31.10.2010 - 03.11.2010 3 °C
Day 46 Sunday 31 October – To Reykjavik
An excellent breakfast to start our last day in Canada then a final check of the luggage and we check out at about 11. The 747 bus is an express from down-town to the airport and there's a stop just down from the hotel. The bus is configured to carry the large pieces of luggage and the travellers at a cost of just $7 each, a great deal. The only catch is that the fare must be paid in coins, no provision is available to pay with bank notes.
Check-in at the Air Canada desk for the start of our journey through the airport. The terminal is divided into three section, one for USA destinations, a second for other International destinations and the third for Domestic travellers. We are processed through the USA section even though we are headed for Frankfurt because we are going via Boston. Our baggage is checked through to Frankfurt, that's the easy part.
Next we encounter the first Security check. Remove your belt, boots, watch and almost strip to your jocks. Next stop is US Immigration, full hand scan, digital photo and we are permitted to enter the air-side. Not the best or friendliest departure area ever, we find there are only three food outlets, Burger King, a fancy licensed bar/restaurant and a middle of the road bistro. I also converted my remaining Canadian dollars to Euro.
At the appointed time we board for the 48 minute flight to Boston. On arrival we are required to take the shuttle to the International Terminal for the Iceland Air check-in desk. A large queue and eventually we are issued with boarding passes for this and the next leg of the journey. Just for good measure we are subjected to another rigorous Security check. While waiting at the Iceland Air departure area we watched the ground staff for Virgin Atlantic arrive in a variety of costumes in celebration of Halloween.
The flight to Reykjavik is about 5 hours and we try unsuccessfully to catch some sleep. We set our clock forward by 5 hours as Iceland uses the GMT time zone. We disembark and are required to pass through yet another Security check and have our passports stamped.
Day 47 Monday 1 November – To Frankfurt
A relatively short three and a half hour flight has us in Frankfurt and another we advance the clock another hour. There's a 'technical problem' with the baggage handling equipment but eventually we're re-united with our checked cases, mine somewhat the worse for wear. Nothing to declare and no Customs check, no-one even asked to see our passport.
There are thousands of people and their luggage carts and we start the adventure of finding our way to the hotel. First we have to board the shuttle to Terminal 1 to find the S-Bahn station. We ask various people for directions and find ourselves going up and back down a number of escalators as we try to follow different instructions. Finally we find the ticket machine hall where we join a scrum of likewise confused travellers. A very helpful employee walks us through the process and I spend my first Euros.
We crowd aboard a very fast train that takes us to the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (the central station). A massive structure with huge crowds milling about, there may have been a special event but I suspect it is like this on a regular basis. Out on the street and we try to find our way to the Holiday Inn Express on Gutleut Str. Again some confusion about directions and finally we relent and find a taxi, just as well as the hotel is quite a distance away in a mainly Industrial area. There is a widespread network of buses, trams and trains and we'll look into it tomorrow.
The man at the desk is most helpful and shortly we are in a very comfortable modern room on the 6th floor. First order of business is to catch up on some sleep. When we wake again at about 7 we decide to miss out on dinner and wait until breakfast.
Overnight air travel with today’s Security regime is no joke and I'll have to think long and hard before I sign up for another similar exercise.
Day 48 Tuesday 2 November – In Frankfurt
We slept through most of the night and wandered down to breakfast at about 7:30. What would be known as a Continental Breakfast consisted of cold dishes, cereals, breads, sliced meat, cheese and fruit. I may have overdone my intake because I felt very uncomfortable and had to hit the bed for half an hour.
We misjudged the temperature and by the time we walked to the Central Station we were decidedly cold. Checked out departure arrangements for the trip to Amsterdam and marvelled again at the size of this building. Bought an all-day transport ticket and boarded a tram to the old city centre. Many spectacular buildings including churches, the old city hall and large buildings now housing museums. By about noon we were starting to feel the chill and I wasn't all that flash so we headed back to the hotel.
Slept away most of the afternoon with Jenny fussing over me trying to ensure that I was OK. I suspect I have a bit of a fever and figure that rest and liquids will sort me out.
Day 49 Wednesday 3 November – To Amsterdam
Up about 6 and breakfast by 7, order a cab for 8 and check out. Short taxi ride to the station and we are way too early. About 30 minutes before departure time we find the train and stand for a while, imagine our surprise when it breaks in 2 and the front half with our Car No leaves the station. So we walk back to check out the piece left behind. Sure enough it has changed its identity and IT is now our train.
We board and find our seats, then the fun begins. By the due departure time there's an announcement that there is a 'technical' problem with the train's computer – they will have to re-boot the system. That fails to resolve the problem and some of the passengers with internal destinations are advised to transfer to alternate trains, WE are told to stay put for now. After a while they return what was the front bit of the train and reconnect it, this solves the problem and some 45 minutes late we leave Frankfurt.
The train rockets along at about 250 Km/Hr and the countryside flashes by. The autumn colours are everywhere and there are little towns and big cities and agricultural fields on both sides. Unfortunately there is no opportunity to take any photos.
Arrived in Amsterdam about one hour behind schedule. Found some very helpful people at the tourist information office who guided us onto the correct tram. 5,20 € brought us almost outside the hotel. The room is small but adequate and we will be out and about most of the time. Catching up with the laundry is becoming an urgent issue.
Will update again in a few days, the WiFi is in the lobby and I don't like sitting down there too long.