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Labor Day Weekend firsts – plates, planes, and a party

Surrounded by orange everywhere

Priority one – Party This years’ Labor Day Weekend is of the extraordinary kind. Norwegian Cruise Line conveniently dropped its christening voyage guests off in Amsterdam the day before the Dutch Grand Prix on the legendary Zandvort track. It was a sign I couldn’t ignore even though I didn’t realize the coincidence till just a short few weeks ago.

Fantastic party atmosphere with a race yet to come

With a anticipation high, I made my way to the track with the highly efficient NL Rail from Amsterdam central station. A short 35 minutes later I was at the seaside stop of Zandvort from where it took 15 minutes on foot to reach my seat. What followed for the day was successive waves of dance music with a moderator energizing the crowd interspersed by Porsche cup, Formula 3 and 2 races leading up to the banner event.

Dutch hero and my favorite driver of the moment

Having been fortunate to attend quite a few races over the decades, o can honestly state that none leading up to this Sunday came close from an atmosphere perspective. This was a day for the ages with over 300,000 fans attending the three days of the GP weekend. The race was certainly exciting but it was just a bonus when compared to the enthusiastic parties and fan engagement. A super show!

Amsterdam schiphol airport

Priority two – Plane with on time boarding and departure. Sounds simple but turns out not to be. This summer’s rapid passenger volume recovery overwhelms staffing at many airports in Europe. My personal experience at Amsterdam on Monday morning should serve as an illustration of tge patience and foresight travelers need.

I felt like I did everything I could to prepare for my flight. I was checked in online, got to the counter 30min before it opened, and I had 3 hours till departure of the flight. Well, it was barely enough and I only got on board the plane due to the airline delaying the departure time (too many booked guests were missing aboard).

Never since the immediate days after 9/11 have I ever seen a security line this long at any airport. As you see in the first image, I queued up outside the tent which covers the 3/4 mile outside loop at Amsterdam airport. Once inside the terminal, another 50 min elapsed till I finally made it through the machine scan. Out of 24 lanes of scanners, only 4 were staffed this busy Monday morning. My advice – don’t chance it, get there early.

Casa Lola on Granada street in Malaga

Priority three – Plates of delicious Andalusian treats in the form of Tapas. No visit to southern Spain would be complete without a bar experience nibbling on small, tasty bites. My choice on this trip was the legendary tapas bar Casa Lola which now features two locations in Malaga’s historic center.

Endless choices of tasty tapas

Fresh local white wine aside, I tasted classics like lomo saltado with pardon pepper and a tasty Brie with carmelized onions. The local olives were also super tasty. I recommend Malaga for its culinary scene which is a bit more seafood oriented than that of Granada. Definitely worth a trip.

Lomo saltado with pardon pepper and Brie with onion jam

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