Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Traveling Hillbilly Goes to the Theater

Well the Traveling Hillbilly went to the theater twice today! How cultured am I? My friends and I had talked about seeing Grease while we were in London. We figured we had to see at least one show.

Turns out one of my friends knew of a place where you can buy “half-price” tickets the day of the show if they still have seats available. So we got up this morning to check it out. First of all, I can’t believe how many shows are playing here, several of which I have seen, but many that I would still like to see.

After some discussion and texting, we decided to stick to Grease. We were in luck, we were able to secure great center seats for ₤37 (these seats normally go for ₤60). So while they weren’t quite half price, they were still a great deal.

As we walk away from the ticket center, we happen to notice there is a couple of theaters right around us. There are two things showing we really want to see, Sherlock Holmes and Avatar. Okay, so that’s not the kind of theater you were thinking but it is called a theater. We hated to spend our first day at movies, but it was so cold and wet outside and Sherlock Holmes was starting very soon so we decided to head in.

The Traveling Hillbilly will post reviews of shows soon!

Eating My Way Through London

So I’ve heard the food is not so good in London, which I was actually excited about. After eating so much in Amsterdam, I was kind of looking forward to some bad food which would cut down on my eating. Well if my first dinner experience is any indication of what the food will be like, then I’m really in trouble.

We meet up with some friends for dinner our first night in London. We meet at a little Italian place called Sale e Pepe in the Knightsbridge area. I started with a baked eggplant and mozzarella appetizer. Most of you may not know this, but the Traveling Hillbilly loves eggplant, except when I make it myself. Anyway, it was delicious and so was the main course, Penne Arrabbiata. Dinner was great and I was glad to see we were all passing on dessert, finally a step in the right direction. However, a few folks decided to have coffee or after dinner drinks. Not only did Sale e Pepe have Sambuca, my favorite after dinner drink, but they had black Sambuca! I had to indulge.

Fabulous food, terrific cocktails and excellent company, all in all a great first night in London!

Eating My Way Through Amsterdam

So Amsterdam is a complete melting pot when it comes to food. So far I’ve had Indonesian, Italian and Argentinean. I hear they have great Chinese food as well. My friends and I even had some great fondue in a little fondue restaurant near the red light district. It was a very quaint little place, the service was great, the fondue was wonderful and I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me. So sorry for that! Aside from the breakfast at the Pancake Corner, all the meals have been great. The one thing I have not had since I’ve been here, is true Dutch food. There are at least three Argentinean Steakhouses, four Italian/Pizza places and at least one Chinese Restaurant on every block, but you don’t really see any restaurants touting, “Dutch” food. So after four days in Amsterdam, The Traveling Hillbilly has not sampled any Dutch food. Well unless of course you count an Apple Tart and a Chocolate Covered Waffle (well waffles), both are sold everywhere around the city and both are delicious! Oh and there was also the quick sandwich grabbed at the train station. The Traveling Hillbilly highly recommends the chocolate covered waffles on your next visit to Amsterdam!

The last time I was in Amsterdam, I had the best gyro ever! Now granted that was many years ago, but I still remember it fondly. I really wanted to try one again but sadly did not get the chance on this trip. Well I guess I’ll just have to come back for that!

Monday, December 28, 2009

So Much for a Free Trip

Well the airfare and hotel may not have cost me anything, but everything else is. It's been a long time since the Traveling Hillbilly has been somewhere were the dollar is not strong. Even a breakfast of eggs and toast for three was like $55

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Full Day of Fun

Day one in Amsterdam. We got a late start but managed to squeeze in the floating flower market, a canal cruise, the science museum, a stroll through the red light disctrict and a few cocktails to finish the day off. We went to a great little fondue place in the red light district. All in all a good first day. But it's after 2ma so the Traveling Hillbilly must sleep now.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A White Christmas!

After a very long journey and a very uncomfortably warm flight on Virgin Atlantic. We arrived in Heathrow. We had 2 1/2 hours to get through customs, check in and get through security to catch the flight to Amsterdam. We thought that would be plenty of time. We were wrong, they were closing the gate as we approached and we barely made our flight. But we did. And as we start our descent into Amsterdam, we see snow on the ground. This is the Traveling Hillbilly's first white Christmas in a long, long time.

The Traveling Hillbilly wishes you all a very Merry Christmas, even though it's almost over here in Amsterdam.

Europe for Free, Well Almost

So it’s the holidays and my office just happens to be closed from Christmas to New Year’s, so what’s a Traveling Hillbilly to do? Well travel, of course.

So you hear all the time about how people fly to these great places “all on points.” I’ve heard about some supposedly great trips that were all paid points or miles. Are these stories really true or are they just urban legends? Can you really have a great vacation using only airlines miles or reward points? The Traveling Hillbilly decided to test this theory out and share the experience of this supposedly “free” vacation with all my fellow travelers.

First task – Decide on a Destination
How about Amsterdam and London during the holidays? This is where all those American Express and Starwood points from all my prior travels should start to come in handy. I hop online to see if I can really book flights from LA to Amsterdam and London during the holidays without forking over a fortune. The Traveling Hillbilly finds success! LA to London round trip, on Virgin no less (one of the Traveling Hillbilly’s favorites) then roundtrip from London to Amsterdam, all paid with American Express points. Gotta love two RT international tickets and no big bill to pay!

Next up- Find a place to stay. I hop on to to look for Starwood hotels. Unfortunately no good Starwood options in Amsterdam. But, how about five (5) nights in London at Le Meridien, Piccadilly for free? Can’t beat that! So far the Traveling Hillbilly is off to a good start. Maybe these stories really aren’t urban legends after all.

So how will this all play out? Will the Traveling Hillbilly get bumped from an oversold plane? Or will I arrive at the hotel only to find, there really isn’t a room available? Only time will tell and you’ll have to follow the adventures here at to find out!