Sunday May 9, 2010

We’ve arrived! After two long stints in the air, several airline meals, a decent zzzz in a Singapore hotel, and several hot-but-happy hours in that amazing city-state, we’re now on the other side of the world ­– all present, all correct, and all in pretty good shape.

Our 10-hour Auckland-to-Singapore flight got us to the Swissotel Merchant Court by early Friday evening – with time enough for a wander along the picturesque Singapore River and Clarke Quay before bed.

Turns out most of our mad midlifers woke around 3am (bodies not yet got adjusted to the time-change). But, after downing a serious breakfast, we ventured forth to sample this ever-growing Asian wonderland on our own – including (for many) a ride on the world’s biggest wheel, the Singapore Flyer, for some sensational views from the top

Then, come the afternoon, we boarded a colourfully-decorated replica of a Royal Chinese Junk, and enjoyed a High Tea Cruise on Singapore’s busy, crammed-with-ships harbour – with savouries, cakes, and (for several of our Kiwis) a world-famous cocktail, the ‘Singapore Sling’.

There was a bit of drama last night at Changi Airport, prior to our second long-haul flight – when we Cooneys discovered we weren’t booked on the same flight as the rest of the group (thanks to an airline glitch)! For a few hours there it looked like we two might be spending another night in Singapore while everyone else went on without us. But, 40 minutes before the flight, a couple of stand-by seats came available. Phew!

Some 14 sleepy hours later (around 7am) we landed in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and transferred to the Convent Hotel (in the heart of the city) where we promptly sat down to breakfast – the usual hot-and-cold fare, plus a range of Dutch breads and pastries that had everybody oohing and aahing.

It’s a grey day today in Holland’s capital – and a chilly 8° (compared to the sticky 34° we encountered in Singapore). But our bold Kiwis are undeterred. They’re busy making plans to explore Amsterdam and the nearby Dam Square at leisure … with a canal cruise and our Mad Midlife Welcome Dinner happening tonight.

So, sorry, but I’ve got to go …

PEOPLE NEWS: The first of our much-sought-after Midlife Madness Awards will be announced at dinner tonight:

* The ‘I’ve Always Wanted To Live In Singapore Award goes to Olwin – who failed to notice that she’d dropped her wallet and passport when disembarking from a taxi outside our hotel (but was rescued, thankfully, by a sharp-eyed bell-boy).

* The ‘Sight For Sore Eyes Award goes to Elaine & Bill – who took a funny turn yesterday and thought they were coming down with something when they both experienced blurred vision. It turned out, later, that they’d each somehow been wearing the other person’s glasses.

Watch this space! We’ll be announcing a few more goodies over the next few days …

TOMORROW: We’ll be up bright and early for a visit to the Aalsmeer flower auction and the Keukenhof Gardens. But more about that later – along with our impressions of Anne Frank’s House. So don’t change channels …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on ‘COMMENTS’ (or ‘NO COMMENTS’) beside the title for the day’s blog, and type away! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief. And don’t worry: we’ll make sure they get these messages. Also, if you want a better look at our route map and some of the photos here, just click on them and they’ll enlarge –  magic!