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A Birthday Treat (Europe)

Author: r. plotnick
Date of Trip: May 2011

For my spouse’s special birthday, I planned a vacation to delight both of us…….Amsterdam, Riverboat cruise, Paris, and London. We had been to Amsterdam, Paris, and London previously on many trips. They still have many wonderful places to discover and places to revisit. We flew into Amsterdam and stayed at the Swissotel in Dam Square. Flight was on time, luggage arrived, and the hotel was superb. The staff at the hotel actually noticed that it was a birthday when we checked in. We were upgraded, given a magnum of champagne, and also treated to a complimentary breakfast. The staff at the Swissotel were really great. We had been to Amsterdam many times. Having done the usual touristy things, we set out to see some less crowded places like the Van Loon House and the Historic Museum. Both were not crowded and quite interesting. They were also close enough to our hotel to walk. We also took an excursion that we booked through Viator to Keukenhoff Gardens. Keukenhoff is a must see if you’re in the Netherlands during the 6 weeks of the year that it is open. Flowers are truly fabulous. We also enjoyed just walking along the canals, taking a canal boat ride, and wandering thought he pedestrian area. We boarded our riverboat in Amsterdam. We sailed up the Rhine and Moselle Rivers stopping at several charming small towns and a few larger cities.
On the Rhine we passed many quaint towns and castles. In Cologne we saw the cathedral and walked around the old part of town. There are many nice shops and lovely cafes. In Rudescheim, we took the cable car up to see the Germania Monument, visited Seigfried’s Music Box, and did some shopping in town. In Mainz, we visited the Guttenberg Museum. Our next stop was the Koblenz Flower Show. Koblenz is where the Rhine and Moselle Rivers meet. Sailing on the Moselle was gorgeous. The vineyards covering the hills are beautiful. We also stopped in Cochem and Bernkastel. Both towns had local charm. Our riverboat docked in Remich, Luxembourg. After a brief stop in Luxembourg City, we took the train to Paris. Three nights in Paris is never enough. There is so much to enjoy. Paris is magnificent. Some of the highlights of our stay in Paris included the Louvre, the Petite Palais, the Grand Palais, The Palais de Tokyo, Le Jacquemart-Andre Musee, and time to relax on Seine cruise. In the evenings we dined at lovely bistros, drank wine, laughed, and celebrated the birthday again. Our next stop was London. We took the Eurostar train from Paris, Gare du nord to London, St.Pancras…just over 2 hours. A ride in a black London taxi took us to our hotel, the Andaz. The Andaz was a new concept boutique hotel next to Liverpool Street Station. I loved the Andaz. Rooms include snacks, soft drinks, bottled water, and breakfast. The lobby is more like a comfortable living room with a complimentary coffee bar, complimentary wine, and snacks. Staff is warm and friendly. The restaurants at the hotel are all outstanding. The hotel could have been a destination in itself. In London we bought daily unlimited tube/bus passes. We visited Tate Modern, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, British Museum, National gallery, and the Somerset House. The Courtauld gallery at the Somerset House was the highlight of the trip. Although it is a small gallery, the paintings on display were outstanding….Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Utrillo, Renoir, Degas, etc. Also, in the courtyard the 12 Signs of the Zodiac by Ai Weiwei was on exhibit. Our trip was relaxing, exciting, beautiful, memorable, and fun. Both my spouse and I had a great time. We saw great places, ate delicious food, met wonderful people, and came home happy. When either of us says Amsterdam, Paris or London, we both smile. It was that good.

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