Chip-and-PIN cards preferred in Netherlands. SE Asia cruise-tour and Siem Reap café. Grindelwald apartment. Laundromat in Harwich.

This item appears on page 4 of the December 2012 issue.
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REPORT ON NETHERLANDS

The information about using ATM and credit cards with embedded chips for travel in Europe didn’t register with me before a trip in August-September 2012.

My husband, Ray, and I had no problem buying a train ticket in Copenhagen at the station or using our non-chip (magnetic-strip) cards in Norway or Sweden, but when we arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport our luck stopped. Neither the ATM machine, the manned GWK Travelex money-exchange booth nor the train ticket office would take our cards. Fortunately, we had a little cash and were able to purchase our train tickets.

The next day I tried a bank, an ATM and a money exchange in Lelystad with no luck. I was told at the money exchange that the Netherlands had completely switched over to using cards with chips, though there might be a small bank a few hours away that would accept my cards. Fortunately, our Dutch friends gave us a loan.

The next time I go I will take cash and a chip-and-PIN card.

On our way home, the duty-free liquor shop at Schiphol did accept our nonchip card.

Marilyn Santiago, Port Angeles, WA

REPORT ON SOUTHEAST ASIA

I went to Vietnam and Cambodia with Viking River Cruises (800/304-9616), Aug. 30-Sept. 15, 2012, and it was a great trip.

Two of Viking’s guides were excellent. In Vietnam, Mr. Do Nguyen Xuan Khai (we called him Kai) was knowledgeable, organized and very kind. I have the same recommendation for Sim Piseth in Cambodia.

I found the trip very interesting and really life changing, but it is not for everyone. The heat and humidity coupled with the mostly difficult walking conditions means that a traveler needs to be in fairly good health.

In Siem Reap, the Nest Angkor Café Restaurant (phone +885 63 966 381) on Sivutha Boulevard was great. (Entrées run $5-$15.)

Judy Faitek, San Diego, CA

REPORT ON SWITZERLAND

Four of us rented the apartment Zen Boimen (Regenmattenstrasse 45, 3818 Grindelwald, Switzerland; phone +41 33 853 31 33, fax 853 31 47 or e-mail hansotto.bohren@bluewin.ch), Sept. 5-12, 2012, through the Jungfrau regional marketing website (click on “4-star,” then scroll to “Zen Boimen”).

Near Interlaken, it’s located in Grindelwald, in the Jungfrau area of the Bernese Oberland. Our rental car came in handy since the train station was not within walking distance. We paid $530 for four nights.

We were pleasantly surprised by the beauty and by the comfort and value we received. This 2-bedroom apartment (second floor of a house) was spacious and well equipped and had the Eiger and other mountain peaks for a backdrop.

The hosts, Heidy and Hans-Otto Bohren, were loving, friendly and helpful.

Sharad Kumar, Oakland Township, MI

REPORT ON THE UK…

What to do with your laundry when you don’t want to pay the high prices a cruise ship charges? If your cruise includes the port town of Harwich, ENGLAND, as mine did in July ’12, I recommend Kingsway Laundry (50 Kingsway, Dovercourt, Harwich, CO12 3JR, U.K.; phone +44 1255 502814).

It takes UK coins only; friendly, helpful staff will make change. Laundry detergent is available for purchase, but it’s cheaper to bring your own.

To get from the port to downtown, you can take either the train (once per hour) or a bus (several choices) and it will cost about £2 ($3). At the port, the bus stop is at the train station, which is adjacent to the cruise ship embarkation building.

Train tickets can be purchased at the station from an agent or a machine. Each bus stop, in addition to having a route map, has an electronic board showing the next three buses to arrive (i.e., “Bus 222 arriving in three minutes”). Bus fare is paid to the driver; change is provided.

Kingsway is the main street in town. Total travel time there by either method is 10 minutes. The walk to the laundry from the train station is three minutes or from the bus stop, two minutes.

A block away from Kingsway Laundry is a library with free WiFi and free public computers. Don’t leave your laundry unattended, but you can do both errands of emptying your laundry bag and cleaning up your e-mail inbox within a block of each other.

Cynthia Rignanese, Winter Haven, FL

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

REPORT ON NETHERLANDS

The information about using ATM and credit cards with embedded chips for travel in Europe didn’t register with me before a trip in August-September 2012.

My husband, Ray, and I had no problem buying a train ticket in Copenhagen at the station or using our non-chip (magnetic-strip) cards in Norway or Sweden, but when we arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport our luck stopped. Neither the ATM machine, the manned GWK Travelex money-exchange booth nor the train ticket office would take our cards. Fortunately, we had a little cash and were able to purchase our train tickets.

The next day I tried a bank, an ATM and a money exchange in Lelystad with no luck. I was told at the money exchange that the Netherlands had completely switched over to using cards with chips, though there might be a small bank a few hours away that would accept my cards. Fortunately, our Dutch friends gave us a loan.

The next time I go I will take cash and a chip-and-PIN card.

On our way home, the duty-free liquor shop at Schiphol did accept our nonchip card.

Marilyn Santiago, Port Angeles, WA

REPORT ON SOUTHEAST ASIA

I went to Vietnam and Cambodia with Viking River Cruises (800/304-9616), Aug. 30-Sept. 15, 2012, and it was a great trip.

Two of Viking’s guides were excellent. In Vietnam, Mr. Do Nguyen Xuan Khai (we called him Kai) was knowledgeable, organized and very kind. I have the same recommendation for Sim Piseth in Cambodia.

I found the trip very interesting and really life changing, but it is not for everyone. The heat and humidity coupled with the mostly difficult walking conditions means that a traveler needs to be in fairly good health.

In Siem Reap, the Nest Angkor Café Restaurant (phone +885 63 966 381) on Sivutha Boulevard was great. (Entrées run $5-$15.)

Judy Faitek, San Diego, CA

REPORT ON SWITZERLAND

Four of us rented the apartment Zen Boimen (Regenmattenstrasse 45, 3818 Grindelwald, Switzerland; phone +41 33 853 31 33, fax 853 31 47 or e-mail hansotto.bohren@bluewin.ch), Sept. 5-12, 2012, through the Jungfrau regional marketing website (click on “4-star,” then scroll to “Zen Boimen”).

Near Interlaken, it’s located in Grindelwald, in the Jungfrau area of the Bernese Oberland. Our rental car came in handy since the train station was not within walking distance. We paid $530 for four nights.

We were pleasantly surprised by the beauty and by the comfort and value we received. This 2-bedroom apartment (second floor of a house) was spacious and well equipped and had the Eiger and other mountain peaks for a backdrop.

The hosts, Heidy and Hans-Otto Bohren, were loving, friendly and helpful.

Sharad Kumar, Oakland Township, MI

REPORT ON THE UK…

What to do with your laundry when you don’t want to pay the high prices a cruise ship charges? If your cruise includes the port town of Harwich, ENGLAND, as mine did in July ’12, I recommend Kingsway Laundry (50 Kingsway, Dovercourt, Harwich, CO12 3JR, U.K.; phone +44 1255 502814).

It takes UK coins only; friendly, helpful staff will make change. Laundry detergent is available for purchase, but it’s cheaper to bring your own.

To get from the port to downtown, you can take either the train (once per hour) or a bus (several choices) and it will cost about £2 ($3). At the port, the bus stop is at the train station, which is adjacent to the cruise ship embarkation building.

Train tickets can be purchased at the station from an agent or a machine. Each bus stop, in addition to having a route map, has an electronic board showing the next three buses to arrive (i.e., “Bus 222 arriving in three minutes”). Bus fare is paid to the driver; change is provided.

Kingsway is the main street in town. Total travel time there by either method is 10 minutes. The walk to the laundry from the train station is three minutes or from the bus stop, two minutes.

A block away from Kingsway Laundry is a library with free WiFi and free public computers. Don’t leave your laundry unattended, but you can do both errands of emptying your laundry bag and cleaning up your e-mail inbox within a block of each other.

Cynthia Rignanese, Winter Haven, FL