Europe Trip in August 2004
We flew to Amsterdam, spent a few days there and then rented a car and traveled in a clockwise loop that included Aachen, Cologne, Berlin, Dresden and Munich, Germany, parts of Austria and Switzerland, the Black Forest of Germany, Nancy and Reims, France, a week in Paris, a high speed train trip to Brussels, Belgium, then back to Amsterdam.
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As is usually our way of doing things, Larry took most of the photos, Bill processed them and installed them on the web site, and Larry wrote the narrative and photo descriptions. Larry's narrative up through the first day we took photos starts below.
Wednesday, August 4:
We didn't have to get up too early for our trip since the flight didn't leave until 12:35 pm. We checked the Northwest web site for flight information and it said our flight to Detroit would be leaving a half hour late. We left the house at about 9:45 and took the 48 bus and then BART to the airport. It took us just about an hour to get from home to the airport by public transportation.
We checked our bags and went through security with no problems. We then looked for breakfast and only found two places in the gate area. One was a hamburger-sandwich shop and the other sold wraps. I was looking for a nice breakfast of eggs and bacon, but I wasn't going to find it here. I had a "breakfast wrap"--scrambled eggs in a tortilla type thing--and coffee. Bill had a veggie wrap and OJ.
Our gate area was packed with people for three different flights when we got there. After one flight left we finally found two seats next to this hyper business lady who constantly talked on her cell phone. We took off for Detroit at about 1:30, about 55 minutes late.
We knew we were going to arrive late in Detroit, but they said we should make our flight to Amsterdam. We originally had an hour and 25 minutes to change planes, but now we'd have less than a half hour. We made it! When we got to the gate everyone was already on the plane, so we just walked up with our boarding pass, which we got here in San Francisco, and got right on.
We had an uneventful flight of just under 8 hours. We had dinner and then I watched "Shrek2". We had individual screens at our seat and were able to choose whatever movie, TV show or audio we wanted from the directory. After the movie I got some off and on sleep. Bill slept some too, but I don't think he slept as much as I did. Before landing, they served us breakfast.
Thursday, August 5:
We arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport right on time at 11:25 am. We got in line for immigration and that moved right along fairly quickly. When we got to the immigration man, all he wanted to know was how long we'd be in the European Union and where we'd be traveling. He stamped our passports and said "Have a nice visit."
We went to Baggage Claim 12 and waited and waited as bags came out and people picked them up, and more bags came out and they got picked up, but ours were not among them. Oh no! Did our bags miss our flight in Detroit? When no more bags came out, we went to the baggage office window. The woman looked at our claim checks, called someone on her radio, and said to go back to Baggage Claim 12. Our bags should be there now. They were! What happened to them and why they didn't come out with the others, we don't know, but we sure were happy that they made it!
We passed through another check point and we were out in the main airport. We both got 200 euros from the cash machine and then looked for the train to Amsterdam's Centraal Station. We found the train and the ticket machines, and thanks to the help of some homeless guy, who was helping a lot of people for tips, we got our tickets. I gave him a euro. It was worth it! We were supposed to call John so he could meet us when we got there, but the train left in just a few minutes, so we got the train and then called him when we got to Centraal Station. What a mess that was. We were calling his cell phone... which cost more than a regular call. The sign on the phone said 65 cents, but that didn't work. We checked at a nearby money exchange and phone ticket office and all they sold were 5 euro phone cards. We tried again... this time putting in 2 euros. It worked!
We had to wait about 10 to 15 minutes for John then followed him back to his apartment. He showed us around and we settled in. We spent the afternoon visiting with John out on the patio then had dinner.
I got really sleepy, so about 9 pm we went to bed. It'd been a looooong day!
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