Updated: Jun 29, 2022
I am halfway through my three-week trip in The Netherlands.
I used to be here in Holland all the time for work when I lived in London and worked with my client Philips.
When I traveled for business, I was always rushing from one meeting to the next. When I would come from the States, the jetlag would finally be gone by the time I had to head back to America.
Now I can really take my time and enjoy exploring all of the different parts of the country. So far, I have mainly been in the Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht areas.
Next week will bring more adventures in different parts of the country, and I will write about that in my next post.
As I have tried to live like a local while I am here, I have noticed three poignant things about Europe so far.
1. Prices are VERY reasonable
While flights may now be more expensive due to high fuel prices arising from the war in the Ukraine, I booked my flight in November for $500 round-trip. I am staying with friends for the majority of the time here; however, even for the few nights when I am staying in a hotel or in an Airbnb, the cost per night is about $100.
European vacations used to be a luxury; however, now with the euro so weak versus the dollar, many items are quite affordable. Fine dining meals are approximately $40 per person, and items at the grocery store are comparable to my HEB in Westlake Hills at home.
Furthermore, most European cities are eminently walkable, alleviating the need for Ubers or taxis.
Last month, I spent three days in Miami for Spring Break. You can find the review of my trip here.
I can tell you that Miami is three times more expensive than here in The Netherlands.
There is one item that is more expensive in Europe - gas, which brings me to my next point.
2. Europe is experiencing the SAME economic and labor situation as we are in the States
High prices at the gas pump are not the only similarity between Europe and the US. A week before I arrived, The Netherlands dropped many of its COVID-related restrictions.
For instance, arriving visitors only need to provide their proof of vaccination status; no COVID tests are needed prior to arrival (although I will need to take a COVID test to get back to the US).
Cafés and restaurants are crowded. Museums are thriving as well. I have not needed to show my vaccine card even once. One rarely sees people wearing masks.
Also, it has been hard to go anywhere without seeing help wanted signs.
It seems that every industry (not just hospitality) is short on workers. Similar to my hometown of Austin, Texas, The Netherlands' seasonally adjusted unemployment was 3.4 percent in February 2022. With the economy opening up, Europe is also finding it hard to attract and retain its workforce.
That being said, service levels appear to be similar to my prior European visits.
3. Overnight flights to Europe are still SUCKY
I flew United Airlines through Houston over to Amsterdam. My cheap airfare bought me Basic Economy, which may make many of you shudder. However, I had my own row with three seats in the middle of the plane. The 10-hour flight left at 5pm (which was midnight Central European Time), so I should have had plenty of time to sleep.
I turned on the video on demand system (which was the highlight of the flight) to catch up on some Oscar films I had not yet seen. A light dinner (which they said was chicken) was served and the lights went out. Seven hours still to go - should be all good, right?
I laid down across the three seats and was thinking I was sitting pretty. However, I could not fall asleep. One hour went by. Two hours went by. Then three.
I finally got about two hours of sleep before the lights went on for breakfast an hour and a half before arrival.
Thank goodness the coffee over here in Holland is amazing. It took me a few days to finally get over the jetlag.
Here are some pictures of the highlights so far:
Tulip fields near the Keukenhof
Stay tuned for next week's article on my trip to The Netherlands, and I wish all of you an amazing week ahead.
Tot Ziens as they say here in Holland!