Our Canadian friends have a relative visiting from Germany (the same teenage boy who came with us to the Space Museum last summer) and since they have a one year old baby who’s not really into doing the same things for entertainment as a young teenager, we decided to combine some activities with our two families so make an interesting weekend.
This is why we ended up driving to Schiphol airport, just outside Amsterdam.
No, we were not going to be flying anywhere… we were going on a “behind the scenes” tour of the airport.
Now, we are very used to airports, but usually it’s the classic case of rushing to one tired from all the chaos of packing and tying up loose ends at home and at work, looking forward to having a holiday but stressful because you don’t want to miss your flight.
Then there are the queues and long walks to gates and waiting, waiting , waiting before you finally get into the air.
Or the other side of the coin, where you have stepped off the aircraft, taken half an hour to get from the gate to the baggage retrieval area, have jet-lag something awful and you just want to get back to your own home and your own bed but you know you have a mountain of dirty laundry stashed in your suitcases, a pile of unopened mail, 20 pages of unanswered emails and you need to call your Mother in Law so she doesn’t fret that if she doesn’t hear from us within 2 hours of arrival time that the plane must have crashed.
The airport in these cases becomes a place to be negotiated as swiftly as possible with hopefully few queues and nothing going missing or getting left behind on the way. Coming to the airport just to look around is certainly a first for us so this should be a very interesting experience, we have no idea what to expect.
We can tell when we are getting close to the airport… the runway they are using today for landings has a flight path over fields roughly parallel to the main motorway, so we end up dragging off a few planes on the way in (naturally we loose).
After Himself’s navigation: “I know where we are, it should be here” (but opps, it’s not, so we do several circuits of all the roads in the immediate vicinity before finding it more by good luck than good management) we alight and go and sort out the reservation our Canadian friends made earlier.
The cars can be parked with a pre-booked special ticket that cost Euro 10,– per day (a bargain compared to usual airport parking prices) and we discover that this is actually a bus tour instead of the walking tour we imagined it might be.
This turns out to be logical because the airport is huge… so all aboard the bus,where TV screens, complete with a TV guide called Jurjen give a commentary as we go.
Since the video is in Dutch but not everyone present speaks Dutch, English is chosen as the language of choice for the subtitles, therefore many of the photos I took from the TV screen come conviently with their own captions. Fasten your seatbelts Ladies and Gentlemen… we are off…
There are five main flight paths and several smaller ones… the white and yellow planes move in real time and we hear the interaction between the pilots and the control tower…
The viaduct can support 400,000 kilograms. (881 849 pounds)
At 4.5m below sea level it’s second lowest International airport, second only to Mezzada (Massada) airfield next to the Dead Sea. Here in the Netherlands, Rotterdam (regional) airport is 1.5 meters lower than Schipol.
Some people think that’s where the name comes from: “Ships Hell”…
… and “Holl” means “low-lying land”. The first flights took place in 1916…