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Germany, Belgium and France

Old Oct 28th, 2008, 04:20 PM
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Germany, Belgium and France

I gathered much information from the Europe Talk Forum so I wanted to share the results of our fantastic 17-day trip to Germany, Belgium and France.
Germany-
(This was our second trip to Germany.) We flew into Frankfurt on a Saturday morning and got the Frankfurt 1-day pass at the airport. It covered the subway and discounts on attractions. We checked in early to the Hotel Astoria and then spent the day in the city. We enjoyed our day although many Fodorites were disappointed with Frankfurt. We were pleased with the Hotel Astoria. It is just outside of the business district, convenient to the subway stop, quiet and a very pleasant staff. The next morning we met up with a group of friends and really began our trip. We drove down the Mosel River (making stops along the way) and went to Trier. Great town (our second time to visit). We spent two nights at the Hotel Romischer/Alstadt Hotel. It is right next to Porta Negra. We were not impressed. Our room was small and the street noise was loud, although, the loction was great. In Trier, make sure to go on a guided walk with a guide from the visitors center. It is worth the money! We also did a wine tasting with different types of Reislings. Very interesting to hear the history of wine making in the valley and to taste the various wines.

Belgium
This was my favorite part of the trip. What a great country!! Now I must say...this was the B&B part of the trip...battlefields and breweries! First was a stop at Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge WWII) and then Waterloo (Napoleon). Then on to Brussels for lunch at the Grand Palace. The after a long day, a restful 4 nights in Brugge. We stayed at the Hotel Fevery. I cannot say enough great things about this hotel and its owner, Paul Asselman. I would suggest asking for a room with a tub/shower as our shower-only was VERY tight. I prayed I would not drop the bar of soap because I would have to open the shower door to bend over to retrieve it!! We did the Flanders Fields (WWI)day tour with Philip of Quasimodo Tours and the Triple Treat day tour. The Flanders Fields day tour was beyond words in its excellence. The Triple Treat (Chocolate, Waffle and Beer) was great except the chocolate "tour" was a little hokey!! The waffle was amazing as was the restaurant where we ate lunch/waffles. The beer tasting was interesting..cherry beer plus other beers...hmmm.. Brugge is a lovely town with canals, great food (try the Belgium Blue steak), amazing chocolates and over 300 types of beer. Some of our group rented bikes and did an afternoon ride to Damme. They enjoyed that but I had stiches in my knee from a car vs. runner accident two days before the trip and couldn't ride. Bummer!! We also took a day trip to Ghent and enjoyed that.

France
We spent 3 nights in Caen at the Ibis Caen Centre. Cheap business hotel in downtown Caen. Half of the staff obviously did not like Americans. I would not recommend this hotel. Bus/streetcar system in Caen is friendly and easy to use. The Chateau and Abbeys are interesting. The Caen Peace Museum was great (about WWII, Cold War and an exhibit on the 9/11 attack). It was interesting to see a group of French high school students go through the 9/11 exhibit. Most of them were very moved by the exhibit and when they discovered I was American, asked me where I was on 9/11 etc. The D-Day Beaches are sobering but should not be missed. We spent the day visitng Omaha, Utah and Mulberry Harbour. We also visited a German Cemetary and I would recommend this. There was great loss on both sides and all of the cemetaries brought this home. Some of our group went to Bayeux (they saw the gun implacements on the way) but I stayed back in Caen to stroll the streets of Caen, do laundry and grab a pastry.

Last was 5 days in Paris. We stayed at the Hotel Louvre Sainte Anne. Great hotel (small rooms but adequate), awesome staff and super location. I would suggest rooms 21,31 or 41 or rooms on the 5th floor. 21,31,41 face an alley and are very quiet. The 2 rooms on the 5th floor are larger. We bought the 4-day museum pass and the 5-day zones 1-6 metro pass before the trip. I liked this as we hit the gound running. The Metro zones 1-6 will get you to Versailles and back to the airport to fly home plus around town. We saw quite a few pickpockets, gypsy scams etc. but were alert and had no problems. Be careful and carry your backpack/messenger bag in front of you in crowds. We had a group of 4 and I think this helped. I thought, after many discussions with friends, that we would not like Paris but it was great!! The Parisians were fine and I do not speak French. I do speak Spanish and English and they always preferred to converse in English over Spanish. I would compare it to NYC. People are busy but not rude. Overall, a fantastic trip and one we will remember for a long time!! Thanks for all the posts and suggestions!! They came in handy and helped us maximize our vacation time!!
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Old Oct 28th, 2008, 05:34 PM
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Thanks for the trip report! Sounded like a great trip. We were in France & Belgium last month and went to some the places you mentioned. Too bad about your knee and couldn't bike to Damme... it was the highlight of our trip as the canal path was so beautiful. I guess that gives you a reason to return!

Do you have a link to your hotel in Paris? Thanks again.
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 11:56 AM
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Thanks! The Hotel Louvre Sainte Anne internet site is www.louvre-ste-anne.fr. Hope it works out for you. Great hotel!!
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Old Oct 29th, 2008, 03:58 PM
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Do I understand that you drove from one desination to the other? Did you rent a car, and if so, from whom? Did you do the Normandy part on your own, or did you take any packaged tours there?
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Old Oct 30th, 2008, 05:41 PM
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One of our friends led college MBA students through this region and we used his contacts for the Trier to Caen portion of the trip. He rented a bus and the group (all friends)split the cost and opted out or in of different events. In Frankfurt and Paris, we were on our own. We did the D-Day Beaches with his navigation and one of the group members commentary (a WWII history buff who made it come alive). I would recommend doing the beaches on your own as you can stop as long as you want at each site. Get a good map and you will be fine. Each beach has a museum and of course the new visitor center is very well done...and free! I would recommend doing Flanders Fields with a guide!! Hope this helps!!
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