Schiphol Airport

Automatic banner-making machine at Schiphol Airport

They’ve done it again… Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has rolled out a cool new amenity: an automatic banner-making machine called the BannerXpress.

Now there’s no need to fuss and muss with poster board and magic markers in order to make a sign to welcome home a friend or family member at the airport. Instead, you can just slide your credit card into the banner-making machine and it will do it for you, in a variety of sizes, with a choice of backgrounds and themes and, of course, your neatly printed message.

Schiphol is the first airport to have the machine on-site, but no doubt similar machines will pop up at other airports momentarily.

No underwear at Schiphol’s Victoria’s Secret

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is now home to what may be Europe’s first branch of Victoria’s Secret but, save for the photos on the walls, don’t go there expecting to spot any of the brand’s sexy lingerie.

Even though much of the underwear they’re known for is quite tiny, this small VS shop is only stocking fragrances, make-up and assorted branded accessories.

Washington’s Reagan National Airport branch of Victoria’s Secret is long gone, but if you’re a fan of the brand, you’ll find outlets at these airports:

Mexico City Airport Terminal D
Brazil-Sao Paulo Airport Terminal A
Miami International Airport Terminal D
Carrasco Airport Terminal D
Schipol Airport Amsterdam Terminal 3
JFK Airport Terminal 4
Ezieza Airport Terminal D (Buenos Aires)
Bangkok International Airport
Sydney International Airport
Kuwait Airport

And you’ll find an art installation inspired by the Victoria’s Secret catalog at Port Columbus Gateway to The Arts, an exhibition space at Ohio’s Port Columbus International Airport.

Free Wi-Fi & cool holiday entertainment at Schiphol Airport

There are a zillion – yes, a zillion – reasons to love Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, including the casino, the airport branch of the Rijksmuseum, and the world’s first airport library.

Schiphol airport library

Now there are even more!

Starting this week, Schiphol is offering free WiFi access – for one hour – anywhere in the airport terminal, including Schiphol Plaza, the lounges, piers and gates.  Free Wi-Fi is becoming common at U.S. airport, but in Europe it’s still rare.

But, wait, there’s more.

From Friday, December 17 through Sunday, December 26th Schiphol Airport will have holiday entertainment that includes an ice queen, flashmobs, wish-granting fairies, gift-giving Santas, a giant reindeer head lit with 16,200 LED Christmas lights and a miniature version of the Netherlands’ famous elfstedentocht – the 11-city skating marathon in Friesland.

Stay tuned for more photos….

Cheap and Offbeat Amsterdam

On Monday, ash from the Icelandic volcano caused the cancellation of a lot of flights and left a lot of people stuck at the airport.

Again.

I was one of those people. I’d booked a one-day return trip from Amsterdam to Liverpool just to tour the John Lennon Airport, where the slogan is “Above us only sky.”

The airport has this 25 ton, 51-foot long yellow submarine sitting out front and I bet a lot of volcano-delayed travelers would have liked to have fired this up as an alternative form of transportation.

There’s lot more to Lennon stuff – and a fun-looking fossil ‘mystery tour’ – at this airport, so I’m determined to make my way back there soon.

But since I was stuck at Schiphol, I used to the time to work on the slide-show-style story about Amsterdam I had due. You can see the full story – Cheap and Offbeat Amsterdam on msnbc.com, but here are a few photos that didnt’ make it into the story.

These suitcases, carry-ons from another era – are on display at the Museum of Bags and Purses

And it’s hard to miss these giant eyeglass frames at the National Museum of Spectacles.

Love the layover: See Donald Duck & Madonna at Keukenhof on a Schiphol layover

I first learned about Keukenhof last year, when the historic 80-acre park that bursts forth each spring with 70 million tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and other flowering bulbs was celebrating its 60th anniversary with, among other things, an installation of flowers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

Even to someone who can barely keep a houseplant alive, I liked the idea of seeing acres of Holland’s tulip fields in bloom and of strolling through a park filled with so many perfectly planted display gardens.  And once I discovered that you can get to the park by public bus from Schiphol, I was sold.

So on arrival in Amsterdam this week I stashed my bags and headed out to the gardens.

Tulip fields

The perfectly tended-do gardens are as advertised: a festival of colors, aromas, and landscapes laid out along footpaths that are dotted with water features, foot bridges, artwork, play spaces and pavilions filled with – more flowers.  There’s even a Walk of Fame with flowers named for Donald Duck, Madonna, and other celebrities.

Some of the flowers, especially a few of the unusually-shaped and colored tulips, don’t look real. But, of course, they are. That why, as popular as is it, Keukenhof’s spring garden is only open to the public for eight weeks a year.  This year’s closing day is May 16th.  So if you’ve got a layover at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport before then, take the #58 bus out to see the gardens. If not, add the gardens to your ‘must see’ list and schedule your next trip with a long layover at Schiphol.


(Keukenhof photos courtesy: Keukenhof)

Tulips at Keukenhof