I could still clearly remember.. Before the year started, I was talking with my “friend” from the Netherlands that I want to visit his country and he also told me that he wants to visit the Philippines as well. To make the story short, we both agreed to be each other’s tour guide. A week or more after that conversation, I met with my manager and he told me that he’ll be sending me to the Netherlands for a training. At first, I laughed. I couldn’t believe what I heard because it was quite unusual. Most of us will be sent to the United States but not in Netherlands. It took me a few minutes to finally sink in what he just said. I concealed my excitement and went back to my cube. I thought, “If everything goes well, it’ll be my first international and solo travel”.
So first things first, I had to secure a Schengen visa to travel to the Netherlands. The paperwork took a lot of time and we were nearly running out of time so we were quite pressured with it. Then, I had to fly alone to the Netherlands Embassy in Makati to present myself for a visa interview. I was really nervous since it was my first time to be interviewed for a visa. Maybe if I had company, I wouldn’t feel that nervous.
The interview did not even take half an hour but it was the waiting time that really took so long. My scheduled appointment was at 11:15 am and I arrived at the embassy 2 hours before my schedule. I had to wait 20 minutes past 11:15 am for my turn because the officers were still entertaining the late comers. I just have to suck it up and extend my patience. The interview went smoothly and after 3 working days, I already knew that my visa was already approved. 🙂 Time to celebrate my first solo travel!
The Flight – 02/17/2017
It was literally a Flyday Friday when I departed from Mactan Cebu International Airport. After going through security checks, I had to check-in my luggage and pay the terminal fees. Then, there’s another security check before heading to the immigration office. Here’s when you need to extend your patience since the queue for the immigration is usually long. In my case, I had to endure carrying my heavy bags for about 20-25 minutes.
A piece of advice: Aside from your passport and visa, keep your supporting documents within reach.
I have to take the Cebu to Clark flight and then Clark to DXB. It was a 12-hour flight but unfortunately, we were not able to land in DXB within the expected time because of the weather condition and traffic in DXB. So, we had to do a temporary landing in Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. Good thing I had 7 hours layover in Dubai so the delay did not cause too much hassle on my part.
So after the long solo travel from Cebu to Dubai, I have to take another plane ride to Amsterdam. It took 7 hours to get to Amsterdam from Dubai. For my case, It took 8 hours because the plane arrived late in Dubai.
A week in The Netherlands
I’m not quite comfortable with the “cold” welcome I received when I disembarked the plane. Coming from a tropical country, I’m not really used to this weather. Schiphol airport is also a big one but good thing there are signs everywhere so it’s easier for me to find my way. I was stuck in the passport control because of the long line. While waiting, I was nervous that my entry might be denied. HAHA! I’m not much of an optimist, I think? Passing through the passport control, I was then able to breathe normally and hurried to claim my bag. I was really excited to see my Bulgarian “friend” who waited for me at the arrivals section. To my excitement (and I was also worried because he waited long enough for me), I was not able to fix my messy hair. HAHAHA!
Since I didn’t know how to get to my hotel from the airport, I booked an Uber and guess what? The taxis here could really break your bank. I already spent a hundred euro for that alone! I stayed in Van der Valk Zaltbommel for 5 days which is just a 10-15 minute drive to the training facility in Waardenburg.
For 5 days, I had a lot of first times within Zaltbommel and its neighboring cities. It was indeed a great opportunity for me to treasure. It also made me realize a lot of things. I can’t wait to share all of my adventures and misadventures during my week in the Netherlands in my upcoming blog posts. This first solo travel is definitely a milestone that I will be celebrating for years.