Tag Archive: Amsterdam

  1. Day 4: AMS-JRO

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    We woke up early on our last morning in Amsterdam to greet the shuttle that would take the 7 of us and all of our luggage to the airport. We were in the lobby when a stout man entered and asked in a loud Irish brogue, “Patricia Murphy please?” The man’s name was Robbie, and he wanted to know where my ancestors were from. “Your people must be from County Cork?” he asked, and I confirmed that it was true. Then Robbie said he had a house there and spent several months a year in Ireland. We exchanged a few tales before loading up the shuttle and heading to the airport.

    The flight on KLM was wonderful. 100% better than our cross-Atlantic Delta flight. We had personal entertainment systems, fish curry for dinner, and a few Heinekens before we drifted off to sleep. The flight was 8 hours and arrived in Arusha at 7:45. The first thing we noticed was that it was pitch black; a darkness that we don’t get to experience in Phoenix. We got off the plane, walked to the arrivals area, skirted the visa station since we already had ours, and we were happy to all find our bags full of gear for the climb.

    When we exited I was so happy to finally meet our guide Kapanya. We had exchanged so many emails over the last 5 months, and already Kapanya had charmed me with his warm kindness and clever sense of humor. I was so excited to meet him finally. I scanned the crowd for his unmistakable dreadlocks and big smile. And there he was! He greeted each of us by name and said how happy he was to meet us. But not as happy as we were to meet him! We all agreed that we would have no more anxiety on the trip because Kapanya was now in charge.

    We were whisked to our private shuttle where we met 2 more people who would become very good friends: Neema and Nuru. Nuru was the assistant guide who would be a quiet yet strong and calm force on the mountain. Neema was a wisp of a woman: 25 years old and about 90 pounds. We could not have imagined as she helped swing our large duffles into the bus that she would soon become such an important team member during our climb.

    The bus took us on a 30 minute drive to the DikDik hotel outside of Arusha. We had a wonderful dinner and a few Kilimanjaro beers before heading back to our individual cabanas. The DikDik grounds were beautiful even in the dark. We were happy to be in beds but it was hard to sleep that night we were so filled with excitement for the days to come.

    So happy to meet Kapanya!

  2. Day 3: Amsterdam

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    The two highlights of our day in Amsterdam included words with too few vowels. But we managed to enjoy them anyway.

    But first, John and I slept until 9:30 am, which most of you know is about 4.5 hours later than we normally sleep. In fact, we were snoozing away when Larry called and woke us up to say we better come down for breakfast. And so we did. Then we walked to the Rijksmuseum. I really enjoyed seeing a group of elementary school children viewing the Rembrandt display.

    Children Viewing Rembrandt

    The second highlight of the day was our dinner of Rijsttafel, or our Rice Table dinner. This is an Indonesian feast adapted by the Dutch and it includes many courses of delicious tasty food including curries, meats, and vegetables.



    And one off the map attraction was, you guessed it, Amsterdam Cats. There were so many pretty kitties. I really liked this one who stared down on us from his window perch.

    Amsterdam Cat

  3. Day 2: Amsterdam

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    Jet lag! That is the word for the day. Our longer layover in Amsterdam was planned for a few reasons. First, the direct KLM flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro only goes twice a week, once on Tuesday. So while planning we decided to take advantage of the weekend and use the two nights in Amsterdam to adjust to the 10 hour time difference and make sure our luggage arrived.

    We arranged for a private shuttle since we had so many bags between the 6 of us. All went smoothly an we got to our hotel and checked in and stowed our bags. Our hotel was right in the dam. There was a volleyball tournament taking place in front of town hall so we could hear the whistles and cheers. We went walking to find an ATM and lunch. Oh how I love a sidewalk cafe! We had a delicious meal and went back to the hotel. Everyone was trying to avoid a nap but in the end I gave in and slept for about an hour.

    Then we wandered out and had a drink at a brew pub where some Italians and Spaniards were watching football. Then we walked across and had a delicious dinner. The meal made me sleepy and I was able to get in about 5 hours before I woke up in the middle of the night.


  4. Day 1: PHX to ATL to AMS


    I’m listening to Other People: Brad Listi interviewing David Shields, one of my favorite authors (check out Reality Hunger and also The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead). David just quoted Picasso, “a great painting comes together just barely.” Is that to be true about this trip? If there are 200 details we considered, 200 hours of training we logged, 200 pieces of gear we gathered, will there be one or two things that could ruin the trip? Or make the trip great, just barely?

    We are starting out a little shaky. Cindy and Larry had an overweight bag and had to shuffle contents around to get it under. I misplaced my credit card at check-in and watched a long line of people form as the Delta agent and I searched everywhere for it, until I found it stuck in my immunization card. John has a belly ache. Our anxiety’s stuck at 11.

    I’m a good traveller. Tanzania will be my 31st country. But Kilimanjaro terrifies me. Too many times to count in the last 5 months I have startled from deep sleeps with my heart racing, my mind sending me plummeting off a scraggly cliff.

    Luckily I have gotten great advice. In response to my fretting, my adorable house sitter said “it’s like a math test. If you’re not ready you just take it anyway and walk away with your C-.” That was such a thoughtful reminder that we will be just fine. Even a “C-” trip to Africa is better than no trip at all.

    When I Skyped with my 82 year old Auntie Lynn who has traveled the world, her response to my fretting was a chuckling “Don’t go!” We laughed together and I was left with a helpful reminder of my own free will, not to mention my privilege.

    “I can’t turn my mind off, ever,” Brad Listi just said. And that is where I am. I know I’m ready for this. But my mind has some catching up to do. I tell it, “Don’t think about ice until you are cold. Don’t think about fatigue until you are tired. Don’t think about pain until you are sore.”

    And so here I am in the air between Phoenix and Atlanta. I’m on vacation. I’m prepared. I’m untethered. I have free will. I am privileged.

    I am going to have a great trip, just watch me.


  5. Less than 24 hours


    If it's not in the bags, it's not on the mountain.

    I just got a text message from a good friend who asked if we were ready to “blow a gasket.” That describes exactly how I feel. I cannot believe we’re leaving in less than 24 hours. This is a huge undertaking. This trip has taken more preparation than anything I’ve ever done. I feel like I should have earned a PhD in trip planning by now.

    At least the pups are calm and cool about it all.


    Are we boring you Penny?