The ideal flight back to Portland from Europe is the direct Delta flight from Amsterdam. You can connect to it from somewhere like Milan either by catching an early morning flight (so stay overnight near the airport, sleep if you really can, and wake up at 4am) – or you can do what I did and leave the previous afternoon and stay over in Amsterdam (“long layover”). Not only do you avoid that insane early morning, you can choose to not waste a night sleeping somewhere you don’t want to be (near the airport in Milan). By flying out of Milan in the afternoon, I was able to get into Amsterdam early enough to walk around the city for a few hours, too. I’d been to Amsterdam before but not since 2002.
I caught the 7am direct train from Levanto to Milan – very easy, about a three hour train ride. I had a reserved seat in the train’s 2nd class, in a compartment that seats six. Four Aussie travelers who had only passes crowded into my compartment and were kicked out a few stops later by some irate Italian commuters who wanted their assigned seats! Otherwise, the train ride to Milan was uneventful. I grabbed a bag of Burger King at Milano Centrale train station and hopped the train to Malpensa Airport, to catch my KLM flight to Amsterdam.
To be honest, I hadn’t enjoyed Amsterdam much the first visit in 2002. I found the city to be a bit dirty and noisy, not exactly charming. This second, brief visit didn’t exactly change my mind about Amsterdam, but it was still a fun evening, which is a colorful city. Despite sore feet, I still walked a few miles (going home tomorrow, who cares?), hiking all over Amsterdam, taking random photos and trying to recall places I’d seen nine years ago.
I wanted to re-photograph a bridge at dusk in 2002 that was pretty all lit up, but I’d completely forgotten the name of it or where it was. Should have written it down! So I settled on the Amstel Bridge, which was still pretty nice, as were a few nearby bridges over the canals:
I stayed at the Movenpick hotel for about $100/night on Priceline – a luxury treat for a budget price, not far from Amsterdam’s central train station.
My direct flight back to Portland was barely eventful. We were delayed a couple of hours due to a malfunctioning backup power system. We left late and had to fly an altered route home to stick closer to land in case there was another power failure. We got home about two hours late – but at least we had a direct flight! No connections to worry about – stress free! A fun, busy vacation, over at last.