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Please make suggestions for our European trip

vacationlover2

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Hi all,

My hubby's company is based in the Netherlands. We will acccompany him on a week trip to his work then start our tour of Europe. We will probably stay a few days in Amsterdam, then go to his workplace of Eindhoven, then visit friends in Southern Germany.

Where else should we visit. After the work week, we will have 2 weeks. The German visit will be about 4 or 5 days. Should we do Paris?

Thanks!

It will be me, hubby, and 2 girls aged 7 and 10.
 

Gophesjo

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Do Paris

Certainly do Paris (make sure that you especially take in Saint Chapelle on the Ille de La Cite, near Notre Dame, and of course, the Eiffel Tower, Montmarte, etc., etc.), but also let me ask when you are going to Europe? These parts of western Europe are really more northerly than we all are accustomed to, and so, can be dark and gloomy in the winter time. I regularly visit France in January/February every year, and find that I have to re-acclimate myself to the early darkness.

Southwestern France - the Bordeaux area - is also wonderful, and significantly brighter as well. The castles of the Loire Valley between Paris and Bordeaux are quite a site as well, as are the cathedrals of Chartres and Reims.

Another favorite of mine is the Rhine Valley in SW Germany. You have Cologne and the Gothic Cathedral there, but you also have the Romanesque Cathedrals in a place like Mainz (where the Guttenburg Museum is as well), as well as the many castles up and down the river. That said, I wouldn't much bother with Frankfurt - as it is a rebuilt, rather than an original, city.

Don't forget the Anne Frank Huis Museum in Amsterdam - a real highlight.

Finally, if you are willing to go quite a bit further afield - Budapest is magnificent. It is a smaller city - very easy to navigate, with a wonderful metro system.

Enjoy your trip!
 
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Gophesjo

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PS

My most favorite accomodations ever were at a small bed and breakfast on the border of Luxembourg and Belgium. It was a combination restaurant / b&b. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name at the moment.:doh:
 

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Firenze! (Florence!) oh, la la

From wikipaedia:

Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance; it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages. A turbulent political history included periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, religious and republican revolution.
 

vacationlover2

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We have to go in summer when the kids are off school. I know it will probably be more expensive but the weather will be nicer. We will probably go in July 2013.
 

Gophesjo

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Fete de la musique

Every year in France on June 21 there is a national celebration called Festival of Music. Music and musicians everywhere! All over the streets in all of the cities. Any kind of music you want - it is absolutely wonderful, and since that day is the solstice, it is light out til 10 PM. After that time, the streets can get too crazy for kids, but before then it is a fantastic celebration well worth taking in. I know you said probably july, but I think Fete might be worth your considering.

I believe the French-speaking cities of Belgium and Switzerland also celebrate Fete.

Speaking of Switzerland - that country is summer is great. Often a little cooler due to the altitudes, it is a great summer stop. Lucerne, Zermatt, Zurich, Geneve, Bern, and the watchmaking towns of the French speaking part of the country are all fun.
 

beejaybeeohio

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If you wish to go to Paris you might want to rent an apartment for your family. I think there is a eurostar/thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris.

My best advice to you and your family is to take it slow. Spend a few nites in each location you wish to visit and don't try to see it all. Focus on a few countries within proximity of each other. Since you'll be in the Netherlands and want to visit Germany, consider adding Belgium & France or Austria & Switzerland. Save Italy for another time!

Driving in Europe is fine except for cities like Paris & Rome and a rental car provides lots of flexibility.

You have lots of lead time, so enjoy every moment of planning!
 

Carolinian

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One thing you need to consider is whether you are going to concentrate on cities or see the countryside. A rental car is very helpful for the latter but an expensive pain in the rear if you are spending much time in cities. Given your timeframe and existing commitments, I would concentrate on France and Germany.

I would concur as to Paris, and also see Versailles, an easy train trip from the city on a suburban train. The Loire Vally chateaux are also great, but you really need a car for that.

Between Germany and Paris is the Alsace-Lorraine, which which many quaint cities and towns, particularly Strassbourg and Colmar.
 

Gophesjo

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Don't forget Nancy, the historic capital of Lorraine - Place Stanislaus there, and the Daum glass collection at the museum on the Place, are both breathtaking.

Between Germany and Paris is the Alsace-Lorraine, which which many quaint cities and towns, particularly Strassbourg and Colmar.
 

x3 skier

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How about a Rhine Cruise? Leisurely way to see much of Germany and Castle Country.

Paris is certainly worth a visit, including Versailles, a fabulous place for the gardens alone and while is Paris, you could take the Eurostar to London for a couple of days (or more) visit. Eurostar has packages or you can DIY very easily.

Eurostar does not run to Amsterdam but connecting via Thalys is easy.

Cheers
 

beejaybeeohio

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Just realized that most suggestions here are not necessarily oriented for your daughters.

Start talking to them about Europe and get their input. I would consider taking them to southern Germany for the Neuschwanstein castle which was the model for Cinderella's castle in the Disney parks. They might also enjoy the CrystalWorld in Wattens, Austria which is a family-friendly Swarovski visitor's center. Do they like the Sound of Music? Salzburg offers tours of sites in the film. If you do head to Paris, they might enjoy a day in suburban Paris Disneyland. Several cities have "mini worlds"- which are small models of significant places in the world.

I know there are travel guides for families that can offer a wealth of ideas, so check those out, too!
 

pianodinosaur

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My favorites would include Barcelona, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague.
 

vacationhopeful

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Does the main park in Paris still do the puppet shows for kids?

And I would start now with simple German & French words for food, plants, and animals. These are young kids - riding bikes around the villages and ordering snacks & food might be far better than museums and sightseeing.

Perhaps a river cruise boat (on the canals) would be low key and allow the kids to see everyday life (something you can actually do with your friends).
 

Carolinian

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My favorites would include Barcelona, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague.

All great cities, but the one that would fit best with their other stops and their timeframe would be Prague. It is doable as a day trip from Germany, but there is so much to see there, I would not do just a day trip.
 

vacationlover2

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I just found out my friends are in Freiburg. They just moved there that is why I didn't know the town until now. It is in the far Southwest of Germany. So it looks like it may be best to go from Eindhoven to Paris and end up there. I could pass through Belgium. Any recommendations there? Since the kids are so young we do not want to do too many cities. I'm sure we will be back again and will expand our itinerary at that time.

Thanks!
 

x3 skier

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I could pass through Belgium. Any recommendations there?

Thanks!

I liked Brugge. Nice small town and good Belgium Beer. Brussels is OK but mostly a commercial city although the Grand Place is cool to see.

Cheers
 

Carolinian

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Brugge would be a great stop. I also enjoyed the battlefield at Waterloo, but I don't know if young daughters would be too keen on that. In the rural Netherlands, which would be on the way, there is a great rural royal palace. Alsace-Lorraine would also be on your way.

Freiburg is also not too far from Basel, Switzerland, which is an interesting day trip.

You might also be interested that there are a couple of timeshares not too far from Freiburg.
 

vacationlover2

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Are the timeshares through II? If so, what are they called?

We are thinking of doing a 5 or 7 day air/travel trip through Marriott. I will have enough reward points to do that. Is 7 nights in Paris too long? Should we only do 5 nights?

We will use A club points for a hotel in Brugge (looks like an awesome place) and my hubby's company will pay for the hotel in Eindhoven. So all we need is the German hotel or timeshare although my friends would probably like us to stay with them.
 

x3 skier

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Are the timeshares through II? If so, what are they called?

We are thinking of doing a 5 or 7 day air/travel trip through Marriott. I will have enough reward points to do that. Is 7 nights in Paris too long? Should we only do 5 nights?

We will use A club points for a hotel in Brugge (looks like an awesome place) and my hubby's company will pay for the hotel in Eindhoven. So all we need is the German hotel or timeshare although my friends would probably like us to stay with them.

I would do 5 days in Paris with a couple in London via Eurostar. Only a couple of hours or so via a high speed train. It is my favorite Euro City and might be nice for your girls to be in an English Speaking Country for a couple of days, even if it is British English vice USA English.;)

BTW, take one of the canal boat rides in Brugge.

Cheers
 

Gophesjo

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You'll probably be driving through the Ardennes

I know that with your girls you'll likely not want to stop, but if you go straight south out of Eindhoven (I forget the route number), you'll be driving through the Ardennes. It is a remarkable area - wilder than one might expect based on where you are in Europe.

I like the recommendation of taking time in a small city or village and letting your girls get the feel of everyday life in Europe. The rhythms are indeed different.

I sent my son to live with friends in France for three months just so he could see how others live in the world.

I just found out my friends are in Freiburg. They just moved there that is why I didn't know the town until now. It is in the far Southwest of Germany. So it looks like it may be best to go from Eindhoven to Paris and end up there. I could pass through Belgium. Any recommendations there? Since the kids are so young we do not want to do too many cities. I'm sure we will be back again and will expand our itinerary at that time.

Thanks!
 

Carolinian

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Are the timeshares through II? If so, what are they called?

We are thinking of doing a 5 or 7 day air/travel trip through Marriott. I will have enough reward points to do that. Is 7 nights in Paris too long? Should we only do 5 nights?

We will use A club points for a hotel in Brugge (looks like an awesome place) and my hubby's company will pay for the hotel in Eindhoven. So all we need is the German hotel or timeshare although my friends would probably like us to stay with them.

Erlenbruck is the main timeshare I was thinking of, in a centuries old hunting lodge in the hills above Hinterzarten. Hinterzarten has frequent trains to Freiburg which take ~30 minutes. The resort gives you free regional rail passes (they give you a good area of travel in SW Germany and also over the border to Basel, Switzerland but not over the French border). Erlenbruck is affiliated with RCI and has some members who use DAE, but I am not sure about II. There is also another timeshare in Hinterzarten.

From Freiburg, it is an easy day trip to the southern part of Alsace-Lorraine, just over the French border, and even Strassbourg is doable as a day trip. There is an interesting castle on the French side, and name, if memory serves is Haut-Koenigsburg or something like that. There are also a number of quaint medieval towns.
 

marmite

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All great cities, but the one that would fit best with their other stops and their timeframe would be Prague. It is doable as a day trip from Germany, but there is so much to see there, I would not do just a day trip.

Prague absolutely blew me away, beautiful like Paris, but more relaxed and the prices were a relief in comparison. Ate well, had a wonderful time. Another Czech town to consider is Karlovy Vary (or Cesky Krumlov).
 

pianodinosaur

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Been to Colmar and Freiberg. The drive is beautiful and both towns are great.
 

Carolinian

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Freiburg had a fair amount of bomb damage in WWII, but Colmar was unscathed and is stuffed with medieval buildings. So is Strassbourg farther north. There are also quite a few medieval towns in the area that are stunning. The castle at Haut Koenigsburg, a well researched and executed late 19th century restoration, is also well worth the trip.
 
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