Dose this sound viable

Old Apr 21st, 2012, 03:02 PM
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Dose this sound viable

We fly into Amsterdam from Australia, our flight arrives at 0930 on the 4th of June,
We will fly Business class so hope to have slept on the flight.
Taxi to town and stay one night - suggestions for a decent hotel near the station where we get the fast train to Paris please, I am considering Grand Hotel Amrath Amsterdam.
We get a 24 hour pass for the Hop on Hop off bus, do the loop once then get on and off at the spots we fancy.
5 June get the afternoon fast train to Paris where we are booked at the Victoria Palace Hotel near Notre Dame, until Saturday 9 June.
That gives us 3 and a bit days to explore Paris, we will get the 48 hour pass on the Hop on Hop off Bus.
We are not big on art galleries but will of course visit the Louvre, but we are into walking and exploring the off the track nooks and crannies.
After Paris we train to Dijon where we will do a canal barge for 6 nights.
Do you think that gives us enough time for a taste of Amsterdam and a decent look at Paris, or should we ditch Amsterdam and connect straight through to Paris?
This leads me to my next question, should we fly or get the fast train from Schiphol? we will have to get back to Amsterdam after our barge, and as we are getting the train back from Dijon, thought is easier to just jump on the train then rather than transfer to the airport. We will spend our last night at an Amsterdam airport hotel before flying home on the morning of the16th.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, any comments on the viability, rail travel and hotels welcomed.
Thanks
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Old Apr 21st, 2012, 03:55 PM
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I assume the plane tickets are already purchased? If not, buy open, jaw tickets into Amsterdam and out of Paris, or vice versa. Then you won't have to backtrack. But if you're stuck with the current flight arrangements I do think the train is easier than another flight. In fact, I don't really understand why you're flying to Amsterdam to begin with, since you're basically getting out of it after one night. It's certainly got plenty to offer, but weighed against Paris, I'd choose more time in Paris.

I don't think you need a 48-hour HOHO pass for Paris. One ride around on that should be sufficient, then go off exploring as you say you like to do.

If you only have 3 days in Paris, and you're not much into art galleries, it's not a crime to skip the Louvre. In fact, you might enjoy any number of smaller museums a lot more.
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Old Apr 21st, 2012, 05:25 PM
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I agree with StCirq. It seems like a lot of logistics for not much gain, unless you have a very specific reason to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam. I had to fly into Amsterdam last year to get to Paris (short notice trip, so I had no choice), and it was very easy to get the train direct from the airport to Paris Gare du Nord. There's so much to see in Paris, you'd have a more relaxed to trip to spend the extra night there, rather than being in transit. And like StCirq says, there are plenty of more intimate Paris museums to experience - Musee Marmottan Monet, if you like Impressionists, and the lovely peaceful Rodin Museum & gardens.
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Old Apr 21st, 2012, 05:54 PM
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Thanks StCirq and Rosemaryoz, I am locked into flying in and out of Amsterdam due to flight availability and cost, all the business class specials on my dates are unavailable into and out of Paris, but I can get to Amsterdam, the difference in price for the next level of fare available to Paris is over $2000 per person so for $4000 saving I am happy to go via Amsterdam.
Just thought it might be worth a look whilst we are there.
Thanks for your comments on the train Rosemary, I was leaning towards it rather than another flight.
Cheers!
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 02:25 AM
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I'm not big on city tours but do try the fat tires segway tour of Paris. It is fun, it gets you a bit of background and see a few things. If the Louvre is not your thing try and see some alternatives, the Orangerie, the Musee d'Orsay the cathedral, the deportation monument etc.

Frightening, i just read StCirq's comments and realise how much I agree with him.

There is a fine museum of the middle ages. if Mrs Sharich likes cloth that might be of interest. Near by is a hamman, the old roman ampitheatre, the Muslim Centre with its moving wall and one of the best evening meals (and view) in town. So much to do. There is even a tiny vinyard in the centre of Paris.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 07:10 AM
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>>>Frightening, i just read StCirq's comments and realise how much I agree with him.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 07:20 AM
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sharich,

A couple of comments about Amsterdam... first, don't take a taxi. The train is cheap, efficient and convenient. You'll get off at Centraal Station right downtown.

For a hotel, use Priceline's Name Your Own Price. Unless your date happens to coincide with a holiday or major convention, Priceline works wonderfully well for Amsterdam. Go over to TripAdvisor.com and check the Netherlands forum. Look for the two threads called "Bidding on a 4 Star..." and "Bidding on a 5 Star...". See also http://www.betterbidding.com for more info.

Recently, people have got the Amrath for under $150 (US) a night. My brother in law recently won the Barbizon Palace... right across from the station.. for $147. Either hotel is normally in the 500 USD a night range if you book normally. It's pretty much impossible to go wrong and you can not only save a small fortune but be within easy walking distance of the station.

Have you got your train tickets yet? Book as early as possible for the best fares: http://www.thalys.com

Train is by far the best between the 2 cities ... as far as I know there are no budget airlines doing the route anymore as the train only takes 3.5 hours.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 08:27 AM
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If you are going to have to land in Amsterdam, I would visit that city even if it is just for one day.

We did the same thing nearly four years ago, we were visiting a few towns and cities in Belgium and also Paris in France, and we took a flight to and from Amsterdam as we got better airfares, and being five in the family it did make quite a difference. (saying that Shilpol airport is not at all one of my favourite airports, it is very chaotic and seemed disorganised, I do not know whether it has now imporved since that time.

We spent the last night in a hotel a town very close to Amsterdam called China Hotel, at the time it was a newly opened hotel operated by Chinese, and in the evening we were served a huge Chinese food buffet, and in the morning we got up quite early and were served a typical Chinese breakfast. We decided to stay there and not more central in Amsterdam to make my kids happy as they love Chinese food.

The next day we drove to Amsterdam, it is a nightmare to park, but we managed (still with difficulty) as we had our child with disability with us and we have the Blue parking Sticker for disability) and spent the whole day sightseeing in Amsterdam as our plane left very late in the evening (if I remember well nearly mignigt). We were driving a hired car which we picked and returned in airport at Amsterdam.

So on that last day in Amsterdam, we did a tourist bus tour with guide around the city of Amsterdam, stopping at the Diamond museum, and we also did a harbour boat cruise which we also really enjoyed, the harbour of Amsterdam is so magnificent. You can buy tickets for these from booking offices and kiosks very close to the train station.

There is also a science museum near the harbour, but since it was a short visit we did not have time to visit it, which I regret as my kids would have really enjoyed it, but we preferred to also include a walk near canals to experience the atmosphere in Amsterdam, having a quick lunch there. I do not regret my short visit at all, as even though I did not have time to explore the ancient city well, at least, since I had to make the stop, I now have a bit of experience of what Amsterdam looks like. Its houses on the canals are so lovely and colourful.

Be careful of pickpockets, as Amsterdam is crowdy and you find so many different types of people there, including some young ones that seemed to be the type that sleep on the streets. But if you are on the alert (we were warned by friends that there is quite a lot of theft in Amsterdam), as you have to be in all crowdy cities, then you should be ok.

I have no experience on travel by train as we were driving a hired car, but I am sure other fodorites are giving you helpful suggestions. We did not take accomodation in central Amsterdam either, but exactly near the train station seemed the busiest area.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 08:42 AM
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I agree with ST. Cirq--the Louvre is far from my favorite museum and daunting in size to boot. Try the Orsay for the building (not that the Louvre building isn't wonderful too) and accessible collections.
As someone else said, no need for 2 day pass for the HOp on buss-you may think you'll use it, but you won't.
You can visit "off the beaten track" crannies, BUT there is NO place like Paris, and I can't imagine not just seeing ALL the "big" stuff I could pack in--along with sitting in a cafe with a glass of wine to rest up.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 08:45 AM
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Interesting take on Schipol, Anna. I've always thought it was one of the most pleasant, organized, and efficient airports in the world.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 09:24 AM
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I think Schipol is pretty efficient. The only odd things are 1) the miles the aircraft have to drive to get toand from the runways and 2) the internal security wall that I always have to get through and I seem to leave the better food places on the other side.

Taxi is not needed or any real benefit. Public transport is a wonderful feature of much of Europe and in Amsterdam especially.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 10:34 AM
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If the hop-on/off bus tour is something you'd like to do, it makes more sense to buy a 2-day ticket for only €3 more than the cost of the 1-day ticket (€31/€34).

As you can see from their route map, it would be very hard to ride around all four of their routes in one day, especially if you hopped off from time to time.

http://www.parislopentour.com/paris-circuit.php?lng=gb
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Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 02:04 PM
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so many great comments and suggestions, thanks everyone.
Still not sure, but think we will just head straight to Paris.
I was considering a segway tour Biloburgler, my husband always fancies trying one so I thought I would book one as a surprise!
By the way I worked out why I could not get a flight to Paris, the French Open is on!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 09:06 AM
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When we were at Schilpol, St Cirq, the queues at check-in were so chaotic, no organisation whatsoever, with no orderly queues, something I do not often encounter nowadays in airports in Europe.

Also, on landing and arrival at Schilpol we had to pass the same way as the boarding gate areas where people were waiting for the flights for departure. It is true that this is no big deal, as is not the only airport that does this, but since this airport is a very busy airport, it was quite crowdy. Maybe it was a busy day, we were there in September nearly four years ago.

Saying that, on the positive side, I clearly remember that whilst queueing for check-in, everyone was trying to skip the queues, and pushing in before our family, and we ended up being some of the last to check-in. There was no two seats available next to each other, which I essentially needed as my daughter is disabled, but the supervisor came and kindly arranged this for us. Also at the departure gate, they let us enter to the plane first. But most airport attendants are helpful to us and do that anyway, although of course we were disappointed at some other airports which lacked some good customer care, sometimes not the fault of the airport itself, but of the staff of the airlines.

I do not know, maybe they opened up more terminals at Schilpol since that time, but it is still stamped in my mind that it was really busy and chaotic - I do not know, maybe it was a peak season for arrival/departure for tourists or students, as many foreigners go to study in Amsterdam or in the vicintiy.

Of course it not an unbearable experience that would deter us from using Schilpol airport again if we save a substantial amount of money in airfares like we did on that trip. But especially in our case, we do have different experiences in airports. We travel nearly always twice a year on holidays, most of the time with the whole family and always with our disabled daughter.

As to the Fodorite, if you prefer to stay in Paris, so that you see more time to see the sights, then do so. Ther is so much to see and do in Paris. I agree that Paris is so beautiful, I love it especially in the evenings, with the lights, a walk in the centre, near Place de La Concorde, Champs Elysee, Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and the Seine is a wonderful and unique experience.

Just in case you want to visit the Louvre, there is some days in the month, can't remember exactly the days, as it is now also four years ago that I have been to Paris, that the Louvre opens in the evenings as well till quite late, in fact we had gone there in the evening. Check it out on their website. I do not know, but I just feel the need to visit the Louvre when I visit Paris (three times), just as I have to visit Madame Tusauds every time I visit London, or the Vatican in Rome. I love the glass pyramid outside the Louvre, so unique.

There are also the Bateaux Mouche(I do not know if I spelt that right) which are boats that you can hop on/off, which are very convenient for sightseeing, stopping at the riverbanks of sites like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame etc It is also a lovely scenic boat trip. I remember we had bought our tickets near the riverbanks close to the Eiffel Tower.

Enjoy your trip!!!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 11:23 AM
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Well, I can see why you came away with a bad impression of Schipol, Anna. Doesn't sound like fun at all. We were there in the middle of a November on our way to Africa. We had a 5-hour layover on the way over, so got to check out pretty much the entire terminal. It wasn't terribly crowded, and all services were working efficiently. Also, the airport staff and concession staff were uniformly polite and helpful. Sorry your experience was much less pleasant.
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 02:02 AM
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It must have been a very busy day when I used the airport then, it might have still been the tourist season in September, and probably a time or week when university students etc arrive/depart in Amsterdam as there seemed to be young people everywhere even in the centre of Amsterdam.

I really cannot complain about airport staff and concession staff as they were very helpful during our check-in and on boarding the plane, more obliging to assist us than in some other airports in other countries we have used.

And I did save quite some money using that airport as I remember even car hire was at a better rate (using same car hire company) than from Belgium or Paris. They differ so much from every country- even the excess insurance which you buy at the airport. And using Schilpol airport gave me the opportunity to make a short stop for one night in Amsterdam, which I was always curious to visit.

So it was not that bad an experience that I would not use the aiport again, maybe I would just make sure that I arrive quite early in airport, so that I would be one of the first in the waiting line. Again, it might prove to be much quieter on some other day or week or month. Every airport has its particular busy period or week.

On that particular holiday we had landed at Schilpol, stopped for a couple of days in Bruges and Brussels, then proceeded to the southof Belgium to Liege for another a couple of days, as my husband wanted to see the Grand Prix in Spa, then proceeded to and spent a week in Paris and Disneyland, and last night in Amsterdam, stopping on our way for a quick visit and hot chocolate and waffle (yummy yummy) in the centre square of Anthwerp. It was a nice two-week holiday, and we saw a lot, a hired car helps so much.

Sorry Fodorite for deviating, but I get so carried away when answering queries, it brings back so many lovely memories of that particular holiday. - enjoy your holiday, every minute of it, if you decide on doing only Paris, it is such a beautiful romantic city with so many lovely sites to visit. You can never get enough days there!!
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 02:47 AM
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Sharich - I just checked for you. Thalys the high speed train operator does express train journeys from Schilpol to the North Paris train station at different times during the day. The journey should take just over 3 hours. So if you do not plan to make a quick visit to Amsterdam, after your arrival at Schilpol you can take the train direct to Paris, no need to travel to central Amsterdam.

Air France and KLM (the dutch airline) do flights from Schilpol to Paris at various times, but they seem to be extremely expensive in the site I went into, over 400 Euro for a one-way flight, I do not think it is worth it. I did not check out any low-cost airlines since you do mention that you prefer to travel business class.

So, I am summing it up again, if you do not intend to stay overnight in Amsterdam, you can then get a train straight to Paris from Schilpol Airport on your arrival. Check out the times most convenient for you, I did not check whether you can book online on their website, if you do so, leave ample time in between. Or maybe you can buy tickets on your arrival at the station near the airport. I am not that experienced in using trains, as we nearly always hire a car to move around.

If you do ultimately decide to visit Amsterdam, you can still use the express Thalys train from central Amsterdam train station, which is extremely close to the centre of Amsterdam, as another Fodorite also pointed out, which takes you to Paris.

If you need me to check out anything out for you, please let me know.
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 03:26 AM
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I do not believe the Bateaux Mouche offer a hop on and off boat, just the sightseeing cruises.

The Batobus is the hop on and off boat that makes stops. http://www.batobus.com/english/
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 07:49 AM
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You are right Nikki, I mixed the names up. The Batobus are the boats that make stops in sites along the Seine, whilst the Bateaux Mouche are the ones that do not stop, and make the sightseeing one hour cruises with guide, sometimes longer with the lunch or dinner. We did the Bateau Mouche, not in the last visit to Paris, but a previous one, quite a few ago.

Anyway, you will see the ones that do the stops immediately as you decend near the pier, there will be a booking office to purchase the tickets, and often with people waiting in line for them. They are really convenient, and an easy way to get from place to place, saved some driving for my husband in central Paris, which he did not enjoy much!!!We had parked close to the Eiffel Tower and embarked from the stop near the shore there.
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