Monday, August 10, 2015


Our cab driver from the airport transported us to a little one-way street tucked into the museum district in Amsterdam. His Tesla zigged and zagged following the tracks the electric trolley cars follow. He told us how he needed a special tag allowing him the privilege of driving on those tracks and avoiding the lines of cars inching along on the brick streets running parallel to the trams.
I had forgotten how beautiful the pictures were telling the story of the hotel. The hotel is very deceptive from outside. You don't see the size of the hotel that remains classified as a boutique hotel but once inside and especially on the guided tour we were taken on to get us to our room you begin to see how several buildings have been sewn together to form the whole hotel. As we walked through archways carved between the buildings we traversed half steps and landings that were three steps up and then five steps down to get to our room.
Our room was on the second floor with windows facing the back of the hotel. I made everyone stop from carting our five pieces of luggage into the room so I could photograph the pristine beds without the impressions of three very tired butts imprinted into the eider down comforters.
The room was beautiful from the beds themselves to the bathroom
and even the detailed notes left making it a very non-smoking room.
The amenities of the hotel were equally impressive. The lobby was almost as inviting as the room with its tufted couch and collection of art and found objects.
The hotel has its own restaurant with a broad menu that we had to pass on but we were more than excited to take advantage of the following morning for breakfast.
There was also a garden with more room for dining and a pair of reflecting pools that hugged the stairs leading down into the shaded oasis. For a first stop even if it was only for one night a stay at the Hotel Vondel was a welcome beginning to our Dutch journey.

Planning for Europe became an unexpected challenge when trying to set up the financial part of the trip. We thought we had turned over every stone. We knew we would get the best rate of exchange by using our cards at ATMs and banks. We had talked to our personal banker and notified her of every country we'd be traveling to so they could track our trip and not be concerned seeing charges coming from Holland, The Czech Republic or Portugal. What we didn't check on and what we really couldn't know until we had already flown across the Atlantic was the European chip. If your American credit card doesn't have the chip, the European card readers won't recognize your card and it gets rejected. They can't manually enter your card numbers, they can't call the card company, nope, you're sunk. Purchasing those little clog souvenirs and paying for hotels and meals can become a real challenge.
The tip: If you're going overseas check to make sure you've got the chip and then all your pin numbers before you get there. And, oh, by the way, there are also stores that won't take cash, something to do with the falling value of those darn Euros.

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