Sunday, June 24, 2012

Trip to Amsterdam

Since I'm not a travel writer I hadn't thought about posting on our trip, but I am a writer, and I do travel, so here goes.

First, the flight to Amsterdam.  Using the last of my frequent flier miles, DW and I boarded Delta Airlines flight 33 to Amsterdam. 

Springing the extra $ for "Comfort Economy" was definitely not worth it.  There is very little comfort afforded by the very narrow, rigid sided seats, the "50% extra recline" allows the seat to go back an extra inch or so.  The extra leg room is nice, but I could not get my legs into a comfortable position the entire flight.

Dutch immigration was very easy, once our luggage was recovered from baggage claim it was simply a matter of walking out the "Nothing to Declare" door.  Sweet, the Dutch have figured out a way to simplify the process, maybe we could follow suit?

The Amsterdam Marriott people could not be better.  Our room is nicely appointed, clean, and fresh.  The concierge is helpful, and everyone goes out of their way to make guests feel comfortable. They helped us with train schedules to Maastricht for a day trip to our favorite city in the Netherlands.

Maastricht was very busy with weekenders enjoying the mid-summer festivities.  A violin concert in the Friethof brought large crowds who filled the outdoor cafes, enjoying the long summer day.  The shops offered large "korting", or discounts, on their merchandise.  It was a very enjoyable day.

One word of caution, however.  Europeans are migrating to credit cards embedded with chips rather than the magnetic stripes commonly found on American credit cards.  We ran into two occasions where our credit cards were unusable, resulting in the depletion of our stock of Euros.  Since credit cards offer better exchange rates and lower conversion costs, using the cards are cheaper than converting cash or travelers checks to local currency.  But if your card doesn't have the chip, it may not work in all cases.  Of course, hotels will still accept the magnetic strips, but we ran into one restaurant that did not and the Dutch train system did not, either.  So, check with your credit card company to see if they offer the embedded chip before you embark on your European vacation.

That's all for now, more to follow......

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