2 weeks Holland Belgium Normandy

Old May 31st, 2017, 10:09 AM
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2 weeks Holland Belgium Normandy

We would like some help planning a vacation.
My 3 sisters and I, ranging in age from 58 to 70, are planning a trip to Europe. We fly into Amsterdam on day 1, and fly out of Paris on day 15. Two of us (the older ones) are arriving a day early to get a jump on the jet lag by resting at a hotel that is easy to get to from Schilpohl. We want a day of rest midway. Any suggestions for hotels for one night? Or even a hotel that would work for our entire stay near Amsterdam.
We have ancestors from area just to the south of Rotterdam, and so wanted to wander around in that area, but also see some of the iconic destinations in Holland. We are thinking about visiting Ghent and Bruges on our way to Bayeux in Normandy.
We spent a week in Paris two years ago, and probably will spend the last day there for old time's sake.
We like cheese, beer, chocolate and wine and enjoy trying out local cuisine. We all like history and culture. We don't like too much packing up and moving on, so we are hoping to find 3 bases, not counting Paris and the first night in Holland. If we could do it with 2 bases, we would be ecstatic. We prefer a leisurely pace. We plan to travel by rental car and by train when the driving is too challenging.

How many days should we devote to Belgium? How many for Normandy and surrounding area? Do you think we can do what we want to do in Holland in 5 days? Would it be better to visit the Rotterdam area from Amsterdam or just plan to spend a couple of nights in Rotterdam, even if it means giving up the idea of 3 bases?

I know there are many questions here. Please advise if you can.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 11:33 AM
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Amsterdam deserves 3 days imo, Rotterdam although I've not been seems to be deserving at least 2.

5 days.

I'd spend 2 days in Gent and go to Brugge.

7 days.

You can lengthen your stay in Belgium and see Bruxelles, Dinant, whatever.

Normandy is vast. If you want to see the beaches Bayeux is a good base and from there you can see the beaches. And Mont Saint Michel. Now if you want to see more of Normandy, like the Cotentin, Coutances, Cherbourg cover a lot of ground.

You can spend at least 3 days to se Bayeux and the beaches, then you should see Mont Saint Michel and Honfleur.

10 days + 1 lost in travel.

4 more days to allocate :
NL (some small towns etc - I'm not an expert on NL)
Belgium like WW1 sites or Antwerpen or the Ardennes
Normandy : plenty of possibilities too.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 12:05 PM
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How are you planning on getting around?
Where exactly do your ancestors come from?
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Old May 31st, 2017, 12:11 PM
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We plan to rent a car and when driving is too challenging, we will use public transport.

Our family is from the small village of Rockanje. Ancestors from further back lived in Helvoetius, Abbenbroek, Charlois. At least those places are where I find records of marriages, baptisms and deaths.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 01:08 PM
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Your ancestral area happens to be a holiday destination and has a reasonable supply of accommodation. If you want to do more than just have a look, you could stay there for two or three nights to explore it more intensively.
A car would be handy. This area has no railway connection, and using buses (out of Rotterdam) would be awkward.
Are you familiar with www.wiewaswie.nl/en/?
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Old May 31st, 2017, 01:36 PM
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Thank you. I will look into that.

I have used information from that website to trace my ancestors. I used Ancestry.com which links me to that site, but I had not tried using it outside of Ancestry.com. I have found a tremendous amount of information on my Dutch ancestors. Apparently the Dutch are very good at record keeping.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 02:09 PM
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Going by train I expect -renting car in one country and returning in another can result in steep drop-off charges and trains are so so great -cars also useless in cities like Amsterdam, Paris.

In Bayeux there are mini-bus tours that pickup at many hotels to do D-Day tours.

for lots on trains check www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com.

14 days -Amsterdam
maybe a day or 2 in Bruges, the dream town of Belgium
Bayeux 2 days plus one day getting there
Paris.

Fly into Amsterdam and out of Paris -so-called Open Jaw tickets.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 03:15 PM
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If by train you may look at the Benelux-France Railpass which lets you hop on any domestic train except Thalys ones in Belgium and Netherlands and Luxembourg and most non-high-speed trains in France (like Paris to Bayeux ones I believe)- fully flexible -travel as much in one 24-hr period as you like.
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Old May 31st, 2017, 09:49 PM
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As to the Rockanje/Hellevoet/Charlois trail...

(I live in Rotterdam, and get to that area often)

You might do a day of wandering from Rotterdam, which might mean you add 1 extra day (if you planned two) for an excursion. Charlois now is actually part of Rotterdam and can be added to a city visit. It's accessible by the #2 tram. Old Charlois is what you'll likely be looking for: a charming, but small area around the Charlois church, in a sea of 19th century tenement-style housing.

Alternatively, you can take a water taxi from a stop like Leuvehaven and go to the water taxi stop at Charloisse Hoofd. Going back you might want to visit the old SS Rotterdam (also a water taxi stop) for a nostalgic cruise experience. Their Lido restaurant is quite good.

At the end of Boergoense Vliet, you'll find the Kromme Zandweg, with a nice park, with a few good coffee places and a working mill.

Leen Sprong, the miller, is very hospitable. Even if the mill isn't open, give him a call and he'll likely show you around.

http://www.molendezandweg.nl/index.html

Getting to the island of Voorne is a bit of a different disposition. To get to there, you take the metro to Spijkenisse, and from there buses to Rockanje (also visit Oostvoorne, quite a beautiful village). Rockanje is really a working class seaside town, popular with Rotterdam inhabitants. Hellevoetsluis will likely be the star of your day, with a beautifully preserved citadel and a nice centre of town along the harbour. The Buffel training vessel (used to be in Rotterdam) is now moored there and can be viewed)

I think it's best to rent a car and drive there. As bus services on the Island of Voorne are slightly inconvenient and infrequent.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 08:52 AM
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Rockanje, also liked Brielle.

Prefered to jump further down to Goes, Veere etc, Middleburg is also pleasant.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 09:19 AM
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Prefered to jump further down to Goes, Veere etc, Middleburg is also pleasant.>

You can take a boat from this area en route to Belgium - ferry for cars I think -very close to Bruges.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 11:33 AM
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ah but keep in mind drop-off fees for renting in one country and returning in another -maybe just motor thru Holland and hop train to Bruges and on to France.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 12:55 PM
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15 days ain't much for Amsterdam, Paris and Normandy and also meandering thru Holland. I'd concentrate on those three places and maybe hit a Bruges en route to Paris or drop something.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 10:05 PM
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PalenQ, no, you CAN'T take a ferry across to Breskens anymore. There is a tunnel now, and the ferry is only for cyclists and foot passengers.
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Old Jun 1st, 2017, 10:06 PM
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And yes, Brielle is gorgeous: 16th century of the Dutch calvinist Taliban.
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 02:46 PM
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Great ideas. I really hate to give up the chance to see where my great grandparents came from just to see some touristy stuff. But I can see that our itinerary is too full. Something has to go.

Would it be feasible to visit the area south of Rotterdam (Charlois, Helvoetius, Brielle, Rockanje) by day trip from Amsterdam? Or would it be better to stay in Rotterdam or is there a better base for that part? What part of this would be the most time consuming? Since there are no longer living relatives that we know of, we are really just interested in be in a place that will give us an impression of where we came from. So what part of our ancestral area would you recommend for that?

Our ancestors apparently lived in that area south of Rotterdam in the Maas delta for a thousand years.
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Old Jun 8th, 2017, 03:28 PM
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Amsterdam to Rotterdam C S is now just an hour or less. Do two day trips if need be -relocating, especially by public transit, takes up about a half day - and so nice to be riding trains- often quite few sans luggage. Hit Rotterdam C S and do local transit.

But Rotterdam -I don't know if it is the best base because I did not read all above and have never heard of them - but if it is it could be a nice 2-night stay - really really REALLY nice city in many ways if not in old-world looks and feel.

Our ancestors apparently lived in that area south of Rotterdam in the Maas delta for a thousand years.>

Without knowing much about it a delta would seem to be the same about anywhere - maybe just a train or bus ride thru it and stop at one or two towns?
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 07:51 AM
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It would be much more comfortable to do it as a daytrip from Rotterdam. Remember, near Hellevoet and Brielle, and certainly Rockanje, there is no viable public transport. Which means you'd have to rent a car, either in Amsterdam and drive to the Island of Voorne, or first make your way to Rotterdam, rent car there, then do the tour, return car, take train back to Amsterdam.

That's a very long day.

PalenQ, I speak from bitter experience: there's a bus every 2 hours towards Rockanje, for instance, so you have to time it really right to visit that precise area by public transport. I assume you've never been there. I have.

Rotterdam is great.

Idell, if you need specific pointers, don't hesitate to ask me or contact me, even while there.

I'd definitely try to visit Brielle and Hellevoetsluis. Rockanje is the outlier here and fairly difficult to reach by bus, weirdly.

Charlois is a part of Rotterdam now, and as I said, that's a walk around the old part and a nice watertaxi ride.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 10:13 AM
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PalenQ, I speak from bitter experience: there's a bus every 2 hours towards>

bitter or better -better I assume -don't believe I said anything about specifics but was talking in generalities (knowing you would hopefully given them).

I should not have commented. Mea culpa.
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Old Jun 9th, 2017, 11:44 PM
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No, bitter. It's a mystery to me why the island of Voorne should be such a public transport no-man's land.
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