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Friday, July 12, 2024

Tips on Tulips

So you’re ready to join the ranks of travelers who are hopping on European river cruises in record numbers. (See “The Heart of Holland and Belgium,” September/October 2013 Evansville Living.) Here are just a few tips to make your trip easier and even more enjoyable:

The Netherlands have a temperate maritime climate influenced by the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, with cool summers and moderate winters. This April was quite chilly. If you’re seeing tulips in Holland, plan to wear a warm coat and scarf.

You will certainly want to wear appropriate shoes. Most port cities and villages have cobbled-stone streets. Be prepared for walking on uneven surfaces.

Passengers on river cruises do not need excessive amounts of cash on board. My settlement statement for onboard purchases was minimal. You’ll want euros in your pockets for souvenirs, beer, and chocolate. Also, I generally tipped the daily tour guide and bus driver one or two euros for each tour. 

If you plan to extend your trip, as I did (see “Paris in Three Days,” September/October 2013 Evansville Living), I advise purchasing your train ticket in person at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. Before we sailed from Amsterdam, I had the time and the opportunity to purchase my first class train ticket that would take me from Amsterdam to Paris on the high speed Thalys train. Unfortunately, I bought my ticket from an online scam operator, and it was not recognized in Amsterdam, forcing me to buy the ticket again. I was advised I could talk to a Thalys agent in Paris, but instead, chose to notify the local credit union holding my credit card account. Their fraud division investigated and had contingently refunded me the price of the ticket. Even the cabin steward on board the train stated that the company was having a large problem with fraudulent tickets. My best advice: Buy train tickets at the counter.

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