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Doris, ‘Dam, and I

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It’s 3 am: I’m running on no sleep and my coursework is due in 12 hours. So far this sounds like a run-of-the-mill night before a deadline situation. However, I have not yet mentioned a crucial aspect of this scenario… I’m stuck in Schiphol airport – thanks to storm Doris.

Yes, while on holiday in Amsterdam during Reading Week I was one of the unfortunate souls caught by a storm abroad – and to rub it in, a storm which sounds like an old lady who gave you tea and hobnobs when you were a child.

On the whole, the trip was fantastic. Each and every one of my housemates, including myself, got plane tickets to Amsterdam for £110.  We stayed for two nights in the Quentin Hotel, which wasn’t even reminiscent of Bates Motel or Hostel – they even had Wi-Fi!

There was an insane variety of things to do in Amsterdam. We visited the Cheese Museum – where you get as much free cheese as you like (which was the highlight of the entire trip for me), and the Sex Museum, complete with bizarre interactive mannequins (some of which flash you; you have to see it to believe it!) The Riks Museum is ideal for all art appreciators – there’s Vermeer and the famous Rembrandt ‘The Night Watch’.

My favourite parts were seeing a giant stuffed horse, and the Red-Light District where I witnessed a 50-something-dominatrix prostitute with saggy skin, chains and all, hanging out a window to film shouting football supporters.

The food. Oh, the food… Especially the pancakes! I highly recommend going to the aptly named ‘Pancakes Café’ or ‘Bagels and Beans’ – a place that serves great hot chocolate. To say the least, it was a shift from what I usually eat as a student, and it is also pretty cheap. We were able to get a three-course meal for only 14 euros! I had croquettes, steak, and cheesecake – and I didn’t get food poisoning! Plus, the best bit – pints only cost about 3 euros.

If you can go to the ‘Brouwerijtij’, its a bar under a windmill so you can drink and feel cultured simultaneously. Or to Hill Street Blues bar, where all the walls and ceilings are covered in graffiti; if you look to the right of the bar, you’ll see a train ticket left by my friends and I. Nevertheless, it all went very wrong, very quickly. We got to the airport, and our flight was delayed. We also discovered that in Europe they charge for sauces in McDonalds – how scandalous! When the dreaded word “cancelled” appeared on the message board, fear, and the immediate need to smoke about ten cigarettes all at once, kicked in pretty quick. Just to add to the already stressful situation was that the only way to find a hotel for the night – or even how to get back to England – was to queue in a line that makes the wait into the ‘Coronet’ after ten look like the tame queue to the library.

It got to midnight when about 300 of us were told that the airline employees were going home and it was up to us to find our own hotels and rescheduled flights, or opt for a refund to then have to find our own way home! It turned out that our quickest flight home was scheduled for the next Tuesday! Thankfully, my friend managed to find a coach from Amsterdam to Victoria coach station – a mere 12-hour journey. The big issue however: it wasn’t until 8 am, and it was not clear if EasyJet would refund our flight and put us in a hotel for the night. Hence we decided to spend the night in the closed airport. So, there I was, submitting my coursework with access to dodgy airport Wi-Fi and drinking tea – which was kindly given to us by workers who were preparing food for the next day at one of the cafés. I think our faces of despair and lingering smell from the lack of showering helped.

Safe to say, we made it back to London, and I got the coursework submitted on time, although I did spend 12 hours next to a screaming child – no, not one of my friends, an actual wailing baby. Thank you Amsterdam, it was an amazing experience. And thank you Doris, it was… something.

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