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First Trip to Europe - 15-day Itinerary (April/May 2013)

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Mar 30th, 2013, 02:22 PM
  #1
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First Trip to Europe - 15-day Itinerary (April/May 2013)

Hi everybody,

I will be visiting Europe for the first time with my mother in late April to early May. We bought open-jaw tickets, arriving in Amsterdam on April 27 and leaving Paris on May 11. I would prefer to use trains as the means of travel for the majority of this trip.

I've developed the following itinerary and would like some honest input:
Arrival on April 27 at 7:00
Day 1 (4/27) - Keukenhof, Leiden; sleep: Amsterdam
Day 2 (4/28) - Volendam, Marken, Monnickendam or other villages and towns that exhibit the traditional Holland culture (suggestions?); sleep: Amsterdam
Day 3 (4/29) - Delft, The Hague; sleep: Amsterdam
Day 4 (4/30) - Amsterdam; sleep: Amsterdam
Day 5 (5/1) - Zaanse Schans (windmills), Amsterdam; sleep: Amsterdam
Day 6 (5/2) - Cologne; sleep: Cologne
Day 7 (5/3) - Marksburg Castle, cruise from Lorch to St Goar, Rheinfels Castle; sleep: Cochem
Day 8 (5/4) - Burg Eltz, crusie from Traben-Trarbach to Bernkastel; sleep: Cochem
Day 9 (5/5) - Cochem, Trier; sleep: Heidelberg
Day 10 (5/6) - Heidelberg; sleep: Strasbourg
Day 11 (5/7) - Strasbourg; sleep: Strasbourg
Day 12 (5/8) - Paris
Day 13 (5/9) - Paris
Day 14 (5/10) - Paris
Day 15 (5/11) - Paris
Departure on May 11 at 14:30

A few pieces of information that I feel would explain parts of this draft itinerary:
(1) It is my mom's dream to visit Keukenhof and I'm hoping that the garden will be somewhat close to full bloom in late April.
(2) Paris. What more do I need to say.
(3) Another highlight of our tour would be visiting the Rhine and Mosel. We originally planned to go through Belgium enroute to Paris, but then we watched travel videos that depict these dramatic castles overlooking scenic rivers and we realized that they're very much within reach for us. So we decided to plan that into our itinerary.

A big part of travel to me is to experience the distinctive character of a place, hence anything of historic or significance interests me. As for my mother, she loves pretty and romantic places. Quaint little shops on cobblestone streets would be heavenly for her.

What do you guys think about this itinerary? Am I spending too much (candidate: Holland) or too little time (candidate: Paris) in some of these places? Are there any places along this route that we should be including or eliminating? Is Amsterdam gonna be really packed on Queen's Day? I think we can work the R-P tickets into my Day 7-9, but are there any other discount railway tickets that we can take advantage of? Would the V-E Day on May 8 impact my itinerary?

Also, are there any transportation or railway museums remotely close to the places I'm going? I'm willing to make a small detour if such museum exists.

Thanks for the help! I really appreciate it.
WilWil25 is offline  
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Mar 30th, 2013, 05:47 PM
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Sounds like a nice trip.

Day 6 (5/2) - Cologne; sleep: Cologne
Day 7 (5/3) - Marksburg Castle, cruise from Lorch to St Goar, Rheinfels Castle; sleep: Cochem
Day 8 (5/4) - Burg Eltz, crusie from Traben-Trarbach to Bernkastel; sleep: Cochem
Day 9 (5/5) - Cochem, Trier; sleep: Heidelberg

Day 7 (5/3) is VERY full - lots of moving around, walking, etc. I think you'd be wise on 5/2 to store bags in Cologne station locker, visit Cologne for most of the afternoon, and then make it a little easier on yourselves - fetch your bags and catch an evening train to Braubach for overnight. Marksburg opens at 10 - and you could be the first ones in line this way. When you're in St. Goar, you can leave your bags at the TI office - they're open 9-6 (no lockers at station.)
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Mar 30th, 2013, 05:54 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Also: The VRM mini-group ticket (21.20€) will be cheaper for 5/3 travel than the R-P ticket (26€ for two):

http://www.vrminfo.de/en/tickets-and...eisure-ticket/

You can buy an advance-sale savings fare ticket from A-dam to Braubach for 5/2 - and schedule a stopover in Cologne for whatever amount of time you want there. I see a savings fare of 44€ for A-dam - Braubach on 5/2 for the 8:02 am departure, for example, at http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en
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Mar 30th, 2013, 10:05 PM
  #4
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Thanks for your reply, Russ!

The 44€ A-dam to Braubach ticket is a great find! The saving on purchasing the VRM ticket will also come in handy when I need to order an extra beer for the evening.

I gave some thoughts about when to visit Marksburg. We unfortunately don't know any German and from their website it seems that guided tours in English are only provided two times a day, at 12pm and 4pm. We really hope that we can join one of those tours in order to get a better understanding of the castle's history. If we are to join the English tour at noon, do you maintain your suggestion to stay at Braubach on the night before? Or is the time better spent for an evening in Cologne? Also, would it be a logistical hassle to tug the luggage on the Rhine cruise? From the website we really couldn't grasp how equipped the K-D boats are.

Are you familiar with Heidelberg, Russ? Do you think it's good stopover on the way to Alsace or are there other places more worthwhile in your opinion?
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