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Trip Report Amsterdam to Paris with Belguim in between: Magnifique!

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A few weeks ago, we returned from a wonderful trip. We started in Amsterdam and ended in Paris, visiting the Hague, Brugge and Ghent in between.

We took full advantage of the Holland Pass and Paris Museum Pass cards that we purchased – I’ll add info about those, along with hotel and transportation info at the end. Here is what we saw:

AMSTERDAM

This was a first visit and we enjoyed it here – Amsterdam is very walkable.

Rijksmuseum

This was on my art museum bucket list for a while, and it was terrific. I got there about a half hour after opening and the museum was still quite empty; an hour later, it was bustling.

I love the Dutch masters, so I spent a lot of time in the area with the Vermeers, de Hooch, Steen and Rembrandts. (At one point, I had the Night Watch and the Vermeers to myself!) There were also some fascinating historical stuff – ship models, fashions, etc. I was awed by a miniature doll house that was extremely detailed – including the blue Delft pottery, ceiling frescoes and rich fabrics. It was so large there were steps in front of it so you could peruse the details on the upper floors better.

The area around the museums is fun, too. There is a beautiful garden out front with a fountain. The fountain stops/starts and you can jump in the middle (it bursts in jets that form a circle, and a square). It was a fun picture opportunity, as is the nearby I Amsterdam sign. There were plenty of people climbing all around that.

Ann Frank House

We were really happy to have had timed tickets, as the lines here were quite long. Very moving displays and quite interesting. It depicts such a tragic story.
The neighborhood around the house is a nice one to walk around.

Van Gogh exhibit

There was a special Van Gogh exhibit in the center of town that had reproductions of his work arranged chronologically. I learned a lot about an artist that I admittedly did not know all that much about. There were several 3D representations of his paintings, which were interesting to see.

Canal cruise

This was a short, 1-hour tour of several of the picturesque canals; we also went into the main harbor. We stayed at a nice B&B on Herengracht, and it was nice to see our place, and the surrounding areas that we had been walking around, by boat. It was a nice, relaxing way to see the city.

Renting a bike

Yes, we survived biking in Amserdam! It was fun – we rented from the Centraal area and biked to and around a park west of there. Then we detoured down one of the canals and then went into the central area. We stopped at an English bookstore I had seen near Spui and also at Dam Square, which was bustling and crowded.

Tropical Museum

This was a disappointment. I am interested in Oceania and Pre-columbian art and there were only small exhibits here. There didn’t seem to be much there overall – the entire huge first floor was vacant. I have since learned that this museum will probably close. Don’t bother.

Begijnhof

After a little searching, we found this quiet, pretty courtyard. On the way, we passed the Amsterdam Historical Museum and we started to note the wall plaques along the way. These were colorful stone plaques which indicated the trades of the people who owned the buildings.

Red Light District

We sort of stumbled right into this while walking around the old church area. There were girls in the windows attracting a lot of pedestrian traffic at around 5pm. At that time of day, the area felt totally safe.

Old Church

I stopped in here, wanting to see a church interior like the ones depicted by several artists of the Dutch Golden Age. There were some interesting carved wooden choir stalls – some pictures on those seemed extremely inappropriate for a church!

The churches in Holland are not the Baroque and Rococo extravagances (that I actually like) that can be found in Italy and southern Germany. During the iconoclasm in the Netherlands, the citizens destroyed many of the fancy decorations and religious images inside the Catholic churches. The altarpiece that was once in this Old Church was destroyed.


World Cup fever

We were in Holland, Belgium and France while their teams were in the World Cup, and Amsterdam, by far, had the most decorations up all around in celebration of their team. I have a friend from my gym who now lives in Holland we met her and her boyfriend at a restaurant to watch the US-Germany World Cup game. It was a festive and fun way to watch the game.

On to: The Hague

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    The Hague

    We stayed right near the Parliament complex, and didn’t venture all that far from here.

    The highlight was:

    Mauritshuis

    This museum re-opened after an extensive renovation on the day we arrived! I learned about it’s “free to the public on its first day” before we left for the trip, but I didn’t realize it was only from 8pm-midnight. We left our nearby hotel at 8pm and the line was VERY very long! I overheard the guards saying they did not anticipate the crowds that came. (It was amazing how gracious they were – it started to rain while we were in line, and they came to give everyone in line a plastic poncho!)

    We didn’t get into the museum until 9:30pm, but it was worth the wait. I had seen the museum's Highlights Tour (with the Girl with the Pearl Earring) when it came to the Frick in NYC, and while those paintings were indeed highlights, the museum has much, much more. I thought their collection was wonderful and I am so thankful I was able to see it!

    Parliament complex

    We walked around here during the day – all along the front with the pond (lake?) and fountain, but we were not allowed into the interior courtyard until the evening. It looks as if you are walking through a castle courtyard.

    Old Prison Gate Museum

    We took a guided tour through the old prison which was interesting, even though it was given in Dutch. Our guide interjected some explanations in English for the benefit of the few English-speaking people on the tour, which I thought was very accommodating. He obviously had a great interest in the history of the place, and gave an interesting tour.

    The cells were very dark, and the instruments of torture looked most unpleasant [shudder]

    Museum Bredius

    This house was once the home of wealthy Heren in the Hague. It now houses the art collection of Abraham Bredius, who was once the director of the Mauristhuis. It houses a small but interesting art collection – including a perspective box by Elinga. Also called a peepshow, a perspective box is an optical device that creates an incredibly realistic view of an interior room. Only 6 peepshows from Dutch 17th century artists survive (the most famous is in London’s National Gallery); I really wanted to see this one – I think they are fascinating.

    There was a small exhibit of paintings by Jan Steen (another one of my favorite Dutch painters), that had just opened on the day we were there. Again, lucky me.



    Madurodam

    My husband wanted to do this, and this was kitschy fun. This park has mini 1:25 scale models of famous Dutch towns, castles, churches – even the Schipol airport. The cathedral of s’Hertogenbosch even faithfully reproduced all the gargoyles. It was fun looking at all the details and seeing the highlights of Holland.

    Market Square

    We had relaxing, delicious meals at two different restaurants sitting outside on this main square.


    On to BELGIUM.

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    Hi Phillyfan:

    We have a similar itinerary set for September so I am very interested to hear more about your trip! Thanks for posting!

    The atmosphere must have been electric during World Cup!

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    My husband and I are hoping to go to Amsterdam, Bruges, and Paris next May, and are in the obsessive (on my part) research process -- so we, too are looking forward to hearing all about your trip!! Thanks!

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    2010 and kagoo - you are going to really enjoy your trips! There is so much to see and do in these areas. The food was so good, and the chocolate in Belgium is incredible! It is also so reasonable priced (bonus!) We also found these countries to be easy places to get around - the trains were convenient. (We did manage to get lost in Paris, but not for long).

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    On to BELGIUM. First stop:

    Ghent

    We saw a lot in the half day we were here. We arrived at the Ghent train station a little after noon, dropped our suitcases at our hotel and left to explore:

    Citadelpark

    We walked through this calm park, which featured statues, gardens and even a waterfall. We were heading to:

    Museum of Fine Arts

    This was much larger than I expected and had a good, interesting collection – from the Flemish Primitives to modern art. I had read, but forgotten, that panels of Van Eyck’s “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” were being restored here.

    I entered a room to discover before me another room with several large panels from the altarpiece! Wow. Apparently, they are being restored in full view of the public. I was there on a Saturday, so no one was working in the room (there was a museum guard to discourage any picture taking – you couldn’t enter the restoration room, but it was glass walled so you could see inside). The Ghent Altarpiece is very large!

    Graslei

    This is an area along the river with a long row of historical buildings – very picturesque. We ate dinner at a restaurant along here and had great views – of people and the buildings.

    The central area of Ghent is very pretty – cobblestone streets, interesting architecture.

    Gravensteen Castle

    We walked around this 12th century castle. We didn’t go inside; I have read there is not much inside and we just ran out of time b/c I had to see:

    St. Bavo Cathedral/Ghent Altarpiece

    We walked around this large church – where was the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb?? I found the small chapel for this huge altarpiece in the back corner of the cathedral.

    It is behind glass, and you can’t get too close to see all of Van Eyck’s amazing details. The small room was very crowded with people – the admission fee includes a very detailed audio.

    This altarpiece has been through a lot – it survived the Protestant iconoclasm, was stolen by Napoleon, then again during WW2, and recovered by the Monuments Men. One of its panels was stolen in yet a different robbery and has never been recovered – it is replaced by a reproduction in St. Bavo.

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    Hi PhillyFan:

    We will be staying in Bruges and we are hoping to take a train to Ghent for a day. So, I am gleaning a few ideas of what to see/do there.

    Could you please outline your trip itinerary? I am trying to get a sense of how long you stayed in each place and how much you were able to cover in that time. Thanks!

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    Interested to read about your trip. I know from the Book Group discussion that you were really looking forward to seeing The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. Did it live up to your expectations?

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    Vttraveler - it did. I didn't realize, until I had read that book, just how large the altarpiece was. I do wish that I was allowed to get closer to it to peruse the many details, but with the crowds, and the size of the panels, that really wouldn't be possible, anyway.

    2010 - we had an energetic itinerary and I admit some days we were pretty exhausted at days end, so I'd recommend more time than what we had. We did take advantage of how long the days were - some days we were out until 10:30-11:30pm, but a couple nights, we were in bed before it was dark outside!

    We were: 3 nights Amsterdam, 1 night The Hague, 1 night Ghent, and 4 nights Paris.

    We were going to do 2 nights Ghent, but realized the Hague was on our way south, so changed that reservation a few weeks before departure. We would have missed the Mauritshuis if we weren't in The Hague that evening, so it worked out great that we made that change. But, our Ghent day was a whirlwind - we took 3 trains to get from The Hague to Ghent (changing briefly in Rotterdam and Antwerp), and then saw a lot of Ghent in about 5 hours time.

    I wouldn't have wanted to miss anything, though.

    Ghent and Bruges are close and easy to do by train - trains run frequently.

    Also, I have been to Paris before, otherwise, only 3 days would be tough for me to prioritize - there really is so much to see in, and around, Paris.

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    BRUGES

    I had been to Bruges, and have always considered it one of the most picturesque towns in Europe. It seems every time you turn a corner in Bruges, you come across another beautiful view. I took a lot of pictures!

    Market and Burg Squares

    We walked around here, past the tower, town hall, picturesque architecture and the Church of the Holy Blood (which contains a relic of the blood of Christ).

    Canals

    We further walked around the canals, with more views...what’s a synonym for picturesque? Scenic, photographic, beautiful, quaint, charming – all of Brugge can seemingly be described this way!

    Groeningemuseum

    This was a small, but good, art museum. I was looking forward to seeing their Bosch and Van Eyck, and enjoyed the rest of the collection. We were there on a Sunday and there was no admission fee.

    Church of our Lady

    We searched out this church because I wanted to see the only Michelangelo statue outside of Italy. The church is undergoing renovation, but you can still see Michelangelo’s Madonna. The statue is much smaller than I envisioned, but very lovely.


    Begihnhof

    We had a bit of a trouble finding the entrance to this lovely, tranquil courtyard. It has gardens and a pond with swans – resulting in even more scenic picture taking.

    On to...Paris (via a very helpful ticket agent)

    I am a bit embarrassed to tell you about our original travel plans: check out of our hotel in Ghent, leave our luggage, go to Brugge for the day, return to Ghent, pick up luggage and travel to Paris.

    A very patient and helpful ticket agent in Ghent pointed out to us that there is a Thayls train that runs from Bruges to Paris, and double-checked that we could leave our luggage in the Bruges train station (we could). We know it was more expensive to book Thalys tickets the day before…but…it was only 50 Euro more (for both of us) than taking the train from Ghent (which required a change in trains and an extra hour). So we had a quick, comfortable train ride to Paris.

    We took trains exclusively on this trip and I had a good navigation system: before we left, I took a picture with my phone of a map of each town, showing the train station and a marker for where our hotel was. When we arrived, I got out my phone, checked the map and we (mostly) easily found our way to the hotel. (I purposely booked hotels within 5-10 mins. of a train stop). My plan worked well, until Paris.

    Even though I turned my phone off on the train with 10% battery remaining, it went dead. My husband could not get a connection on his phone. We arrived to Paris-Nord, transferred to the RER, got off at our stop, and then had no idea where our hotel was. I had the name and address, but no idea in what direction that could be.

    Forget what you’ve heard about rude Parisians…we had very pleasant interactions several times during our visit. A man stopped to ask us if we were lost. (I wonder why he thought that…a couple, with suitcases, bickering in the middle of the sidewalk!?) We explained we didn’t know what direction our hotel was. He got out his phone, googled the hotel, brought it up in Maps, and showed us how to go! Thank goodness for kind people!

    We arrived at our hotel at 9pm, fairly tired from a full day, but I was so excited to be in Paris! It got dark very late in this neck of the woods during our trip (in Amsterdam, it didn’t get dark until 10:30), and there was still plenty of light out in Paris at 9pm. We passed the Luxembourg Gardens on our way to the hotel, so we dropped our luggage and went to walk around there. On the way, I discovered our neighborhood had many interesting bookstores and I stopped in my first of many that evening.

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    what a terrific report! we are preparing for almost a month in France in a few weeks, and had considered extending so we can get to just Brugge ~ you've made me glad I didn't do it, since obviously, Belgium deserves more than just 2 days in that one town. 2015 will see us there for sure!
    DH is retired military and spent a lot of time in Spain, had never been to France. before our first trip to France 20 years ago, he was so sure that he could "be as rude as any Frenchman"; he had heard so much about the rudeness. By day 3, he asked me "where did they get the reputation?" Too many travelers seem to expect American personalities over there - we love every trip and interaction. And I absolutely loved the fact that a man picked up on your "couple, with suitcases, bickering in the middle of the sidewalk??" and helped - some things are just universal, right?
    Thanks for the Belgium inspirations.

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    "I am a bit embarrassed to tell you about our original travel plans: check out of our hotel in Ghent, leave our luggage, go to Brugge for the day, return to Ghent, pick up luggage and travel to Paris."

    PhillyFan, that is how many people must travel, so you need feel no embarrassment. I think it was actually quite clever of you to think of how to fit in Brugges like this - by leaving your luggage at your Ghent hotel for the day. And even smarter of you to realize that it was worth the 50 euro to re-book when you found a better option.

    Enjoying your report.

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    Thanks, Suexxyy. And joann, yes, some things are universal, LOL.

    Another kind Parisian story from this trip: I was confused by construction underground in a Metro corridor and we paused briefly to look for a sign indicating the line we were transferring to. A man in a business suit with briefcase asked me if we needed help. I asked where the one line was and he pointed me in the direction. Truly, that was all I needed to know, I felt better confirming we were heading the right direction. But, he walked with us underground until we actually arrived at the steps leading directly to the platform for our specific train. And it wasn't a short walk - it had to be the equivalent of almost 3 blocks, but he stayed with us until he was sure we were exactly where we were supposed to be. It was very nice of him to do that for us.

    Re: Belguim. I have really enjoyed my 2 visits to this country, and I do think Belgium deserves more than 2 days. Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels are all easily connected by trains and I think there is a lot to see. The food is really, really good -and the chocolate is great.

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    PARIS

    [Note: I’ve been to Paris before, so on this trip we skipped some of the more popular sights I have already done: d’Orsay, going up the Eiffel Tower (tickets were sold out online 2 months in advance), Marmottan, Catacombs. We also didn’t do any day trips (although I would highly recommend the trips I did last visit, to Chartres, Versailles, Giverny and the Loire Valley). Here’s what we visited this time:

    Luxembourg Gardens

    This place is beautiful! The flower gardens were a riot of color. We walked around for about a half hour; loved it here.

    L’Orangerie

    This was closed for renovation during my last visit – I was happy to finally be able to visit here. Monet’s large canvases are stunning. I loved how they changed based on how close/far you were to them.

    Tuilleries Gardens

    We walked around here after visiting the l’Orangerie. Truthfully, these gardens were a bit disappointing after seeing the Luxembourg Gardens.

    Museum of Architecture

    I really liked it here. This museum contains reproductions of French architecture from the 12th century to the present day; church architecture is heavily represented (including a wall of gargoyles).

    I have always wanted to see the Romanesque tympanium in Autun and Bourges, and this museum had full scale reproductions of them – even the fading paint on the one at Bourges.

    Outside, next to the museum, is an excellent viewpoint of the Eiffel Tower – we got some great pictures from this area.

    Ile Saint-Louis

    We wandered around here, and of course stopped at Berthillon ice cream (salted caramel, yum!)

    Notre Dame

    We walked around, and through this church. We went about 10 mins. before opening one morning to get in the line for the Tower Tour, but the line was already very long. So I have still not seen the gargoyles up in the Tower. (Paris was quite crowded overall when we were there).

    Sainte-Chapelle

    I think this is the most impressive church in Paris – the stained glass is just amazing.

    Other churches

    We stayed in the 6th arr. and visited the churches in the area – St-Sulpice (the da Vinci Code church), St. Germaine and also saw the gargoyles on Saint-Severin in the Latin Quarter.

    Marais/Places des Vosges

    Some helpful Fodorites gave me the shopping suggestion of the Saint-Paul Village, and along the streets of the Marais. I enjoyed window shopping here, but spent more time wandering around the Places des Vosges than actually inside many of the stores.

    Quai Branley

    I liked this museum, although I found the exhibits arranged a bit confusingly (did I see this section? Where does one start?) I did like how the items were displayed – and that you could view many of the objects in the glasses cases from all sides.

    Arc de Triumph

    I didn’t go up here, but my husband did (with our Museum Pass) while I went to sit and eat a Nutella crepe. I was happy to view it from the outside.

    Cluny

    We discovered that our hotel was not far from this museum of Medeival art. This wasn’t originally on our itinerary, but I’m glad I saw it.

    Galleries Lafayette

    I wanted to go here b/c I had to get some Pierre Herme chocolate, and there is a PH location here. My husband thought it was stupid we were spending time in Paris at a Mall. He was not impressed with the beautiful stained glass ceiling - or the shoe department, which was adjacent to the Pierre Herme store. I told him my next husband would take me shoe shopping.

    Wandering

    We stayed in the Saint Germain area, and loved wandering around here, the nearby Latin Quarter, and along the Seine. One evening, I went browsing shopping (bought a silk scarf) while my husband had a few beers and watched the French World Cup game. France won, but it wasn’t very rowdy.

    Shakespeare and Company

    I enjoyed browsing this famous and interesting bookstore.

    Louvre

    The incomparable Louvre. I spent a total of 6 hours in here last visit and was looking forward to exploring more. It was a zoo.

    We arrived at the underground location 15 mins. early to find a sizable line. It did move quickly, so we got into a line to purchase tickets and our credit card didn’t work. Thankfully, it did the second time we tried to use it. It seemed to take longer, but the total time waiting to enter and purchase tickets was less than 30 mins.

    My husband had never been here before, but played tourist well. Our first visit was to Ms. Mona, who was already mobbed with admirers. We took the obligatory picture with her and tried to find the Dutch paintings.

    I don’t remember the Louvre being so exhausting. Maybe because last time I didn’t wander back and forth in the Italian area only to eventually learn there was no connection to the Dutch area. (I did see the Caravaggio and other da Vinci’s I wanted to re-visit – at least 3x, LOL). I think we walked the equivalent of 3 blocks just trying to find our way out.

    I took my husband to see Napolean’s apartments, and we wandered around this general area for a bit before finally finding the Dutch and Flemish area. I saw this area before, but spent a lot of time here. I sent my husband off to see the Medieval Louvre on the lowest floors. On his own, he also sought out Venus di Milo – in three long visits to the Louvre, I still haven’t seen her.

    Three hours later, and I was pretty tired and, unlike me, didn’t want to walk anymore to see anything else. I spent some time in the gift and bookstore, and then we had to start the long trek to actually exit the place.

    We exited through the Pyramid and the courtyard was packed with people. We got some goofy tourist pics in front of the pyramid and walked one mile to the rue di Rivoli (yes, I exaggerate).

    Angelina’s

    I was told this place has terrific hot chocolate – and boy, do they. It was wonderful. This restaurant had a nice ambience (and was crowded), and I was happy to sit down. We ordered one delicious hot chocolate and one delicious 2-scoop serving of gelato. Our bill was 18 Euro. (Worth it).

    Fat Tire Night Bike Tour

    We did this evening tour on our last night in Paris – and it was a great way to end our trip. We had a fun interesting guide, and it was fun to bike past many of the areas we had been walking around for the past few days. About 7 hours since we had last been there, the Louvre courtyard had a LOT less people in it!

    We stopped for more Berthillon ice cream (yay). Also included in this tour was a boat ride on the Seine. Paris is really beautiful at night. On the way back to the office to return our bikes, we biked right by the Eiffel Tower, all lit up, and also saw it’s sparkling light show that happens for a few minutes every hour.

    Next: hotel, logistical info

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    Nice report! I almost did this trip in July too--have been thinking about it for awhile. Like you, I'm a big Dutch Masters fan. I've been to Amsterdam but not Belgium, which I always seem to bump down my list in favor of elsewhere. Will have to commit.

    I was In Paris again in July. It was hot but Paris is always wonderful.

    Thanks so much for all the details. I look forward to the logistics.

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    =D>
    Excellent report. Amsterdam and Bruges have been on my list for a long time. I hope to get there some day. We were in Paris at sort of the same time and the crowds were unbelievable. I thought your night fat tire bike ride sounded like fun.

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    Leely2 and TPAYT - thanks! TPAYT - while we were in Paris, I recalled you saying how crowded it was when you were there (right before us). I thought, boy, she wasn't kidding.

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    GETTING AROUND

    This was our first trip to Europe where we exclusively used trains (and trams) to get around. The train system in this neck of the woods is great. The trains in Holland, and the Thalys train had WiFi, but the trains going to, and in Belgium did not. The ticket agents were helpful to us in finding a decent itinerary, and like I said – the one in Ghent really saved us a lot of time by informing of us of the Thayls from Bruges to Paris.

    Using the Holland and Paris Museum Passes

    I would highly recommend anyone visiting look into these options. After I realized the Eiffel Tower reservations were sold out months in advance, I purchased tix online for the Ann Frank House b/c I heard the lines here are really long (they are – make sure you have a reservation). At the time, I didn’t realize you could purchase what I think is called the Amsterdam Card, which includes admission to the Ann Frank House, AND you can still make a timed reservation. Since we already had paid for those tickets, I purchased the Holland Pass (which does NOT include the Anne Frank House, but also does include additional attractions around Holland).

    It covered a lot for us: transportation from Schipol to Centraal Station, admission to: Rijksmuseum, Madurodam, Mauritshuis (which we didn’t’ need b/c it was free admission when we were there), Prison Gate Museum (Hague), bike rental in Amsterdam, Canal Cruise in Amsterdam. It was supposed to let me enter in a different entrance at the Rijks, but the guard didn’t know about that so I think the Holland Pass might be sort of new (or maybe that guard was?)

    The Paris Museum Pass lets you skip the line at many Paris attractions (Eiffel Tower is not included at all; Tower Tour at Notre Dame is included but no line jumping privileges). As crowded as Paris was when we were there, this is a huge advantage. I was a tad disadvantaged b/c I bought the 2 day pass to be used on a Monday and Tuesday. It seems that 1/3 of Paris main attractions are closed on Mondays, and another 1/3 are closed on Tuesdays. I had to carefully be aware of those days to get the most use of the Pass. I would have liked to have had it for the Louvre (which we did on Day 3).

    Paris Metro – we took this everywhere. We bought a 3 day pass and used it often. I was amazed – we never waited more than 5 minutes for any Metro train, and they were all pretty full.

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    ACCOMMODATIONS

    Amsterdam: Herengracht 21 B&B

    I found this B&B through (gasp) Rick Steves. It was an excellent location – about 10 mins. from Centraal on a canal lined picturesque street. There are only 2 apartments here – I think we had the less desirable one – it was two stories so we had lots of room but the upstairs room had a sloped ceiling so you did have to be careful not to bang your head (especially if one is taller, like my husband). I would recommend: terrific location, reasonably priced.

    The Hague: Holiday Inn Express

    This was excellently located – about 8 mins. from the train station, one block from Mauritshuis and very close to Parliament complex, Museum Bredius and Prison Gate Museum. It seemed everything we wanted to see (except Madurodam) was within 10 mins. of our hotel. It was comfortable inside, very clean and quiet. Great value, too (maybe b/c it was a Friday night?)

    Ghent: Hotel Carlton

    This was another conveniently located hotel – about 5 mins. from the Ghent –St. Peters train station. The Front Desk clerk was incredibly helpful and friendly. It was a tram ride away from the tourist/central scenic area of Ghent, but very convenient to train station. Nothing fancy, but clean and quiet.

    Paris: Best Western, Hotel Trianon Rive Gauche

    Another Fodorite recommendation (thanks!!) – great neighborhood location in St. Germain. It was so convenient to so many sights, and the closest RER went straight to the airport and Paris-Nord, which was much appreciated. I hesitate to make his minor observation, b/c the location is really very good, but I did wish it was a tad closer to a Metro stop (it was about a 5 min. walk) definitely not a big deal, but not super close, either. The convenience of the neighborhood was terrific, though. We had a smaller, but quiet room.

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    Wonderful. I really appreciate all the logistical stuff. Even after I've returned from a trip my logistics are...fuzzy.

    The Rijks was still under renovation last time I was in Amsterdam, hence the strong pull I feel to return. But I also just think Amsterdam is a great city in which one can relax and see great art.

    Glad you and your family had a good trip.

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    Appreciate your take on Amsterdam city passes. I looked into them and then did some arithmetic based on what we want to do. Decided to pre-purchase tickets & reserve an entry time where we could + we will buy a multi-day transit pass once there.

    Thanks for an informative trip report, PhillyFan!

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