How would you divide your days?

Old Oct 31st, 2012, 01:24 PM
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How would you divide your days?

After changing our minds over and over again my girlfriend and I have finally decided on our destinations for our trip across the Atlantic this spring. We pulled the trigger and booked our flight from Canada to Edinburgh on the 29th of April (arriving on the 30th) and leaving Amsterdam back home on the 5th of June. This effectively leaves 36 nights for us to split between these cities:

Edinburgh
London
Paris
Brussels
Amsterdam

As it stands now we're thinking 7 days in Edinburgh, 9 in London, 9 in Paris, 4 in Brussels, 7 in Amsterdam.

A couple things I should mention; we do have free accommodation in London so we think it'd probably be wise to stay a decent chunk of time there, and we've also got day trips planned to St. Andrews, Oxford, Versailles (if you can count that as a day trip), and Bruges.

What do you guys think? How would you split your 36 nights between these 5 cities?

Thanks in advance
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 02:21 PM
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OK -- If you mean just Edinburgh, then 7 days will be quite long. (And this is from someone who adores Edinburgh). But if you mean 3 or 4 days in Edinburgh and 3 or 4 days visiting other places (Stirling, St Andrews, the Trossachs, or wherever) - then I like your plan.

But if it was me I might think about 4 days Edinburgh (to account for the jetlag), 3 days in the Scottish countryside, 2 days in York, 9 days in London (w/ 1 or 2 day trips), 9 days in Paris (w/ 1 or 2 day trips), 3 days in Brussels (w/ a day in Bruges or 2days Brussels and 2 days Bruges), and 5 or 6 days in Amsterdam.

But otherwise - your plan would be fine.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 02:25 PM
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what jj said.

i think that with 4 days in Brussels, you'd go mad.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 02:40 PM
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Well I am thinking with all that time I would want to mix it up a bit, you may have had enough cool grey rainy weather with all that time in Scotland and London, then Amsterdam and Brussels et.. I would skip Brussels myself, and if not, 4 days is too long, and I would do something like 5 days in Edinburgh, 8-9 days in London( I would do less but free accomadation is great) 4 days in Amsterdam, then fly to Rome, or Nice, spend a week in the warmer weather , then fly back to Paris for a week or so.. Easyjet flights are cheap and from Amsterdam you can fly to lots of warmer places for under 100 euros if you book in advance.. just a thought.. I am not sure how long flight is from Ams to Rome, but from Paris to Rome its 1 1/2 hours, not bad . Anyways there is no wrong way to do trip, I just think Brussels is worth max 2 days and Amsterdam maybe 4 ,, but that is personal tastes.. find some sun for goodness sake,,
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 02:46 PM
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I would agree with the above and also agree with dropping brussels (boring to me other than the main square) and hit Amsterdam instead...it's a beautiful small city with lovely canards and 4 nights there would be great for me!
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 03:32 PM
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I'd drop Brussels and do Bruges and Ghent instead. Or maybe stop by Antwerp on your way to Amsterdam for the day.

I know others are but I'm not a big fan of Brussels.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 04:27 PM
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It doesn't matter how I'd split my time, tell me what you like. I adored Brussels but I loved the art and architecture.

Bruges was nice but a day trip was fine for me.

5 days in Amsterdam was plenty for me.

When you say you have "free accommodation in London," what does that mean exactly? A relative or a good friend? How big is the flat?

I'd spend 10 days in Paris. In fact I have spent 10 days in Paris and it wasn't enough.

I would slice London up into 2 visits if you're staying with people. "fish and houseguests..."
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 04:56 PM
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Well at that time of year I would have done the trip from south to north to get the best weather. But Scotland can have winter any month (we were there in July and it was low 40's, windy and pouring rain - after having left London 5 days before in the 80s).

Now, I am a city person and love museums, churches, galleries, etc - but I would add in something of the countryside or smaller towns as day trips from some of these cities.

And I must admit I was bored in Brussels - although we loved Brugge, Ghent and several other towns/countryside in Belgium.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 05:13 PM
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I love your list of cities - it's the same places we (DH, 13yo DD and 17yo DS) visited last spring at the same time period. Only due to work obligations, we only had 17 nights (yes, too many destinations in a short time period). And except for the Scotland portion (where I visited as a kid), most of the group had already been to each location, and we knew why we wanted to return.

Your allocation of places depends on your interests. Of our 5 nights in Scotland, we spent 2 nights in Edinburgh and 3 nights in the Highlands. We rented a car upon leaving Edinburgh and spent a lot of time visiting castles, both old and ruinous and newer, with furniture and still inhabited. Your time in Edinburgh, as already noted, makes sense only if you plan on time outside of the city.

We began our trip on May 26, and by the time we reached Paris, we were ready for sunnier, warmer weather!

Our entire family loves Brussels, though not everyone does. We like that it's a little less touristy. Someday we will have enough time in Belgium to visit Ghent.

And with more time in Amsterdam, depending on your interests, you could make day trips to the Hague, Harlem, Delft, etc.

We began our trip in London rather than Scotland, mostly to plan around the Queen's Jubilee. We took the train from London to Edinburgh. From Edinburgh, we flew EasyJet to Paris. From there, we took the highspeed train to Brussels, then the train on to Amsterdam. Transport between the cities was very easy.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 07:50 PM
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Wow, appreciate all the great replies.

The consensus seems to be that 9 days in London and 9 in Paris are just about right but I should maybe take a look at revising the other destinations.

I feel I should mention that for the most part we're very much city people, architecture and atmosphere usually take precedence over natural retreat.

With that said, we do want to relax on this vacation and as such, don't want to try and cram in too many things in too few days. We're very laid back people and I'd like to plan this to be as easy, simple, and stress-free as possible. We're not the type of people who always need to be going and seeing new sights all the time, I'd say we'd be perfectly happy wasting the day away people watching in a park or cafe.

As for Brussels, I've heard all the mixed reviews on it and I chose it as a destination for a couple reasons. One, I'm a beer guy, some might go as far as to call me a beer snob, Belgium being a kind of mecca for guys like me I figured I'd like to spend some time there and sample the local offerings. Two, it seems like it falls into that easy/stress-free category again. Easy to get to from Paris, easy to get to Amsterdam from it, makes for a simple day-trip to Bruges as well. I debated between it, Ghent, and Antwerp and it seemed to be the one that came out on top. Either way, does 4 nights still seem like too much time there (bearing in mind one of the days will be spent in Bruges)?

Free accommodation in London means we'll be staying in a family-friend's flat near Covent Garden for the duration. It's one of a few homes he has so we shouldn't be imposing on anyone as there won't be anyone staying there at the time.

Thanks for the help everyone.
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 08:00 PM
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I understand that others think Bruges can be a day trip from Brussels. But, I loved Bruges at night! And, one day there would not have been nearly enough for me. I spent 3 nights and didn't get to see everything I wanted... But did drink some excellent beer! ;-)

Tough decisions!
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 08:33 PM
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I was thinking of going the Bruges with a day-trip to Brussels route but that does add an extra set of trains into the mix.

...Unless of course I do my Brussels day-trip at the start or end of my time in Belgium... I suppose that could be an idea.

Tough decisions indeed!
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Old Oct 31st, 2012, 11:11 PM
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Do Brussels as a day trip from either Paris or Amsterdam. Or do Antwerp as a hotel stop and daytrip from there to both Brussels or Brugge. But I'd choose Gent over Brussel and even over Brugge. Antwerp is nice in its own right too. Paris, Brussel, Antwerp and Amsterdam are all served by Thalys.

Or, Cologne from Paris by Thalys, then Cologne - Amsterdam by ICE. All high speed trains.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 01:38 AM
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You can always get out of the cities of course, and explore the actual country - in which case you could explore the Netherlands in 7 days, not all of it, but some of it. The Netherlands is so much more than Amsterdam.
Happy to provide advice on that if you say what you like.

You could explore some more of Belgium - the Ardennes, Limburg (in which case you could also visit Dutch Limburg province), the coast, or other cities like Antwerp, Leuven, Liege.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 05:27 AM
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You're a beer snob and you're not going to Germany?

Not meaning to start a war but I think German beer is far superior to Belgium beer.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 06:59 AM
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we were in Delft earlier this year and came across a cafe [on the north-west corner of the main square] which had a menu of over 100 belgian beers - and in our 3 days we managed to try quite a few of them!

i would definitely go to Belgium but widen my horizons from Brussels as suggested above.

[and i do know that Delft is in holland!]
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 07:13 AM
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"Not meaning to start a war but I think German beer is far superior to Belgium beer."

For lager maybe but I don't think the Germans can match the sheer variety of beers that the Belgians do (Raspberry, white, Chimay etc).
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 09:35 AM
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A4A4A4,

I also think your original plan is just fine (especially 9 days each for London and Paris) with the important caveat that 3 days IN Edinburgh is quite sufficient.

Brussels, Bruges, Gent, and Antwerp are all easily and quickly reached from one another via train. You could add some or all of your leftover "Edinburgh days" days to Belgium and easily see them all. FWIW, my totally subjective estimate of the max. days you actually need to be IN any of them is: Brussels (5), Antwerp (4), Gent (2), Bruges (3).

Or use some or all of them for day trips from Edinburgh.

4 or 5 days IN Amsterdam is fine as well. Amsterdam has many, many day trip possibilities... but you don't need to decide until you get there. I would play it by ear and if you feel you've seen enough of Amsterdam start taking day trips.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 09:56 AM
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...I also wanted to add a few <brown>beer</brown> thoughts:

A pilgrimage to the Westvletren monastery (or at least the cafe just outside). Year after year considered to be the "best beer in the world" by all the experts. It's close (1 hour) to Bruges and the day trip can be combined with the nearby WWI battlefields and the town of Yper. Renting a car for the day is by far the easiest way to go.

The Kulminator bar in Antwerp (ask about any special 10, 20, or 30 y/o specimens they may have in the cellar...). One of the top rated (THE top?) beer bars in the world.

The ‘t Brugs Beertje bar in Bruges (with more than 300 different Belgian beers available at any given time).

The Groote Witte Arend restaurant in Antwerp, housed in a former monastery. Excellent semi-casual traditional Belgian food and the staff will helpfully (and expertly) match beers to each of the dishes ordered. Moderate prices.
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Old Nov 1st, 2012, 10:07 AM
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True enough Hooameye, they do have quite a variety. It's just tastes a little too sweet to me.
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