So, I’ll try not to gush too much but OMG do I LOVE EUROPE! I love the history and architecture, the lack of tacky skyscrapers and shiny malls, the friendly folk who love football (soccer to you Americans) and laidback lifestyle. Yes, the coffee shops don’t open until 8 a.m. but since they don’t appear to go to work until 9-10 a.m., that works. Three hour dinner-sure! Keep on drinking and eating with your buddies-no rushing home to get some zzzz’s and be at work by 8 a.m. At our hotel today, around 3 p.m. a hotel employee was seen taking two huge bottles of icy vodka into a meeting room for a group-think it was a bank. Now that’s how you should conduct business! Think up an idea-take a shot to celebrate!
We have received such wonderful service to the point where we have to wrestle our bags away from well-meaning hotel staff who want to assist us. We are very self-sufficient and used to wheeling around our own stuff, thank you. Get us museum tickets? Get us football tickets? Change out our cash to Euros? SURE! Our slightly ditzy hotel staff member was changing out some cash for us and doubled what she should have given us. Realizing her error, I handed her back $100 Euros and hopefully she will tell others, giving US tourists a good name for their honesty. Good karma, baby!
Speaking of good karma, how about that Pope flying around DC in that modest Fiat? Love that he is eating with the homeless instead of all those corrupt bickering politicians. You go Father! CNN International is covering all Pope all the time over here. While there are a few shows in English, the street signs here are all in Dutch-even China was easier to get around with signs everywhere that we could read. So far, we just guess and ask for help and everyone is quick to assist. Most people do also speak English which makes it easy to get around. BTW, always carry .50 euro coins with you as the public bathrooms all have attendants collecting money for use. At least they aren’t squats like China-hallelujah!
Today, we finished up our time in The Hague, a truly lovely city which Rick Steves doesn’t even recommend visiting. Rick, come on, don’t be a Hague-hater! I disagree with Steves-lots to enjoy there with the beach nearby and the Peace Palace and museums galore. We loved walking out of the Hotel Des Indes and seeing an antique/book market going on in the square. If only I had a huge container to utilize to send back furniture and paintings!!! I settled for a jazz CD and some antique postcards–my luggage is stuffed as it is. Then it was off to the Mauritshuis Museum to see the Vermeers, Rembrandts and Reubens in a beautiful mansion built in the 1600’s on a pond. So gorgeous and small enough not to overwhelm the senses.
Then, it was off to the train to zip back to Amsterdam for another stay at the Andaz-the best hotel chain around. If you haven’t stayed in one, treat yourself. We were lucky enough to stay for two months at the one in Shanghai as my temporary housing and they are in many cities now. The one in NYC is right by the library. They are small, well designed with unique rooms and the service is the best I have ever experienced. TOTALLY! With free mini-bar in room, free bikes to use (if my shoulder wasn’t hurting so bad), lavish breakfast included and free happy hour, it can’t be beat for amenities. Cheers! Tonight, we’re off to the Red Light District and a jazz club!