Christmas in Amsterdam

So I actually did a trip before this one – went to Mexico mid-month to see my cousin get married – but I guess I didn’t feel like blogging about it. Maybe I will later. We’ll see.

The pilot husband had a 51 hour layover in Amsterdam on Christmas so ever since we’ve known, we’ve tossed around the idea of me going with. I went back and forth on it. I was pretty exhausted coming home from Mexico and the flights – especially coming home – looked iffy. The original thought was to fly with him to Portland, then to Amsterdam, then to New York City (27 hour layover there post-AMS), and then home. However, all the flights back to DEN out of NYC (both JFK and LGA) looked terrible. So then we thought, what if I left AMS on my own and then found my way back? That looked better. Flights looked decent both to MSP and DTW and, more importantly, back home. We decided on MSP.

Still, it took until the morning we were going to leave from DEN to go to PDX via LAX that we made the decision. I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever packed for a trip.

Sunday, December 22

The one thing we did to make this work was NOT take the first flight out of DEN on Monday morning. Which yeah, technically breaks all of our non-rev rules, but meh. Our flight to LAX was a bit delayed leaving DEN, but we were able to make it on okay.

That’s where the first bit of trouble started.

Due to … something in LA, we got slowed up a lot going in. B was freaking out as he had a deadhead to PDX to catch. A flight that in theory we should have been able to make just fine, but combined with the delay and the slow plane? Yeah, it took off about five minutes after we landed. Thankfully, he got himself sorted out to make the next PDX flight and I got rolled over. We took the extra time in LAX to go walk out to find B’s car (make sure it still worked) and then walked to the In-N-Out close to the airport for some food.

We made the PDX flight okay, got in late … crashed out.

Monday, December 23

We had a few hours before we needed to get to the airport, so we had breakfast, got in a workout, got coffee (and a doughnut at some shop he likes (not VooDoo)). Got to PDX and I was thankfully able to get DeltaOne to AMS (ohhh podlife).

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But not before I went up to the flight deck to say hi to (read: annoy) the husband.

Flight was mostly uneventful – read some, started to get caught up on Star Wars (watched ep VII), slept not as much as I should have.

And, as I do, I took pictures of the food.

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Starters: “Harissa Shrimp with apple, celery and arugula slaw” (not terrible), “Baby Gem Lettuce with croutons, shaved manchego cheese, smoked roasted tomatoes and Caesar dressing” (not bad), and “Porcini Mushroom Soup” (tasty).

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We had quite a few options for dinner – a braised beef short rib, soy glazed Chilean sea bass, and ricotta ravioli … and what I chose: “Roasted Herb Chicken Breast with red wine reduction, cheesy truffle polenta, garlic broccolini and blistered tomatoes” (actually pretty good).

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I didn’t do the pear and caramel mousse tart or the fruit and cheese, but I obviously just had to do the sundae. It’s the best part of podlife (imho)! I did learn on this trip that you don’t want the bowl to be full of ice cream because if it is (like on my way back as you’ll see a bit later), the ice cream to sauce ratio gets screwed up for the worse.

I also tried both the Pinot Noir and the Cabernet Sauvignon on the plane. I think the cab was a bit better. I also learned that yes, the travel bloggers are correct in that hooch doesn’t help you sleep on planes … so I did not drink on the way back.

Tuesday, December 24

(Starting the next day here due to time zone wonkiness)

The arrival breakfast has gotten a bit better, but still not great.

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You could also get a granola and yogurt whatever, but I’m so picky with yogurt. So, what I got: “French Onion Quiche with Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon” (… meh). Definitely better than the frittata going to Italy. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Got off the plane (without forgetting anything!) and followed the other non-revs (relatives of the flight attendants) through the airport and customs to where the bus to the hotel was.

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And I got this photo.

Took the van to the hotel, got checked in (eventually … after like 2934723047 other crews), and passed out for a few hours. We woke up and then got on the hotel-provided cruiser bikes to venture out a bit. B took me to Winkel 43 for their apple pie which is apparently super famous.

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View from outside.

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Ham and cheese toasty just for a bit of protein.

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Pie and coffee. It was super delicious.

We took the cruiser bikes back to the hotel and then got a few things done before heading back out to dinner at a place nearby, the Number One Cafe (Eetcafe?).

B had some schnitzel, while I had a mixed grill of chicken.

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Salad.

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Dinner. It wasn’t bad. As B (and a few of the flight attendants agreed upon) said, the food in Amsterdam is good; it’s not great. I would have to concur with that given my limited experience.

Wednesday, December 25

Christmas is weird on the road away from home. Kind of like another day but also not. We woke up, grabbed breakfast from downstairs, and then went for a run to explore.

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Canals.

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B’s usual cafe, closed that day.

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Just up the street apparently was part of the Red Light District.

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Square.

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Us.

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Random arcade (taken with our new GoPro!).

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Aaaaalll the bikes.

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Rainbow (and it might be a double?).

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This was on the walk back to the hotel.

After the run, we did a few things and then headed back out on cruiser bikes to explore the city some more. Our goal was to find the one last remaining Christmas market (that had an ice rink near it) and check it out. Unfortunately … it was pretty terrible. I did manage to eat more poffertjes though … for the second year in a row at a Christmas market.

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So tasty.

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Selfie on the ferry that we had to take back and forth across the river (large canal?) from our side of Amsterdam to where the main downtown was.

We ate some lunch and relaxed a bit more before heading back out for the last time, but this time on feet.

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Of course we brought the dinosaurs.

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Holiday lights. On this same street, we bought an ornament and also visited the Venus Sex Museum. Because why not.

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Canals at night.

Since we didn’t see anything that caught our eye for dinner while wandering around, we just ended up eating at the hotel restaurant. I had schnitzel (which was good) and B had the daily special which was some beef something. Oh and we had more pie because Christmas.

Thursday, December 26

I had trouble sleeping this entire trip, and that meant I was up at 3:45a AMS time and couldn’t go back to sleep. Which meant I was completely fine for making my 7:25 bus back to the airport. B couldn’t go, but he bartered me a ride on the bus for me talking about IRONMAN to one of the captains. Sure I will take that trade. (And I would have gotten on anyway; the trade was just funny.)

Got to the airport plenty early and in time to clear customs, security, get my non-rev status changed, and get some food. And also a doughnut in what I believe is my 8th country.

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From the airport Starbucks. Not the best, but definitely not the worst foreign doughnut I’ve had.

Waiting for a seat internationally is a bit weird, but I was (thankfully) able to get a seat (and a pod!).

I was a lot smarter with my time management on this flight. I read, but not a whole bunch early. I got my movie started well before my meal (Star Wars episode VIII), and then I was able to sort of nap for about two hours. It was interrupted sleep as I kept waking up due to overheating, but hey. For someone who doesn’t really sleep on airplanes, I’ll take it.

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The starters: “Crusted Beef Filet with smoked pepper aioli and pickled cauliflower” (only ate the beef; totally mediocre), “Roasted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Salad with Romaine lettuce, toasted pumpkin seeds served with dill honey mustard dressing” (… not that great. picked at it), and “Thai Coconut Soup” which I did not try.

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Again, quite a few options, with a grilled beef tenderloin, roasted salmon, and a fresh mozzarella and spinach panciotti, but I chose the “Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Thigh served over tagliatelle pasta with onions, bacon, mushrooms, chanterelles and garlic in a honey balsamic jus” (which was quite good).

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Chose not to try the chocolate truffon after seeing it (and poo on the cheese course), but obviously more ice cream. But see how much it fills the bowl here? Keeps the topping ratio off.

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I woke up just before the arrival meal. We had two options, a smoked paprika chicken over salad or what I got, a “Wagyu Pastrami Sandwich with Emmenthal cheese, caramelized onion, arugula and truffle mayonnaise” (too greasy and hard to eat … even with a knife and fork. other than that not bad).

I landed in MSP, cleared customs and security … and then proceeded to watch people get bought off the flight I was hoping to take. I waited until B landed back in NYC before figuring out my next step, as all the subsequent MSP-DEN flights looked terrible. We tossed around the idea of trying another flight … but rolled the dice and rented a car. So, I got in a car by 4:30p MSP time … drove to Lincoln, Neb., where I got about 4.5 hours of sleep … and then rolled into DIA around 10:30a on the 27th. And found out that if I had waited for the 8:30p flight … I would have somehow magically made it home. Live and learn, I guess.

T and B Do Belfast: The Food

So the food we ate on this trip wasn’t as exciting as say, Italy – and we didn’t eat a whole lot, all things considered … – but I did want to mention some of the stuff we did.

Wednesday, November 21:
Breakfast: egg and oj at the house, coffee and a pastry from either Caribou (B) or Lavazza (me).
Lunch: I’m pretty sure this was at Le Grand Comptoir in JFK Terminal 4. B had … a turkey and brie sandwich, I think? … and I had a lobster roll. Because of course.

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Not the best, not the worst.

Snack: random stuff at the Sky Club.
Dinner: Something on the airplane. I think it was chicken with risotto and green beans, but don’t quote me on that.

Thursday, November 22:
Breakfast: like two bites of my Noosa yoghurt that was in the breakfast snack box thingy we were given.
Lunch: yeah, kind of skipped this.
Dinner: food at the Belfast Christmas market.

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Nothing will ever be as good as Italy, but we try.

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Dutch pancakes with butter and cinnamon. Was meaning to go back and try other flavors, but it never happened.

Friday, November 23:
Breakfast: delicious hotel noms (eggs, bacon, croissants, oatmeal) at the Hilton Belfast and then cappuccinos at Caffe Nero.

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Also not as good as Italy, but fooooooam!

Lunch: Simply Fish and Chips (located in the same building as St. George’s Market).

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Fish was good. Chips … not as much.

Snack: random bites at the BU alumni pregame reception – cocktail weenies, (crappy) nachos, cheese, muffins.
Snack #2: loaded fries at the hotel bar just for calories.

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They did the job.

Saturday, November 24:
Breakfast: more hotel noms followed by crappy European Starbucks.
Lunch: random sandwiches from a cafe in the bottom of a bookstore.
Snack: same random bites at the BU alumni pregame reception.
Dinner: pizza and caprese salad from Pizza Punks Belfast.

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The large whiter blobs are too much mozzarella. Good otherwise though.

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Touch too much basil. Otherwise delicious.

Sunday, November 25:
Breakfast: same delicious bites at the hotel.
Snack: coffee (for B) and donuts/Timbits at Tim Horton’s.

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Because I have to keep up my streak of buying doughnuts while we’re overseas together.

Lunch: I actually don’t think was a thing.
Dinner: burgers and fries at the bar at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport.

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I had to dismantle this in order to eat it by taking off a patty. And, once again with the crappy fries.

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Plus we got some (mediocre) apple thing for dessert.

Monday, November 26:
Breakfast: eggs, bacon, and croissants at the Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport.
Lunch: more breakfast foods from some stand in the Dublin airport once we realized we were stuck for another day.
Dinner: at Little Venice, an Italian place down the street from the hotel.

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Cheesy garlic bread for an appetizer.

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Tagliatelle Pollo Funghi which I had. Good except the chicken was a bit dry.

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B’s Ravioli Beef.

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B’s dessert – Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

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If there are Profiteroles on a menu, I will order them. These were definitely not the best I’ve had, however.

Tuesday, November 27:
Breakfast: same as the previous day at our hotel.
Snack: cappuccinos from Butler’s Chocolate Cafe in the Dublin airport.
Lunch and subsequent snacks: Pod life.

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“Lemongrass Ginger Prawns with fennel salad, roasted cashews, pomegranate seeds and wasabi mayonnaise” and “Little Gem Caesar Salad with shaved parmesan cheese, pretzel croutons and caesar dressing.” Neither were good; nor were they bad.

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“Grilled Beef Tenderloins topped with fresh herbs and demi-glace served with haricots verts and roasted cauliflower.” Beef? was fine. Green beans were better in the back of the plane on the way over and I choked down the cauliflower. Highly disappointing, tbh.

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Mmm, sundae. Not enough chocolate sauce though.

I grabbed a bag of chips out of the snack basket when it came around and we were also given chocolate chip cookies at one point.

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“Cuban Pork Sandwich pork loin, smoked ham, swiss cheese and dill pickles served on a baguette and offered with mixed green salad.” The sandwich was REALLY good … but unfortunately my salad was frozen so I couldn’t really eat it. Boo.

Beyond: very few snacks at the Sky Club because we were so stuffed from the flight over. I did buy a can of Pringles (as well as ate some peanuts) on our flight back to DEN … and I think we just grabbed Chick-fil-a on the way home, but I also don’t quite remember.