2 weeks 4 countries

Nov 3rd, 2013, 03:56 PM
  #1  
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2 weeks 4 countries

Hi there,

I am wondering if someone could help me in planning a trip to Europe.
My partner and I are starting off in Paris and wish to see all the main attractions in the centre of Paris. We then plan to travel to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany (then back to Paris). What are the best options for transportation? I have been looking into eurail passes but they don't seem to be that economical and don't get you transport on all the trains!

I am under 25 so hiring a car is a bit out of the question.
Would it be better to travel around Paris using the metro and then just pay for a high speed train ticket between Paris and Belgium and then trains from Belgium to the Netherlands and then Netherlands to Germany, etc.?

We are planning on going to the main attractions in the countries mentioned and would like to also visit a chocolate factory and a concentration camp. What are the best ones to visit in the countries I have listed?
Is 2 weeks enough time to see these 4 countries? ( we were originally planning on visiting Switzerland also - would that be out of the question to also visit in the 2 weeks we have? ).

Any help would be greatly appreciated as we have never travelled to Europe before. We are on a tight budget and would prefer to stay in the Ibis Budget motels in or around all the major cities.

Thanks!!!!
lease13 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 04:26 PM
  #2  
 
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Just as a start I think the title might better be "4 weeks, 2 countries". You get the drift. Many will be along, I suspect, to expand on the theme.
MmePerdu is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 04:34 PM
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If you are on a tight budget I would limit rather than expand your trip as travel between countries takes up precious time and money. You may want to consider flying into one country and out of another so you don't have to backtrack. Also consider cheap flights between countries. Check out whichairline.com, easy jet and others but be aware that you should look at luggage restrictions and all their information carefully. Some budget airlines fly into airports quite a distance from city centers so you have to take those transportation costs into consideration.

Where in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany are you planning to go? I think you need to read guidebooks and figure out two or three top priorities and narrow your trip accordingly. Save some places for your next trip as you will want to return.
KTtravel is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 04:39 PM
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Train fares are similar to airline fares, at least for high speed trains; the earlier the purchase the better.

Buy metro tickets by the ten-pack; it will give you a slight discount on the single ride.

Drop Germany from your itinerary. Fly into Paris; then take the train to Brussels or Ghent (day trip to Bruges); then the train to Amsterdam (day trips to other Dutch towns); fly home from Amsterdam.

Get guidebooks to figure out how many days in each area and what you will want to see.
Michael is online now  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 04:44 PM
  #5  
 
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Lease please go to Lonely Planet while you can. They'll have you down to two countries and in bed by 7 PM if you stay here.
colduphere is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 04:50 PM
  #6  
 
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<< What are the best options for transportation? >>

It's difficult to say without knowing where you're going. But trains and buses are typical. Take trains whenever you can and buses to those places without train transport.

<< Would it be better to travel around Paris using the metro >>

Since you specifically stated that you want to see the attractions in the center and you don't have a lot of time in Paris (given that you also have 3 countries to explore) I would walk. If you venture away from the center (assuming that you consider Notre Dame the center) you can take the metro/RER/bus.

<< We are planning on going to the main attractions in the countries mentioned >>

You only have 2 weeks; you don't have time to see all the main attractions. Get a few guide books and read then and plan what you can see in 2 weeks and don't forget to add travel time to get from one location to the next.

<< Is 2 weeks enough time to see these 4 countries? >>

Of course it's not enough time.

<< We are on a tight budget >>

Your budget can't be all that tight if you're planning on seeing 4 countries. The more you move around the more it will cost you.
adrienne is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 05:23 PM
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Yes drop Germany. Play around with train schedules here:

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en?
RonZ is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 06:09 PM
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Your cannot see 4 countries in 3 weeks. You can see one places in each of 4 countries in a cursory way. But you could easily spend 2 weeks - or 2 months - just seeing France of Germany.

Making a big circle is a waste of time and money. You should get airline tickets into your first city and home from your last (look under multi-destination tickets - it will cost only a little more than a RT ticket to Paris - less than wasting time and money to get back there.)

Get some guide books - Let's Go student guide and look at Thorn Tree section of Lonely Planet website to help you pick the 4 places (no more than 4 hotels) where you will stay. Also a ton of good advice on traveling on a budget. And for what you will do train - probably point to point discount tickets bought in advance - will likely be cheapest.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 06:53 PM
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Flights have already been booked in and out of Paris, so we have to come back to Paris. Has anyone bought a eurail pass? Are they worthwhile for 4 counties? I'd have to buy a global pass so that it includes France.
lease13 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2013, 07:07 PM
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To determine if a rail pass is worth the money you need to decide where you're going and price point to point tickets and compare the pricing to the rail pass. The best prices are usually found 90 days before travel so choose a date about 90 days from today to get pricing.

When checking rail pass pricing you need to figure out if you must buy an additional reservation.

No one can tell you the worth of a rail pass or help you with comparisons unless you reveal where you're going.
adrienne is offline  
Nov 4th, 2013, 02:55 PM
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If you want to visit a chocolate factory in Belgium you might be interested in this website:

chocolatetourism.com

Additionally you might also like to visit the square Place du Grand Sablon in Brussels - it is a pretty area where there is quite a few chocolate shops:

http://www.writingwithchocolate.com/...colate-sablon/

Lavandula
lavandula is online now  
Nov 5th, 2013, 02:48 PM
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Does your two weeks include time to get to/from Europe? If so, that's 2-3 days out of your very limited time depending on where you're coming from. Large city on the east coast of the US is a lot shorter trip than coming out of a small regional airport in the midwest and making connections. Assuming travel time is included in the 14 days, you have 12 days (or even less) to actually see things. That would give you only 3 days per country and you have to use part of that time to travel from one place to another. That would realistically leave you with about 2 1/2 days in each country.

It's doable to visit 4 countries in two weeks, but it doesn't sound like a lot of fun and you will just barely even scratch the surface of the places you're visiting.

You say that you want to see 'all of the main attractions'... but that's really not possible. Many people can spend a week or two just in Paris seeing main attractions. You have the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Musee D'Orsay, Versailles, and those are just off the top of my head. In Germany you have Berlin (the Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, various WWII associated museums, Brandenburg Gate), Munich (Neuschwanstein Castle, Frauenkirche), Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg. Again, that's just off the top of my head for amazing places to visit and is only TWO of the four countries you wish to visit.

You said that the tickets are already booked. You might want to call and find out what the cost would be to change the tickets... it's generally a fee and the difference in fare. It might be worth not paying the extra leg of transit back to Paris and the associated costs. Or change and just spend your entire two weeks in France and loop back to Paris.

You said that you're on a budget. The more you move around, the more expensive it gets. If you spend a week in Paris, you could rent a flat and that would possibly be cheaper than even a cheap hotel room, especially because you can cook a bit and don't have to eat out for every meal.

I'd suggest picking one or two other cities and slowing down a bit. Use Google image search and guidebooks to find what cities and what specific places grab your attention and narrow your trip down to those. You're not going to have time to actually see anything if you're constantly traveling from place to place trying to see it all.
Iowa_Redhead is offline  
Nov 5th, 2013, 03:35 PM
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You could still fulfil the idea of 4 countries by just doing 4 locations in each country (say, Paris - Brussels - Amsterdam - Cologne - Paris). None of these are very far apart - the Thalys from Cologne to Paris is direct and takes about 3 and a half hours. If you take night trains you will maximise the daylight hours you have in each centre. You would thereby get a smattering of each country. Budget more time for Paris and Amsterdam and less time for Brussels and Cologne. It will be a busy trip - no mistake - but by restricting yourself to a small region it's doable and I think could be quite fun.

Lavandula
lavandula is online now  
Nov 5th, 2013, 03:45 PM
  #14  
 
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That should read, "one location in each country."

Lavandula
lavandula is online now  
Nov 5th, 2013, 04:28 PM
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In fact an itinerary for that kind of trip could be:

day 1arr Paris (jet lag)
2 Paris
3 Paris
4 Paris (night train Thalys to Brussels, about 1h 22m)
5 Brussels
6 Brussels (evening train to Amsterdam, about 2.5 hrs)
7 Amsterdam
8 Amsterdam
9 Amsterdam
10 Amsterdam (evening train to Cologne, ICE, about 2.5 - 3 hrs)
11 Cologne
12 Cologne (maybe side trip to Aachen, evening train to Paris, about 3.5 hrs)
13 Paris
14 return home

This might take a little fiddling with but it's an idea for you to start with, anyway. I have given time estimates for trips based on the Thalys but as it's an expensive train (an express train) you would have to weigh up whether it was worth it to you take a slower combination of trains or not (often with lots of stops, and losing lots of valuable time). I personally think it would be a good investment. As for accommodation - have you looked at hostels? Also meals - make your big meal one in the middle of the day. Many restaurants have a lunch special to tempt workers, which is often cheaper than a dinner. If you have a picnic dinner of salads, meats and cheese and bread, you will save a lot of money.

Lavandula
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