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Spend a Night in the KLM Airplane Apartment!

The Dutch have done it again! I’ve always been a fan of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The airline was practically part of the family back when my Opa (grandfather) was a pilot with them and I do my best to fly with them (or their partners) whenever I travel. The airline has come up with some great marketing campaigns in the past, but as an avid traveler, I think this one is just awesome!

KLM Airplane Apartment on Airbnb

KLM has come up with a super fun idea to give a few lucky winners an opportunity to spend a night on one of their planes. This is not just any plane – they’ve converted a McDonnell Douglas: MD11 into a spacious apartment and have listed it on Airbnb!  

KLM Airplane Apartment on Airbnb

KLM Airplane Apartment – What’s Included

According to the listing, the airplane is “Located right beside the runway of Amsterdam’s bustling Schiphol airport,” and it “comes with all conveniences and will truly be your home away from home.”

The plane accommodates four people in two bedrooms with three beds and a whopping eight (yes 8!) bathrooms! (That’s two bathrooms per person!) There is also a kitchen on board, a television, wifi connection, gaming console, and of course comfy first class chairs to enjoy aviation-themed films (including Top Gun and The Aviator) on the entertainment system.

If you’re an airplane buff and you’re interested in the plane’s history, according to KLM, this MD11 has crossed the globe 3,675 times. (I wonder if any of those flights had Opa in the cockpit?)

KLM Airplane Apartment - Dining

It’s FREE to Stay in the KLM Airplane Apartment!

Yes! That’s right! It’s FREE!!

But there’s a catch. You will have to convince KLM in 100 words or less why they should choose to fly you to Amsterdam to stay in their airplane apartment on November 28/29 or 30, 2014.

If you win, please keep the following house rules in mind:

  • No flying. 
  • Don’t use the inflatable emergency slide. 
  • Smoking is not allowed when the non-smoking sign is on. 
  • No marshmallow roasting with the jet engines. 
  • Please water our plants and feed our fish. 
  • The consumption of alcohol is not allowed. 
  • Please treat our plane like you treat your own plane.

How to Apply to stay in the KLM Airplane Apartment

Go to the Airbnb listing and click Contact Host. Next choose a date and write your 100 words (or less) explaining why they should choose you and who you would bring with you. It’s that easy!

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KLM Airplane Apartment -Bedroom

KLM Airplane Apartment - Floor Plan

What are you waiting for?!

The deadline to enter the KLM Airplane Apartment contest November 20. I’m going to head over and submit my own application right now, because I think this contest is just fantastic!

 

Take a Ride on the Van Gogh Glowing Bicycle Path

I love night photography. I love to travel. And I LOVE how my fellow Dutch folk come up with so many super fun and inspiring ideas and projects! I’ll be adding the Van Gogh Glowing Bicycle Path my bucket list the next time I head to the Netherlands for a family visit.

The Van Gogh Glowing Bicycle Path

Dutch artist Daan Roosengaarde created the van Gogh glowing bicycle path inspired by Vincent Van Gogh‘s “The Starry Night” painting. The one-kilometre glowing bike path is located in the city of Eindhoven and opened to the public on November 13, 2014. The path forms part of the Van Gogh cycle route that connects the Vincent van Gogh heritage locations in the province of Brabant, where Van Gogh lived.

The path is illuminated by thousands of twinkling stones that feature glow-in-the-dark technology and solar-powered LED lights constructed by Heijmans.

“I wanted to create a place that people will experience in a special way, the technical combined with experience, that’s what techno-poetry means to me,” said Roosengaarde.

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Van Gogh 2015

The opening of the cycle path on 13 November marked the start of the Van Gogh 2015 international theme year. In 2015, the 125th anniversary of the death of Vincent van Gogh (Zundert, 30 March 1853 – Auvers-sur-Oise, 29 July 1890) will be commemorated with a comprehensive cultural programme on the theme 125 years of inspiration.

Photo credit: studioroosegaarde.net

Remembrance Day 2014 – My Family Connection

Remembrance Day 2014. A time to reflect on all of those who suffered through the wars of the past and present and all of those who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of others. On this Remembrance Day 2014 I remember the sacrifices of my family and those who fell so that we may have freedom.

My Family Connection

Oma, Opa and Dad - 1943My dad was born in the Netherlands during WWII. He doesn’t remember it because he was just a baby. My grandparents rarely spoke about the War. I can’t even imagine the horrors and atrocities that they experienced and the loved ones that they lost.

What I do know is that my grandmother lost her brother to a lineup in a concentration camp. My grandfather (who I never met) was a minister and was one of the few people who were permitted to travel around freely to perform religious services.

When my grandmother passed away in 2012 we found letters that my grandfather had written to her during WWII; they were sweet yet heartbreaking. We also found permission letters from the Germans allowing him to travel by bicycle at certain hours to perform religious services, but curfews were strictly enforced. My grandmother also had a collection of underground newspapers that could have gotten her into a lot of trouble had anyone found them at the time.

The untold history that we lost with my grandmother two years ago is incredible, but I can understand why it’s not something she spoke about. I can’t imagine what she experienced during those years and I admire her strength to get through it. I am so thankful for all of those who gave their lives so that we may live in peace.

A Visit to the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam

Visiting the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam drove the reality of WWII home for me. Being in the house where Anne Frank and her family lived in secret was such an emotional and humbling experience.

Anne Frank, 1929 - 1945

Anne Frank, 1929 – 1945

I first read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl years ago and I still remember the impact it had on me. To imagine myself in Anne Frank’s position, at age 13, living in the attic of this house with eight people while in constant fear of being discovered is simply unimaginable; and to be standing in the very rooms where she wrote her diary was surreal. What I find most admirable though, is that Anne was still able to enjoy the simple pleasures and beauty of life. If you haven’t read The Diary of  a Young Girl, I highly recommend it, you can find it here.

Anne Frank Huis, Amsterdam

“We cannot change what happened anymore. The only thing we can do is learn from the past and to realize what discrimination and persecution of innocent people means. I believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight prejudice.” ~ Otto Frank, 1970 (Anne Frank’s father)

 

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The world was such a different place back then. I am so grateful for all of those who had the courage and strength to give their lives so that by the time I was born, less than an hour’s drive outside of Amsterdam, my family had the opportunity to live in a better world.

It gives me chills to think of the history that my grandparents lived through. On this Remembrance Day 2014 I remember the sacrifices of my family and those who fell so that we may live a life of freedom.

Lest we forget.

Holland Heineken House 2014

Holland Heineken House 2014As a Dutch Canadian, the Holland Heineken House was a must see for me. Before coming to Russia I had been in contacted the Holland House press center and was granted a press pass, so I went to check it out!

I knew that it was located in the Azimut Hotel, but it was a bit confusing to find and was about a 20 minute walk from the entrance to the Olympic Park. I knew I was on the right track when I started seeing tulips!

When I arrived, I passed through security and met with their corporate relations representative who toured me around the house telling me all about the celebrations and the success of the Dutch athletes.

One crazy story was that their “bitterballen” (traditional Dutch croquette appetizer) were restricted  from entering Russia in customs, so they brought in the Master Croquettemaker from Holland instead. He produced and rolled hundreds of these little balls everyday for the Heineken House Cafe!

Holland Heineken House is by reputation one of the best places to celebrate at the Olympics, and Sochi was no exception. These photos tell that story pretty well!

(Gallery photos courtesy of the Heineken.)

Anne Frank Huis and Amsterdam

This week I headed into Amsterdam with my aunt and cousin to check out the Anne Frank Huis and do some walking around the city.

Anne Frank Huis

The Anne Frank Huis was an emotional experience for me. I read the Diary of Anne Frank years ago in high school, but still remember the impact it had on me then. To think of myself at age 13 to be living in this house with eight people while in constant fear of being found is just unimaginable. And that Anne was still able to enjoy the smaller pleasures in life is so admirable. It was such a different world back then and I am so thankful for all of the people who had the courage and strength to give their lives so that my family had the opportunity to live in a better world. It gives me goosebumps to think of all the history attached to that house and this city, and that my grandparents lived through it and my dad was born right in the middle of it. Wow.

(The Anne Frank House doesn’t allow photography, so I have only a few photos.)

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Anne Frank Huis

“We cannot change what happened anymore. The only thing we can do is learn from the past and to realize what discrimination and persecution of innocent people means. I believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility to fight prejudice.” ~ Otto Frank, 1970 (Anne Frank’s father)

 

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Anne Frank, 1929 - 1945

Anne Frank, 1929 – 1945

 

Amsterdam Photowalk

After visiting the Anne Frank Huis, we took advantage of the gorgeous day and just walked around the city. Down one side of a canal and back along the other. Up and down the shopping streets, ducking in and out of little shops.

These are some of my shots from the day, you’ll find more on Flickr.

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Crazy Airports, Delayed Flights and Broken Planes

I’m starting to think that I may be cursed when it comes to air travel, as it seems something interesting always seems to happen. Haha! My journey from Sochi to Amsterdam was no exception.

Sochi to Istanbul

I taxied to the airport at 2am for my 5:20am flight. It was a good thing I gave myself that extra time because the airport was one big unorganized crowd of people all wanting to check in, with no real idea of where they should be lining up. It took over an hour to get through the lineup and through the checkin counter.

Sochi Airport

Sochi Airport

Next I had to visit the Turkish Airlines office to pick up my compensation for my lost luggage when I arrived. When I filled in the paperwork initially, they had told me that I could pick up the compensation when I left Sochi. So imagine my surprise when they said that it wasn’t possible and that I would have to visit the Turkish Airlines office in Amsterdam! There was no reasoning with them, so I moved on.

I passed through security and was surprised that it had been stricter to get into the Olympic Park than it was to get through the airport! Once on the other side, there were minimal chairs for people to sit down, so most sat on the floor, myself included. There was no food available so people were splitting 6-packs of beer from the Duty Free shop and drinking them right there.

The plane boarded and the doors were closed, and what the pilot announced next made me laugh out loud: “Our cabin crew is ready, but the cargo doors are still open and we are not sure what we are waiting for.” The flight was about 30% Canadians, and most of us thought this was hilarious! After sitting at the gate for over an hour, we finally took off.

Istanbul to Amsterdam

I had about an hour and a half layover in Istanbul, which has to be one of the busiest airports I’ve ever been to. First thing I did was check the board for my gate. Of all the flights listed on the board, mine was the only one missing the gate number. Haha! Comedy! So I found some food and wandered the duty free stores for about a half hour and then went to check again. Still nothing. It wasn’t until 40 minutes before flight time that the gate number appeared. It was a ways away, so I ran!

Istanbul Airport

The Istanbul airport doesn’t have enough gates to accommodate all flights, so they have a bus system that takes passengers out to the planes on the tarmac. (I had never shared the road with airplanes before!) After boarding, we sat on the tarmac for about 45 minutes. Finally we were moving and we took a run at the runway for takeoff and suddenly they slammed on the brakes and taxied back to the terminal. Two airline technicians boarded the plane and opened the emergency exits two rows ahead of my seat and next thing I knew they were telling us to gather our belongings and deplane onto waiting buses.

The buses took us about 50 meters to another plane. I watched them unload all the luggage and cargo from the first plane and onto the second plane, and finally 2 hours later, we took off. Whew!

Istanbul Airport

I was grateful to land and deplane at Amsterdam’s familiar Schiphol airport. I half expected that my luggage wouldn’t arrive, but it did. Yay! I found my aunt and cousin who had been waiting for over 2 hours due to the delays and felt immediately at home.

Turkish Airlines

So my next mission was to find the Turkish Airlines desk to deal with this compensation issue. We found the desk. They asked for my luggage claim paperwork, I gave it to them. They said, “This is in Russian.” Um, yes. Yes it is.

After explaining my story, they sent me up to the 7th floor office to someone whose first language is Russian. (Yay!) And it seems that the Sochi office did not fill in the forms properly and it was missing a claim number. Great. So I left it with them to sort out and am expecting an email hopefully today to clean this mess up. Wow!

What Have I Learned?

Through the lost luggage, the claims process, the late flights and unorganized airline offices I have learned a few things:

1. Roll with it.
Stressing is not going to sort anything out any quicker or get you there any faster. Roll with the hand you are dealt and try to keep a sense of humour about the mishaps. It’s a lot healthier to laugh about it than to get upset or cry about it.

2. Everything will work out in the end.
These adventure will  make you a stronger, more experienced person and traveler.

3. Never fly Turkish Airlines again.
Stick to major airlines.

What travel challenges have you experienced? Please share in the comments below.

Muiden, Holland

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Muiden, Holland, a set on Flickr.