There’s a certain kind of culture that defines Europe’s discount airlines. Whether its because of how many people can be packed into the plane like sardines, or an effect of languages from across the world which are omnipresent throughout the flight, or whether its because the flights can be as cheap as one Euro (though I was never fortunate enough to find such a great deal for my excursions), there is an undeniable sense of high-flying culture.
This extends to the well roundedness of the roles each steward/stewardess plays during the voyage. They serve as waiters/waitresses trotting the aisles offering the finest selection of frozen finger foods onboard, as well as, garbage collectors and rule enforcers. I always thought the flight attendants’ lives were quite glamorous, until I flew the discount airlines here and noticed how their responsibilities even expanded to being salesmen/women. While on board, passengers are subject to a constant bombarding of sales pitches for items such as toys for kids, smokeless cigarettes, and perfume. One can even purchase limited addition lottery tickets! Although I have never heard anyone exclaim they had won “big money” during a flight, what better way to test one’s luck than while flying thousands of feet in the air?
Despite all the factors mentioned above that defines this unique culture, my favorite part of any journey comes once the plane has landed. For all on-time flights, Ryanair celebrates with an announcement that begins with a trumpet playing a charge anthem and ends with the passengers erupting in applaud and laughter—it’s quite the spectacle.
It goes a little something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmRrQw4Us9o
When flying WizzAir for the first time on my way to Amsterdam, I was a bit saddened that they didn’t partake in a similar joyous ending as Ryanair provides for its customers. Nonetheless, I still applauded silently that we had landed safely at the Eindhoven Airport. On this trip, I would be meeting, once again, my three guy friends which are studying in Italy: Antone, Mike, and Neil, and would also be joined by their friend Chez. Antone would be there the first two day and would be leaving just as Mike, Neil, and Chez would be getting into town, so I was happy it worked out I could see all three of them.
I took a two-hour train ride from Eindhoven to Amsterdam and was so delighted to see how peaceful and stunning the countryside was. The entire stretch of the journey I watched locals riding their bikes with wicker baskets down the long roads filled with books or items from the local market and saw such well kept homes, each with a large, manicured garden. It was so impressive to see how well and healthy the people of the Netherlands lived both in the countryside and city.
This was, by far, one of the most relaxing trips! We spent our days nestled in cafes and coffee shops and walked up and down the canals.
The leaning brick houses with large windows and steep staircases were all so different in splendor despite sharing the same structural features.
The canals were lined with magnificent houseboats and fishing dinghies which sandwiched the reflection of the setting sun.
To my surprise, the restaurant food was actually quite lackluster in Amsterdam, besides one meal we had while at an Indian restaurant. I ordered a mango chicken salad and it was very spicy but so flavorful! One evening, while the boys gave into a dare to ride a carnival ride that looked way too dangerous and nauseating for me, I partook in a warm waffle covered in chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and powdered sugar. I joyfully ate my dessert while the boys screamed and flailed like little girls on their spinning ride, spinning over the city. The next evening we went back to the carnival and I ordered another, this time with white fudge!
The infamous Red Light District was definitely a main draw for tourists and locals, but it seemed to fit right in with the city’s laissez-faire ideology. The highlight of the trip was renting bikes for an afternoon and getting lost in Amsterdam! Without any certain destination we rode through parks, alongside the sea, across plenty of bridges, and finally made it back to return the bikes just before the shop closed!
Before leaving for the airport, I spent a few hours exploring the town of Eindhoven. I was so impressed with its modern twist of architecture on my bus ride into the city that I wanted to see more! I was expecting to see a lot more windmills though, but was happy to be amazed by such neat buildings in both cities!
The Netherlands/Holland in three words: provocative, charming, unpretentious
Holla for Holland!