Happy Saturday Everyone!

As I promised on Wednesday, the next several Saturday posts will be devoted to The Vacation I recently survived. So, if you like tales of exciting adventure and daring-do, well you’ll have to look elsewhere because I’m a big wimp. But if you just want to read my take on a European vacation (not the Chevy Chase movie), then you’re in luck.

Still with me? Let’s get started…

Like any intercontinental voyage*, The Vacation began and ended with a couple LONG flights, airports, and passport control/customs, which is where this tale will also begin. As you may recall, this was the portion of the trip I was dreading most because there are simply too many factors that can go wrong (wings falling off the plane being among them).

*Unless you are an intrepid explorer hiking across continental boundaries, which, again, I am not.

As he runs around naked, Finn was packed and ready to go in no time.
As he runs around naked, Finn was packed and ready to go in no time.

Portland to Amsterdam – Easy Peasy

The more airports I visit, the more I appreciate the Portland airport (PDX). People are friendly (even TSA officials!), there’s space to wander without gates being terribly far apart, and there’s plenty of unique shops and places for a nibble while you bide your time after going through the security dance.

By the way, whoever designed airports that have NOTHING after security should be locked inside the baggage scanner and zapped. Repeatedly.

Mr. Husband and I recently passed through the hoops to get Global Entry which includes TSA PreCheck. This meant no shoe removal, no need to remove our little 3-1-1  liquids from our bags, and most importantly, no long line of impatient and annoyed people. It was a challenge, but I did mange to refrain from giving a smug little wave to the folks in the usual security line as we breezed through PreCheck.

Okay, maybe not THAT smug.
Okay, maybe not THAT smug.

And the flight? First off, a HUGE thank you to the person in front of me who did NOT recline their seat – you’re the best! Second, apparently all bolts were tightened properly and the pilot was sober (or sober enough) because we made it to Amsterdam without a hitch…until we entered the airport.

The Connection at Schiphol – Adrenal Glands on Overdrive

We had a super short connection time at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport (AMS), but felt pretty good about the whole thing since 1) every travel forum I read said AMS is super organized and they’ve got systems in place to get you to your next flight, and 2) we arrived at least 30 minutes earlier than we were scheduled to.

Connecting through AMS from the U.S. requires a fun little trip through passport control. I have no idea if every flight landed at the same time or what, but there was a wall of people at least the length of a city block trying to get their little Schengen stamp. That extra half hour quickly dwindled away and my adrenaline levels were skyrocketing as our boarding time came racing toward us.


Finally, we were next in line. Yay! But then the passport dude decided it was time to have a chat with someone. Tick tick tick. At this point we have about 20 minutes until boarding time and still have no idea how long the trek will be from passport control to our boarding gate. And the guy is still chatting!

Once he had finished putting in his lunch order (or whatever it was he was talking about), we get up to the kiosk. Then, some woman over in the EU Passport area has no idea where she is supposed to go and he starts trying to help her. I’m sorry, but this is no time for Dutch hospitality! Stamp my damn passport!

After what seemed like forever, we got our little stamp and then race-walked (seriously, we were hustling faster than the people walking on the people movers!) to our gate which I think was so far away that we were actually in Belgium by the time we got to it. Somehow though, we still managed to get to the gate 15 minutes before they started boarding. Adrenaline is an amazing thing when a good hustle is required.

Amsterdam to Florence – That Was Quick

After nine hours of flying from PDX to AMS, this two-hour flight went by like a snap. And it had some terrific views over France and the Alps. Once on the ground of this tiny airport we were ready for the Italian fun to begin. Unfortunately, we had a little set back, but since this post is already WAY too long, I’ll save that for next week!

What’s the most stressful airport experience you’ve had? Any favorite airports, or least favorite? Go ahead and gripe or praise in a comment!

By the way, I occupied myself on the flight to Italy with a terrific book by Carrie Rubin called Eating Bull, a medical thriller that makes obesity even more scary than it already is! Check it out if you’re looking for a great read!



9 thoughts on “The Vacation Begins…Ughhhhh

  1. Yes, PDX is a great airport. I try to have an objective view but I think for somebody at PDX for the first time, they would have an easy time figuring things out. ONT, Ontario, CA, about 40 miles west of Los Angeles, is OK. It’s close to my family (and NOT LAX!) and the last several years when I’ve gone through, there are hardly any lines for check-in or security. The bad thing about ONT–there is little in the way of shops and restaurants, both before and after security. And it can be windy at times, which can make for some interesting landings!


    1. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a bounce-house style landing. Ontario is probably one of the most boring airports ever…they did manage to place the shops/restaurants (all, what? two of them?) after security, but they’re usually closed. Sigh.


  2. Hooray! You survived! And thank you for giving me this opportunity to name and shame my least favourite airport on this rapidly-shrinking planet… Berlin Schönefeld, take a bow! It’s the only airport I deliberately go to late, so I have to spend less time there… And even then, flights usually end up delayed by about 2 hours. Booooo! Looking forward to hearing about the fun parts of your trip next 😀


    1. Congratulations Berlin! You are the proud winner of the Airport from Hell award for 2016 (and probably beyond, if we’re being honest). I’ll try to get to the fun part of the trip, but there were a few non-fun (that’s a word, right?) days. Maybe I should alternate between good post/bad post just to keep everyone on their toes.

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      1. Hahaha! It might be an interesting experiment in creative writing to describe an airport/long haul flight/transfer experience in a way that sounds both enjoyable and sincere… Are you up for the challenge? 😉 I am looking forward to hearing about the good bits of your trip though!

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      2. Actually, I do really enjoy (relatively speaking) the flight from pdx to ams. Free drinks, plenty of not-terrible food, and a big enough plane to wander around to avoid a major thrombo mid-flight. Kick back, start a good book, and know the vacation has begun!

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      3. That doesn’t sound too bad at all! I suppose long haul flights are fine as long as it’s quiet and they don’t put you in the middle of the centre block of seats. I’ve given up on ever being able to sleep on one though… Last time I was on a plane for more than 10 hours, I binge-watched Game of Thrones and knitted a pair of socks instead!

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