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Ideas for Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Nice and Barcelona in Feb.?

Ideas for Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Nice and Barcelona in Feb.?

Old Dec 6th, 2012, 11:30 PM
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Ideas for Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Nice and Barcelona in Feb.?

Hello all! I have a trip planned with a friend for next Feb and we'll be heading to Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Nice, then driving to Barcelona. While in Nice we were planning on exploring Cannes and Monaco as well. Anyone have any tips or ideas for any of these places? Any hidden gems off the beaten path we should check out? This is our first time to all of these places, so any info will be helpful! Thanks guys!
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 12:44 AM
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The Riviera will be dead in February, and Monaco is pretty much a concrete wasteland any time of year. And if you plan to rent a car in France and drop it in Spain you'll pay a super-big extra fee, like 500 euros. You're not heading to a part of the world where there are hidden gems or anything really off the beaten path. It's all very well-trodden territory. Do you have a guidebook and a map? That's where you start your planning.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 10:35 AM
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To give you useful advice it would help to know:

How many weeks you have
What your interests are
Who/how many you are
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 01:55 PM
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Are you traveling in Belgium and France by train then using car - if train I will give you some suggestions.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 04:23 PM
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We only have 10 days to explore before we head to Barcelona for work, it's just me and my boyfriend. I think we decided today that we may rent a car in Paris and drop it off at the France/Spain borders to avoid the extra rental fees, but yes, from Amsterdam to Bruges to Paris we will be taking trains.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 04:39 PM
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Also, the Carnival will be in Nice while we are there, so we are looking forward to that!
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 04:45 PM
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Ideas for Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris, Nice and Barcelona in Feb.?
Posted by: gznomadic on Dec 7, 12 at 2:30am

If you will be in Holland Feb 9 to 12, 2013, then I suggest staying in Maastricht. There is a Carnevaal (read Mardi Gras) celebration there that is like nothing you have ever experienced. The Dutch sure know how to party. Fantastic.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 12:17 AM
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You are planning on exploring Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris and the the Cote DA in ten days?
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 05:53 AM
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Skip the Cote D'Azur at that time of year and go directly from Paris to Barcelona. You really don't have time for all of those destinations in 10 days.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 10:26 AM
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to save time take the TGV high-speed train from Paris to Nice - 5 hours all told - driving will take all of a day and your time is precious - only drive if you want to stop off someplace en route like Avignon (still take the TGV train there and pick up a rental car at the station.

If you score deep discount tickets that is very possible then trains can be much cheaper and faster than driving - gas costs about $8-9/gallon and tolls on the autoroutes are so so steep - about $100 in tolls along I've read from Paris to Nice.

Take the train then rent a car once down south IMO.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 11:05 AM
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Here's our plan:
Amsterdam: Sat and Sun
Bruges: Mon
Paris: Tues and Wed
Rent a car, drive to Geneva for the night Thur
Geneva to Nice area Fri
Nice to Gerona Sat
Bus from Gerona to Barcelona Sun

Carnivale is really pulling me to Nice as we will be there right in the middle of it. If the areas surrounding it are deserted and boring, we should be able to see what we want to see and move on. With the two of us driving in shifts, we should be able to make good time in the car, and honestly, it just seems a bit more romantic to take our time in the car rather than take a train. We know the gas is expensive there, but we're still leaning that way. I've driven from LA to Georgia, covering 11 states in my zigzag pattern of sightseeing, in 5 days. I'm used to my "guerrilla style" tourism.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 11:08 AM
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>

Well, your idea of "romantic" is far different from mine, but so be it.

Do you plan to drop this rental car off in Spain? Are you aware of the enormous surcharge you'll incur for doing that? Probably easily enough for 1st class train tickets for two for all the legs of your journey, and then some.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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No time for romance on this trip. You will be in perpetual motion and are unlikely to see much of anything. Why Geneva? If you are going to the south of France, take the TGV to Avignon and drive to the coast. Drop the car in France to avoid drop-off fees and train to Barcelona.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 11:45 AM
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gznomadic on Dec 8, 12 at 2:05pm

Here's our plan:
Amsterdam: Sat and Sun
Bruges: Mon
Paris: Tues and Wed
Rent a car, drive to Geneva for the night Thur
Geneva to Nice area Fri
Nice to Gerona Sat
Bus from Gerona to Barcelona Sun


Make sure that you reset the date on your camera and take plenty of photos or you'll never remember where you've been.

Ditto -- why Geneva? I lived there for a short time and it isn't much. It's very expensive, except for watches and Swiss Army knives. A car will be a millstone around your neck in Geneva. If you go I suggest the TGV from Paris to Geneva. It's a charm. In fact, with all that driving you'll be cussin' it rather than lovin' it. Have you driven in Europe before? Have you tried to park a car in Europe? For an auto intro see http://tinyurl.com/3bc2ax.

You may be enamored by stories about Carnivale in Nice, and I'm sure that it will be exciting. The event in Maastricht is one of the highlights of my European travels. It's a short detour between Amsterdam and Paris, not a precious couple of days to and from Nice. Besides, the people in Maastricht speak English.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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This is not a vacation. This is a forced March that will leave you very little time to actually see or do anything. And do remember that in Feb you will have cold and very possible snowy weather everyplace up to and including Geneva. Sitting in a train looking at brown and crunchy countryside under gray or drizzling or sleeting skies does not strike me as a lot of fun.

And when you get to each city you wil have time to locate your hotel, have dinner, see one sight the next am and then get on a train to the next city.

Unless you have been to these cities before and seen the sights - do yourself a favor and pick two (2) places to stay before Barcelona.

Without knowing your interests it's had to know which to recommend. If it were me I would probably do Amsterdam, take the train to Paris and then fly to Barcelona.

As for driving around the countryside and through the Alps - unless you have experience driving a manual shift car in ice and snow it's not something I would contemplate. And what do you do if there's a heavy snow and you are stuck in a town for a couple of days - or find out that the trip from one city to another is max 30 mph due to show on the road?

You really need to rethink this.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 03:08 PM
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OK.... thanks. Nevermind. Geez
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 09:25 PM
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gznomadic on Dec 8, 12 at 6:08pm
OK.... thanks. Nevermind. Geez


Well, you requested the info and Fodorites delivered.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 10:02 PM
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"OK.... thanks. Nevermind. Geez"

Why are you angry? Would you rather we say >>That sounds like a WONDERFUL trip!>This is our first time to all of these places, so any info will be helpful! still won't have been to many of them. Your wish list would fill three weeks - in the summer, when the weather is nice and the days are long. In the winter it would be a real slog.
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 10:58 PM
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gznomadic, I hope you won't give up on listening to advice so quickly. Every person here wants you to have a good trip. Every person who has responded has experience and knows what they are talking about. One has lived in France much of the time for many years - a real expert on the country. Another is an expert on using trains all over Europe. They may sound negative, but are trying to help you re-think and make better choices. I know it isn't what you want to hear. When I want to do something a certain way, it is hard to face the fact that my idea might not be so hot, but re-thinking always gives me a better plan.

Trains in Europe are very good, comfortable seats, table to eat, read, play cards, plenty of room to get up an walk around, get snacks, etc. Best part - they usually drop you off near the city center so it is easy to get to your hotel quickly and get out and start enjoying things.

Car trips can be fun and romantic, in beautiful countryside with beautiful weather where yuu want to drive slow and take in all the scenery. They may not be so romantic if the landscape is brown, the sky is gray, the roads are snowy or slippery and it gets dark before you reach your destination. You might be lucky and do the whole trip and have Spring-like weather, but the fact is you are going in a very cold month with all kinds of weather possibilities. You may need chains in some areas. The worst snow storm I ever endured was going South from Amsterdam - in April no less.

It would help to include travel time in the lay out of your plan. Be precise & realistic so you can figure how much time you actually have to sight see in a place and how much time you will be driving or on a train to get there. Often, it is not worthwhile to drive long distances just to see a place for an hour, especially when other, just as beautiful and interesting things may have been reached more easily. In Europe where the joy is walking around, eating great food, exploring the markets, looking into the magestic cathedrals and museums, you may find that cities like Paris could take days, months or years to explore.
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Old Dec 9th, 2012, 09:31 AM
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"OK.... thanks. Nevermind. Geez"

ah another newbie Fodorite run out by crass comments from Fodorgarchs - whose points are very valid but often are said IMO in a way that comes across as too bombastic - terms such as 'forced march' IMO are just rude - points can be made in a nicer way - yes the OP's trip is very hurried and that point can be made in a nicer way than some comments above.

Sassafrass' comments are an example of a kinder and gentler advice without any attitude that some Fodorgarchs continually display IMO and actually hurt Fodor's itself by driving away new first=time posters - those are the ones that buy Fodor's products and respond to banner ads - not Fodorgarchs, who however collectively do have IMO an amazing knowledge of lots of different things.
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