For my Twentieth birthday my family decided that we should go away to celebrate it for once. Our last holiday was in February so by now we had earned another one....
I was told that I could choose where to go but since we only decided to go away three days before my birthday I had a limited choice. We finally settled on Budapest with KLM for £176 return. The weather was meant to be good down there anyway.
23rd March 2006
The day before my birthday and I was up at 0500 which is early for a student. We ordered a taxi which had arrived at 0600 and after picking up some more of my family we were off to Manchester Airport. We pulled up outside T2
at 0645 and I headed in alone, away from the rabble and off to the Aviance desk to pick up our tickets. With it being a late booking we were given paper tickets opposed to an E-Ticket. Explain how that one works, wouldn't a reference number be easier? I put my mark on all seven receipts and finally got over to check in where there was no queue which was pleasant.
We of course, and as ever, managed to confuse the poor check in girl with our needs. Fourteen boarding passes to print, six cases to check in (tagged through to BUD
), one pram that needed tagging and taking down to the gate and one car seat that we would take on to the plane for my little sister, not to mention the fact there were seven people and a total of four different surnames. The whole process took around ten minutes, maybe a little more but alas it didn't matter.
Straight through to security, more confusion with passports and boarding passes, then off to a far end of T2
where we wouldn't annoy any other passengers with our rowdy group! We're very thoughtful!
Our Fokker, supposed to be a F70 but changed to an F100 the night before, thanks for the heads up Kirkie, arrived around 0745 and pulled up on stand mid way down T2
. At this point I remembered it would be mothers day while I was away so rushed off to WHSmith to pick up a card but much to my frustration couldn't find one. The place was over crowded and too hot for me to concentrate, obviously the fruit of the previous night's binge was becoming apparent! I thought to myself "sod it" and barged my way back down the packed terminal and to our gate where my family would be waiting.
Slightly out of breath I got down to the gate and found I was about 30 seconds from being the last on the flight, dam it. I was given the boarding passes and shoved to the front of the queue as apparently 'I know what I'm doing'. Going to Budapest perhaps with a quick stop in Amsterdam? So after my sarcasm we did just that and headed down the airbridge, around and down the stairs, along a corridor, down some more stairs and then got held up by some old woman who was a bit weary of walking out onto the ramp. Well i picked up my two year old sister, politely got past her and headed out to search for my Fokker. I firstly came across G-BRIG getting pushed back, Jessica liked this 'big bu air pah' but I headed for the Aviance chap instead who was standing haflway between our plane and gate. I even had enough time to get my phone out and record the trek across shown below.
I stepped up into the aircraft, although nearly fell backwards with all the extra weight I was carrying, and unassumingly there was nobody there to greet us. However a flight attendant soon turned up and said hello although she didn't want to check our boarding passes which annoyed me since I'd kept them to hand. I took my seat by the window and was fairly impressed with the leg room we had.
The push back was five minutes late but not exactly that important to me as we made our way out to 24L and quietly departed after a brief wait for a BA
B735. We followed the DESIG ONE YANKEE SID which took us to MCT 3.2 DME
for a right turn to heading 345 towards XUMAT and then at MCT 8 DME
a right turn to intercept the WAL R-083 to DESIG, then onto AMS
Our shadow as we climb away from 24L.
The flight was comfortable and we got served a choice of either Turkey or Cheese roll and a drink from the bar. I got the Turkey and a glass of water shown below. How conspicuous did I look taking this dam photo?
Inflight video of the first officers announcement.
The flight soon began it's decent into AMS
and after the approach over the North Sea we touched down on 27 and made the short taxi towards the remote stands, where there were lots of Fokkers. A bus soon appeared and we disembarked on to it for the trip to the terminal. Once into the building we found our next departure gate, D06, in a matter of minutes which is when we decided with 80 minutes to spare we would go enter the country and on my recommendation head up to the Panorama Terrace.
There was, thankfully, no queue for immigration as I approached with all seven passports in hand. The women behind was in a good mood apparently as she made small talk with Dylan, my four year old brother, and my grandad. What a group. With a quick comment on how fat I look in my old passport photo the friendly young women handed me the passports back and off I went, welcome to Holland.
Apparently after I had walked off she apologised to somebody in my family and said it was intended as a joke but there we go. However, anybody who has seen my passport will actually agree with the women, myself included!
Out into Departures 1 and then I was relying on my last visit to AMS
in September 2004 to navigate about. Being a man I had no issues finding where to go and within a matter of minutes we were in the lift and outside freezing to death! A few photos later and it was back inside and time to go to the bar, it was 1120 after all!
My little sister Jessica running around the Panorama Terrace at AMS.
I ended up having to pay for the five beers as nobody else thought about bringing Euro's along since Budapest use the Forint! Dam family making me pay, who's birthday was it anyway?
We headed down through security, quick visit to Duty/Tax Free, and then back to gate D06 where the flight was shortly boarding, via the bus again. As we got there an announcement was put out for our party to go to the desk at the gate. However, a few seconds later the agent came up to us and asked if we were party 'x'. Apparently a young family has been split up and they asked if we minded swapping some seats, which we didn't.
I walked up to the desk with this other family but as I got there another gate agent said to us that they had resolved the issue and thanks anyway. I also got a thank you in Hungarian from this family, whatever mate.
The bus took us out to the plane and we boarded again via the steps.
23rd March 2006
Boarding of the flight took two bus loads and farely soon we were being pushed back for departure from runway 06. We got stuck behind a CX
A343 departing before us which was amusing to watch. The photos below demonstrate why.
CX A343 at the start of it's takeoff roll
Still flat on the runway after we ambled slowly onto the runway.. bless
Our flight climbed into Dutch airspace and I sat back and waited for my next sandwich to appear, I was feeling fairly hungry at this point.
I didn't have to wait too long thankfully as a nice blond F/A appeared from Business class with offerings of a ham or cheese roll. Guess it was ham for me! Interestingly enough KLM not once on my flights served business class passengers first which made me feel pretty good.
The drinks came around after the sandwich and myself and my grandad both ordered a beer and sat there contently.
After a while I got a bit bored as I hadn't brought a book with me and alas there was no IFE, at all, so I got my phone and handsfree kit out and put the radio on. It didn't work exactly as planned as I would only be able to pick up a station for roughly two or three minutes. Maybe somebody knows who broadcasts on 94.3 in north west Germany?
I gave up in the end and flagged down the blonde F/A again and grabbed two more beers, it helped pass some time.
The weather got a bit cloudy as we descended towards Budapest Ferihegy Intl, now 75% owned by BAA plc, but thankfully it cleared as we made our approach to 31R, the 12000ft newer runway. A short taxi towards terminal 2B and we were soon parking up on a remote stand and waiting to board the bus for the short hop across the ramp and into the immigration hall which is literally right by the door, a bit strange. The luggage belts are then just a few feet behind the immigration desks so the whole set up is quite small but dealt with our Fokker load just fine.
On remote at BUD
After our cases had arrived we went to find a taxi to take us to our hotel but had to settle on the 'airport minibus' instead which frankly was hell at the time but is amusing in retrospect. It is apparently an official transport method to and from the city, according to the airports website, but I think it needs a bit of a revamp. The price was £6 and included the return trip in a few days. However I'd guess the Ford Transit's they use haven't had suspension since 1994 and the driver knowledge isn't exactly too great, 85 minutes to go 15km. Captaingomes can navigate better than that!
The hotel we stayed at was nice and was located on the banks of the river Danube. I turned 20 and got pissed off Austrian beer in an Italian restaurant and had a memorable and enjoyable day. If you're ever in Budapest, try the goulash.
The city of Budapest
Chilling out at lunchtime one day
After a few days it was time to head back home and bang on time the 'Airport Minibus' turned up at the hotel and took us the 15km back to Ferihegy Intl, this time taking only taking 35 minutes to get there.
The airport itself is quite spread out with the original terminal, T1, located on the opposite side of the airfield to the newer T2
with a shuttle bus linking the two. We were departing from Terminal 2B which once inside had a nice empty check in desk awaiting us.
The Check in girl this time barely spoke the English which made things mighty amusing with our 14 boarding pass to print, pram (or baby car as she called it) tagged and taken to the gate and our four surname palava. I say it all adds to the experience!
Security was pretty tight as we passed through to the airside lounge, it took a while with our group and of course I was left holding the baby. Always am!
Afterwards I went and found a place to grab a beer and something to eat and took it down to an empty gate where our group was spread out at. I fancied a cig afterwards but alas, I've given up (mostly) there days so I just had to sit and stare at these four Hungarian girls who were on a work break. Here they are below.
Our aircraft soon touched down which, thankfully for the sake of flying something new, had been 'downgraded' from a F100 to a F70. Not a bad result!
27th March 2006
Boarding commenced downstairs and via two buses although everybody except two people managed to get on the first bus. We got out to the aircraft but they weren't ready for us so we had to just hang around on the ramp by the steps. Indeed the crowd was so dense we forced the dispatcher to give the captain his load sheet via an alternate means!
Fairly soon a blond Dutch girl waved us onboard so up we went and took our seats.
There was an issue with one passenger a few rows behind who apparently didn't have a flight ticket, who knows, but it was soon resolved and we were pushed back and heading to runway 31L for departure.
The departure route according to Moe, FlyAUA, took us 29 miles north west to Vienna and then up through Germany to the north east corner of The Netherlands.
A sandwich and drink service was again passed around and I took the meat option over the cheese, again, as well as another beer.
The flight went fairly quick with time passed by reading the pretty good in-flight magazine, the Holland Herald. I also took the liberty of getting another two beers from the crew and using the facilities at the rear of the aircraft. It does seem a fairly strange layout with the toilet being inside the rear unmanned galley. I took this opportunity to have a rummage about as I'm a nosey....
The flight soon began it's descent into Amsterdam which was according to the flight deck was having good visibility and was feeling quite fresh.
My 4 year old brother Dylan checking out the view
We made for runway 24 which was a nice scenic approach over the city. The wind really did start to pick up as we continued down the approach, an over head locker came open and I found myself grabbing the arm rest, not because I was scared, just because we were all over the place, maybe I was tipsy too?
I was actually enjoying it all although my sister Jessica wasn't. After a few minutes of crabbing and rolling around we touched down on 24 with a bit of a thud and taxied back over to the Fokker ramp.
I txt Daz, Dazultra, for the latest METAR in AMS
while we were waiting for the transfer bus to the terminal to arrive. He came back saying the wind was 230 degrees, 35 knots gusting to 42 knots. I guess that explained the state of the approach!
The buses soon arrived and we stepped outside and down the steps, nearly getting blown over in the process. The engine at this point was windmilling like a washing machine on a spin cycle, fairly cool
The bus dropped us off at the same door as previous and we made our way inside and straight through to immigration. Unlike the outbound flights, the connection in Amsterdam this time was a bit of a drag at 3.5 hours! We had thusly arranged to quickly head into town and see the 'sights' that the town had to offer. This for me this was my second time.
With no remarks on my passport photo we rushed out of Departures 1 at 1755 and back into Holland and then over to Schipol Plaza where we could get our train tickets. I had checked the night before in the hotel as to the times and prices of this jaunt to make sure it was feasible, and it was.
At 1800 exactly we got in the lift and headed down for the train at 1801 only to find that it was delayed and we'd have to wait for the 1810. D'oh. It finally turned up and we boarded the familiar double decker with green seats and took a seat for the 19 minute ride to Amsterdam Centraal. Once there we headed over to this district that had interesting shops, yes, even with the kids in tow. Of course it was still early when we arrived so there wasn't nothing too seedy out and about yet, well bar a few trannies and blokes dressed as the Village People. Oh dear.
It was now time for another drink and since I wasn't leading the way for once my mother decided on the bar. What an error in judgement she made! Well we were on the main road just in front of the Grasshopper Cafe, we didn't go in there but we did go to the bar "with the nice sign and the little conservatory thing". It was Teasers.
I tried telling her but she wasn't having none of it so we all sat down in the conservatory esque thing and me and my grandad went in to get the drinks. We got served by a women wearing an extremely small, tight top and a thong. The face on my grandad, haha, was great! We got four bottles of Corona and one large Heineken, for me, which came to 28 Euros. My grandad had now just suffered his second heart attack within two minutes!
After a while it turned 1900 and the dancers came out. Well oh crap, I couldn't help but feel awkward as I sat with my family while half naked girls gyrated around poles six feet behind me. Dylan, my four year old brother, was loving it. He was staring in amazement through the window and was getting an equal amount of attention from the girls themselves not to mention the bouncer who found all this hugely amusing. As did I.
Bad parenting in action!
Of course, we stayed around for about three minutes after the girls started dancing before we all downed or left our drinks and thought it best to head back to Schipol. We caught the 1947 service back and arrived at just before 2010, roughly fifty five minutes before our flight left. We headed through security and to the gate where our flight would depart from, D02. Unassumingly the flight had been delayed by fifteen minutes due to a runway closure during the afternoon with the high winds.
27th March 2006
Boarding was completed as soon as possible and we pushed and started our taxi to 19R, it took a while with the other traffic waiting to depart ahead of us. We finally got our turn in line and headed off into the night sky for Manchester.
A sandwich was soon passed around, guess what I took? Yea, the meat option and yet another beer. I did actually asked for a vodka but KLM apparently don't have this onboard, which is retarded if you ask me! I also got a glass of water.
The flight progressed quit quickly and the kids were able to lie down on the spare seats next to us. Unlike the first two sectors of the trip we decided not to take the car seat onboard with us. Jessica didn't really need it anymore, unlike the 8 hour flight in August to AUH
. Instead, we checked the car seat in at Budapest as this would be easier for us considering that we were of course visiting Amsterdam in between flights. The last thing we wanted was to have to lug a big car seat around the city!
Fairly soon we were decsending into Manchester and Dazultra had picked up our flight on his scanner at home, near to the airport. We headed for runway 24R and got stacked up behind a few flights.
We apparently held in the Mersi hold with a short dog leg to intercept the localizer. I'll leave the rest of the info for you to listen to below; Daz managed to rig up his scanner so that it would record, nicely done! An interesting point to note was that the air traffic controller that was working the Tower frequency that evening was a member of this site, Mr Stewart Andrews! He's the Scottish guy in the following recording.
Once Stewart had cleared us to land we headed for our stand at T2
and were guided by a follow me vehicle due to a few 'roadworks' going on around the main apron. A few moments later we were on stand and heading towards immigration which at the time was fairly empty. I once again handed in all seven passports and for the last time, we headed off and went to collect our luggage. The taxi was waiting outside and took us back home, it was raining but it was good to be back.
I have to say I enjoyed the trip and the connections in AMS
were very easy, even my grandparents wouldn't mind doing it again. Schipol certainly has earned it's title as one of the premier airports in Europe and now KLM serve free alcoholic drinks, I'll definitely bare them in mind in the future! That and maybe because I've found that they're a desent carrier!
Shows that free food and drink does count too!
[Edited 2006-06-01 01:23:05]
One Life, Live it.