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Fly into Frankfurt - out of Amsterdam: Itinerary with 8-year old?

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May 27th, 2009, 03:03 PM
  #1
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Fly into Frankfurt - out of Amsterdam: Itinerary with 8-year old?

Going in August to Europe on our first trip. We are flying into Frankfurt and out of Amsterdam. We have 2 weeks.

We are not big city people. Love food & wine, nature. Like to stay in smaller inns or B&Bs. Need to balance historical/cultural sightseeing with active fun kids stuff.

My initial general thoughts are to head to the Rhine region, then to France (Alsace & Champagne), then up through Belgium and finally to Amsterdam.

Would love your ideas on a good iternerary and activities. Thanks so much.
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May 27th, 2009, 03:37 PM
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While you're travelling from Belgium up to Amsterdam, you might want to consider stopping in den Hague and visiting Madurodam, a miniature Dutch village which is popular with the children. I've never been there (no children), but I've heard good things about it. Here's a link to their website.

www.madurodam.nl

If you do decide to visit and stay in the area, you should stay in Delft instead of den Hague. It's a charming full-size Dutch town. For a place to stay I can recommend the Hotel de Emauspoort.

www.emauspoort.nl

Robyn
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May 27th, 2009, 03:54 PM
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Will you be travelling by car or train? With an 8-year old, I think the car would be more fun. While travelling by train initially might be great adventure for a kid (if he is from the "train-poor" US), the novelty wears out fast. By car, you have so mucb more flexibility.

fter the arrival at FRA aiport, I would head toward the Rhein, and make my "headquarters" for at leadt 2 nights in Koblenz. That is an easy drive from FRA, along the autobahns A-3 (right outside of the airport) and then the AutobahnA-61 to the Koblenz exit.

After getting over the jet lag, pay perhaps a visit to the Deutsche Eck in Koblenz, the confluence of the Rhein and Mosel. On the next day take a train along the Rhein upriver as far as Bacharach. From there, take a boat downriver back to Koblenz. For train schedules, check www.bahn.de. There are all kinds of discounted tickets the three of you can use to save money. Check at the ticket counter in Koblenz. By boat, downriver is faster than upriver.

En route bak to KJoblenz, you may want to get off the boat at one of the towns along the river and skip a boat while poking around the town. St. Goar has a neat castle, you can go there from the boat landing in St. Goasr by taxi, or in your own car from Koblenz. Your boy will probably have as much fun exploring it as ours did when they were 8 and 9 years old.

After 2 or 3 nights in Koblenz. head along the Mosel, upriver to Trier. You can do this easily in one day. Again there are several old towns that are fun to explore. Trier has lots to see; it helps if you have done a bit of your home work to explain to your son all the historical sites, several back from Roman times.

From Trier you could go on the A-4 to the Brussels by-pass and the A-10 to Ghent and /or Brugge (Bruges). En route you may want to make a short detour to Bastogne, for the battle sites of WWII.

Spend a couple of days in or near Ghent or Brugge. The boat rides, etc. are also fun for the boy. You may want to hit the beaches near Knokke-Heist for a day's outing. Our kids loved to play in the old German WWII bunkers along the beaches.

Next I would go up to Den Haag. There, be sure to stop at the miniature Netherlands park Maturodam there. Plus Den Haag is a very interesting city. You can stay in one of the seaside resort there.. I'm not sure if Keukenhof has much to offer at that time of the year, but it's well worth checking out. During the tulip season it is very unique.

Finally, stay in Amsterdam, or near Amsterdam along one of the sub-urban train lines, and ditch your car. Explore the city and the area around it by train and bus.

When our boys were the age of your boy, we lived for 3 years in Brussels. They loved that town and some of the surrounding towns and castles. But, with only 2 weeks, I would avoid Brussels itself by car and perhaps just do a day trip by train from Ghent. Again www.bahn.de can give you details. Check the Union Jack flag for the English version of that site.
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May 27th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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Strictly for the kids, there's the Efteling amusement/fairy tale park. I've been there with my Dutch nephews and nieces and we all had a great time.
http://www.efteling.nl/home.aspx?LanguageId=2

treplow's suggestion for the beaches around Zeebrugge is good. Check out Zwarte Polder nearby in Zeeland (NL) where there are giant sand dunes.
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May 27th, 2009, 10:08 PM
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First trip to Europe? Take the train, do not drive. By taking the train, you get to see everything a lot better. As to whether or not it is more fun for a 9 year old to sit in the back seat of a car or ride on the train, that is easy to figure out. Which would you rather do? Children never get tired of riding in trains. I never get tired of it either and I don't even own a car! By buying Länder passes, they can cheaply ride and get off and on wherever they want.
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May 28th, 2009, 03:06 AM
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Drive - a car will be cheaper with 4 of you and will afford you many more options.
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May 28th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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I could vote either way - drive or by car. It really depends on what you want and are brave enough to do. From my experience driving will be a bit cheaper for sure. Either way I'd plan the route ahead of time and allow for lots of walking adventures to make up for the travel. Nothing beats European B&Bs and small budget hotels (which are normally family run). Our daughter has travelled abroad since she was very young and we've never had any trouble as far as boredom on trains or driving.

Once you decide your stopping points, post them and we can try to suggest "kid friendly" B&Bs.

Have a great time,
Lily
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May 28th, 2009, 05:25 AM
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Drive; much more flexible. Plus; driving in Europe isn't that different from anywhere else! Eeven most cities are pretty easy to drive into by car. Just follow the signs for the indoor parkings.

I would also start in the Mosel-area (see suggestions made by Treplow). Heading towards Gent/Brugge/Antwerpen, you could make a stop at the southern tip of the Netherlands (Zuid Limburg). The area around Maastricht is especially beautiful, hilly with lots of small villages to explore. Valkenburg is the 'main tourist hub' in the area. Lots of cafes/restaurants/hotels etc, but also rather busy. But enough to do for the kids (man made caves, a cable way, mountain biking). For adults there is a nice spa (Thermae 2000).

From the south of the Netherlands towards Brugge/Gent/Antwerp. From there you could go in the direction of Delft/Den Haag and finally ending in Amsterdam.

Near Den Haag is the town of Wassenaar with a large amusement park (Duinrell) with a great (mostly indoor) swimming pool with lots of slides. Madurodam is also super.
A smaller sized amusement park (but still fun to do, especially for an 8-year old) is Drievliet in Den Haag.
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May 28th, 2009, 07:17 AM
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Certainly Madurodam, as mentioned. Don't miss it. I've taken my daughter there a couple of times when she was younger. Same for Duinrell. My daughter was about 10 and couldn't get enough of the amazing rides. We both loved the water slides. Sleep near The Hague for both.

Instead of sleeping in Amsterdam I suggest Haarlem or Zandvoort. Haarlem has some B&Bs and suits your other preferences. Zandvoort is on the sea and is very popular in August because that is probably the only good beach month in NL. In Zandvoort you can find "Zimmer frei" signs which are a bed and bath without breakfast. Homey and very cheap.
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May 28th, 2009, 12:24 PM
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If you include South Limburg, as TommieG suggested, Drielandenpunt in Vaals is a very short drive from Valkenburg. Drielandenpunt is where the borders of Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands meet, and this is also the highest point in the Netherlands. The forest and hillsides are very pretty, so you could take a short stroll. For the kids, there's a labyrinth/maze to run through and find their way out.
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Jun 2nd, 2009, 07:53 PM
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Thank you all for all of your suggestions and comments. I am leaning towards driving right now for flexibility and since we tend towards smaller towns rather then larger cities. We have driven extensively on trips to Great Britian and Ireland with no major issues so feel fairly confidant (although have not had to deal with the language issue).

I am in the process of taking tons of notes from all different sources and trying to narrow down.

I noticed that none of you have mentioned France. I thought we might be able to squeeze in some of Alsace or the Champagne region. Do you think this is too far out of the way?

I do not feel the need to spend any time at amusement parks or water parks. Our daughter is not big on rides anyway(some motion sickness issues). And we can go to water parks here. Although not opposed to a short pool break, I also do not want to "waste" a whole day in Europe at a water park.

About the only thing I know for sure right now is that I want to spend the last 2-3 nights in Haarlem as our base for Amsterdam.

Thanks again all. Keep those ideas coming.
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Jun 8th, 2009, 02:25 AM
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France is a little out of the way. Arriving in Frankfurt and leaving from Amsterdam, the mots logical way is north-west.
If you want to incorporate France, you will first be going south a little.

But if you really want to, you could go in the direction of Strassbourg and then up towards the Mosel-area (Trier). Or through Luxembourg and then Belgium. The Ardennes is a great region.

And I will submit no more tips involving theme-parks ;-)

That said: madurodam still is great!
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Jun 9th, 2009, 08:18 PM
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I would vote for the car option. Trains are neat, but then you have the whole luggage issue. When you are driving you can decide to stop somewhere spur-of-the-moment and leave your luggage in the car. Plus, as mentioned a car should be cheaper and gives you more schedule and destination flexibility.

I would skip France and save it for next trip.

Treplow’s suggestions are not bad, but I would stay in Bacharach or St. Goar as opposed to Koblenz. Bacharach is our favorite little town in Germany. It still has an intact wall with towers, a castle over the city, and a very cute little downtown area. It is small, but it is also central to many other little towns and castles. St Goar, is a bit bigger, not as cute in our opinion, but has a very neat castle ruin to explore. St Goar is probably less that 20 kms from Bacharach, so you could easily explore both (and much more) while staying in either.

I would agree that Trier is the best place to stay on the Mosel, although it is a tad larger than we usually prefer.

I do not know much about the Netherlands or Belgium so I will stay out of that part of the discussion.
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