Amsterdam

I try to choose the shortest, non-stop flights when traveling with one of my dogs.  Over the last year, I’ve made several trips through Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and found it especially well suited to traveling with pets.

Hilton Schiphol from the Airport Park

Schiphol Airport features a spacious park just outside the arrivals area, providing welcome relief after an overnight flight.  There are also several excellent hotels connected to the airport by indoor walkways.

 

On our most recent trip, we took the train directly from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station.  There are several trains an hour and it only takes 15 to 20 minutes.  Dogs are allowed on Amsterdam trams, buses and the metro free of charge.  If you are traveling by train with a large dog, you may need to pay for a 3 euro “day card”.

From the station, we only had to walk a block to get to our accommodation at the Eric Vökel Amsterdam Suites.  The staff greeted us warmly and even upgraded us to an apartment with a patio so Louis could hang out in the sun.  Booking.com lists the property as pet-friendly but you should contact the property directly if you would like to bring a dog.

Louis on Zavi

Our first afternoon we took a canal cruise with Captain Brian on his boat Zavi.  We booked the 90-minute cruise online at Boat Trips by Locals.  Tickets prices are:

Adult: €25, per person
Youth: €16, per person
Dogs: €14, per dog

Dutch Costume Photo Studio

For a fun souvenir, Louis and I posed for a picture at the Dutch Costume Photo Studio.  Dogs are allowed and they even have a special costume if they want to dress up.  Louis passed on the outfit but did enjoy chewing on the props!

Meeting locals at Vondelpark

After posing patiently for photos, I figured Louis might want to blow off some steam.  We hopped on the Tram to explore some of the 120 acre, Vondelpark.  Dogs are allowed off-leash and will find no shortage of pups to play with.

Sampling Poffertjes (mini pancakes)

Almost all restaurants and shops in Amsterdam seem to allow dogs.  Unless there is a “no dogs” sticker on the door it’s worth asking.  Please check out my Pet-Friendly Amsterdam map for suggestions.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed the highlights of our visit to Amsterdam! In our next blog entry, I’ll show you some fun things to do with dogs in other parts of the Netherlands.

EU Health Certificates

I’m often asked what documents are required in order to bring a dog from the USA to Europe.  For most of the EU (not including the UK, Ireland, Malta or Norway*) it’s easy!  Just be sure to closely follow the USDA’s timeline and your dog won’t be subjected to any kind of quarantine.

The best place to start is on the USDA APHIS website. Requirements can change without warning but here are the basic steps I’ve followed for my trips to France, Germany & Holland over the last 5 years:

  1. MICROCHIP – Your dog must be implanted with an ISO compliant (15 digit) microchip.  If your dog has an older, non-compliant chip, you should plan to travel with the appropriate microchip reader.  Customs agents may ask to see proof of your dog’s microchip but won’t necessarily have a machine that can read ones that aren’t ISO compliant.  You can buy or rent microchip readers at PetTravelStore.com.
  2. RABIES VACCINATION – This must be administered After microchipping (can be done the same day). Rabies vaccinations valid for 1, 2 or 3 years are allowed as it is current at the time of arrival in the EU.  If this is your dog’s first rabies vaccination or the previous vaccination has expired,  you must wait 21 days before entering the EU.
  3. HEALTH CERTIFICATE – Download the EU Health Certificate for your specific country of entry.  This form must be filled out by a USDA Accredited Veterinarian within 10 days of entering the EU.  If your regular vet doesn’t have this special accreditation, please contact the regional coordinator for your area.  They will help put you in touch with a local vet who is.
  4. ENDORSEMENT – Send the completed health certificate and appropriate fee to your area’s APHIS Service Office for endorsement.  I recommend shipping by a tracked overnight service. The address and fee information can be found by clicking here.

Click here to see Louis’ Completed Health Certificate from our trip to France in September 2016.

Be prepared to present your dog’s endorsed health certificate and have the microchip scanned upon arrival in the EU.  The honest truth is that these Customs desks are rarely manned and most likely you will just be able to walk through.  It is still essential that you have the Health Certificate when you return to the USA.  If you are gone for more than 4 months or the rabies vaccination expires while you are away you may need to visit a local veterinarian for additional documentation.

It is still essential that you have the Health Certificate when you return to the USA.  If you are gone for more than 4 months or the rabies vaccine expires while you are away you may need to visit a local veterinarian for additional documentation.  You will still need to show the Health Certificate at US customs at your point of entry into the US.  It is valid for 4 months as long as the rabies vaccination hasn’t expired.

*If you want to visit the UK, Ireland, Finland, Malta, or Norway you will need to visit a veterinarian in another EU country first. This vet will administer a tapeworm treatment and record the information in the health certificate you had issued in the United States. The treatment must be administered between 1 and 5 days before entry.  It is an additional step but still easy if you carefully follow the timeline.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or just need a little encouragement!  

 

 

 

Paris Restaurants #1

I think it’s safe to say that more restaurants in Paris allow dogs than forbid them.  Here are just a few special places where I have enjoyed dining with a dog:

** Le Grand Vefour  17, rue de Beaujolais, 75001

I have seen a listing for this Michelin starred restaurant that implies dogs are not allowed but we found it to be very dog-friendly. They even served Tara her own Haute Cusine meal!

Le Dali 228, rue de Rivoli, 75001

Alain Ducasse’s more “casual” restaurant in pet-friendly, Le Meurice Hotel.  Dogs are provided with their own bowl of water.

 

 

Angelina 226, rue de Rivoli, 75001

The home of the famous Mont Blanc pastry allows dogs in its Salon de Thé.

 

 

Le Bouledogue 20, rue Rambuteau, 75003

A must for any French Bulldog owner!  The owners’ Frenchie may even greet you.

Brasserie Lipp 151, blvd Saint-Germain 75006

Ignore the old signs, the French always do!

 

Cafe de Flore 172, blvd Saint-Germain 75006

Great for people and puppy watching!

 

Les Deux Magots 6, Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006

Another left bank institution.

 

 **Atelier de Joël Robuchon 5, rue de Montalembert, 75007

For a once in a lifetime experience try the chef’s 11-course tasting menu!

 

 

We’ll always have Paris

Jardin de Tuileries, Paris

I’m heading to Paris next week but sadly have to leave Louis at home.  In future posts, I plan to share some the things we did during our trip there in 2016.  That was not my first time visiting Paris with a dog, however.  In 2013 I had the pleasure of traveling to France with my first French Bulldog, Tara.

Château Frontenac, Quebec City

Tara had always seemed to genuinely enjoy traveling.  She relished the attention she got staying at pet-friendly hotels all over the US.  We had even spent some time exploring Quebec, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

 

 

 

For years I had dreamed of taking Tara to Europe.  I had read that France was especially pet-friendly and that dogs there are allowed in restaurants and even more shops than in America. Finally, as her 13th birthday approached I realized it was time to make the dream reality.

Tara was still in excellent health but naturally slowing down with age.  I wanted to make the trip as comfortable as possible so I booked us on non-stop Business Class flights with Air France.  Emotional Support Animals are exempt from airline weight limits and cabin restrictions.  If you plan to travel with your own pet, be sure to check with the airline regarding their policies.

We were scheduled to arrive in Paris on her birthday so I reserved a special hotel for her first night.  Le Meurice has a history of providing luxury accommodations to people and their pets.  Their logo even features “Pistache”, a stray Greyhound that took up residence during the hotel’s turn of the century renovations.

Outside the Louvre Museum

I had arranged to have a dog stroller shipped to the hotel so we were able to go out exploring right away.  Tara stretched her legs in the Jardin de Tuileries, one of the few parks in Paris where dogs are allowed (although never on the grass).  She also posed in front of the Louvre and visited some luxurious shops along Faubourg Saint Honore.

When we returned to our room we found someone had brought in a tray especially for Tara.  It featured quiche with a birthday candle and a golden dog tag with her name on it.  I will always treasure the memories of that day!

The Soho Grand – NYC

The Soho Grand Hotel has promoted itself as pet-friendly from the very start.  Perhaps not surprising, seeing as it is owned by Leonard and Edward Stern of pet supply giant, Hartz Mountain Industries.  It was one of the first boutique hotels to offer special pet amenities like loaner beds and bowls.  Guests who have left their pet at home can even borrow a goldfish to keep them company!

Soho Grand Dog Park

Their latest (and greatest) pet amenity is the Soho Grand Dog Park. The beautifully designed park features stone and astro-turf areas with benches and even a fire hydrant fountain.  Hotel guests are able to access the park from sunrise until 9:00 daily using their room key.  It’s a major perk if you have a dog who is uncomfortable relieving themselves on the city streets.

Soho is a great neighborhood to explore with dogs.  Most boutiques welcome leashed pets.  If you are interested in going to a Broadway show or visiting a museum, doggie daycare and grooming are offered just a few blocks away at Pup Culture.

 

Trying to keep warm at Cipriani.

When Louis and I visited in February we did have some trouble finding pet-friendly places to eat.   was one of the few places that offered seating on a heated patio. Thankfully, the Soho Grand will also allow you to order food and sit in the hotel’s bustling lounge area.

 

 

Santa Monica & Venice Beach

If your dog dreams of hanging 20 with the surfers in Venice & Santa Monica he may be disappointed, however, if their dreams involve, shopping in funky boutiques and dining at upscale restaurants these areas definitely deliver!

Venice Beach Boardwalk

Many are surprised to learn that dogs are never allowed on Santa Monica or Venice Beaches.  As profiled in a previous post, you’ll have to visit the city of Long Beach to find a pet-friendly beach in LA County.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go!  Over the years I’ve had enjoyable visits to the area with both Louis and my first Frenchie, Tara.

Sunset from the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.

In 2015 Tara and I spent several nights at the perfectly located Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel.  Like all Loews hotels, the Santa Monica property offers the “Loews Loves Pets” program.  Benefits vary by location but may include treats, name tags, loaner bowls, and beds.  Loews even offers a room service menu, especially for pets!

Our room at Loews had an amazing view of the iconic Santa Monica Pier.  It is within easy walking distance and leashed dogs are allowed to stroll with you on the pier.  There are numerous food vendors and unlimited people watching opportunities.

 

Another pet-friendly place to people watch is Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade.  There are many pet-friendly shops including Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and the Apple Store.  The Promenade leads to the more upscale Santa Monica Place shopping center.  Your dog can join you for shopping at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales and more.

Louis always likes to visit his namesake’s store

Located a short drive from Santa Monica, Venice offers a more laid-back, bohemian vibe.  While dogs are still not allowed on the sandy beach you can both check out the sights and sounds of the famous Boardwalk.  Watch street performers and artists rub elbows with muscle men and roller skaters in bikinis.  It can get a bit seedy at night but is good fun during daylight hours.

“International swimsuit model” Lisa on the Venice Boardwalk 

When I visited Venice with Louis this year we rented a great apartment through Airbnb.  It was located right off chic and trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard.  This mile-long street features independent boutiques stylish chain stores.  Most have water bowls in front but also allow dogs inside.  Louis especially enjoyed the biscuits at Modern Dog (1611 Abbot Kinney Blvd).

My favorite spot on Abbot Kinney is the Toms Flagship Store (1344 Abbot Kinney Blvd). At Toms, you and your pup can shop for shoes and accessories or just hang out and enjoy coffee and free wi-fi in the comfy lounge.

 

Cafe Gratitude

There are some excellent pet-friendly restaurants in the Venice / Santa Monica area. Louis and I had a delicious vegan dinner at Cafe Gratitude (512 Rose Ave. Venice). We also enjoyed meals with friends at Salt Air (1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd) and Coast at the luxurious Shutters on the Beach hotel (1 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica).

 

Next year I hope we can stay even more time in Venice and will report back with any new discoveries!

Long Beach, CA

For the last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of attending an extraordinary French Bulldog Meetup in Long Beach, CA.   The party takes place at Rosie’s Dog Beach, LA County’s ONLY beach where dogs are allowed off leash!  The 3 acre stretch of white sand runs between Argonne and Roycroft Avenues in the Belmont Shore neighborhood.  It is officially open from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm daily.  There is ample metered parking in the lot located just off Ocean Boulevard.

          

Long Beach has no shortage of restaurants that allow dogs on their patios.  It is quite a bit more difficult to find one that will allow 20 dogs at once.  After this year’s meetup, we gathered for lunch at Pier 76 Fish Grill.  The downtown location has a large gated patio.  Unfortunately, dogs have to be left outside while going inside to place and collect your order.  This wasn’t a problem with a group but it would keep me from eating there without someone to sit with Louis.

Louis and his friends on the patio at Pier 76 Fish Grill

The first 2 years I attended the California meetup we all went to lunch at Claire’s at the Museum afterward.   As you might have guessed Claire’s is located on the grounds of the Long Beach Museum of Art.  There is a large outdoor area with spectacular views of Catalina Island and the Queen Mary.  It’s a lot slower than Pier 76 but in my opinion, it’s worth the wait.

Brunch with a view at Claire’s at the Museum

Speaking of the Queen Mary, did you know that small dogs are welcome to spend the night in her historic staterooms? When I visited Long Beach in 2015 I stayed there with my 14-year-old Frenchie, Tara.  The Hotel Queen Mary allows 1 dog per room for an additional charge of $75.  I recommend asking for a room near the elevator so it’s easier to bring your pup outside.  The halls are very long!

Tara relaxing in her stateroom on the Queen Mary, February 2015

This year Louis and I chose to stay at the Hotel Current, a motel style property with pet-friendly rooms on the ground floor.  They allow 2 dogs per room for an additional charge of $50 per pet, per stay.  Behind the hotel, there is a pleasant residential neighborhood for short walks.  A fenced dog park can be found within the large “Recreation Park” located on the other side of Pacific Coast Highway.

We spent several nights at the Hotel Current while we visited with local friends.  One of our favorite activities was going to the Fashion Island shopping center in Newport Beach.  The center is very dog-friendly!  Many of the stores and restaurant patios welcome dogs.  We enjoyed a healthy (and surprisingly delicious) lunch at True Food Kitchen.

Dexter, Bella & Louis at Fashion Island

For more dog-friendly shopping and dining in Long Beach, Louis recommends the 2nd Street in the Belmont Shores.  His favorite spot was Pussy & Pooch.  This sleek boutique offers grooming services and even a “Pawbar” offering gourmet meals exclusively for pets!  There is a lot for a dog to love in Long Beach.  We’ll be back next year for sure!

Enjoying a drink a Pussy & Pooch’s Pawbar

Louis Goes to Hollywood

The Chateau Marmont in Hollywood has a rich history of accommodating pets.  Over the years the luxury hotel has hosted the pets of guests like Dorothy Parker, Roman Polanski, and  Phil Spector.    During our most recent trip to Los Angeles, Louis and I decided to join this notorious bunch.

The Chateau currently allows one dog per room for an additional fee of $150 per stay.   Louis seemed delighted to find a package of gourmet dog treats, several bowls and a roll of poop bags waiting in our room.  I enjoyed the plate of oranges and personalized stationery.

 

Our generously sized suite consisted of a full kitchen, dining room walk in closet and bath.  Hotelier André Balazs has carefully renovated the Chateau Marmont with modern amenities while maintaining it’s retro bohemian style.  It’s easy to see why some celebrities stay at the hotel for years at a time.

Dining Area
Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We both felt welcome wherever we went at Chateau Marmont. There were several other dogs we saw dining on the outdoor terrace. When I asked the hostess if it really was ok for him to sit next to me on the banquette, she said that it was actually “encouraged”!

By the pool
In the Lobby

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Chateau Marmont we were able to take the elevator directly from our guestroom floor to the ground level bypassing the lobby.  This was beneficial for late night potty breaks when I didn’t want to walk by the stylish bar area in my sweats.

Dining on the Terrace
Entrance to the garden terrace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of potty breaks, we didn’t see anyplace at the Chateau where Louis could do his business.  Instead, we walked up around the residential area behind the hotel.  There is also the excellent Willam S. Hart Off Leash Dog Park within walking distance.

View from Santa Monica Boulevard

I’m so glad we were able to splurge on a few nights at the Chateau Marmont.  According to the hotel’s website, standard rooms start at $435 but we got a much better rate making a last minute reservation through Booking.com.  I will definitely keep an eye on prices when planning my next trip to LA and encourage you to do the same!

MSP Airport

Whenever I arrive at a new airport my first order of business is finding a “pet relief area”.  These are generally available just outside the baggage claim area so he’s able to do his business before my bag even hits the carousel.  At MSP we arrived on Delta at Terminal 1 and seemed to walk forever before arriving at baggage claim.

We exited through door 1 and immediately saw signs pointing to the pet relief area.  We turned left and walked to the end of the sidewalk.  The relief area there was narrow and fenced in on three sides.  There were wood chips and some strategically placed rocks to encourage Louis.

Prior to our return flight, I did some more research and found out there was a pet relief area located airside (past security). These have been popping up in more and more airports and can be a godsend when you have a connection.  Although we were flying home nonstop, I decided to seek out this pet relief area after learning we would have a two-hour delay.

Apparently, the airside pet relief area used to require getting a key from the airport information desk.  I was delighted to learn this was no longer the case!  The pet relief area is centrally located right at the start of Concourse E.  To find it look for the Escape Lounge and turn under the stairs.  It is located at the end of the hallway past several restrooms and family areas.

 

 

 

 

The relief area contains a patch of artificial grass with a big red hydrant.  It was clean but smelled “well-used”.  There is a push button cleaning system, poop bags, and a sink. The only thing that might have made it more comfortable was a bench where I could sit while waiting for inspiration to strike Louis.

       

 

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Last month, Louis and I were excited to be invited to a birthday party for another French Bulldog in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Not only would we be able to visit some of our favorite Facebook friends but we’d also have an opportunity to check out a new city!

We decided to stay in the trendy Warehouse District at the brand new Hewing Hotel.  Originally a farm machinery warehouse, the Hewing now contains 124 luxurious rooms.  The hotel welcomes pets for a one-time fee of $75.

When I called to confirm their pet policy they had asked for a little info about Louis.  Upon check in I was delighted to see his name listed on a chalkboard with the other V. I. Pets in residence.

Louis loved the endless supply of dog biscuits and fresh water kept in the lobby.  I loved that he was able to hang out there with me while I enjoyed my morning coffee or had a bite to eat.

We were lucky to be visiting Minneapolis during a mild spring weekend when we could enjoy the patio seating at some of the cities pet-friendly restaurants.   Louis’ favorite seemed to be the Butcher & The Boar where we joined his friend Arnie for brisket and beer

Minnesotans take their beer very seriously!  There are more than 100 breweries in the state and many of them welcome dogs in their “taprooms”.   The birthday party we attended was held at Able Seedhouse & Brewery.  They don’t serve food but allowed us to bring in our own to enjoy with the beer.

Louis & I thoroughly enjoyed our weekend in Minneapolis!  If you are planning a visit with your own four-legged friend, you can find even more pet-friendly activities on the website Sidewalk Dog and Facebook group Dogs of MSP.   Cheers!