Off To The Netherlands Again

London Travel Blog

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It would be easy, too easy, to say that the reason for making my second-ever visit to The Netherlands exactly four weeks after my first was simply to satisfy my craving for stroopwafels. The truth is that my first visit, to the Leeuwarden meet-up, was so enjoyable that the prospect of a second meet-up, in Leiden this time, was irresistable, especially given the programme that had been put together by Anna (aka Dolfijn), the organiser.

Leiden is much nearer Amsterdam than is Leeuwarden, and so it made sense to adopt a more civilised timetable that did not involve a 6.15 am flight out of Gatwick. And although the meet-up was only scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday, I decided to fly out on the Friday and return on Monday, so as to enjoy a long weekend. As luck would have it, Louise (aka 1morespicy) was also flying out to the meet-up on Friday, so I booked myself onto the same flight, which left Heathrow at the decidedly sensible time of 11.50.

As BMI allocates seats as part of their online check-in procedure, we co-ordinated our effort to try to sit near each other: Louise texted me as soon as she had checked-in so I could immediately do the same. It worked pretty well as we were given seats 5f and 6f, which at least meant that if Louise rotated her head through 120 degrees and I leaned forward we could talk.

In normal circumstances I would have taken the X26 Express bus from East Croydon to Heathrow; but on this occasion I would have been travelling at the height of the rush hour, and didn't want to trust myself to any schedule that involved negotiating the traffic in Kingston-upon-Thames. So, after a horrible alternative journey across South London that involved five changes (for the record, at East Croydon, Wimbledon, Earls Court, Hammersmith and Hatton Cross), I arrived airside at about 10 o'clock to find Louise already ensconced in Giraffe getting herself outside a huge cooked breakfast. Security, incidentally, had been unobtrusive and so easy to negotiate that I was actually doubtful that I was airside, since my passport had not been checked.

After I had had a revivifying cup of Giraffe tea we decided that pre-flight drinks were the order of the day, surprise surprise, and after wandering around a bit we found The Bridge Bar, an establishment that served up what were perhaps the best double gin-and-tonics that I've ever had. Perhaps it was just the circumstances, and I was on a happy pre-holiday euphoric high; but this was also the first time that I had ever flown other than on my own, and I must say that having Louise to chat to and drink with made the experience doubly enjoyable.

Finally, after finishing off our drinks rather more quickly than was seemly, we headed for the departure gate.
Sweetski says:
You tell a great story John, and although I know what is coming next, I still can't wait to read all about it :D
Posted on: Sep 05, 2008
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323 km (201 miles) traveled
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photo by: ulysses