Flying from Cork to Vienna is not direct or non-stop, it involves a connection in another major European airport. For our itinerary, it was Amsterdam (Schiphol).
Amsterdam is a lovely city in a beautiful country with so-so food options in their airport. I suppose that most people are so tired and satisfied after a visit to The Netherlands that they don’t pay much mind to the airport shopping and dining options, but having a three-hour layover forces you to get to know an airport – for better and worse.
KLM has check-in machines so you can check-in and print your next flight’s boarding pass without going outside the security area. It takes mere minutes!
Day excursions are available for longer layovers, but with three hours we were nervous to leave and come back. I wish there was more information about the excursions since I’d have been ready to sign up if we’d been assured it was 2.5 hours inclusive of traveling to/from the airport.
The shopping includes the usual duty free wine and spirits as well as a delicious selection of chocolate. Other shops offered bright souvenirs in a wide range of uses. My favorite item was the pair of fleece-like slippers shaped like wooden shoes. They were quite tempting aside from the fact I don’t need another pair of house slippers. However, if you want wood tulips, real tulips, or tulip bulbs you will be very happy to know there are many options for you.
At Schiphol, the dining options within the first security gate neglect two of my favorite foods: Dutch Pancakes and Vlaamse frites. French fries were available within the secure area, but from the usual fast food spots. I hang my head with shame that I ate Burger King because I was so hungry and couldn’t find a healthier option. On the way back, I refused to sink to such depths again so I opted for a cheese pastry thing and moderate hunger. I could not find ready-made sandwiches at the delicatessen shop or the yummy cookies filled with caramel (not the waffle ones though) that were served on KLM.
Non-souvenir shopping offered high-end apparel and accessories. Since we did not really want to spend more than 30 Euros, that left very few tasteful, useful, and attractive options.
Seriously, I LOVE Amsterdam and find the food, architecture, people, and landscape of The Netherlands beautiful and welcoming. I look forward to another trip, but sadly wish the airport was better equipped to welcome long layovers with better food and less high-end shopping. On the bright side, we were asked to take a market research survey about the airport and enthusiastically expressed our desire to enjoy Dutch pancakes and frites beyond the security gates.
On a side note, you should know that there are two levels of security at Schiphol. The first is when you initially go to your gate and the second is actually at the gate. One plastic zippered ‘freezer’ bag of liquids permitted per passenger and each container within that bag must contain no more than 100ml of permitted liquid.
As with most carriers these days, one carry-on and one laptop bag or purse (backpacks worked for us along with our carry-on luggage) are permitted. If you are flying on RyanAir during your trip, they only permit ONE carry-on and that’s it – no personal item such as a purse. This means everything must fit in your normal carry-on bag or you must pay at check-in to have your bag checked through to the destination. Better to know now than when you get to the gate and are left trying to figure out how to make it work without missing your flight.