Page 5 of londonpenguin Travel Blog Posts

Europe » France » Centre » Chartres September 21st 2014

Geo: 48.4444, 1.48417Woke up a few times during the night ("Gosh, it must be nearly morning!" Look at clock. "Oh. It's only quarter past two."), but I managed to get back to sleep pretty quickly each time. I had set my alarm for 7:00, but when it went off I reset it to 8:00. So, I woke up feeling not too bad, which I thought was pretty good for the first night. It's the second night that's the test though!The phone booth-style shower wasn't bad, and the Worst Hairdryer in the World ... well, it got my hair dry. (I'm writing this from my new hotel room in Chartres, and guess what: that damn hairdryer followed me!)I went out in search of breakfast and was immediately struck by the humidity. Three, two, one: head o' frizz! ... read more
Dedicated to Ricardo
Scary bird grave dedicated to Jean-Jacques
Chartres Cathedral

Europe » France September 20th 2014

Geo: 48.8331, 2.3264Traffic was pretty awful getting to SeaTac this afternoon. There was construction around Montlake, and the freeway was just backed up like usual. I was getting a little worried, but we made it to the airport in plenty of time. And then I found out that my flight was delayed one hour. Sigh ... On the bright side, John knows a secretary at Byrnes & Keller who is married to a guy who works for British Airways. We were at a B&K party last week and got to talking to James. Found out after I was told about the delay that James got me into the Lounge, which was really nice of him and a pleasant place to sit, especially with the extra wait time. There were little sandwiches, a bar, salad fixings, soup ... read more
The Worst Hairdryer in the World

North America » United States » Washington » Seattle May 11th 2013

Geo: 47.6001, -122.328I left the hotel around 8:15 and made it to Leidseplein to catch the airport bus just as it was ready to leave. The driver saw me and kindly waited while I made a dash for it. For €4, I made it to Schiphol in about 30 minutes.Dropped my bag and wandered around the duty-free shops for a bit, then hiked to my gate. There's a sign before heading to the gates that says, "Passengers Only. Kiss and Goodbye." Schiphol doesn't have a centralized security area. Instead, there are security checks before the various gates, which is nice because you don't have to wait as long in line.My flight to London took off 40 minutes late but the captain made up some time in the air. Judy and Steve from the tour were also ... read more

Europe » Netherlands May 10th 2013

Geo: 52.3738, 4.89095Sometime during the night (just before 3:00, to be semi-precise) I woke up and wondered why someone was taking a shower at that ungodly hour. Turned out it was the wind making a tremendous racket. At 7:00, Schiphol had to alter the usual flight path for landing planes because of the winds, and that altered path was right over the hotel. Noisy? Yeah.We started the morning by taking a tram to Dam Square and then another tram to near the Westerkerk and walked to the Anne Frank House. I've been twice before and thought about sitting this one out because I'm sneezing and blowing my nose every few minutes. In the end, I decided to go on in because I figured it'd at least be warmer inside. That wind was still whipping hard enough ... read more
In the Begijnhof courtyard
Cat chasing mice

Europe » Netherlands May 9th 2013

Geo: 52.3738, 4.89095Kinder Egg update: It was a walrus.I forgot to mention how Rolinka managed to take over the trams we took last night. There is more than one door for getting on a tram, and there is also a ticket attendant seated in a booth mid-tram. Because there are so many of us, Rolinka encourages us to get on at different doors and spread out through the tram. She tells us which stop will be ours, but it's not always easy to understand the announcement over the loudspeaker. On our first tram, the mid-tram attendant let Rolinka take over his booth, so we heard Rolinka's voice, "This is our stop! Everyone traveling with Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door, please get off at this stop." Rolinka was pretty excited to get to use the ... read more
Decorated cabinet in the Rijksmuseum
18th and 19th century school boxes
A quick and cheap dinner

Europe » Netherlands May 8th 2013

Geo: 52.3738, 4.89095It was a bit sad leaving Delft this morning because it would be our last day on the coach. The coach does actually become like a second home in a way, and you feel secure on it. And no one ever wants to see the driver go either.This tour is supposed to leave Delft and go to an open-air museum and the Aalsmeer Flower Auction before arriving in Amsterdam. However, the first three or four tour groups of the year go to Keukenhof instead of the auction and the museum. And since we are the second group this year, we went to the garden instead. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll remember that the tour I took in 2010 went to Keukenhof. It's someplace I never thought I'd see again, ... read more
Feedin' time!

Europe » Netherlands May 7th 2013

Geo: 52.0119, 4.36026I really should have thought through the best dates to take this tour. I've always wanted to say, "If it's Tuesday, this must be Belgium." So not fair. ;)I forgot to mention that when we were all walking to dinner last night, we came across a group of boys sitting out in front of their house on some chairs and a sofa eating pizza. Rolinka started to ask them questions. They are all students at the university here, and they all live in the student house. They seemed like really typical college boys - baseball caps, ratty t-shirts, pizza - but they were all studying things like water management, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and even aerospace. They all spoke excellent English (of course) and seemed happy enough to talk to us, though perhaps a ... read more
Cat commandeering a whole street
Delft Town Hall
Willem I's dog

Europe » Netherlands May 6th 2013

Geo: 52.0119, 4.36026I think we were all a bit reluctant to leave the Hotel Adornes and Bruges this morning. I know I was: I barely even got to look at any of the shops, and the hotel was so nice. Unfortunately, Rik wasn't at the desk this morning; he looked after us over the weekend. He was what you might call "a hoot." You'd ask him one question and he'd answer it, but then he'd give you the answers to five other questions you didn't ask. Also, he loved to teach us Dutch phrases. He's a real gem for that hotel.Our first stop today was at the Watersnood Museum dedicated to the flood of 1953. In January of of that year there was a huge storm, and the dikes protecting South Holland failed. A huge swath ... read more
The Douws' garden
Junk mail management
Beach on the North Sea

Geo: 51.2094, 3.22523We left fairly early this morning to meet Raoul, our guide for the World War I battlefields. We started in Ypres, or Ieper (or Wipers, as the British called it), a small but strategic town that was completely - completely - destroyed during the war. After the war, the townspeople rebuilt the city as it was, so it still looks quite old. The German army never actually made it to Ypres, though they came within about 30 minutes' marching of it.There are 150 British and Allied forces cemeteries in the area around Ypres; most of them are quite small and situated by the side of the road or in the middle of a field. There are only three or four (can't remember) German cemeteries. After the war, the Belgian government gave the Allies the ... read more
Old cheese press
At Tyne Cot cemetery

Geo: 51.2094, 3.22523Breakfast was a beautifully presented spread of cereals, several kinds of bread, hard-boiled eggs (still warm), meats and cheese, yogurt, and fruit, including yellow cherries. I sat with Heidi, and she told me about spending the month prior to the tour doing hotel research for the tours. It sounds exhausting!Our guide for the day, Danielle, turned out to be Christian's (from Brussels) wife. She was very fashionable with her red and orange scarf, red sweater, red leather jacket, and red Armani sunglasses. She showed us beautiful old buildings, including the oldest brick house in Bruges. Close to it was a house made of white stone, built at a time when pretty much everyone had a house made of wood. Obviously, whoever could afford a non-wooden house was very wealthy. Even today, the Belgians refer ... read more
Bruges's "Bridge of Sighs"
In Bruges

Tot: 2.087s; Tpl: 0.04s; cc: 8; qc: 63; dbt: 0.0366s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb