Up, up and away

The flight kept getting delayed, we are reminded why Singapore continually wins awards for service, everyone given a snack box whilst they wait.

The older A380s run by Singapore have economy on the upper deck as well. I remembered now why I’d picked this particular seat. Only 2 on the side, no one behind me but seat fully reclinable and being on the upper deck you get to board first. You can also stick things under your seat as well as under the seat in front as the exit row is behind you.

I’d probably be a little annoyed if I’d shelled out for business class on this one. Whilst the seats are roomy they are not the bed like ones and the leather looks a little tatty. Apparently this jet is 10 years old.

A Concorde is on the tarmac. Unfortunately it’s story is very sad. An historic piece of aviation history deserves a better ending than this.

The lady sitting next to me turns out to be an even bigger plane spotter / travel geek than what I am. I have someone to talk to for a while now.

Apart from the delay the flight is pretty uneventful. I don’t even mind this delay as it means I won’t be arriving in Singapore at 5am

Flying over Poland again. I’m remind myself at how awesome it and underrated it was as a travel destination. Put it on your agenda!

They ran out of the chicken before they got to me so I had the curry lamb instead. It was delicious.

Arrive Singapore. Through immigration, customs and have my bag, all in less than 10 minutes. Not sure how they can be this good, no wonder it’s consistently voted Best airport in the world. And in 5 more minutes I’m in the metro. It’s spotless and blasting nice cool air.

Perversely right at this moment it’s cooler in Singapore than it is in Europe suffering from the heat wave. Humidity still higher though. Oh, and a reminder I’m in Asia, a sign banning durians (for good reasons too!)

In 30 min I’m at Fort Canning MRT, and can see my hotel. Clarke Quay looks a nice little area to be staying

Checked into the hotel, room not ready to 12 so went for a walk around for about an hour and a half. My internal clock was telling me it’s still 3am so I headed back to make use of the pool area until the room is ready. Of course in Singapore this had to be accompanied by a Singapore Sling, but at $25 a pop won’t be having too many of these

Goodbye Europe

Sitting here in terminal 2 at Heathrow having my last coffee here before my flight to Singapore. It’s called the Queen’s Terminal, and I’m sure she really loves it, but doubt she ever comes out here. I wouldn’t either if I owned the Royal Air Force and wanted to fly somewhere.

Two weeks ago right here the coffee was really good, today it’s average. Different Barista. I must have been super lucky two weeks ago.

Random shots around the terminal.

Gate announced, it’s in the second part of the terminal, 10 minutes walk away.

Home for the next 14 hours until we land in Singapore.

Goodbye Amsterdam

After my coffee this morning I went back to the hotel to get my bags, checkout and head up to the station.

The hotel just after checkout

Amsterdam station is unlike any other in Europe I’ve been through, you need to scan your ticket to get on or off the platform concourse area, and once there, there is no digital board listing the departure platforms. I couldn’t find the paper listing anywhere so had to ask at the information desk. Of course my train leaves from the last platform quite a walk away. I grab an early sandwich here rather than taking it on the train with me.

The train arrives on time, departs on time and gets to Brussels on time which overall has been a rarity. This train is as fast as advertised just shy of 300kph. The only frustrating thing is the other passengers who don’t seem to be able to read the seat numbers against their ticket and hold up everyone else boarding. Hell really is other people sometimes.

The train is comfortable, only real complaint is no in seat power, which is super surprising for a first class high speed service. Thankfully I have my battery.

It’s horrendously hot for this part of the world and the aircon on the train is only barely coping. Thankfully it’s only a 2hr trip.

There are plenty of wind turbines and after a while I realise we have crossed the border into Belgium as on one of the generators it announces Wind4Flanders.

The most surprising thing really is the lack of green due to the heatwave. After a month of 30+ days with little rain everything is brown. Blink and I could swear I was on the Western Line in Sydney given the outlook. The occasional amazing church with their spires gives it away that I’m not at home.

Once in Brussels I eventually find the luggage storage area and where the Eurostar leaves from and attempt to store my luggage. I need 5 euros in coins and only have 3.50 so I have to purchase something to get coins. Do this and all is good until I then need to go to the loo and remember that in most of Europe to spend a penny it will cost a Euro ! I find a machine this time that converts notes to coins. Now I’m back to a stack of coins I won’t need. The cycle of currency waste continues….

Walking outside the station I’m hassled by two beggars in less than 1 minute. I was going to walk up to Palais de Justice but change my mind as it’s a 25 minute walk in 36c and decide to get a cold drink instead

Warm day here….

Walking outside I see this thing against the side of the wall in the middle of nowhere that looks just like a toilet. 2 seconds later a passerby uses it and removes any doubt. I guess it saves people just wizzing against the wall anywhere

Inside I find a cafe and get a cold iced coffee and am reminded I’m in the French speaking world as the coffee it terrible. Most station coffee is rubbish but it’s hard to mess up an iced coffee, even Starbucks do a decent iced coffee

You know you are in Belgium when the vending machines do waffles !

The Eurostar is again having issues (possibly heat related) delayed over an hour and a half out of Brussels. it’s reliability has certainly decreased over the past 12 months given my recent problems with them. They do promote themselves as better than flying but add in the delays and the now airport like security check and queues its not as clear cut. I did consider getting a ferry from Amsterdam to the UK, I’m thinking that would have been the better option. They announced we can claim compensation after 48 hours.

The queue behind me is way way worse. At least here in Brussels the waiting area is properly air conditioned unlike Paris.

finally on board. Was starting to worry they might cancel it

Once it gets going it really gets going. One slight bonus with the delay is that I won’t be dealing with peak hour on the tube getting from St Pancras to Paddington.

Hundreds of kilometres of fencing at Calais to prevent illegal immigration though the tunnel. At the section where the fencing starts it’s protected by two border guards.

9pm finally back in the UK. Flight leaves in the morning for Singapore

Black Gold

My Train to Brussels leaves at 12.15pm so this morning was a lazy on of packing and heading out for coffee at Black Gold, the cafe I found yesterday. There are probably other good ones here but they are probably well hidden. Coffee just really isn’t the focus of Amsterdam.

I love the concept of this Café, the black could either refer to the coffee or the vinyl records or even both.

It’s so quiet in the part of Amsterdam, I asked the barista when it gets busy and his comment was on a nice day like this it probably won’t get busy at all.

Like most of Europe, people here have a stronger acceptance of dogs everywhere, whilst I was having my coffee another couple strolled in, with their dog on a leash ordered some coffee, stayed 5 minutes and off they went. Another subtle little reminder that whilst the coffee here is equal to the good ones at home, I’m not in Kansas anymore Toto.

Cruise and Pizza

I’m here in Amsterdam primary to do some cycling, however it has crossed my mind that I can’t come here and NOT do a canal cruise. Walking around yesterday on a whim I booked myself on a Pizza cruise at 8.30pm tonight, if nothing else it removes the decision on what I’ll do for dinner.

I expected it to be a little lame as it’s with one of the bigger cruise companies and I was by myself. However it turned out to be a wonderful experience. There was one other bloke by himself so I was sat next to him and of course he happens to be an Aussie who has just moved to London. We had a great chat about our respective travels over the cruise.

What I didn’t realise was the cruise also included unlimited alcohol (as well as soft drinks) for the duration and they were happily dolling it out liberally for the entire journey so the entire boat was extremely lively after the first hour passed. It was the last cruise of the day and the heat had died down so it was a terrific way to end my last day in Amsterdam.

For the €39 this was a fantastic evening.