Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The flight to Europe

 Good morning, dear Blogger friends. Yesterday I posted about the start of our trip to Spain.
Between us in South Africa and our first stopover in Europe, we had a 12-hour flight. 

I hadn't been out of the country (or off the ground) since 2015, so it was with some trepidation that I faced this trip. However, as you can see from the photo of me and Celia on the KLM flight, each passenger had a TV screen. This was my salvation. After dinner, Celia popped a sleeping tablet, donned her eye mask and leaned back on her curved travel pillow and slept. 

I plugged in the earphones which the flight attendant had given us with our sleeping rugs and started scrolling through the movie options. I like romantic comedy; I like family focused movies; I like feel-good movies; I like chick flicks. I binge-watched movies from 11pm until 3am when I decided it was prudent to turn off the bright screen as everyone around me was asleep.

Now, before you ask, what about avoiding DVT (deep veined thrombosis); I never sat still for long. Our seat was the fourth row from the back where the toilets were situated. Further back from this was an open space before the galley from which the air hostesses served our meals.  At regular intervals, I got up and walked to the rear of the plane. There I would pace up and down in the open space; flex my left knee backwards, gently bend the right knee and stretch my back muscles by peering through the low porthole at the vast dark sky below. 

Half an hour before the plane was due to land in Amsterdam, the head flight attendant came to my seat to tell me that an official with a wheelchair, would meet me as I left the aircraft.

A friendly young Dutch lady (whom, when I asked, told me her name was Eva) wheeled me through the tunnels to the arrivals hall with Celia trotting alongside.  Here she handed us over to another friendly young Dutch lady, named Famke (yes, I asked after introducing myself and Celia to her!)  who helped us onto a eight-seater electric car. 

After taking the first (of many) photos to mark every experience of our holiday, the young lady set off with us across the vast Schiphol airport

As we whizzed from one vast hall into the next; through arcades lined with shops and restaurants, I remarked to Celia that we would have been severely challenged to find our way around IF I had two good legs. On crutches, this would have been a nightmare. 

We finally stopped in the boarding lounge. Famke asked Celia for our passports and air tickets. While we waited, she checked us in; handed over our boarding passes and showed us a coffee shop where we could wait for our flight to Spain.  

Before we let her go, I asked Famke if she understood, when Celia and I spoke Afrikaans. She replied in the negative. I told her that although we couldn't speak Dutch, we could understand almost all that we had heard on the airplane and on the airport.  At that moment a young lady walked past wheeling a trolley. Famke called to her colleague who passed her two small, wrapped packages, who, in turn, handed us each one, saying, try these...

Our introduction this national treat! A stroopwafel is two waffle-like wafers sandwiched together with caramel syrup. They were crisp, sticky and absolutely delicious!

Although it was a six hour wait, by the time we had settled in a booth with a cup of coffee, we had just under four hours till take off. 

In retrospect, while reminiscing on our Schiphol experience, I realized that we had not seen any males driving the electric cars. In fact, we didn't see many men in a work capacity at all. The jobs were being executed solely by young Dutch women and the system ran like clockwork.  

By late afternoon, we boarded the KLM flight and were on our way to Spain! 

Landing in Malaga, once we'd disembarked, a man with wheelchair stopped me and gestured for to sit in it. He parked the chair (with me) against the wall and strode off across the vast hall. Celia and I watched him disappearing into the distance... 

After waiting a minute and then another, I took my crutches off my lap, hoisted myself onto my feet and told Celia we would walk to the luggage carousal. (I'm not sure whether the wheelchair assistant ever went back to find me...)   We collected our cases and walked to the exit where my sister and BIL were waiting. 

As we saw Rose and Pete, I raised my crutches in greeting  and together Celia and I shouted: Africa has arrived!

What a reunion: Rose and I last saw each other in 2005 when I visited her in the UK. This was the first time Celia (who was exhausted - see her expression!) met my beautiful sister and BIL.

Rose drove us to Fiengerello, where they lived

Along the way we stopped. Pete bought water for me and Rose and for him and Celia, Coca Cola


More to follow...


  1. Wow just caught up with some posts of yours that I had missed. Sounds like a wonderful holiday for you and Celia. I didn't know you had a problem knee but it looks like it might have been an advantage in the airports.

  2. it sounds like you had exceptional service from the women in Holland. And what a happy reunion. I would have joined you in the water. Coca Cola is not for me.

  3. These long haul flights are no joke and hard on the old body, lol. I'm glad you had company as you travelled and help along the way.

  4. Welcome in Europe ! Looks like everything went smooth. I knew that Dutch people don't understand afrikaans, but I understood some. I was once with a 3 young girls in a train to Amsterdam and they came from South Africa. Have fun with your family !

  5. Hello, Jo
    Traveling can be such an ordeal, It sounds like the first part was ok. I do not like waiting for hours until the next flight takes off. It seems weird that you had to go to Amsterdam and then to Spain. It should be easier to go from Africa right to Spain, that's just my thinking. I am glad you arrived safely and now it's time for the fun times. Take care, have a happy day!

  6. a True ADVENTURE! just had to be a MALE that parked you and left you compared to the wheel chairs pushed by females. that was a long flight for someone on crutches. so glad you got to go anyway

  7. Glad you had an uncomplicated flight and made your destination. A 12 hour flight is a long time, I would have slept like I usually do. :) The stroopwafel looks delicious, never had one but my wife has.

  8. Rosemary Swinbourn25 September, 2023 06:39

    Great joy when you landed in Malaga! Love Rose 🌹

  9. I am of Dutch background- stroopwaffels are well known to me.


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