I have flown to Amsterdam twice in the last six weeks. Schiphol is pretty much the largest and busiest airport a private pilot can visit in a single engine aircraft. Try landing at Heathrow and see what happens! It’s not cheap (about 250 Euros) but worth it for the experience. You can fly in VFR and I did this a couple of years ago. But these trips involved the full IFR arrival and radar vectored ILSs.
The planning feels a bit daunting – you need to book handling with KLM JetCenter and make sure you have the necessary slot booked. Then you need to read the pages and pages of Jeppesen notes for the airfield as well as the usual IFR stuff like GARs, flight plans and so on. Although it has loads of runways, once you know which one you’re going to (and they told me when I was half way across the North Sea) it was just like an ILS approach anywhere. Nothing to be daunted by.
When I went in March, they vectored me for an ILS on runway 36R and then I broke right at a few hundred feet to land on 04 which runs up to the GA parking area. Yesterday, they told me to expect 18R (which is a couple of miles taxi from the GA terminal) and then changed it to 22. They brought me in on a four mile final and I had to drop down from FL70 in short order. I still managed to put it down on the numbers and make the first exit right into the GA parking area. Great fun, especially with a 12 knot gusting crosswind.
In March I went with my Dutch teacher to practice my Dutch. We went to the Anne Frank house, a pancake restaurant and then she had me visiting various shops trying (in very broken Dutch) to find and buy different things. Yesterday, I went with a couple of friends to visit the Rijksmuseum and we had lunch at Hans and Grietje, a cafe nearby.
The main museum is closed for rebuilding but there’s a newly-refurbished wing open around the corner. It’s much less indigestible than the main museum used to be. With so little space, only the best work makes the cut. Every object and painting is the best of the best. There are four Vermeers and more more Rembrandts than you can shake a stick at. Including the famous Night Watch. It took a couple of hours to visit and every moment was thoroughly enjoyable.
The light of Holland favours paintings even when it is grey and overcast but yesterday it was sunny and warm. It is hard to imagine a more pleasant place to be on such a day than Amsterdam.
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