It’s official. I have a love-hate relationship with snow. Growing up in Louisiana, snow was a very rare sight. We were lucky if we had snow once every 5-7 years. When we did, the entire city shut down. Schools were closed and people were encouraged to stay home and off the roads. But this usually only lasted one day as the temperatures soon turned the snow to water.
NYC was another story. We were guaranteed to have snowfall every winter. Some winters worse than others. The snow started out as a beautiful white blanket, but soon became dirty black sludge piled up on the corners so pedestrians could navigate the sidewalks.
While Amsterdam is even further north, heavy snowfall is not typical for The Netherlands. With the country at sea level, the weather tends to be humid and if the snow does fall, it usually doesn’t stick very long. Last winter proved to be quite an anomaly as it was the “snowiest winter in 30 years” and it looks like this winter might be on the same track. This past weekend, G and I were going to meet up in London for a quick holiday weekend before heading to the States to visit our families for Christmas. I was really excited about my first trip to London; however Mother Nature had other plans for me…
5:10am – A persistent beeping from my alarm clock warns me to get up or be late.
5:15am – Call to G to make sure he’s awake in Paris to catch the train to London.
6:55am – Out the door (5 minutes early, a miracle mind you) and off to Schiphol Airport.
Note: Half way to the airport, a mad flurry of snow begins to fall.
7:20am – Baggage checked in for my 8:40 flight to London. Bag weighs only 10.5kg, another miracle. KLM staff confirms the flight is on-time.
8:40am – Sitting at the gate with a white blanket outside the window.
9:00am – Boarded and the wait begins. Wait. Wait. Wait.
10:40am – Plane is finally towed to a de-icing station.
11:05am – Captain’s Update: “De-icing is finished, but the tarmac is full of snow and we are waiting for it to be cleared.” Cleared? For what…does he really think we are taking off? Just cancel the flight already.
11:30am – Captain’s Update: “We are cleared for take-off; flight attendants, take your seat.” Ok, so now I’m a teeny bit optimistic.
11:42am – Captain’s Update: “The wings are frozen and won’t operate properly; we need to go back to the gate so an engineer can fix it.” Fix the frozen wing? No thank you…can I deplane now?
12:12pm – Captain’s Update: “Schiphol is starting to close down, but we are still working to get the wing fixed for take-off.” Whyyyyyy?
12:20pm – Captain’s Update: “I’m sorry, Schiphol has been closed and this flight is now cancelled. [And to add insult to injury] There is currently no one at the gate, so please remain seated until we are able to deplane.”
1:05pm – Four hours after I boarded, I am finally walking off the plane. Little did I know that trying to get home was going to involve more drama than trying to get to London. The arrival hall was a total circus and I was advised to try to recover my bag tomorrow.
1:15pm – Outside and waiting for the bus as airport personnel advised the trains were delayed or cancelled.
2:00pm – After standing in the freezing temperatures and unending snow fall, the bus finally arrives. Unfortunately it says “geen deinst” (no service). I turn to look at the cab line which shows 30+ people in line and no cabs in the queue.
2:08pm – In line for a train ticket.
2:15pm – Mad dash down stairs for the 2:19 train.
2:19pm – I slump down in my seat and breathe a small sigh of relief that I’m en route home. The train from Schiphol to Centraal Station is on average 17 minutes. Given the weather, I anticipate it could take up to an hour.
2:30pm – Train stops.
2:55pm – Conductor’s Update: “We have a switch problem and will be delayed indefinitely.”
3:25pm – We haven’t moved. The snack cart rolls by and I purchase my first meal of the day.
Green tea and cashews...gourmet dining, huh?
4:30pm – Finally begin moving, only to stop again just 500 meters shy of Centraal Station.
5:10pm – Arrive at Central Station, nine minutes shy of a three hour ride. After ten hours in transit, I anticipate the trams are not running and mentally prepare myself for a 45-minute walk home. Did I mention that it is now below freezing and my heavy hat, gloves, and scarf are in my checked bag that is somewhere in the chaos of Schiphol’s basement?
5:22pm – I catch a break and board the tram.
5:55pm – Eleven hours later, I’m back home. I don’t have my luggage, but I do have a sore throat and fever. Fabulous.
Over the next few hours I cancelled our hotel, worked on a refund for my flight and tried to get an update on my luggage while drinking a cup of Thera-Flu. G was able to change his flight and leave London, but we were not sure if the plane would actually take off. After a few hours of delays and a slippery drive in the snow, he made it home just after 1am.
No Fun-in-London for us. Instead, I spent the weekend eating G’s homemade chicken soup, emptying boxes of tissue and wondering if my luggage would ever surface from the madness at Schiphol.