Amsterdam/Brussels/Paris Train or Car?

Feb 3rd, 2004, 07:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 97
Amsterdam/Brussels/Paris Train or Car?

After some deliberation, we decided on a trip to Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris this May (in no particular order)

I haven't booked anything yet. We're trying to do this as inexpensively as possible, and we'll have 8 days. I understand flying into one city and out of another to return home is very expensive. I am trying to arrange these 3 cities in the most economical way.

My question is this: should we rent a car to get to and fro? Sould we take the Thalys? Which is cheapest and most time-efficient? The train seems expensive, but we know none of the languages and driving may be difficult. Also, which city is the cheapest to fly in and out of from NY?

Any advice or guidance would be appreiated! We've been to Europe before but it's been awhile! Thanks.
newlywed is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2004, 08:02 AM
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An open jaw ticket isn't always more expensive. Especially when you figure in the costs of backtracking. If there is only two of you, I would go by train. More civilized and relaxing. The public trans system is highly efficient. (I thought the system in Brussels left a lot to be desired though).
Bird is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2004, 08:16 AM
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You don't have to travel between the cities using Thalys service if you'd rather not pay the supplement. And I agree that open jaws are not necessarily any more expensive than RT between two cities.
How much travel are you going to do? Would a rail pass be economical? Unless you feel you need the "flexibility" a car ultimately offers AND you are willing to buy the gas and the insurance, etc., then the train might suiot your needs better..but am not convinced you'd need to know a lot of the "local language" when driving. But driving takes work and there is also parking to consider.
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Feb 3rd, 2004, 08:19 AM
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Thanks. We're leaning toward taking the train, but not sure.

How do you book "open jaw" airfare? This is something I will look into online.

Thanks, and any additional guidance would be great!
newlywed is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2004, 08:19 AM
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8 days? Train is better. It takes you right to the center of town more easily than driving. It probably is cheaper, especially if you have drop-off fees when going one way. We did open jaw last summer and it was no more expensive than round-trip.
Michael is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2004, 08:21 AM
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There are hourly intercity trains between Amsterdam and Brussels which are cheaper than Thalys and take only slightly longer. From Brussels to Paris, there are high speed trains every half hour.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2004, 08:23 AM
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To book an open jaw ticket go to any airline web site or the ones like travelocity, expedia, etc. They all (or at least most) have a "multi-city" option.

An example of what you would put in is

Flying from "home" to Paris, May 1.
Flying from Amsterdam to "home", May 10

You would be responsible for getting from Paris to Amsterdam and any stops in between. When we did London/Paris last year it was actually cheaper to fly into London and out of Paris than roundtrip from either city. Of course, adding in the price of the train ticket ate up all the savings, but we got to see both cities.
Feb 3rd, 2004, 08:43 AM
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Go Today has a package to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris that includes air from New York, hotels, trains and breakfast for 7 days 6 nights. The price with tax is$938 per person. They have upgrades of hotels available and usually will let you extend your stay if you wish to do so. Check out the website and look under Europe- multi-city selections.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 3rd, 2004, 08:56 AM
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How about by motorcoach?

The cities you mention are also served by Eurolines. It's 25 Euros round trip Brussels to A'dam, 34 round trip Brussels to Paris, with discounts for advance purchase. Not bad.

I've gone with Eurolines previously to cross the channel from both Brussels and Paris. The departure/arrival locations are the Brussells Nord train station and Bagnolet in Paris, I believe.

If you do French or Dutch, you can get details and schedules at:
Russ is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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no way.. no motorcoach! i did it from utrecht (netherlands) to paris... it was sooooooooooo long and boring.. unbeliveable.. take the train!! at least you can move around if you get bored.
christellefv is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 09:14 PM
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Take the train. You do not want the headache of dealing with a car in the big cities. I wouldn't use a car in Paris even if it was free.
39Steps is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 02:32 AM
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Use the train if you are spending most of your time in the major cities. Driving in Amsterdam is crazy, and the other two aren't much better. Parking is expensive. All three cities have excellent public transportation systems with buses, trams, and/or metros.

Don't use the Thalys from A'dam to Brussels because it costs more and takes the same time as the regular trains. Go to the international tickets office in the Amsterdam station and ask about reduced fares and specials. E.g., the NS has a Superdag Retour to Brussels that will save you on a round trip ticket if you travel after 9 am on a weekday. Do not buy your train tickets in the USA because they cost more on this side of the Atlantic.

In Holland everybody speaks English. Public service workers, train conductors, waiters, hotel desk clerks, etc. just about everywhere speak English.

As I recall, except for the night train, the Thalys is the only direct train between Brussels and Paris. You'll like it.

I think you might like Antwerp more than Brussels. Check it out.

You might be there in time to catch Keukenhof in bloom. Ask at the Amsterdam tourist office for directions or tour excursions. Keukenhof is magnificent.

For flying, deals come and go. Most important in flying from New York is to catch the latest flight of the day so you can sleep on the plane. If you fly late afternoon or early evening you'll be awake for the whole flight, landing at about daybreak over there but your sleeping time over here. Getting over jet lag will be a severe problem for your short trip if you don't get a few hours of sleep on the plane. Last year KLM had an 11:15 pm flight out of JFK which arrived at AMS at about noon. That's a good schedule.

To save money you have to look carefully at where you are sleeping. That will be your biggest line item. B&Bs are becoming more common on the Continent and can easily save you half of your sleeping budget, and give you a personal look at the way of life over there. You might try a google search for B&B in the cities you plan to visit, or in nearby cities. For example, for Amsterdam search also for B&B in Haarlem and Leiden. If you stay outside the major cities, ask at the train station about reduced fares for frequent travel. Holland has a deal for frequent users but I don't know the details.
hopscotch is offline  
Feb 8th, 2004, 09:41 AM
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I have flown "open jaws" several times and it was not more expensive. I book the tickets myself, direct with the airlines by phone or internet. For example - I've gone into Amsterdam out of Geneva. Another time into Geneva out of Paris.

With only 8 days, my suggested itinerary would be fly into Amsterdam, stay 3 days, then go directly to Paris by train (Thayls) stay 5 days. Fly out of Paris. This minimizes expenses and hassle by eliminating one extra city stop and hotel in a short period of time, for a more relaxing trip. And definitely would not consider rental car for this route, as it is so well served by the trains.
suze is offline  

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