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About friedaliene

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Kitchener, Ontaro
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  1. As I stated earlier, I'm not fan of Air B'n'B - their booking policy with hosts and potential for cancelling is almost non-existent, unless you cancel booking within the 3 day window from initial booking. I had an issue with a London, UK - booking 2019, I tried to cancel 4 days out from booking and was advised that my refund would only be half and possibly the balance if she was able to re-book (this was in prime tourist season & was 6 weeks out from my booking date. At the same time - when Oasis T/A cruise was cancelled due to crane falling on rear decks while in dry dock - a passenger on that cruise had booked 10 days in Air B'n'B in Paris post-cruise. Initially, she cancelled the booking and Host advised that no refund would be forth coming - and she re-booked so was going to double dip on the accommodation. After much research - and e-mailing to Corporate Air B'n'B - I was able to secure and full refund, and the Oasis traveller - got full refund after I gave her the Corporate contact names and e-mail addresses. Municipalities with high tourism - have set in place stringent guidelines - how many days annually they can let etc. Large tourism cities ie Paris; Amsterdam; London; Barcelona - are NOT - recovering the Hotelier tax that comes with a registered "Hotel" facility. When you book through a hotel - you have the option of taking NON-refundable rate or Refundable rate. Even guidelines under B & B, you will have option of cancellation but - you may well have to cancel 7 / 14 days prior to your booked arrival. Just letting you know, buyer beware - that somethings and polcies with Air B'n'B - are obscured from view. In 2019, when I was reviewing policies for large Tourism cities - there was a disparity on municipalities guidelines and implementing them. The "Host" of the establishment - I had booked had 5 other address locations. And, in my investigations - and my review of British newspapers - small neighbourhood communities are not happy with the transient tourist population. Greater - London has max number days a "HOST" can hold out her property for guests - but municipal bodies are having trouble tracking these days. In Toronto - and surrounding municipalities - residents are unhappy with the transient tourist traffic, that the Air B'n'B brings with it. In, London, UK - property values have escalated so high, than a normal Brit has no potential for home-ownership. The British articles I read, quoted that in some instances, Air B'n'B - owners / operators are generating 6 figure incomes. In, Toronto - it's been reported that rental tenants - are becoming Air B'n'B hosts - and are renting their rental unit, to individuals - that are in city to party and disrupt, the tenant community with rowdy drinking parties. I understand this has also been the case in European cities, a rental apartment has been let under Air B'n'B - to, visiting soccer fans and that mayhem has ensued. In my research even the guidelines Amsterdam has set in place, these to in instances have been corrupted. Joanne (aka - friedaliene
  2. I realize, that 5,000 cruise passengers is small in grand scheme of things. My dispute - isn't with tourism, nor can it be supply / demand. It just becomes disconcerting, when a facility can command €400 per night for a room. I grumble about room rates in Fort Lauderdale = $300 plus US a night. It's very odd that I can book T/A passage for 14 nights, with this I get accommodation; entertainment; 3 square meals (plus if desired) for equal to 2 nights for a room in Amsterdam, may be with / without breakfast. Yes, this is the reality of the day. If I want to travel it's what I must expect. But, I will choose to book through a hotel over Air B'n'B. At least, a hotelier must collect and pay to the municipality a Tourism tax - Air B'n'B's seem to have found a way around the tourism tax, as well the rules for cancellation - hold the tourist monies hostage if you want to cancel after 3 days of booking. The host can hold and not refund the monies paid - but can re-book this same room - thereby double dipping. Joanne (aka - friedaliene)
  3. I'll not dispute the fact that Keukenhof - March 21 - May 10; the King's day Apr 27; Easter; and May 5 Liberation celebrations, all factor into high hotel rates. There's also a regatta in The Hague in this window. I looked at rates, Delft, The Hague, Leiden all towns that connect easily to Amsterdam via rail system. Spring is busy no doubt, plus the travellers arriving via T/A's - it's just a lot of people. Amsterdam, alone annually handles 300,000 cruise passengers - that's a lot of people needing a hotel. Amsterdam, is no different than any other large European city - London, Paris, Venice - rates are high. It's all about "Supply / Demand". Just looking at the window May 9 - 12, there are 3 T/A's arriving at Amsterdam cruiseport - 5,000 passengers arriving and / or boarding and requiring hotel rooms. Joanne (aka - friedaliene)
  4. Elisa - I know how important logistics in a new city can be. There are a number of websites, that are helpful for time allocation and how we manage luggage. The luggage part is my husbands largest "?" when we travel (I over pack). The cruise port terminal is approx 15 minutes walk to the Central Train Terminal - Amsterdam. www.rome2rio.com - very useful covers all modes transporation, any city scenario, and time required, also helpful for hotels www.amsterdamtips.com - has answers to your cruiseport transit questions www.iamsterdam.com I'm not 100% on this but, you may be able to take tram from cruiseport terminal to Central Terminal Amsterdam and then transfer and board train to the Sloterdijk station (8 minutes). The XO Hotel Park West - is approx. .5 kilometers from Sloterdijk station (I think we may cab with our luggage items) to hotel. Sloterdijk station to AMS (airport) - no need to transfer to another train - direct line transfer to airport (10 minutes). As, I stated earlier you could in fact purchase your multi day pass at the Cruise terminal - a 2 day GVB pass = €22.50. Quoted from - www.iamsterdam.com - "Valid on trams, buses and metros operated by GVB in Amsterdam. ... Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket: 1, 2or 3 day transport pass valid on all public transport operated by GVB, Connexxion, EBS and NS in Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Area, including night buses.." https://www.public-transport-holland.com › product › amsterdam-day-ticket - The Amsterdam Day Ticket is valid for all trams, buses and metro's operated by the GVB. ... The GVB day or multi-day travel ticket provides you with unlimited travel ... limitationthroughout Amsterdam, day and night, on the bus, tram, and metro. Good luck in your research and securing hotel. If I could be so bold, often I book 2 or 3 (even for differing number of days) hotels in a location - these can be cancelled bookings. I have noticed rates have jumped and you can book but cancel if you research proves you want something or somewhere else. Joanne (aka - friedaliene)
  5. Hi Hun - did you book the XO Hotel Park West?? I think Amsterdam like London has lots of hotels and no problems filling them with tourists. Not sure where but just read that Amsterdam has 300,000 cruise visitors annually. That's a lot of people in transit and €'s burning a hole in their pocket. We are doing TransAtlantic cruise - cheaper than flying these days, don't arrive and having to recover from jet-lag. This will be our fourth T/A - final port is our jumping off point to see Europe. It's amazing how many people use T/A's. Last year meet a couple that have 2nd house in Italy - they had 27 suitcases or pieces of luggage (can you imagine plane luggage fees). Also, have connected with travellers, they winter in Florida - hop the east bound T/A - and have summer home in Majorca or Malaga, Spain. Happy travels and cruising. Joanne (aka - friedaliene)
  6. Hi Hun - yes the XO Hotel is Park West - use the hotels web-site they offer a 10% or 15% discount rather than using search engine. Initially, I had book Hotels.com (for me .ca they bill in Cdn). A discount window comes up. I had troubles accessing hotel website from my tower comp. but with my tablet I could use the hotel web-site. Good-luck, I hope you get rates that fit your budget. I usually take the higher refundable rate - if our plans change, I am able to cancel. To other travellers, beware Air B 'n 'B - has strange rules - if you book some host won't allow you to cancel. Others give you a 3 day window. Last spring, I had booked Air B 'n' B (London), our plans changed 5 days out and the host wouldn't cancel booking, was only giving me 1/2 what I had pre-paid through my credit card. Short story, I went to big-wigs Air B 'n 'B, advised this host renting more than 6 months annually. City councils, London, UK; Paris, FR; Holland have strict guidelines - how many days / months annually they can let out. I got a full refund - cause I raised heck. Last, spring Oasis - had mishap the T/A cruise was cancelled - a traveller there had a 10 day Paris booking - she had fully paid, the host advised her tough luck and re-rented the a 2nd party. This CC individual, used my advice and Air B 'n 'B gave her full refund. Please be cautious - when utilizing Air B 'n 'B. Joanne (aka - friedaliene)
  7. JB - thank you responding to my FYI. After, a TransAtlantic cruise this past spring, we flew to UK and had arranged a rental car at Gatwick. I arranged 7 day (weekly rate kicks in), automatic, Volvo V90 (car was spectacular). Of course I payed premium for automatic vs stick shift (we are Canadian and stick shift in UK - well can be dicey). Anyway - the rental in Cdn dollars = $480 NO - deductible (this was the bells & whistles insurance). Anyway, we were pleased with car, if something happened the claim wouldn't go against our personal insurance. Now, I can't verify that if we had an accident if this would ultimately impacted our annual coverage at home. Safe travels JB. We, lived in Andover, Hampshire for 2 years late '70's, Margaret Thatcher era. My husband hasn't been back since '70's. Whirlwind tour UK - Canterbury, the Catherdral, Dover, Windsor Castle, Bath, was our base (Cotswolds, Gloustcher, Avebury), Andover, Highclere, Newbury (Downton Abbey), Charlwood (Gatwick home) stayed at wonderful converted estate to hotel Stanhill Court. In Andover, we knocked on the door that was our old neighbours and after 40 years they still live there. We bought a row house on housing estate, 3 bedrooms, backyard was next to green space, in 1977 we paid £13,500 - to say the least we should have retained ownership. Stanhill Court, Charlwood (15 minutes to Gatwick) Joanne (aka - friedaliene)
  8. FYI - Car rentals Cruise passengers, who are considering car rentals in Europe / North America . Just a tidbit of information not all travellers are aware of. I pass this info on if your unaware - then you can be advised. If you book a car rental through a Search engine - such as Expedia - first the rate they offer is for rental ONLY!! The offer of reduce deductible / collison is via a THIRD party insurer. Therefore, you are not covered by the Rental agencies additional insurance. You will have to pay direct to the Rental service the fee's they have for a "NO" coverage rental. This could mean you will have to pay direct to the Rental service potentially the cost of car if it is totalled. You then must submit a claim to the THIRD party insurance provider to recoup, your out of pocket expenses. If you book direct with a Rental service: example Europcar; AutoEurope, they offer a true "NO" deductible insurance, that is honoured in the instance of accident, damage, totalled automobile. This also holds true for North American car rentals as well. I cannot truly advise, if you use a rider on you personal car insurance coverage, for rentals in North America, what the outcome would be for you with Car Rental agency. I would recommend that confirm this both with your Personal Insurance company, as well as with the Car Rental Agency. PLEASE - be most cautious when exploring and looking at rental rates - My advice deal direct with the Rental Service. 3rd Party Search engine providers of rentals offer enticing rental rates - but the insurance being offered is not from the Rental Service. Joanne (aka - friedaliene) Quote
  9. Hi Rhonda, Of course for every traveller, budgets differ. I have researched extensively very recently, as we are doing a T/A and we disembark in Amsterdam. We will be there early May - which is beginning of tourist season also is 75th Anniversary of WW2. Hotel rates are over the top. Friends of ours who live in The Hague are recommending Lieden, Delft or Haarlem. Four years ago we stayed in Sloterdijk - it's 8 minute train ride from Amsterdam Central station. We stayed at Holiday Inn Express - which was literally 5 minute walk from train station. Next door was a Spar, that offered almost everything a traveller could want (beer, wine, snacks even hot foods). The train station also offered a number of Holland version's of fast food - but perhaps more nutritional value. After all this, and my research further afield we are staying at another facility with access to the Sloterdijk station. After looking at rates further afield they offered no better bang for the buck, plus had to add train transfer time, train costs, bottom line we're 8 minutes by train from Central Tourism Mecca Amsterdam. Beware, some of hotels have very narrow staircases if you hauling your cruise luggage (I over pack - always). The hotel is middle of the road. The hotel chain - Dutch hotel group used to be under banner Golden Tulip hotels - it appears they have re-branded under "XO hotels". (My rate for booking direct for 2 nights, refundable / cancel-able booking, with full breakfast is €325 all in including taxes - 4 1/2 stars, Trip Advisor reviews. I looked at Banks Mansion for my booking dates, 2 nights = €550, cancel-able, with full breakfast, also rated 4 1/2 stars, Trip Advisor reviews). Banks Mansion certainly is more central - but I'll keep my extra euros for other activities. A 2 day - 48 hour multi use train pass, that you can purchase at Schipol Airport is €22 per person. This pass covers, bus, train or tram transit. Have a great trip, coincidentally we are sailing on the Veenham - T/A - Fort Lauderdale to Amsterdam, depart mid April - May 9/20. Rhonda, if you plan to visit the Anne Frank museum - be advised to pre-book your visit. They start selling entrance tickets 2 months out. These are timed entrances, I hadn't booked this spot and the que for non-ticket holders was going to unattainable entrance. Also, a more hidden tourist gem The Church in theAttic -www.opsolder.nl - this is Dutch website but certainly worth a look at. Church in the Attic Joanne (aka - friedaliene)
  10. Tally Hoe – Fellow T/A cruisers May 31/18 Back in the land of Moose & Goose. Exhausted and must do laundry. It was wonderful meeting all you fellow Cruise Critic friends and associates. After, disembarking May 20, we had a whirlwind 10 days – Rome, Budapest, Vienna and Prague. All three cities remarkable and noteworthy – and they all had great beer. Rome – this is our 3rd time to Roma, Dan’s 5th. We had a wonderful hotel on via Nationale, which was a 5 minute walk to the main train and underground station hub. Across the street, was a small grocery store, with every imaginable cheese and prepared meat, fresh crusty baguettes and rolls, add a bottle of vino and our Roman lunch was prepared. Last time we were in Rome, we went to the top of the dome at St. Peter’s basilica. Now, 10 years older, we did the experience once again. You’re taken by elevator to the base of the dome with it's 15 stories above the entrance level. You, can walk around the base of the dome and revel at Michelangelo’s magnificent brush strokes. Then the trek to the top of the dome is another 320 steps to a 360 degree outside viewing balcony. St. Peter’s is built on a high point in Rome and no other building façade can supersede the height of St. Peter’s. We, also visited the Basilica Papale San Paolo Fuori le Mura, this duomo is not over-whelmed by tourists, but in its own right is certainly significant for 15 minute subway trip. There is an out-standing dome mosaic that is unbelievable, the ceiling of the Sacristy, is covered with wonderful art and gilded framing. Mosaic dome St Paul's St Paul's - Rome We, flew from Rome airport to Budaest, Hungary and stayed in a 100 year old beautiful hotel, on the Buda side. When I booked it I didn’t realize A/C was not automatic. It was over 26 celsius, I should clarify, our room had a small Juliet balcony and we had cross ventilation (corner room) so things were quite bearable. The hotel, had a thermal spa, 3 pools temperatures from warm, medium and hot. Also, there was an outside huge wave pool, that really sent you rock’n’rollin. Hungary, is part of the EU, but has chosen to retain their own currency the Forint. We knew nothing about its value and were a little bewildered when we first went to the ATM at the hotel for cash and it asked us how many tens of thousands of Forints we wanted? We eventually figured out it is ball park a half cent each. So, doing the math conversion Canadian to Forint was a little daunting. Buying a beer, was 900 forints but I felt better knowing it was only about $4.50 cdn for a (metric) pint. There was a wonderful local farmer’s/crafters market that offered a great variety of Hungarian cuisine, lángos – it’s like a sweet fruit pizza, layer with Nutella, sweet drizzled icing sugar cream with cream cheese, slivered almonds, sprinkled with icing sugar – mmmm, schmecks good. Also, Hungarian goulash with paprikash and potato pancakes. Did a wonderful ½ day bus tour, 6 passengers on a 40 seat bus, it was as close as we could get to a private tour without the high forint cost. The view of the Danube, from high up on the Buda side with city lights was spectacular. Viking cruises features from the river the cities parliament buildings on the curve of the Danube, seeing first hand was out-standing. Budapest - Parliment / Danube The Buda side of Budapest, is named after Atilla the Hun’s brother Buda. Hungary, has had its high and low’s, once part of the Austro/Hungarian Empire under the Habsburgs, and of course the Russian insurgence in 1956, soldiers and tanks. Still, today you see the vestiges communists rule, the people were hospitable, welcoming and helpful to us tourists. Vienna (Wien) – We traveled as locals via the excellent train system. 3 ½ hours from Budapest to Vienna (not express train but we didn’t hit every small town along the route. Caution, I hadn’t booked shuttle from train to hotel, we had a rather lengthy but unguided extended trip to our hotel (lesson learned, I hope). Our, hotel was smack dab in the centre of everything old and magnificent of Wien. Bonus, our hotel was upgraded to a suite with kitchenette and views of the hotels garden/restaurant. The opulence and splendor of Wien is almost beyond words. The city hall (Rathaus), is glorious, the museum quad, with statues of Hapsburgs, generals and aristocrats is wunderbar. We indulged in cultural sampler of Classical music, ballet, and a snippet of opera. The concert was held in what was once the stock exchange, the hall had a 30 foot ceiling and painted in a classical baroque décor. Through, the dome and you enter into a stupendous pedestrian shopping concourse. The stores featured here are certainly no 5 & dimes. Prada, Hermes, Versace, Ferragamo, Rolex, Monte Blanc, I think you get the gist of the upper echelon of High street shops. We did a city bus tour, and visited the Hapsburgs, Queen Marie Theresa summer cottage – Schonbrunn, with it’s 1,441 (more or less) rooms and their unbridled quest to outdo Versailles, palace and gardens. Close by to the summer palace were residences for the 1,000 or more people it took to run the cottage. Queen Marie, had 19 children and married them off to all the important Royal and influential households of Europe. One of her poor children would become the consort the King Louis of France, ah poor Marie Antoinette she let them eat cake and off they led her to the guillotine. A little culinary note, Wiener Schnitzel, is not a German or Austrian delectable but was introduced the citizens of Wien by no other than an Italian culinary master. Prague – Another glorious European city. Again, we traveled as locals by train from Vienna to Prague – a 4 hour respite and recovery from European overload. Our shuttle driver was an English ex-pat living in Czechoslovakia for over 30 years. Again, Czechoslovakia, is part of the EU, but has chosen to retain its own currency – Koruna. Our driver was quick to caution us to the perils of pick-pockets, they seem to like cell phones, last year 10,000 cell phones were pilfered. Close to our apartment/hotel was a huge 5 story – Palladium shopping mall. Again, a plethora of shopping choices vailable. We, decided on combination bus / walking tour of the city. The views from atop the old-town and former residences of German aristocracy, another Hapsburg palace, very close in design to Schonbrunn / Wein, but a substantially smaller version. We viewed the fruit and vine gardens of a group of monks here. Our guide mentioned at least 4 monk sects that have / had residence in Prague, as well as groups of nuns. We, drove down Wenceslas square, where in 1968, Russian tanks and soldiers took over the city and crushed the Czech’s attempts at autonomy. Another, interesting factoid, Good King Wenceslas, wasn’t really a king, but a grand Duke of Bohemia. “The story behind the carol: Good King Wenceslas. A carol for the Feast of St Stephen or Boxing Day, with no mention of the Nativity. Wenceslaswas a 10th-century Catholic Duke of Bohemia also known as Vaclav the Good, and was martyred after being assassinated by his wicked brother, Boleslaw the Bad.” Walked across the Charles Bridge (pedestrian), built in the 1357 to 1402, survived the WW2 bombings intact. The Long Bridge was destroyed at end of WW2 by accident, by the Allies. Brits and Americans mistook the bridge for part of Dresden, when Dresden was almost obliterated. Our travels were pretty much unthwarted by man and ills of the body, but damn that British weather! Our, final departure toward home was delayed in Prague by an hour because of stormy landing conditions in England. We, didn’t make our connection at Heathrow for the last leg of our journey. Ah, alas, we must rest our weary bones, overnight at Marriott Renaissance, and finish our homeward quest tomorrow. Joanne aka friedaliene ps - Please excuse stock photo's. Dan has oddles, on his lap top, but not loaded to our main frame. Main frame is where I have drafted this. Now is back to reality.
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