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Everything posted by Harters

  1. The flowering time for bulbs at Keukenhof follow the cycle for bulbs in domestic gardens in Northern Europe. They obviously try to have a good display throughout their open period (in 2025 that's from 20/3 to 11/5). So, expect daffodils in the early part and tulips in the later period. There'll be overlaps of course and there will be other bulbs. Nothing is certain because of weather conditions
  2. Both HOHO companies have similar routes that stop nearby and, I think, have identical pricing. Last autumn, we picked up our bus from the Plaza Catalunya - can't recall which bus it was (the blue bus company or the red one). Bear in mind, that each company operates at least two routes round the city so you need to check with the ticket seller that you're getting on the right bus for where you want to see. Both companies have websites with routes, pricing and offers, so it's easy to work out what suits best.
  3. If you do to Bovington, I think they have an exhibition about the eight members of the Tank Regiment who were awarded the Victoria Cross - our highest military honour. One is Lieutenant Richard Wain who was killed in action in 1917. Prior to his transfer to the Regiment, he served with the 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment and was one of the four officers of its "A" Company which attacked German positions on 1 July 1916 - the disastrous first day of the Battle of the Somme. My grandfather and great uncle also served in A Company so would have known him well. Grandad Tom survived the war (his brother was killed in 1918. https://tankmuseum.org/article/wain-victoria-cross It's personal stories like his that can put into context any visit to a military museum.
  4. My niece spent her teen years living in the States and learned to drive there. When she returned to the UK, she found it easier to take our test just for an automatic, rather than having to relearn how to drive for a stick licence. And, yes, I agree , shifting with the "wrong" hand can be a challenge. We often rent a car when visiting Spain as villas we're staying in tend to be in more rural areas. For trips to Belgium and France, we've always taken our own car, passing through Dover for the ferry to Calais. Whilst not having any of the stick issues, it comes with its own safety problem - in trying to overtake, say a large truck, you have to pull out much further before you know if there's oncoming traffic.
  5. Ireland is also an exception in Western Europe in driving on the left. Elsewhere on the continent, Cyprus and Malta also drive on the left. And Hank makes the point I always make to visiting North Americans that most of our cars here in Europe are manual shift (for the first time in some 50+ years driving, I currently have an automatic - a secondhand Skoda Karoq). Rental companies will usually only have automatics available on more upmarket models, so expect to be paying a lot more for one. I presume visitors can use their normal driving licence without problem but it will be worth folk visiting the UK to check this with the rental company. Reason for suggesting this is that we have two levels of driving licence here. One that only allows you to drive an automatic. The other allows you to drive automatics and manuals. The driving test is different for each.
  6. Perhaps oddly, it wasnt the money that concerned me most. It was actually what I would do with my new life. Once I had my head reasonably straight about that, making the application was plain sailing. My employer (a government agency) ran pre-retirement courses, with a financial planner, and I was able to get on one of those. Very useful two day course I finished at the end of September and it felt weird until January or thereabouts. It felt sort of being on holiday and then realising that there wasnt a "back to work" date. I was a bit in limbo. Once Christmas was out of the way, I realised that I now felt "retired". Good luck with your plans.
  7. Yes. When we were there last autumn, there were several waiting right outside the terminal building. You are never far from a cab in Barca.
  8. I actually don't have it as a problem as I never go out to dinner, on land or sea, in jeans or shorts - always long trousers, such as chinos.
  9. Cue another discussion over what are "casual" jeans and "dressy" shorts.
  10. Work hard to make it happen. It'll be the best decision you make. I had the opportunity to apply for early retirement at 53 - no package and with just the pension entitlement I'd earned till then. Approval given and I was off within a few weeks - my new boss and I had a mutual disrespect for each other, so it was never going to be a problem . Never looked back - it comes up to 21 years in September.
  11. The beach is about 12km from the cruise port so, looking at the official (metered) taxi rates, that's going to cost about €15 each way.
  12. Restaurants are rarely perfect. For my 60th birthday, we went for dinner to the Fat Duck, then rated third best restaurant in the world. Of the 14 courses on the eye-wateringly expensive tasting menu, there were a couple that we didnt think were "right". But food is always subjective, so my opinion counts no more or less than any other customer or, indeed, the chef.
  13. As do I. We got the booklet for our 2017 cruise but not for the ones last year and this year. Havent missed the booklet - as you say, everything you need is online and can be printed as required.
  14. Me too (to quote a phrase). I make a comparison with a 5* hotel I've been to in Tenerife. O's GDR & Terrace food is generally as good as that. I'm looking forward to going to a 5* all-inclusive resort in Cyprus in the autumn which seems to have a comparable offer of "hotel services" to a cruise with O. If it does indeed match O's quality, or come near to it, then next year's Vista cruise may well be our last - as the resort is half the price of O.
  15. Sofitel is fine. I've stayed there a couple of times. Location is its big selling point - it's within the terminal building, so only a short walk from/to Arrivals/Departures. And a reasonable price, for the convenience. Spacious room with comfy bed. We had dinner in the restaurant which was OK. But they do have an absolutely disreputable practice of adding a 12.5% service charge to the bill (which is fine) but then leaving the tip line open. It's intended to catch out foreign travellers who may not appreciate that the service charge IS the tip and NOTHING else is required or expected - so end up effectively tipping twice. It's a shameful practice.
  16. Including CC's ports of call sub-forum and any cruise "port guide" you can find online. I find they are the two most useful resources
  17. Or even national travel. Our next cruise is from/to Southampton. It's a four hour drive but we'll do that the day before and stay somewhere close to the port. Just so much more relaxing than doing it on the day. And our transatlantic earlier this year involved Terminal 5. Sunday - flew Manchester to Heathrow (cos otherwise is would be too close to call next day for Miami), stayed at the Sofitel. Monday - flew Miami. Tuesday - relaxing day at the Beach. Wednesday - boarded Vista.
  18. I believe that Australians, like Europeans, have gratuities already included in the headline cruise price. If that's not accurate, then paying the gratuities would be the way to go. You could think about a "splurge" on an expensive excursion as a particular treat. I asked a similar question some while back, before Simply More came in and taking a credit was one of the possible "perks". My understanding from the responses then was that you could go shopping in the boutiques. Buy a nice watch, or something, as a souvenir of the cruise?
  19. No worries, Kay. I'll have that as my "learn something new every day". 😀
  20. Yes, we still have the remnants of archaic culture. Although it's a long time since I saw a restaurant dress code requiring a tie (and that was also in Scotland).
  21. Ah. So an American country club is simply what we'd call a golf club? In that case, my nearby club (of which I am most definitely not a member) has this as its acceptable dress code for men inside the club house (different rules apply for the course) - smart jeans, smart casual shirt (may be worn outside trousers) smart T shirt, polo shirt, smart tailored shorts (max knee length), caps or hats (with any peak facing to the front), smart clean trainers. Probably a good job I didnt find that for our first cruise on O and use it as a guide.
  22. Yeah, training for cruise eating/drinking is always a good idea. We often stay at the Quay, so know Paysanne reasonably well (although we've not been since before Covid).
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