Vacationing In Europe and anywhere in the world: the not-so-good and the good in the summer of 2018


(My photo-op by The Eiffel Tower)

I recently re-watched a 1972 episode of The Bob Newhart Show. The premise was Emily, aka Suzanne Pleshette, was scared to fly. Back then, fear of flying and losing your luggage were the two big concerns everyone had. Now it’s a lot more complicated.

(My wife Carla by the Seine)

Just about everything is computerized and you are challenged to learn new automated systems on the spot. For example:

*You need to check in by yourself. You can do it at the airport and fumble for your confirmation code, passport number, etc., or you can do it from home. If you need to work with a desktop computer in another location, Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, etc., give you the third degree to prove you are who you say you are.

*Some airports require you check in your own luggage and learn a system to print labels for your suitcases.

*Some airports require you to do part of the passport control verification at a kiosk.

*It used to be that you bought a train ticket and gave it to the conductor. You used to buy a airplane ticket and gave it to the ticket agent. Now you usually purchase them online and have to scan it on location.

(Jardin du Luxembourg)

Those are some of our experiences in our recent vacation from New York to The Netherlands with a side trip to Paris. My wife and I are not the most tech-savvy people in the world but we are not the least tech-savvy people either. By doing this, when you are trying to catch an airplane or train, can be stressful. You are paying a lot of money to travel but you have to do more and more work on your own. As of now, USA-Europe flights don’t make you pay for your own luggage at the airport but flights within the USA and within Europe make you pay on the spot.

(Champs-Elysées)

There were problems specific to this trip:

*On a clear August evening, our flight from New York left four hours late and arrived four hours late in Amsterdam. Delta apologized throughout the flight but that was all. After the trip I did ask Delta, via a tweet, if they could do anything to encourage us to fly Delta for next year’s flight to Holland. They were very nice and offered us a $100 credit on each ticket, for my wife and me if we travel in the next 12 months. KLM flew the flight back and they proactively offered everyone a 60 Euros credit per ticket on a flight within the next 12 months because their entertainment system was not working. I would not have asked for that so it was very generous!!



(A dog finds their perfect wave! The beach at De Koog on the island of Texel in The Netherlands)



(Notre-Dame)

*It was a beautiful sunny Sunday in Paris but we planned an ambitious day and 84F felt too warm for me, especially after I ate something that did not agree with me. Between the warm weather and being around a big crowd, I got sick and we had to go back to our hotel room. Fortunately I got better after a couple of hours. But here’s some updated advice — people in Paris and throughout Europe dress casually now. A majority of the men were wearing shorts. So the old adage of having to dress up is no longer true. Dress comfortably.

 

(You never know who and what you will find in Amsterdam’s Dam Square!)

*My wife grew up in The Netherlands, took the Dutch trains all the times and we always take them when we visit. On August 21st, after a day in Amsterdam, we came back shortly after 7:30PM and discovered the trains into Amsterdam Centraal Station, Schiphol Airport and surrounding stations were not running. There was an technology problems at headquarters and trains could not run. Information was sketchy. After talking to a couple of train conductors, who said they expected trains would be running with an hour, I found an official who said the best thing to do was to take a bus to Zandaam, about 40 minutes away, and to take the train from there to my wife’s family in Den Helder. We got home a couple of hours late which wasn’t too bad. It was much better than having to spend the night in the train station. I began to worry if the trains would be running to Schiphol Airport when we would be coming back to New York on August 23rd. My wife and my brother-in-law, being Dutch, were much calmer than a New Yorker like me. They heard the news the next morning and told me the trains were back in service.

(At the Arc de Triomphe)

This was my 26th trip to The Netherlands and my 3rd trip to Paris. As the years have gone on, there are less people to see as my wife’s father, mother, grandmother and aunt have passed away. We now stay with my brother-in-law who is one of the nicest guys in the world and the best brother-in-law in history. He has a very nice apartment, in Den Helder, in northwest Holland, a 75 minute train ride to Amsterdam and a 15 minute walk to The North Sea. My brother-in-law is very tech-savvy and his home has wifi. This was the first vacation where I used roaming so I could go online from anywhere. I also became one of these people who takes picture everywhere with their iPhone.

(Louvre Museum)

We always see my wife’s Uncle and Aunt, my late father-in-law’s girl friend for the last 15 years of his life, Carla’s long-time friend from the 1980s and a Facebook Friend from Den Helder, who I found through Facebook. We have met her and her husband every year since 2012, in either Den Helder and/or our home neighborhood in New York where they visited us in 2015 and 2017. My wife and I spend a day in Amsterdam and also spend a day in Texel, an island that is a 20 minute boat ride away from Den Helder. We visit the town of Den Burg and the beach at De Koog. With the time we spend along the North Sea and in Den Helder it’s a great place for us to take a vacation.


(Bicycles at the canals in Amsterdam)

Sometimes we take a side trip when we visit. We had been in Paris in November 2004 and in August 2013 for our 25th wedding anniversary. With our 30th wedding anniversary coming up we decided to go back in August 2018. Paris is beautiful. The idea of people who refuse to speak English is 30 years out-of-date. Waiters in restaurant would greet us with “here is our menu” and “would you like a drink?” American tourists are everywhere. We made sure to see all the major sites again; the Eiffel Tower, The Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, The Seine, Luxembourg Gardens, Sacre-Coure, Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, strolling along the Left Bank, Notre-Dame, Louvre Museum and much more.

(Amsterdam’s Royal Palace)

Nobody asked us about politics in the USA in either Paris or The Netherlands. The trip from Amsterdam-to-Paris is 3 1/4 hours. On each trip we have stayed at the Hotel Du Collectionneur near the Arc de Triomphe and can recommend it highly. Except for the warm temperatures that I mentioned, that I should have dressed a little more casually for, Paris was nearly perfect and is one of my very favorite cities.

(The North Sea in my wife’s hometown of Den Helder in Northwest Holland)

So that was my summer vacation in 2018. And you can probably expect to see us back for my 27th trip to The Netherlands in 2019 with my $100 credit from Delta and 60 Euros credit from KLM.

(My wife, me and our Dutch friends at Cafe Bos in Den Helder)



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