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Kathie & Cheryl plan our 2016 trip to Europe

Kathie & Cheryl plan our 2016 trip to Europe

Old May 27th, 2015, 01:34 PM
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Kathie & Cheryl plan our 2016 trip to Europe

We are at the beginning of planning our 2016 trip to Europe. We had originally intended to go to Italy, but that trip has been put on hold (long story). We plan a 3-4 week trip in May-June or Sept-Oct. We want to avoid July/August. Recommendations for one time period over the other?

We want to return to Paris and make a return trip to London, those are the anchors in the plan. We want enough time in each city to settle in and enjoy and to make a day trip or two - maybe 10 days in each city. We have a good idea of things we want to do in each city (of course our lists are too long, they will do for a couple more trips as well!) We also would like to spend a few days in Amsterdam to see the new installation of the Van Gogh Museum and the branch of the Hermitage that wasn't there my last trip to Amsterdam.

So here are my questions: route? London-Paris-Amsterdam or London-Amsterdam-Paris? (We will fly into our first city and out of the last one)

Day trips: From London, we definitely want to go to Oxford for a day, but will consider another day trip as well - recommendations for art lovers, garden-lovers?

From Paris, we know we want to do a champagne tour - maybe Salmon-Billecort. We may also decide to go to Chartes, especially if we can get a tour by Malcolm Miller.

We have also discussed cutting short our Paris and/or London time and visiting another city in France, maybe Lyon.

We would be interested in any thoughts or recommendations you have for us.

Thanks!
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Old May 27th, 2015, 01:54 PM
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So here are my questions: route? London-Paris-Amsterdam or London-Amsterdam-Paris? (We will fly into our first city and out of the last one)>

If going by train London to Paris to Amsterdam would involve the least travel time- If you do London Amsterdam Paris you will travel twice from Brussels to Amsterdam (once going and once coming back) - this will cost more too.

Or you could go by day or overnight boat-train connection from Harwich to The Hook of Holland and then by train to Amsterdam - could be quite cheap if you get advanced discounted tickets but longer travel time but a neat way to go IMO.

Booking way way early is imperative to get cheap tickets on Eurostar London-Paris/Brussels trains (www.eurostar.com) and on Amsterdam to Paris Thalys trains (www.thalys.com) - can literally save tons by getting the deepest discounted tickets - just show up and you'll pay hundreds more!

some neat sites for learning the rail ropes: www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com.

If not been to Versailles in Paris for gardens they are top nothc and not too shabby a palace either. Just about 40 mins out via RER C right to a few blocks from the palace gates.

Hatfield House, in Hatfield near London - 30 min or so by train is a great stately house with acclaimed gardens of all different types.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 02:17 PM
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Thanks,PQ. We do plan to take the train, so London to Paris to Amsterdam will be our first choice. And I do know about buying tickets far in advance. I will look into Hatfield House, thanks for the recommendation.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 02:31 PM
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Other things being equal I'd plan so you are not flying home from the UK -- higher departure fees.

I might fly into Amsterdam, fly to London City or LGW, train to Paris, fly home.

Or fly into Paris, train to London, fly to A'dam, fly home

Or into London, train to Paris, train or fly to A'dam, fly home.

But any order id good as long as the fares/schedules work.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 02:58 PM
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Flying is hardly much faster on Amsterdam to London - done by train in about 4 hours city center to city center - it could take you an hour to get to a London Airport and then 1/2 hour to get into Amsterdam from Schiphol.

Take the train see some of the Europe in between say London and Amsterdam other than airports or tarmacs! And it can be really cheap on the train too - no expensive departure fees or landing fees either.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 03:04 PM
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The high departure fees from LHR were the one thing I thought of in terms of order of cities. I hadn't gotten as far as an analysis of the travel times, but the point about not going through Brussels twice is a good one. I'm inclined to take trains rather than flying. Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 04:56 PM
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I would do London, Paris, Amsterdam to avoid having to fly through CDG - Schiphol is a joy compared to that. And I would go for May, when you will find fewer tourists but still nice weather.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 05:45 PM
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Gardens...explore this website for garden lovers in the UK, publishers of the famous Yellow Book. Many gardens not generally open to the public except for certain days, and some that are, for charity:

http://www.ngs.org.uk
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Old May 27th, 2015, 05:52 PM
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For flowers, go in the spring.

Day trips from Paris, besides Chartres, if you are interested in Art Nouveau consider Nancy.

Another city in France - I would pick Nice, although not too close to the summer season.

Definitely sepnd time on seat61.com for train info.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 06:56 PM
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Thanks everyone. I don't need to see flowers in bloom to appreciate gardens, I'm just as interested in structure and design. Thanks for the website, MmePerdu. And thanks for the recommendation of Nancy, thursdays. i'll put it on my list. And I agree that there is no better train info than seat 61.

And no question that Schiphol is a much easier airport than CDG or LHR.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 07:55 PM
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Consider Giverney. Easy day trip from Paris by train.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 07:56 PM
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If you have the time, Kathie, I'd recommend at least an overnight in Nancy. I'm going back on my next trip, three nights at my second hotel from the last trip - Hotel des Prelats.

See also: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-5666981
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Old May 28th, 2015, 12:29 AM
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Thinking of Gardens structure and design, several spring to mind. First there is Kew Gardens, perhaps the best known of the gardens in London.
http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens

Bedgebury Pinetum in the depths of rural Kent was originally planned as the coniferous part of Kew Gardens when London air was so polluted, conifers didn't thrive there. For structure and design, this is hard to beat.
https://bedgeburypinetum.org.uk/
This will however mean train and taxi or train and bus. Details on their web site.

Others to consider are Hampton Court gardens (the palace is pretty good too).
http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPa...oncourtgardens
The Hampton Court Flower Show is 30th June - 5th july which may be a bit too late for you.
https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/...FQoGwwodNC8AZw

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens are beautiful but again will involve train and taxi.
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/siss...castle-garden/
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Old May 28th, 2015, 04:23 AM
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Nancy I thought was a gem - the sprawling Place Stanislaus is incredible - a longer day trip than others but you also experience the speedy TGV trains blowing along at about 190 mph.

https://www.google.com/search?q=nanc...=1600&bih=1075
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Old May 28th, 2015, 05:06 AM
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Do watch the calendar and book your Thalys trains as they become available. I just now booked our 1st class Amsterdam to Paris trip for Aug 18.

Your trip covers 2 of the 3 destinations we have on our 50th anniversary trip! Amsterdam, Paris, and then two locations in Italy (Spoleto and Venice).

Happy planning.
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Old May 28th, 2015, 05:29 AM
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I would do London - Paris - Amsterdam, with connecting travel by train - none of these distances are really far enough to warrant the hassle of flying and you are not short of time, with 3-4 weeks in total.

If you took a day trip to Cambridge from London you could visit the Fitzwilliam Museum which is much underated, some great paintings and ancient/classical art, plus the Cambridge Botanic Gardens (though these would work better in May/June than Sept/Oct). Creme Brulee was invented here (called Cambridge Burnt Creme) and there are a couple of Michelin starred restaurants for a nice meal to round off the day (or plenty of pubs, or cafes for afternoon tea if you prefer something more modest).

Few pics from the Botanic gardensbr />
https://www.flickr.com/photos/494523...57627198896081
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Old May 28th, 2015, 05:58 AM
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The mention upthread of a flower show reminded of the biggie, the Chelsea Flower Show, which is 24-28 May next year. A quick search turned up this site:

https://www.rhs.org.uk/showdates2015

which has lots of others. The search also indicated that you may need to get tickets for Chelsea very early if you want to go.
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Old May 28th, 2015, 06:05 AM
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The Columbia Road Flower Market in east London may interest the OP?

https://www.google.com/search?q=colu...=1600&bih=1075

also a great place to hear Cockney accents!
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Old May 28th, 2015, 07:31 AM
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Fair warning - Chelsea Flower Show is, I think, a victim of it's own popularity. Long lines to get in even with an advance ticket and the best garden design displays mobbed. It's now like a sporting event and like them, best seen on television. Really - extensively covered with film of royals visiting and long commentary and interviews with winners. Having done both, I must prefer the televised version where one can actually see what's there and the presenters very personable.

Sissinghurst, also very popular but worthwhile and taxi not necessary. Train to Staplehurst, cross the road for the local bus, pleasant walk from Sissinghurst (village).
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Old May 28th, 2015, 07:51 AM
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Thanks for all of your wonderful suggestions. I have spent many blissful hours at Kew, and we will probably go back. Given the circus that Chelsea Flower Show has become, I will actively avoid it. But you've given me plenty of other garden suggestions - more research is required!

I like the suggestion of a Cambridge day trip... lots to do and see there.
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