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Spain, France, Netherlands with 18, 19 yo grandsons

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Mar 25th, 2014, 02:39 PM
  #1
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Spain, France, Netherlands with 18, 19 yo grandsons

Though the trip has been been in the works for quite a while, we are just now booking flights, hotels, trains, etc.
Background: DH and I promised the boys we would take them to Europe when they graduated from high school. DH died in 2012 but I am going to honor our plans. Due to scheduling issues with the boys, I just booked flights today. One grandson (S) and I will arrive in Barcelona May 27 and meet the other grandson (T) there. T been in Spain for his senior year of HS. We'll spend a few days in Barcelona, see some highlights since T and I have been to Barcelona previously. Then we will take trains to Avignon. T's girl friend is working at a B&B there for the summer , and we will stay maybe three nights in that area. Then another train ride to Paris (I've been 3 times, T went with his class recently) for about 5 days, then another train to Amsterdam., and fly home from there.
So, Barcelona May 27- 29
Avignon May 29- June 1
Paris June 1- June 6
Amsterdam June 6-June 10
Fly home June 11.
These cousins are easy going, flexible, and interested in a variety of things. This trip needs to have a good mix of indoor and outdoor activities, not just museums /churches, etc. Both are interested in history and art. Both are very athletic. One might get bored if we do too many museums. They both like to eat! And people watch. I have my Fodor's books on Spain and France and have been to Amsterdam twice and have a good idea of some things there. We may take a day trip to Delft or another city.
I have never been to Avignon or that area but am working on that now.
We had hoped to go to Normandy but the 70th anniversary is June 6 and I've been advised that it will be almost impossible to get accommodations at this late date. I've been and both boys are interested, but the timing is all wrong. It is possible that somehow we could make it happen, but not looking good.
I know this is a lot of moving around, not usually my travel preference, but after talking to the boys over the last few months we are going along with this plan.
Suggestions are welcome, especially if you've traveled with boys this age.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 02:59 PM
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You may want to drop a day from Amsterdam and add it to Barcelona - the day your arrive you may be jet-lagged, etc.

As for the trains yes booking early can save a ton of money on those trains, especially Barcelona to France and in France and the Thalys trains Paris to Amsterdam.

www.renfe.com for Barcelona to France or also try French Railways www.voyages-sncf.com or its competitor selling the exact same tickets and prices www.capitainetrain.com - Avignon to Paris the French ones of course.

www/thalys.com - for Thalys trains to Amsterdam - huge savings can be had on this one.

For general info on European trains check out these informative sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Many TGVs now are duplex - meaning two levels and the views from the upper level are IME far superior than down below where you see mainly guard rails and windblocks! When booking you can usually chose your seats as you wish.
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Mar 25th, 2014, 03:01 PM
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It's possible to still get rooms in Bayeux for the 6th of June.

Try this site to see what is available as a triple room.

booking.com/Bayeux

Not sure how you would get there from Avignon
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Mar 25th, 2014, 03:31 PM
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You'd have to go through Paris: Avignon to Gare de Lyon, switch to Gare St-Lazare, and go to Bayeux from there.
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Mar 26th, 2014, 05:38 AM
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Or you could easily do a day trip from there (Bayeux) from Paris - a tad over two hours each way if you can't find lodging. Or try nearby Caen a much larger city with lots of hotels and direct trains to Bayeux if sans car.
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Mar 26th, 2014, 10:50 AM
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d have been to Amsterdam twice and have a good idea of some things there. We may take a day trip to Delft or another city.>

For kids sake you may want some day trip more kid-centric - like to the Zaanse Schanse windmill complex a short train ride from Amsterdam

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

http://www.dezaanseschans.nl/en/
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Mar 26th, 2014, 11:52 AM
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Good for you Challiman!

They are young adults. If you want a windmill go to Kinderdijk. Zaanse Schans will be overrun with (mostly Chinese) tourists.

Maybe you would all enjoy hiring a whisper boat and seeing the countryside from the water? You can sit back and let the lads do the steering. http://www.fluisterbootvaren.nl/wp/english/ or
http://www.holyboot.nl/index-english.html are both close to Amsterdam.
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Mar 26th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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You can check this castle. It's about 10 miles south of Amsterdam and perhaps the kids would enjoy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/muiden

Gouda would be another easy day trip and could easily be combined with a trip to the Hague using the train.
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Mar 26th, 2014, 03:49 PM
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PalenQ, I had forgotten about Zaanse Schans, I enjoyed that in my first trip. Or as hetismij2 suggests, Kinderdjik. And I do like the idea of the whisper boat! And they would love doing the steering.
Iris, thanks for that information. I am loving all these suggestions.
Palen, I am working on a way to get us to Normandy, so those are great suggestions. DH and I stayed in Caen on our trip there, but due to some food poisoning we had to miss the museum. I was just thankful we got to the beaches and cemeteries, St. Mere Eglise, and Brecor Manor.
Thank you all. I'm really getting excited!
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Mar 26th, 2014, 03:50 PM
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Iris, a castle would be a big plus! Thank you!
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Mar 27th, 2014, 03:41 AM
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If your grandsons are at all interested in engineering then they may enjoy Cruquius, near Haarlem : http://www.museumdecruquius.nl/en/
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 05:07 AM
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So, flights, trains, hotels are booked. Airfare was a shocker, as I never travel at this time, much preferring March/April and October. Also having to wait so long to book didn't help with any of the options.
The grandsons are very excited about the trip and I have them looking into what they'd like to do, and I'm sending them lists of suggestions I've come up with. I am still very interested in suggestions from my fellow Fodorites for some active things to do, since I'm pretty familiar with the museum/monuments/ruins/churches aspects.
One of them is a real foodie, the other is only interested in quantity! I fear for my savings account on this matter! So, restaurant suggestions for any of the cities would be appreciated.
hetis, both boys are definitely interested in the whisper boats.
Thanks in advance for any help.
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 08:53 AM
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In Amsterdam along with the de rigueur canal boat rides - the teens can rent their own pedalos many places and do their own exciting canal tour - quite an adventure for anyone any age but especially memorable for them!
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 09:28 AM
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In Amsterdam they will probably want to see the Red Light District and a coffee shop.
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 10:48 AM
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And the legal drinking age for beer at least in Holland is 16 I believe - must be 18 to go into a coffeeshop (place selling cannabis over the counter - dozens of these everywhere. Now those places will be something to tell their buds back home about!
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 02:42 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions! I'm not really sure either of these young men are going to be interested much in alcohol or tasty brownies, but live and learn. One lives in Colorado where marijuana is legal but he's the athlete and is very particular about his diet. He has a big rugby tournament 3 days after we get home, and Amsterdam is our last city. The grandson already in Spain has had multiple opportunities for alcohol but has had only a few drinks in the 8 months he's been there. If they want alcohol that's fine, and I'm sure we/they will stroll through the Red Light District. LOL, they may walk me back to the hotel and take off on their own, and that's fine, too.
I realize that some young men would not even be excited about going off with their grandma, but this trip is something we've talked about and planned for several years. They are really looking forward to it, and to being together for this experience. They know that I don't expect to be right with them every minute, so we'll just see how it goes.
The boat tours where they would drive the boat sound perfect, and one of them wants one beach day in Barcelona, so hopefully that will work out.
I'm going through my Fodor's guidebooks and marking some things and will send a list of possibilities and have them check the ones of interest to them.
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 04:07 PM
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http://www.e-nemo.nl/en/

The unique looking NEMO may interest then in Amsterdam - especially the water reclamation and defenses section.
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 10:46 AM
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http://www.amsterdam.info/museums/verzetsmuseum/

I think for anyone, especially younger folk, a visit to the Dutch Resistance Museum is sobering - showing the immense hardships Amsterdammers and Dutch suffered during the Nazi occupation.
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 12:33 PM
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Pal, that is something I didn't know about when I was there previously, so it will definitely be on our list. I was a history teacher, particularly interested in WWIi. Thanks so much.
I actually cried when I went to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, and the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 01:00 PM
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If going to three museums or so get the National Museum Card - for about 40 euros allows unlimited entries to a few hundreds Dtuch museums in Amsterdam and all over. Plus at some you get priority entrance.

Just going to Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and one or two others makes it pay - I often go into some lesser museum that I would not have if I had to pay and am awed. In the vicinity of the Resistence Museum is the Ship Museum, showcasing the long heralded Dtuch shipping history and the Troppen Museum, a unique museum showing life in third-world countries by re-creating street scenes - shops and all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8fki22LfIw
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