By June Ramli
I recently read an article about someone who made an impromptu trip from London to Milan, where I have been stationed for the past few days, and I decided to follow suit only this time I decided on visiting Amsterdam.
Although London lacks great beaches like Sydney, one of its many perks is the ability to travel to another European country in under an hour by flight.
With that said, taking day trips by flight is not unusual here in London; it’s more of a norm.
This happens quite often in London, so much so that they even have a travel website called lastminute.com.
That was where I purchased my tickets two days before deciding to go to Amsterdam from London on a whim.
This is not the first time; in 2018, I took similar day-long trips to Rome and Barcelona, all within a day’s journey from Paris.
However, this time was different as my place of domicile was London.
Getting from London to Amsterdam was relatively easy as various ports connected the two countries.
I opted to fly out from Gatwick Airport in the morning at 7:45 am, meaning I had to get to the airport by 5:45 am, leaving the house by at least 4:00 am, to say the very least.
Thankfully, I was staying at a place not too far from the London Victoria Tube station, making the journey to Gatwick Airport doable.
So, I woke up at 3 am, got dressed, and walked to the station.
I saw beggars emptying bins to search for food scraps, but none of them disturbed me.
Once at the train station, I noticed I was not alone; many people were waiting for the gates to open to be let into the station to take the train to Gatwick Airport.
If you are wondering which airport to choose for similar day trips, my advice would be to pick Gatwick as it is the closest to London.
The train ride from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport was done and dusted within 32 minutes.
Once there, we had to go through the usual drill of getting our printed boarding passes, recommended if you have a weak smartphone that always runs out of battery, and also the passport control.
After that, I had some breakfast, and off I went to Amsterdam from Gatwick airport.
There was a station at the airport where they gave free newspapers like the Financial Times and also the New York Times.
I went to Amsterdam by British Airways and returned via EasyJet.
Both flights were smooth and under the 50-minute timeline.
Once in Amsterdam, I made my way to visit a local attraction for the purpose of a review, which you can read here, and had lunch at a local bar.
As soon as I finished the visit, I walked back to the central area and took the train straight to the airport. I didn’t want to wander around much for fear that I might miss my flight back to London.
I couldn’t afford to miss my flight to London that night as I had to make my way to Paris via Eurostar at 6 am the following day – another early rendezvous, as the French would say.
Although the trip to Amsterdam was hectic, I still enjoyed it, getting to sample what the place looked like. Immigration takes around 20 to 30 minutes to clear for all passport holders, as their auto gates are only available for EU passport holders.
So, consider yourself warned.
There was a man who had fallen and was bleeding profusely while waiting in line to get his passport stamped, but he was sorted out by some quick-thinking immigration officers who helped him get over the line faster since he was bleeding.
I saw a bunch of ladies from the UK who had come to celebrate one of their friend’s 40th.
How did I know this? It was because she was wearing a hat that said 40th.
Finally, when it came to my turn at the airport, the immigration officer wanted to know what I was planning to do in his country.
I told him that I was there for a day-long visit and was returning at night.
He looked perplexed but nevertheless let me in.
I went to the central area, walked around, and saw a lot of canals.
The place was dirty with all sorts of leaves, but the pathway I took was filled with shops, so I had to see plenty of things along the way but did not have the time to stop and bask in its wonders.
There was also a lot of construction work going around the town, and cyclists can be seen coming from everywhere, so you are advised to be very careful when walking around in Amsterdam.
As I had woken up very early to make the flight, I felt very groggy throughout the entire journey.
I know some Londoners often do this and take turnaround trips for day spas in Milan, but I wouldn’t advise it.
For a short day trip like what I did, I could only manage to squeeze in a visit to a local attraction and couldn’t do anything else.
I spent £250 for the entire trip, and that is because I bought the tickets two days prior.
To make the most out of your trip, book in advance and plan in advance on how you’d like to spend your day.
While my day trip may not have allowed for extensive exploration, it underscored the importance of planning and savouring each moment.
Would I embark on such a spontaneous escapade again?
The answer remains a “no” for now.
June Ramli is the editor of DailyStraits.com. To stay in touch with June, look her up on Twitter @junesairaramli