Amsterdam – Spotting

This is the third of three posts I’ve written covering our trip to The Netherlands back in February/March. The first, which you can find here, was all about our visits to two aviation museums and some of Flevoland’s oldest and highest bits of land. The second, here was all about our day in Amsterdam itself, whilst this post has a little bit of exploring the wider Netherlands but is mostly about the various spotting opportunities at Schiphol airport.

The Fokker 100 on the Schiphol airport spotting terrace

We had decided to spend this, our final day in The Netherlands, taking a circuitous route to the airport to tick off a few more places on our list whilst also getting some time to spot at one of the world’s busiest airport. After setting off from Almere, we headed towards Lelystad and then onto the Markenwaarddijk which separates the Markermeer from the Ijsselmeer and connects Lelystad in Flevoland with Enkhuizen in North Holland.

Halfway along the Markenwaarddijk is Trintelhaven, a refuge for both vehicles and small boats with a restaurant named Checkpoint Charlie. There is also a viewpoint, providing amazing views along the Dijk and across the inland seas of The Netherlands. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn’t open, but I’d definitely recommend a stop if you’re heading that way.

The view from Trintelhaven

After our brief stop, we were back on the road and heading to our main destination prior to the airport, the North Holland town of Edam to acquire ourselves some cheese! I had a quick look whilst researching for this post and it is possible to get to the town by public transport, but I’d recommend driving there for ease.

Of course, the town of Edam is famous for the cheese of the same name and there a few cheese shops scattered around the town. We opted to head to Kaasspeciaalzaak Henri Willig, a family business with shops across The Netherlands, who produce their cheese just a few miles from Edam itself. The shop is obvious with piles of cheese outside, and its quaint nature fits in with the rest of the town. Even if you are not a fan of cheese, head for the historic town as it is beautiful and a great place to have a wander.

The Henri Willig cheese shop in Edam

Right, for those that came to this post just for the Avgeekiness, you’re in luck, the rest of the post is just that, planes planes planes! After our stop in Edam we headed towards Schiphol for one final stop before heading into the airport itself, with our aim to find a Boeing 747! Just a short drive from the airport itself, in the Badhoevendorp neighbourhood is the Corendon Village Hotel and in their back garden, a Jumbo Jet!

The 747 is former KLM ‘City of Bangkok’ PH-BFB which was moved to the hotel’s garden in early 2019 after being retired from service after more than 30 years of operation for the Dutch flag carrier. The 12km move from the airport was a 5-day mammoth journey involving crossing multiple obstacles including the A9 motorway. Due to become an interactive 5D experience for the public, you can read about the move here.

The Corendon 747

After successfully finding the Corendon 747, we headed to a nearby McDonalds for some lunch, and most importantly plane spotting. The ‘McDonalds Airport Schiphol Nord’ is well placed on the airport perimeter and has an official spotter location in the car park with a terrace overlooking the airfield itself. Whilst the spot isn’t great for getting photos of aircraft in the main terminal area, if aircraft are taking off on 18L then you can get reasonable photos of them powering away and rotating.

Given the aircraft are a little way away from you, you’ll need an actual camera rather than just a camera phone, however the position is great for shots of aircraft without fences etc blocking the shot. Given it was rather cold and chilly day, we didn’t spend long at McDonalds, however I can imagine on a summer’s day the location is wonderful.

A Turkish Airlines A330 beginning its takeoff roll as seen from the Schiphol Nord McDonalds

One thing I love about aircraft spotting in Europe is the number of airports with official viewing areas, something which is pretty much non-existent in the UK. Amsterdam is no different and was actually the first non-UK airport I properly spotted at back in 2013. Whilst the terrace is free to enter, it, and a lot of the airport are currently undergoing refurbishment meaning there is a temporary entrance up to the terrace and no facilities available. The current access remains landside and is up some stairs from the Departures 1 area, and unfortunately the refurbishment work means that you can’t get as close to the edge of the terrace as you use to be able to.

With its location on the roof of part of the terminal building, the terrace provides great views over the apron adjacent to parts of concourses C, D and E, parts of the nearby taxiways and the end of runway 24. All of this combines to allow a great mix of photos of a variety of airlines and aircraft with concourse E handling a lot of the Non-European carriers and concourse C serving a lot of the SkyTeam airlines.

Part of the view from the spotting terrace at Schiphol

The other attraction on the spotting terrace is a retired Fokker 100 (see photo at top of post) which served with KLM Cityhopper until it was retired in 2011. The first time I visited the terrace I was unaware of its presence and entering the terrace to find a full aircraft sat on top of the terminal was rather shocking! The Fokker is currently set up as the Fokker experience allowing you to enter the aircraft and learn about its history.

The final spotting location we found in Amsterdam was a bit of a bonus and was the Aspire Lounge (No.41) within departures. Obviously, this location isn’t free and I’ll go into costs and what’s included a bit more in my next post, however the large floor to ceiling windows provides excellent views of the apron between concourses D and E.

The view of some of the concourse E stands from the lounge

All in all, I love spotting at Amsterdam as the mix of airlines is great and there are some ‘more interesting’ airlines that don’t serve the UK. This visit wasn’t as great as my previous visit to the terrace, mainly due to the refurbishment work so hopefully this will actually result in an improvement in future. Unfortunately, as with most airports, Schiphol has taken a massive hit due to the Covid 19 crisis, but hopefully it’ll soon return to it’s glory days and will be a great place to spot once more.

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