Gwendolyn Toth

Gwendolyn Toth is the director of the New York City-based early music ensemble, ARTEK, and a soloist on early keyboards (organ, harpsichord, fortepiano). She is married to harpsichordist Dongsok Shin, and they have three children.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Back in blog land: Trip to Europe, summer 2013

Dear friends,
It's true - other than posting some recent videos, I have not made a lot of blog posts in the past year. However! Thanks to my trusty iphone and other modern tools, it's become a bit easier to keep up with things. So - if you're interested in reading about some historical organs and my travels in Europe this summer, you've come to the right place.

I left New York City (blistering, hot New York City) on July 10 and arrived in Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on August 11. Made my way to the convenient train station right in the airport. Aha.

For those of you who have not recently traveled in Europe, everyone here uses a card called a "chip and pin". In recent years it has become ever more troublesome to not have one of these. But, your Amnerican bank doesn't offer one of these. Some even SAY they do but they are chip and signature. Not a lot of help when the machine says "enter your PIN". These are absolutely essential for gas (especially at night), train stations, and many other purchases, where anything else is simply not accepted.

I was aware of this and applied for one from one of the TWO credit unions in the US that offer one of these. However, I waited a bit too long before leaving and even by paying through the nose for an expedited car, I could only get it within 5-7 business days. Grrr. (I'm happy to say it did arrive 3 days after I left & will be coming with Dongsok).

At the Schiphol train station, there are machines. Used to be my Amex would work in these. No longer. Not my debit card or Mastercard/Visa cards. Nope. (Nor could I order tickets from my computer before leaving: that requires a European credit card, too. No Paypal or Cirrus or one of those other American credit card networks.) No, these machines only take a Dutch Chip-card, one that's a debit card tied to railway ticket purchasing. (Oh, some take coins. Since I just got my Euro bills out of the bank machine, this wasn't a particularly attractive option either, for 48 Euros worth of tickets).

So I had to go to the ticket window where TO MY SHOCK they no longer accept Amex! What is the world coming to? CASH only for us Americans. And yes a $3.50 Euro charge for the privilege of being at a window and paying in Euro bills.

OK the best part of arriving was that the weather was a cool 62 or so degrees...sweater time. They predict a "heat wave" starting July 15, when temperatures here in Netherlands might actually make it up to 75 degrees.

Once again, just like every other year, I think, "Why didn't I bring my fingerless gloves?"

No comments:

Post a Comment