Our European Adventure continues..

So, I’ll try not to gush too much but OMG do I LOVE EUROPE!  I love the history and architecture, the lack of tacky skyscrapers and shiny malls, the friendly folk who love football (soccer to you Americans) and laidback lifestyle.  Yes, the coffee shops don’t open until 8 a.m. but since they don’t appear to go to work until 9-10 a.m., that works.  Three hour dinner-sure!  Keep on drinking and eating with your buddies-no rushing home to get some zzzz’s and be at work by 8 a.m.  At our hotel today, around 3 p.m. a hotel employee was seen taking two huge bottles of icy vodka into a meeting room for a group-think it was a bank. Now that’s how you should conduct business!  Think up an idea-take a shot to celebrate!

Luxurious elegance in lobby at Hotel Des Indes
Luxurious elegance in lobby at Hotel Des Indes

We have received such wonderful service to the point where we have to wrestle our bags away from well-meaning hotel staff who want to assist us.  We are very self-sufficient and used to wheeling around our own stuff, thank you.  Get us museum tickets?  Get us football tickets?  Change out our cash to Euros?  SURE!  Our slightly ditzy hotel staff member was changing out some cash for us and doubled what she should have given us.  Realizing her error, I handed her back $100 Euros and hopefully she will tell others, giving US tourists a good name for their honesty.  Good karma, baby!

Speaking of good karma, how about that Pope flying around DC in that modest Fiat?  Love that he is eating with the homeless instead of all those corrupt bickering politicians.  You go Father!  CNN International is covering all Pope all the time over here.  While there are a few shows in English, the street signs here are all in Dutch-even China was easier to get around with signs everywhere that we could read.  So far, we just guess and ask for help and everyone is quick to assist.  Most people do also speak English which makes it easy to get around.  BTW, always carry .50 euro coins with you as the public bathrooms all have attendants collecting money for use.  At least they aren’t squats like China-hallelujah!

antique and book market in front of Hotel Des Indes
antique and book market in front of Hotel Des Indes

Today, we finished up our time in The Hague, a truly lovely city which Rick Steves doesn’t even recommend visiting.  Rick, come on, don’t be a Hague-hater!   I disagree with Steves-lots to enjoy there with the beach nearby and the Peace Palace and museums galore.  We loved walking out of the Hotel Des Indes and seeing an antique/book market going on in the square.  If only I had a huge container to utilize to send back furniture and paintings!!!  I settled for a jazz CD and some antique postcards–my luggage is stuffed as it is.  Then it was off to the Mauritshuis Museum to see the Vermeers, Rembrandts and Reubens in a beautiful mansion built in the 1600’s on a pond.  So gorgeous and small enough not to overwhelm the senses.

Then, it was off to the train to zip back to Amsterdam for another stay at the Andaz-the best hotel chain around.  If you haven’t stayed in one, treat yourself.  We were lucky enough to stay for two months at the one in Shanghai as my temporary housing and they are in many cities now.  The one in NYC is right by the library.  They are small, well designed with unique rooms and the service is the best I have ever experienced.  TOTALLY!  With free mini-bar in room, free bikes to use (if my shoulder wasn’t hurting so bad), lavish breakfast included and free happy hour, it can’t be beat for amenities.  Cheers! Tonight, we’re off to the Red Light District and a jazz club!

utter elegance at musem
utter elegance at museum
Rembrandt
Rembrandt

The Hague-surprisingly awesome!

I gasped when I entered our room at the Hotel Des Indes.  So, we’re staying in The Hague primarily due to my desire to utilize all those wonderful hotel points I’ve accrued from my travels.  When you use points, sometimes you get an awesome room and sometimes you don’t.  Luckily, this was one of those awesome times.  With twenty foot ceilings and a canopied bed, the old world furnishings and world class service made us feel like royalty. SCORE!

Old world elegance at Hotel Des Indes
Old world elegance at Hotel Des Indes

Open since 1856, this hotel has been “the” place for politician and celebrities like U2, Prince and the Rolling Stones to stay when visiting this capital of the Netherlands which also hosts the Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Classy and stylish, the Hotel Des Indes is the bomb!
Classy and stylish, the Hotel Des Indes is the bomb!

In our usual style of just wandering, we first hopped on the tram to see the North Sea to enjoy some beach time but on the way back, we jumped off to see the Peace Palace.

 

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The Peace Tree filled with words of hope from international tourists.

I’m so glad we did because the story of how it was founded in the early 1900’s with seed money from Andrew Carnegie was fascinating.  The Court was in session so we didn’t get to go in the building but we did take the audio tour on the grounds.  We even got to join with international tourists and write out our hopes for peace onto the official Peace Tree outside.  Very cool moment for our trip!

Looking forward to going to a tapas restaurant tonight after taking a wrong turn last night and missing it.  Never fear, we ended up on a rainy night just finding another place that I had read about on TripAdvisor, Garoeda, that had tasty Indonesian cuisine.  Feasting on tempura shrimp, chicken satay and rice, we’ll just go tapas tonight instead.  After enjoying the sauna room (hot Damn!) and a refreshing dip in the tiny pool which had jets so you could simulate swimming against a strong current (how cool is that??), we are ready to relax and enjoy an evening on the town in The Hague at Oker’s.  Tomorrow, we are off on the train for another adventure to…….

Enjoying café life in The Hague
Enjoying café life in The Hague
North Sea beauty!
North Sea beauty!