I’m writing this in AMS (Schipol, Amsterdam) in the hope that the adventures of the day are over.
This morning Stockholm had a rain storm the like of which is rarely seen. Niagra Falls? Just a shower. Despite everything they tried, umbrellas, tenting, you couldn’t avoid being soaked.
Our Viking transfer to ARN (Arlander, Stockholm) was planned with their usual efficiency. Bags ready to identify, porter to the bus. Sit down (drip dry) and relax. They’d allowed lots of time, except no one had told them about that UN Climate Conference. Today, these Champions of the Environment were departing by air.
Now… motorcades and flying may call their credentials into question, but the police closing almost every route out of, and around, central Stockholm during rush-hour called their intelligence into question even more. Stockholm became a car-park. I monitored traffic on my phone’s SatNav. Almost every road (even side streets) turned red.
Our 45 minute journey took two hours as the driver looked for routes. We know a lot more about the backstreets of Stockholm than we did last evening.
The next moment of madness began when we reached the airport. There were mostly Americans on the bus. Intercontinental departures are from ARN-T5. He parked at T4, the nearest pull-up for buses. Except… all these Americans, like us, were transferring in Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, Frankfurt. Not a direct flight amongst us. It’s a very, very long walk from T4 to T2 and, given ARN’s current reputation for security queues, many were worried.
In our case, no need. Apart from the KLM agent’s computer failing to believe we’d paid for seat upgrades (I had documentary proof - she overrode her computer), security time was no worse than typical, even though there was just one agent, power crazed, who enforced every regulation to its final comma.
A pleasant flight to AMS, on time.
Then we had the joy of passport control and Schipol. Exiting Schengen along with the rest of the World returning home. Hundreds and hundreds of people. Only 50% of the biometric gates working (the UK can’t use those anyway) and five, yes 5, only 5 border officials on duty.
Adding to this joyous gathering of the nations was a Schipol official, trying to help those whose flights were near to departure. Her efforts were praiseworthy, but her methods disastrous. Without any amplifications, she screamed at the top of her voice (similar to), “Passengers whose flights depart before 14.30, please come forward.”
Quite a trick that. The said passengers were embedded deep in the cordoned snake of people working their way forward. People struggled to squeeze back through the line, over and under barriers. Many couldn’t quite hear her but decided to join the exodus. They were then sent back to approximately where they were as they didn’t meet her criteria.
This was repeated every 10/15 minutes as the deadline for missing flights advanced. We had had a 3 hour stopover. We got through with a comfortable 90 minutes to spare. However, it looks like the “good-old-days” 50 minute quick-connection at AMS are long gone.
Having said all that, it hasn’t mattered a jot to us. All our connections have been met. We’ve been able to watch this crazy world go by. If they’d made a TV show of it…
All we need is for our final flight to Cardiff to be on time and for our luggage and our taxi to turn up.
Fingers crossed… Home by 17:30.