Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Trip Report / Amsterdam - Haarlem - Bruges - Paris / by train (

crossen Jan 24th, 2015 06:23 PM

Trip Report / Amsterdam - Haarlem - Bruges - Paris / by train
My wife and I are in our mid to late 60's. We travel independently and make our own reservations and do our own planning (I was fortunate to do a significant amount of traveling with my jobs so the planning part for me is almost as fun as the travel part!) . We like to stay in each location for at least two nights, if at all possible. We both have balance issues and we find traveling to be much easier for us if we use hiking sticks (which airlines allow us to take with us on the plane / they are kept in a closet at the front of the plane). We don't consider ourselves handicapped (we walked to the top of Mt. Saint Michel two years ago), but we don't move as quickly as we did 20 years ago. We love to travel.
We have never traveled much by train in Europe to we were eager to see how this would go. We pull our own bags and I carry a backpack. Train travel in Europe was a delight. People offered to help us in every station (directions, with out bags, etc.). We speak a little French and no Dutch or Flemish. Language has never been a problem, especially when we try to speak our very poor French in France. Someone has always come to our rescue. Always!

October 13, 2014 (Monday)
• Arrive in Paris
• Take Limo to Hotel Richmond (budget hotel directly across the street from Gare du Nord)
• Not a great area
• Checked out Gare du Nord
• Took the Metro to Censier Daubenton stop / dinner at Cave la Bourgogne (like and old friend)
October 14, 2014 (Tuesday) / Paris, FR to Amsterdam, NL by Train / This website really helped with train information and reservations
• Reservation on Thalys #9327 Paris (Gare du Nord) direct to Amsterdam / 10:25AM – 1:42pm
o Enjoyed looking at the countryside and cities in France, Belgium and The Netherlands / couldn’t tell when we had crossed the borders though
• Taxi from Centraal Station to The Bridge Hotel ( – nice, clean small hotel in SE Amsterdam
• Walk along Kerkstraat across Magere Bridge to Leidstraat (antique shops) and back
• Dinner at Na Siam (nice little Thai restaurant not far from The Bridge Hotel)
October 15, 2014 (Wednesday) / Amsterdam, NL
• Nice buffet breakfast at the hotel
• A very long walk to Van Gogh Museum (wonderful museum)
• Lunch - Very nice restaurant in the museum
• Canal Boat ride / serendipitous / not expecting it to be so enjoyable!
• Dinner at Café Koosje ( about 4 blocks from the Bridge Hotel. We enjoyed this little local bar / restaurant.
October 16, 2014 (Thursday) / Amsterdam, NL
• Breakfast at the Bridge Hotel again
• This time we took the Tram to the Rijksmuseum (the Tram is a great way to get around Amsterdam – very easy to use – buy your ticket right on the tram)
• The Rijksmuseum was terrific
• Very nice lunch at the restaurant in the museum
• In the afternoon we took the tram to the Ann Frank House ( we had reservations for a lecture and a tour – make reservations if at all possible
• Nice little Café t Hooischip – corner of Waterloo Plein and Amstel

October 17, 2014 (Friday) / Amsterdam, NE to Haarlem, NL
• Breakfast at the Bridge Hotel again
• Hermitage Museum / “Dining with the Tsars” Exhibit
• Cab to Train Station
• Train to Haarlem / No reservation needed
• Walked from train station to L’Anders (B & B on the square) – not real smart!
o Nice little B & B on the market square, but be ready for very steep stairs / no lift
• Dinner at Parlem ( little café about 2-3 blocks from the B & B

October 18, 2014 (Saturday) / Haarlem, NE
• Breakfast at L’Anders
• Walked around the Market on the Square / Great fun!
• Walked about 5 blocks to Frans Hals Museum / “Emotions” Exhibit
• Walked around Haarlem
• Dinner at Grand Café Brinkmann / Sat outside facing the Square / GREAT MEAL!

I’m glad we made this side-trip to Haarlem / The Market on Saturday was wonderful!

October 19, 2014 (Sunday) Haarlem, NE to Bruges, BE / By Train
• Breakfast at L’Anders
• Taxi to the Haarlem Train Station
o Changed original Train Tickets to earlier departure / IC Trains to:
 Harlem to Leiden
 Leiden to Roonvort
 Roonvort to Antwerp Centraal
 Antwerp Centraal – Bruges
o I don’t know how we made all these connections, but we did!
• Taxi to B & B Speelmansrei ( nice location / great accommodations / WONDERFUL HOSTS ) / THERE IS A LIFT IN THIS HOUSE!
• Dinner at Chagall ( / Very nice little restaurant about 6 blocks from the hotel
• Walk around the Town Square at night / nice to see it when most of the day tourists have left!
October 20, 2014 (Monday) / Bruges, BE
1. Breakfast at Speelmansrei
2. Walked around Bruges following the directions the host gave us (wonderful walk)
3. Lunch at Lb*DbB ( / near Chagall/ (Recommended by our host) Wonderful food
October 21, 2014 (Tuesday)
• Breakfast at Speelmansrei
• The Weather was BRUTAL / High Wind / Heavy Rain
• Went to the Cathedral of Our Lady (Notre Dame)
o Saw Madonna and Child by Michelangelo / Mentioned in the movie “Monument Men”
• lunch at Lb*DbB again
• Went to the Memling Museum / nice little museum
• Bought chocolate at Verheecke (Steenstraat 30) / it seemed better and less expensive than Dumon / This is the 3rd time we have bought chocolate in this city!
• Chagall for dinner again / Wonderful, again!

October 22, 2014 (Wednesday)
Train from Bruges, BE to Brussels, BE (Midi/Zuid) / Leave at 11:00AM
• Taxi to the Bruges Train Station
• Local IC train (non-stop) to Brussels – No reservation needed
• Waited a few hours in the Brussels (Midi/Zuid) Train Station
o Not in a hurry
o Great “people watching”
o Another chance to stock up on Belgian Chocolates
• Thalys #9440 Brussels, BE (Midi/Zuid) to Paris (Gare du Nord) / 1:13pm – 2:35pm
• Cab to the Hotel Jeanne D’Arc (Le Marais) ( / Paris
• Walked to Place Du Voges (about 2 blocks away from the hotel
• Had dinner at Ma Bourgogne (recommended by the hotel) –- traditional Parisian Café - nice dinner / not inexpensive, but this IS Paris
October 23, 2014 (Thursday)
• Breakfast at a local bakery
• Saint Paul Metro to Georges V
• Went on the Big Bus Tour (BIGBUSTOUTRS.COM) - open top bus tour of Paris – Very enjoyable – 3rd time in Paris, but always amazed at what a beautiful city Paris is!
• Birthday lunch at Laduree ( / no reservation so we waited in line – very much worth the wait / Not inexpensive, but this was a special occasion and it was much appreciated and very memorable for my lovely wife
• Dinner that night was very light at Bistro Saint Catherine / ½ block from our hotel
October 24, 2014 (Friday)
• Breakfast at La Favorite (4 rue de rivoli) / about 3 -4 blocks from our hotel
• Metro from Saint Paul to Ecole Militaire
• Walked to Rue Cler and along the street / very cute
• Walked back to the Rodin Museum
• The Hotel des Invalides was on the way. WOW!
• We met friends who had been staying in Paris for about a month
o She is an artist and she gave my wife an excellent tour of the Rodin Museum
 Saw the Burghers of Calais (also mentioned in the movie – Monument Men)
 Very much enjoyed talking to Kathleen’s husband – not much about art – just about life in general – I think I am starting to get “museumed out”
o Had lunch at the museum restaurant / we have never had a bad meal in a museum restaurant, anywhere!
• We took the Metro from the Varenne stop to Censier Daubenton
o Had dinner at Cave de Bourgogne again
• My wife found more scarves on rue Mouffetard
o We have three daughters / You can never buy too many scarves?
• Metro from Censier Daubenton back to Saint Paul
October 25, 2014 (Saturday)
• Had breakfast at local bakery
• Walked to Blvd. Richard Lenoir (near the Bastille)/ Artist “Street Market” – very enjoyable
• Had coffee at a local café and decided to go on a Seine River Cruise (we bought a combo-ticket when we bought the Big Bus passes on Thursday – Pretty good deal!)
• Took Bastille Metro Stop to Clemenceau to Invalides and OMG RER to Tour Eiffel
o What a production to get here! I got pretty confused with the RER
• Not easy to find the correct boat, bit we finally did!
o The boat tour was packed – we sat on the top until it started to rain, but really enjoyed the trip
• After much walking and a few Metro rides we made it back to the Saint Paul metro station.
• We stopped at Marche at Saint Catherine for cheese and wine
o UNBELIEVEABLE Foie Gras Soup!!!!!
 We have never, ever had anything quite like this before. After promising my wife that we would come back tomorrow I realized that I could only eat this once, or maybe twice a year. My wife agreed so we will have to come back on a future trip. It is 3 months later and I think my arteries are starting to feel a little better!

October 26, 2014 (Sunday)
• Got out of the hotel very early
• We had breakfast at a pub / bistro about 4 blocks north of the Picasso Museum
• Got in line at the Picasso / We were about 19 & 20th
o It has not been open for 5 years
o It was spectacular!
• We came back and had lunch at Chez Josephine
o Wine and cheese
• In the afternoon we took the Metro from Saint Paul to Nation, to Pere Lachaise Metro
• Went to Pere Lachaise Cemetery for “in English” walking tour
o Lots of walking – but a great tour! (no reservation needed – ( They have several tours and we will make sure to take one of the others when we come back again! Very much worth the cost! – only about 12€ / per person
• Metro from Pere Lachaise to Nations to Saint Paul Metro
• Had dinner at Chez Josephine ( / (in the Saint Catherine square area) – Nice little café
• Back to the hotel to pack

October 27, 2014 (Monday)
• Wake up call at 5:00AM
• Take shuttle back to the Airport
• Fly Delta direct back to Cincinnati

italynovice Mar 7th, 2015 11:06 AM

Excellent trip report! I am planning a solo trip to Paris and Amsterdam in September, and after reading your report will add 2 nights at the B&B you recommended in Bruges. I will have to try the foie gras soup in Paris! Will make a copy of this for touring and restaurant suggestions.

nvl325 Mar 19th, 2015 09:06 PM

thanks for your report. Will be referring to it for upcoming trip!

Jennifer_Travels Mar 29th, 2015 11:03 AM

Lovely trip report. How did you like Hotel Jeanne D’Arc in Paris? I've bookmarked it for a trip next September, and am wondering what you thought of it.

tomarkot Mar 30th, 2015 07:44 AM

Really enjoyed your report. Nice concise format. Thanks for posting! You certainly had your share of train connections!

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:38 PM.