There are times when I can be my own worst client, ignoring sensible suggestions in favor of rash, spur of the moment decisions and a recent layover in Amsterdam was one such occasion.

Having tried mightily to avoid a six hour layover at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on my return from Helsinki when reserving the ticket but failing as there was only a single combination of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flights that would work I had planned to hunker down at the airport enjoying some light bites and beers before comfortably going through security ahead of my 2 PM nonstop flight home to Edmonton but on final approach seeing a sunny day instead opted to head into the historic city center for a quick visit.

After landing and taxiing for what seemed an eternity to the terminal I found lockers to store my small carry-on and bought the same day return ticket to Amsterdam Centraal Station and was into town by 9:30 AM. The weather was gorgeous and it was a treat to leisurely wander the canals without encountering much traffic.

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As I’ve been to Amsterdam a number of times over the years and know it fairly well found my way to the Westerkerk and nearby Anne Frank House before turning to arrive at the recently reopened Rijksmuseum but rather than join a long entry line-up relaxed in a garden with works by Matisse.

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The Van Gogh Museum is a few short blocks from the Rijksmuseum and wandered by it noting the new side entrance but lengthy line to enter so kept on with my unscripted walking tour.

The Hard Rock Café was a stop on my return to the train station as buying their souvenirs is one addiction I have yet to give up but after carefully selecting a t-shirt and sitting down for a bite & beer realised it was almost noon and had to get moving if I was to make my flight so double timed it back to the train station which had by now become swamped with masses of participants in a charity fun walk/run. Dodging the crowd I jumped on an intercity train whose first stop was Schiphol Airport as luckily there are up to 10 trains per hour that make the 15 trip to the airport. Cursing myself for not having left the city earlier I knew I would be pushing my luck to make the flight as I wouldn’t arrive until almost 1 PM and still had to retrieve my carry-on bag from the locker before proceeding through both customs and security which can take some time at the best of times. I navigated the queues while trying to rein in my impatience, found my gate with the help of some friendly airline staff as it hadn’t been assigned and wasn’t on the boarding pass issued to me in Helsinki early that morning and arrived to happily find the familiar throng of passengers waiting to board.  A gate agent advised boarding would begin within 10 minutes so exhaled a huge sigh of relief on the way to a nearby washroom to freshen up having become soaked in perspiration from both the strenuous speed walk on a warm day weather and nervous excitement at having come so close to missing my flight home.

The unplanned adventure was in hindsight more expensive and far more stressful than staying at the airport would’ve been and while it was nice to walk the shady, quiet canals of Amsterdam one more time it was a lesson that even what seems a long layover can go by quickly if not enough attention is paid to the time. No doubt I’ll recall the day every time I wear the souvenir t-shirt.

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Little Secrets of Amsterdam by iFly KLM Magazine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.