Which city order makes most sense?

Old Mar 28th, 2017, 02:44 PM
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Which city order makes most sense?

I'm trying to nail down last bit of travel plans for upcoming summer (June/July) trip to Europe for the first time. Husband and I are 20s/30s and have never been before.

All travel is by train as we don't have any interest in renting a car or dealing with airports (other than to/from of course).

Here are the possible combinations:

Paris -> Brugge -> Cologne -> Amsterdam ( Brugge Sat/Sun, Cologne Mon/Tues)
Paris -> Cologne -> Brugge -> Amsterdam ( Cologne Sat/Sun, Brugge Mon/Tues)

Paris, and Amsterdam are already booked with hotels and flights so those are firm. Its which order to do Brugge and Cologne in.

Anyone have any opinion one way or the other? The train times seem fairly comparable but least amount of time spent traveling the better.
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Old Mar 28th, 2017, 02:59 PM
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I would do Paris to Bruges first.
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Old Mar 28th, 2017, 03:01 PM
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Paris Brugge Koeln Amsterdam
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Old Mar 28th, 2017, 03:04 PM
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I was told best to go to Brugge during the week as weekends are very busy. We will be going on Wed - Fri in May.
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Old Mar 28th, 2017, 03:51 PM
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Paris -> Brugge -> Cologne -> Amsterdam
Paris -> Cologne -> Brugge -> Amsterdam

One advantage of the latter one is that you have one less train ride and can take a direct Paris-Nord train to Cologne-to get to Bruges you must change in Brussels (except on the odd early-morning or late evening trains some days).

I can think of not real reason otherwise for doing Bruges first or Cologne first from Paris exceot for DebitNM's point of Bruges being busier on weekends.

Book those Thalys ticket ASAP for deep discounts (limited in number and go on sale about 120 days out; non-refundable non-changeable from the specific train you book yourselves on) and if Paris to Brussels book also the ABS fare for about 5 euro extra that lets you take any train from Brussels-Midi, where Thalys puts you down, to any (or all?) Belgian stations just by hopping on -for up to 24 hours (48?) -meaning you could stop for a day in Brussels, in many ways a very neat place if you can get over the initial shock of it not being a Bruges but a thriving modern world and European capital city. If doing Bruges-Cologne ask about ABS fares are available with the same conditions).

For lots on trains check www.thalys.com -official site that is easy to book on yourself- also for Bruges-Brussels-Cologne if by Thalys (German ICEs also do Brussels-Cologne- www.bahn.de/en); www.seat61.com - sage advice about discounted tickets; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Old Mar 28th, 2017, 10:04 PM
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cut out Cologne, unless you have very strong reasons to go there. It's not that interesting.
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Old Mar 28th, 2017, 11:05 PM
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Yes indeed - do Aachen instead, smaller and nicer and closer to Bruxelles.

Albeit I've got a soft spot for Koeln. Maybe because I spent 7 months in barracks close by.
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Old Mar 29th, 2017, 07:55 AM
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On which days do you plan to move from one place to another? You cannot spend a Sunday in one place and a Monday in the other unless you have some kind of 'beam me up Scottie' device available to you. Either Sunday or Monday will be a travel day which means you will NOT spend the day in either place.

This is a common mistake, not counting travel days. To spend 2 full days in any place, you must spend 3 nights in that place. You plan to visit 4 places. That means 5 travel days. Your arrival day, departure day and 3 moves between places. If this is a 14 day trip counting from your arrival day through departure day, then you are planning to lose up to 35% of your total time to travel days.

I don't see much point in saying, "least amount of time spent traveling the better", in terms of the train time one way or the other, if you are spending a third of your time overall on travel days.

Some people say learn to count nights, not days. I say count either but count travel days separately from days spent IN a place.
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Old Mar 29th, 2017, 07:58 AM
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cut out Cologne, unless you have very strong reasons to go there. It's not that interesting.>

Or do a few-hour stop just to see the world-famous Gothic cathedral plump next door to the main train station -puts bags in left-luggage and bop over there and then go on.
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Old Mar 29th, 2017, 08:24 AM
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If you are there visit the Germano-Roman museum next to the Dom. Exceptional.
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Old Mar 29th, 2017, 09:37 AM
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Both of us having strong German heritage we wanted to make a stop in Germany but somewhere near to the other places we are visiting. Would have preferred Berlin or Munich but the travel time is too much.

We know we won't have 2 full days as the trains are 3+ hours plus getting to/from and setup in the hotel, etc... A lot of people recommended cutting out Brugge and Cologne but wanting to visit both Germany and Belgium we gave it 2 nights each (so only really 1 full day to explore). I look forward to sitting back on a train and just hanging out with my husband and not having to drive, just recounting the last city and seeing the country move by (quickly) outside.

My main reason for going to Europe is to experience different places than the US. Hoping on and off trains and seeing different countries satisfies that. We will probably see a couple museums tops but mostly just eat, drink, and wander around without firm plans, just explore and make our own adventure. Having never been anywhere in Europe I'd like to see what there is to offer so we can come back for a longer stay in one place.

I'll look into Aachen though, not firm on Cologne, just firm on visiting Germany.
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Old Mar 29th, 2017, 09:39 AM
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Oh yes, forgot, part of Cologne is close proximity to the Rhine so we could do some kind of Rhine river boat. Any suggestions other than Cologne for close to Netherlands and Belgium and also the Rhine?
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Old Mar 29th, 2017, 06:30 PM
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DebitNM - Ascension day may 25 is a zoo in Bruges .
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Old Mar 30th, 2017, 01:17 PM
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DebitNM - Ascension day may 25 is a zoo in Bruges .>

but oh so awesome - the Procession of the Holy Blood is a fabulously colorful parade thru the streets escorting the vial of holy blood - Jesus' or someone's - the blood mysteriously congeals on this day (except it don't) so it is escorted to some church -perhaps Church of the Holy Blood?

Yes the town is mobbed with foreign and European tourists -maybe day trip in from Gent or Antwerp if can't get hotel- I've witnessed this parade several times and it is really sweet- lots of locals in old costumes.
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