I have some questions regarding a two-week itinerary in Europe in May, and what better place to ask a question than Fodor, correct?
My current work contract ends at the end of this month, and I am planning on flying to London on May 1st and returning back to the States on May 15th. For the time being, I'm planning on using my pilot friend's buddy pass to fly Business Class from LAX-LHR and back again. This will cost me ~$750 round trip. The downside is I'm flying standby, however, I get to fly Business Class, with a full lie-down seat. Even if it takes me an extra day to get across the pond, my dates are flexible for travel. I'd rather have the comfort of Business class than 10-11 hours cramped in Economy.
My main question is regarding my itinerary. I have priced out using Rail Europe rail travel between London, Paris, Luxembourg and Brussels. Below, please find my proposed schedule and prices.
My question is, should I book through Rail Europe or buy tickets at the ticket counter? Since I'm going to be flying standby into London, there is the small chance, I could be delayed by a day or two, which could throw off my schedule (although it would probably just reduce my time in London).
May 1 - leave from LAX to LHR
May 2 - arrive in LHR - find a reasonable hotel and explore the city
May 5 (12:25 PM) - leave London and arrive in Paris (3:47 PM) - Standard Seat - $196
May 8 (1:40 PM) - leave Paris and arrive in Luxembourg (3:48 PM) - First Class - $107
May 10 (11:20 AM) - leave Luxembourg and arrive in Brussels (2:18PM) - First - $87
May 12 (5:56 PM ) - leave Brussels and arrive in London (7:03 PM) - Standard - $70
Total cost of train fare: $460 with the option of Rail Protection of $34 (which allows me to cancel/exchange).
Offhand I see I would probably need to leave Brussels earlier, or risk wandering the town carrying my luggage, or waste a whole day at the train station. I believe I chose the $70 for the price, not realizing it was a very late time.
So my questions are thus:
1). Is this itinerary reasonable? Or am I cramming too much into too little time? I would probably be willing to dump Brussels, and focus on London/Paris/Luxembourg. I've had a fascination with Luxembourg as long as I can remember, so I figured now is as good a time as any to visit
2). Do I need to pre-purchase rail tickets early through Rail Europe, or should I do it at the train stations? I ask this for several reasons - I don't speak any other languages, and I would like to reduce the amount of stress/anxiety of having to find transportation the day of.
3). If pre-purchasing tickets ahead of time is favorable, are there better websites which allow me to enter multiple cities and plan an itinerary (one of the reasons I chose RailEurope).
4). Any other recommendations for a two week visit? I am open to other cities/countries/ideas.
Thank you in advance for your wonderful travel expertise!!
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Advice on Two Week Itinerary Please! (London,Paris,Luxembourg,Brussels)