We spent 13 hours on the plane. The food was OK. I didn’t watch any movies as I cannot hear on the plane because of the background noise. The entire flight was in darkness and I slept for over 8 hours, in twenty minute bites.
Arrived in Amsterdam at 7:06AM on the 1st of April, 2005. The sky was grey, the air was cold. It turns out that the sky was grey due to twilight, not clouds, and it became blue after a few hours. Customs was an unmanned station where you walk through some kind of airlock into a small gated room with some kind of detector. When i went through a loud alarm started going off and there was a red flashing light. A fearsome voice boomed from a loudspeaker and started barking something to me in Dutch. I assumed that this translated to “Put down your weapon, you have twenty seconds to comply”, but Kirsten later translated to “go back the way you came”. I tried to go back the way I had come but the gate was closed so i just went out the exit. I was not shot, neither by robot nor human.
Bea, Henk, Marjolein and Michel were waiting for us with flowers and a flag. After hellos they took me straight to the long-promised “Real Dutch Coffee”. From DeliFrance.
Henk had hired a people mover as I had warned him that our bags would not fit into his 323. Driving on the freeways to Zutphen, I noticed 3 main things:
- The plants are different;
- The animals are different; and
- I did not previously comprehend the word flat.
The day was spent in a timezone-induced half consciousness, with a mild headache. I was determined not to sleep until nighttime as I wanted to adjust quickly. “OK, maybe a little nap won’t hurt”. Two hours later, feeling better, we went for a bike ride into the Old City of Zutphen (Bea and Henk had bought us a bike each).
The Old City is a very cool place. Lots of very old (i.e. 1000 years) buildings surrounded by the old city walls and moats / canals ( they are both gracht in Dutch). The streets are all cobbled. I have been told that Zutphen is called the “City of Towers” and it is easy to see why. There are six high church steeples (they call them towers). The seventh tower is the water tower, which is a bit of a fertility symbol, if you take my meaning.
We went for a cup of coffee (kopje koffie) at the Pelikan cafe, which has the most famous coffee and tea in the Netherlands and is the official supplier to the the royal family. We rode home and for dinner we ate kibbeling which is basically a fish nugget.
I did not have any trouble getting to sleep.