Philipsburg, St Maarten
I blew it completely. We were on Eastern time on the ship, and no one mentioned that the time in St. Maarten was different. It didn't occur to me to ask, so when we showed up for our 10:00 a.m. tour, we discovered that we'd missed the tour completely! Lesson learned. If I ever book a shore excursion through Viator in the future, I will be sure to ask the right questions.
Great afternoon outing from Amsterdam. We traveled on a comfortable bus with a female guide who seemed to switch effortlessly among 5 languages. We appreciated the opportunity to wander around on our own to view different types of historic windmills and visit the shops at Zaanse Schans. Delightful grounds and restored homes. Then it was on to Delft, where we thoroughly enjoyed the lovely town square and exploration of the scenic nearby lanes, as well as a visit to one of the 2 remaining Delft pottery factories (fulfilled a long-held desire for a genuine Delft plate). Our tour of The Hague was done strictly by coach, but that was fine with us. We definitely got a good overview of the government buildings, embassies, Peace Palace, and the International Court of Justice. A few of my photos were problematic, but fortunately our last stop was at Madurodam, where I got great pictures of several of the same buildings--only these buildings were 1:25 scale model replicas! We had about an hour to view famous Dutch castles, churches, public buildings, and transportation systems. There was even a great model of Schiphol Airport with miniature planes that moved around the tarmac.The drive back to Amsterdam was quick and pleasant. All in all, we had a marvelous time and felt that the excursion was well worth the money.
It was fortunate that we had a one-day ticket with a second-day bonus. We arrived in Miami Beach on a Saturday morning, intending to catch the HOHO bus from the stop in front of the Fontainebleau that afternoon. We arrived 20 minutes earlier than the schedule indicated, but after 45 minutes we began to worry. I called the the tour operator office and was told that the bus was running a bit late due to a South Beach festival that had traffic tied up. We waited another 20 minutes and gave up. We walked back to our hotel, which was on the bus route. We never saw a bus.
Fortunately, the next morning we were able to catch the first bus of the morning and had a personable young guide. We got off at Vizcaya and at Bayshore Park but remained on the bus for the remainder of the trip. The bus never stopped at the pick up locations unless someone was standing directly under the sign . . . We learned that even if we stood there, we had to wave frantically to get the driver's attention. We enjoyed the tour, but we found it a bit nerve-wracking.
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