We knew we wanted to do as much traveling as possible while we lived in NL. We’re in a great location geographically and many places of interest are very close. I currently have a list of 31 places that we want to see (the list keeps growing). We’ve been to 13 of them in six countries so far. 😀
Travel expenses are a monthly budget item and I think we’ve done a good job staying within our means. I get a monthly allowance for gas, so car travel is very inexpensive. Area stores offer discount train tickets from time to time and we take advantage of that. We’ve gotten tickets for as little as €13 round trip. The tickets can be used for travel anywhere in NL. We’ve taken the train to Amsterdam, Utrecht and Nijmegen. Air travel within Europe is pretty inexpensive. We can fly many places for under €50, if we book early enough. Once we’re in the city, we usually walk everywhere. It’s the best way to see everything and we get some exercise. The only exception was London where we bought Oyster cards and used the Tube. We took a taxi for the first time in Pisa from the airport to our hotel – well worth the €13 fare to get through a maze of streets in the dark. 🚕
I use booking.com for hotels and get good rates for places off the beaten path. We always book a place that includes free breakfast. Europeans don’t skimp on breakfast! The breakfast buffet in Florence was huge (only half of it is pictured below). We’re not too picky about the accommodation as long as it’s clean, comfortable and quiet. The room we had in London was tiny and stuffy, but it was in a good location. When we walked into our room in Pisa, we saw two single beds. I thought I had booked a double? Oh well, for one night it didn’t really matter to us. Dick opened the door to what he thought was the bathroom and found another room with a queen bed. So we had a family suite for the two of us. The hotel was old and shabby, but it was pretty clean and the bed was comfy. The B&B in Haarlem had a fairly large room with nice light, but we had to share the bathroom with the owner and other guests. That was different!
We typically seek out street vendors for lunch or have a light meal at a cafe. We always try to have a nice dinner because we want to experience the cuisine! We have rarely been disappointed. The only bad meal I can think of was a French dinner in Equisheim. Food is one of our biggest expenses.
We bought museum cards for NL. It costs €60 for the year and it can be used at virtually every museum in the country. It’s a good value! In other countries, we’ve picked one or two museums that we really want to spend time in. Museum admission is typically around €12. In Brugge we got a discount museum card from our hotel and in Florence we went to the Uffizi when it was free (first Sunday of the month). We do self-guided or free walking tours, which are a lot of fun. We avoid the people with headphones following the guide waving a flag. 😬 There are tours with practically every mode of transportation (bike, Vespa, horse & buggy, scooter, trolley, etc), but the only one that’s made sense to us so far was the canal boat tour in Amsterdam.
Shopping is a must for me, but I’m mostly a browser. We don’t buy kitschy souvenirs or tee shirts. We bought wine glasses in Alsace and beer glasses in Brugge, which we use (in moderation!) and don’t display. I’m a sucker for scarves and have added several to my collection. I wear them a lot. Dick got a really nice leather jacket for a great price in Florence.
Our biggest challenge is going to be time. I have lots of vacation time and Dick’s schedule is flexible, but there are still limits to how frequently we can travel. Believe it or not, we like to stay home and have some down time on occasional weekends! We’re going to the US for the holidays and we’re not likely to travel during the coldest months of January and February. In the spring, we hope to be hosts and tour guides to visiting family.
Hey, it’s a good problem to have and we’ll make the best of it. We are so grateful for this opportunity to see more of our world!