London, France, Belgium, and Netherlands

Apr 22nd, 2013, 11:56 AM
  #1  
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London, France, Belgium, and Netherlands

My friend and I are traveling to London on April 28 (that's in one week!) for a study abroad program for a master's program. We will be in London until May 6 and then are traveling to Paris for a few days, Belgium (starting with Brugges) for a few days, Rotterdam (I have family there) and Amsterdam, and returning to London May 14th to fly back to the US May 15th. Just wondering if anyone has any travel tips for us regarding eurostar vs eurorail? or are they the same? And traveling with a debit card (Visa) and cash vs a credit card? Also any must-see stops and sights along the way. I know its a short time frame but neither my friend nor I have been to Europe before and want to see as much as we can in such a short time. Please, any advice would be appreciated!
amy_tammenga is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 12:12 PM
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Just wondering if anyone has any travel tips for us regarding eurostar vs eurorail?>

Well Chunnel trains (as most Americans cll the Eurostar trains that go under the Channel Rail Tunnel) have nothing to do with Eurorail (correctly spelled Eurail, which is only a pass letting you on trains of various countries like Holland but not in Great Britain - forget anything about Eurorail - no pass would be good for you except perhaps the Benelux Pass, a railpass valid in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg - on nearly all trains you just hop on (except Thalys trains which you do not have to take on your journey).

Take the Chunnel train to Lille-Europe, walk a half-mile from there to Lille-Flandres station which has trains to Bruges - from Bruges take the train via Antwerp to Rotterdam. Train to Amsterdam and then take an I-C train to Brussels to catch the Chunnel train to London. Thalys trains also go Amsterdam to Brussels a bit faster but typically can cost much more unless you book 3 or 4 months in advance to get the limited in number discounted fares.

For lots of great info on Benelux trains I always spotlight these IMO fine fine sites - www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 12:54 PM
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If you haven't researched and bought your Eurostar train tickets in advance already you may end up with some steep fares. Walk-up fares are very pricey (hardly anyone does this) and many trains at popular times are sold out. Don't lose any more time if you want to travel this way.

BTW, our friend PQ has this bizarre fixation of referring to the Eurostar trains as "Chunnel" trains - but you won't find any signage/information in London or Paris using that term.
Gordon_R is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 10:57 PM
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This close to your travel dates, and at a peak time for short breaks in NW Europe (virtually every weekend from late April till early June involves a holiday in one or other country, and Parisians are as likely to spend theirs in London as Londoners are to spend theirs in Paris), it's quite possible that planes between London and the near continent will be cheaper than trains.

All six airports around London (as well as Southampton and Birmingham) have easy rail or tube links from the centre and flights to Amsterdam, and most also have lots to Paris, Brussels and smaller places near the North Sea/Channel (like Antwerp and Rotterdam). You'll find it very helpful to be flexible about your sequence of visits, travel mode and where around London you want to start off from.

The direct fast railway line between Amsterdam and Brussels (which is key to the journey from Amsterdam to Paris and London) is currently out of service, resulting in messy and slow workrounds (http://www.fyra.com/Travel). You might find it easier to travel London-Amsterdam by train/ferry (http://www.seat61.com/Netherlands.htm#train+ferry) if you've got some kind of thing about trains.
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 11:14 PM
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PQ is about the ONLY American calling the Eurostar the 'Chunnel' - he keeps losing this debate but insists on resurrecting it over and over AND over.

Try to book the Eurostar ASAP . If you can't get a decent fare (pretty likely at this late date) then book a flight very soon.
janisj is online now  
Apr 23rd, 2013, 12:19 AM
  #6  
 
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May 9-12 is a holiday weekend in Belgium and Holland (not sure about France), with many people taking short breaks. Hard to find a decent fare on the Eurostar at the moment.

Visa is widely accepted in Europe. Get cash from an ATM as you need it.
Tulips is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2013, 03:09 AM
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IF you are very flexible on which day of the week and time you travel it is just possible to pick up some relatively inexpensive tickets for Eurostar even at short notice. Last week we went from London to Lille for lunch and back and bought the tickets the day before for under £100 return per person. But the longer you leave it, and particularly if travelling at weekends, the higher the prices will go...
Gordon_R is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2013, 05:10 AM
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PQ is about the ONLY American calling the Eurostar the 'Chunnel'>

where have you been when many Americans in posts refer to the train as the Chunnel train - over and over - not just me as much as you wish to make that out. Why does RailEuropoe Label Eurostar tickets Chunnel Tickets on their web site - simply because that is what most Americans are like to call it - well most Americans who know little about it - and you have to know this if you have been reading any posts about Chunnel trains.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2013, 05:12 AM
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Rail Europe Official Site - Chunnel, London to Paris Tickets
www.raileurope.com/Chunnel-Tickets
Block all raileurope.com ads
Lowest Price Guarantee - Save Now.

Janis why would RailEurope use the term Chunnel in highlighting Eurostar tickets?

Duh because that's what many Americans call it - I find it incredulous that you do not realize that.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2013, 09:42 AM
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Thank you for all of your help guys! Im having trouble finding seats now on the Eurostar I guess due to all of the holiday festivities.. And I'm not finding ferries that leave from London to Paris too well. We are fine with being flexible but are hoping to leave London May 6th at some point.
amy_tammenga is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2013, 11:22 AM
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And I'm not finding ferries that leave from London to Paris too we>

No ferries from London or Paris themselves but you can take a train down to Dover and go to the Eastern Docks and hop a ferry as a foot passenger over to Calais and catch French trains to Paris - takes all day however and can be more expensive than the cheapest Chunnel train tickets.

But for May many cheap tickets no doubt sold out - long long ago - check on some cheap flights perhaps from Stansted Airport for example.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 24th, 2013, 12:28 PM
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You may want to look at the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland - some really cheap fares including trains from London - Hook is really close to Rotterdam - then do Amsterdam and go back down to Bruges and then back to London town.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 24th, 2013, 02:14 PM
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Visa is widely accepted in Europe. Get cash from an ATM as you need it.

That is use your Visa debit/ATM card to get cash from an ATM. don't use your credit card to get cash -- too many fees tacked on. But do use your credit card to make purchases.
sf7307 is online now  
Apr 24th, 2013, 05:17 PM
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always call your credit card issuing bank to see exactly what their charges are - they can vary greatly - some have a 3% foreign purchase fee others have none - whatever is charged at European ATMs is IME only what your local bank card issuer charges.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 26th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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http://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry/rou...nd/timetables/

the Harwich, England to Hook of Holland ferries take several hours but there is also an overnight boat - save a hotelnight cost and arrive in Hook in the morning - some cheap fares available for advance purchase - could be much cheaper for you than Chunnel trains to Brussels and up.
PalenQ is offline  
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