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Graduate students going to Europe for 1st time - Our Honeymoon. HELP!

Graduate students going to Europe for 1st time - Our Honeymoon. HELP!

Apr 4th, 2014, 10:30 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2014
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Graduate students going to Europe for 1st time - Our Honeymoon. HELP!

Hi everyone,

My future husband and I will be traveling to Europe for the first time for our honeymoon. We live in New York City where we are attending graduate school. We are splurging a bit on this trip and have 3 weeks for the whole trip. We are planning this at the last minute because we have been so busy with our exams but we're hoping to leave towards the end of June and return in mid July. Neither one of us has traveled to Europe before and what we are most worried about is traveling from place to place.

We would like to fly into London, go to Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris. We plan to spend the bulk of our time in Paris, and take small day trips or overnight trips to Mont Saint-Michel, Versailles, etc. We plan on flying out from Paris via open jaw ticket.

Could you give us travel tips on how to get around from London to Amsterdam, and from Amsterdam to Paris? also what's the best way to get around throughout France? should we rent a car? is there a pass to purchase or should we just buy individual train tickets? if so, what are the best sites to use? should we purchase a Eurail pass or is there something that will make it easier for. I am most worried about traveling from place to place.

We are both in our late 20s. We love art, architecture, food, and a few things off the beaten path. I personally would love to see a few museums and castles, a couple noteworthy churches here and there. We would also like to go to a few fun/lively bars/pubs and clubs. Could you guys help us to come up with a solid itinerary of places to see and visit and recommend some good restaurants. Our exams are killing our souls this semester and we need your help!

We are mainly utilizing Airbnb for lodging.

Oh, Also do you guys know of any good apps to use in each city or in general apps that can make travel easier? thanks!
whynotnow is offline  
Apr 4th, 2014, 11:13 PM
  #2  
 
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From Amsterdam to Paris check for train schedules now, and buy the ticket as early as possible for lower prices. The closer to the departure date, the higher the price.

You can also go from London to Amsterdam by train:http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-amsterdam.cfm
Michael is offline  
Apr 4th, 2014, 11:32 PM
  #3  
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Thank you for your responses. Where should I buy the tickets? what website?
whynotnow is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 01:52 AM
  #4  
 
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For excellent info on all things trains check out www.seat61.com

You can easily fly to Amsterdam from London or even take the overnight ferry. You can get info on this from the website above too.
jamikins is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 02:48 AM
  #5  
 
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CityMaps2Go.
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/city...327783342?mt=8

Best $2.99 ever spent.

Mark
cdnyul is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 03:43 AM
  #6  
 
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I doubt anybody is going to hand you a "solid itinerary" of pubs, good restaurants, museums, castles churches, day trips etc for a 3-week trip through Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. (I would suggest Antwerp instead of Brussels but I don't really know your interests). And if somebody claims to be able to hand you one, I would worry it is crap.

If you haven't yet bought a guidebook to Europe (they do sell them in NYC, with answers to every single question you've asked) and don't have time to do minimal research online without risk of flunking out of grad school, then you have to make a decision to either postpone this kind of a honeymoon trip (many people do) or else decide now that you are going to Europe for 3 weeks starting and June and winging it and being happy with whatever happens. If you choose the latter, then you must book hotels in your time frame for these cities.

Use booking.com to plug in your dates, budget and find hotels with air con and wi-fi.
sandralist is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 04:33 AM
  #7  
 
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This thread should help you out with pubs in London

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...m#last-comment
jamikins is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 05:12 AM
  #8  
 
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For hotels - be careful with airbnb, not just because of possible payment problems, etc. but locations. For a first trip to the places you are going you want to stay right in the center of the cities and not spend time 'commuting'. The metros are great in Paris and London (the tube) but lots of B&B's, while technically "in" the city, are really quite a ways from the places you'll want to be spending time. There are a zillion threads here on lodging in Paris and London, just search. But I'll give you my recommendations. For Paris try Hotel Marignan (www.hotel-marignan.com/) You cannot beat that location and you have choices in price range depending on if you need the toilet/shower in the room or shared with another room. For London I like the Travelodge Waterloo. But whatever you do, make sure the location is where you want. Both are huge cities and their borders include districts that are perfectly fine to live in but not to waste precious vacation time getting in and out of. booking.com is the site I almost always use. Huge variety of prices and the maps show you where they are located.

For Belgium I second the idea of staying in Antwerp instead of Brussels. It's still a lively city but much nicer than Brussels and all of Belgium is so small you can easily day trip by train to Brugge and Ghent from Antwerp (or Brussels).

Depending on how long you plan to spend in London, I would suggest one or two day trips. Very easy to get around by train, no need to purchase ahead of time. Schedules are all on line. There are a few different train lines in England, they go to different places but just google the name of the town and train from London and you'll get it. I'd suggest Oxford as a great day trip (although, not to contradict what I just said, but in the case of Oxford, the easiest way to get there is the bus rather than the train. The bus from London to Oxford is called the "Oxford Tube" - not to be confused with "THE" tube whcih is the metro/subway. (www.oxfordtube.com/). Other day trip suggestions are Cambridge, Warwick, Canterbury, Bath.

In London, museums are mostly free. Major churches (St Pauls, Westminster Abbey) charge admission. Opposite is true in Paris, museums charge, churches are free. In both those cities the 'subway' (Paris it's the metro, London it's the tube) is easy to use and the best way to get around for the most part, but in both cities also consider the bus - goes even more places and you can see where you are, but of course is a bit slower.

It's probably fastest (and cheapest) to fly from London to Amsterdam (try easyjet.com, they fly from Gatwick which is easy to get to from central London). Other than that trains are the way to get around.
isabel is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 05:17 AM
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If you postpone to September you will have time to research on your own (just like school) and benefit from possibly lower air fares, which will be at their peak in the time period you prefer. It may sound cranky but doing your own digging will help you feel more comfortable when you are on your way. When you sort out your thinking, you can ask specific questions that will draw more interesting (and friendly) response.
Southam is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 05:28 AM
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Some people think that sarcasm makes them seem sophisticated.
bvlenci is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 05:45 AM
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London to Lille - www.eurostar.com - trains that go via the Channel Rail Tunnel - check to see if they have thru London to Amsterdam via Lille fares.

Amsterdam to Paris - www.thalys.com - both these official sites have deep discounts if you book months in advance to get the limited in number low-fare specials - non-changeable non-refundable so be sure of your dates and times.

Consider heading to Bruges from Amsterdam - especially romantic for couples this to me is one of the dreamiest old cities north of the Alps - from Bruges you can go via Lille-Flandres station to Paris - take regular IC train to Lille Flandres then French TGV to Paris (discounte Lille-Paris fares www.voyages-sncf.com or www.capitainetrain.com) or from Bruges you can go via Brussels (IC train there) - the Thalys to Paris (www.thalys.com)

The IC train tickets best bought in Bruges - if coming from Amsterdam to Bruges take Thalys to Antwerp then change to IC trains to Bruges.

For lots of great stuff on European trains and these trains in particular check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Again Bruges is highly recommended by manuy - something different than mega big cities you have penciled in.

Images of lovely Bruges: Spend two days there - it will be the highlight of your trip!

https://www.google.com/search?q=brug...bih=1075&dpr=1
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 06:38 AM
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Not to worry, bvlenci, folks in the know on Fodors know which Italy expert to listen to and which to click right past.

To the OP, the Man in Seat 61 website should get you started on learning about trains in Europe, which for your stated plans is the way to go. You can easily get to and between every place you've mentioned by train. I would definitely not do le Mont-St-Michel as a day trip (it would be a 15-hour ordeal), given that you have the time. If you want to explore a bit of Normandy also, though, I'd rent a car.Versailles is just a commuter train trip out of Paris that can easily be done in a day.

Do keep in mind that train tickets bought in advance (usually at least 3 months) are going to be a lot cheaper than those bought later and last minute.

Good luck planning your trip, and do it asap!
StCirq is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 07:02 AM
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I would definitely not do le Mont-St-Michel as a day trip (it would be a 15-hour ordeal)>

TGV train to Rennes - one hour - direct bus to the Mont - 1 hr = 2 hours each way - say 3 with changes - spend 3 hours there - where does this nonsense of 15 hours come from? Well I guess if you spend nine hours on that tiny island!

It is a very practical and doable day trip - buses coordinaed with trains at Rennes to take you right to the Mont.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 07:14 AM
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Oops - Paris Montparnasse to Rennes 2 h 15 minutes - say 4 hours each way to Mont - 8 hours plus 2-3 on Mont - still nowhere near 15 hours! And you get to experience France' ballyhooed high-speed trains - rolling up to nearly 200 mph!
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 07:40 AM
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http://www.raileurope.com/blog/9738-...t-saint-michel

Explains how easy a day trip to Mont-Sainte-Michel is from Paris - and to see the most visited site in France outside of Paris is awesome!

Yup better to stay overnight in one of the gaggle of hotels either on the Mont or on the mainland just opposite the causeway but if only can do a day trip go for it.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 07:47 AM
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We have had great experiences with airbnb apartments in Paris, and most recently in Seville. No payment problem ever with them.

London doesn't seem as great for airbnb. Their offerings there tend to be pricier than the B&B hotels you can research on tripadvisor.com. In my opinion, better rooms at the Celtic Hotel, formerly St. Margaret's, for instance, would be budget honeymoon-worthy at £105/night including a very good breakfast. www.stmargaretshotel.co.uk/W_e_l_c_o_m_e.html

Though I did find lovely London apartments on airbnb in the higher rent echelons.
stokebailey is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 07:48 AM
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PS: best wishes always, and congratulations to the groom!
stokebailey is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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You should make yourself aware of issues regarding Airbnb rentals. It is YOUR responsibility to make sure that what you rent is a legal rental. Airbnb does NOT screen the owners for that.

http://lifehacker.com/how-can-i-avoi...rbnb-801021511
dulciusexasperis is offline  
Apr 5th, 2014, 08:28 AM
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bvlenci on Apr 5, 14 at 5:28am
Some people think that sarcasm makes them seem sophisticated.

Thank you for that. Unfortunately St. Circ, while folks in the know can read through this bs, the new posters do not know this person. It would be nice if the Queen of Knowledge would refrain, but we know it is not going to happen.
socaltraveler is online now  
Apr 5th, 2014, 08:43 AM
  #20  
 
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Thanks, ducius.

Why have we not been hearing these concerns about other sites like vrbo.com for instance, where legality questions are equally valid?
stokebailey is offline  

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