shellshocked, frustrated and angry travelers.

We needn’t have worried about “scheduled” departure, however. Only about three dozen of the 158 passengers for our flight had made it by that time, so Aer Lingus made the decision to delay the flight for more to get through security and complete the long trek. That delay stretched to about an hour and a half (thanks again for the ”timely” check-in opening, Aer Lingus). That in turn led Aer Lingus to delay overseas connections out of Dublin.

Total time on our feet waiting in lines at the primary airport serving this trash-strewn city: Over FIVE hours.

Suggestion: Skip Amsterdam. Stay in nearby charming, CLEAN Utrecht instead. But ONLY if you can escape the Netherlands from an airport other than that hellhole known as Schipol.

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Filed under Opinion Piece, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation