Greetings to all!!
We are planning a trip to Europe again (this group was really helpful on our Chicago/Munich/Vienna/ Bratislava/Rome//Chicago sojourn) This time we would like to fly from Chicago to Amsterdam, train down to Paris (is bastogne doable?), take a day trip to Omaha Beach, tube train from Paris to London, go to my meeting in London, up to Scotland via train and home to Chicago via Scotland or London.. Previously we stayed at Courtyards and Renaissances that were nice and strategically placed for travel and sightseeing. Any help is always appreciated. regards C3
Assuming you're still planning your trip, perhaps this, along with others' input, will be helpful:
If you fly into Amsterdam, you can take a shuttle bus directly to your hotel. I usually stay at the Marriott, near the museum district, particularly the Rikjsmuseum (below) and Van Gogh, both walking distance from hotel...
The canal tour, which you can book a few blocks from the Marriott, will take 45 minutes, but is well worth the time and expense....
The Marriott, in my opinion, is located in a nicer section of Amsterdam and you can take trolley to downtown, if you want to visit there. Or, if you prefer to be near the train station, I'd suggest the Renaissance Hotel, from which you can walk to station.
We've taken the train directly from Amsterdam to Paris via Brussels (no need to change trains), and you can link with underground at the airport to your particular hotel. Our favorite is the Marriott on Champs Elysees, near the Arch. I
I also like the Renaissance Paris Le Parc Trocadero, near Eiffel Tower, but I've heard good reviews of Renaissance Vendome also...If you prefer something less expensive, you might try Golden Tulip Hotel, from where you can walk to the Louvre Museum.
Rooms at Champs Elysees are spacious (above) and the buffet breakfast is fantastic! Everything in Paris is expensive, so if you wait until 10:30 to eat you can skip lunch, and then go for a Parisian specialty at dinner time -----
You can take a train from downtown Paris to Versailles, a full day trip; don't normally recommend driving, or parking in Paris, and, of course, the traditional tourist spots: Eiffel, Montmontre, shopping at Printempts, Luis Vutton, etc....
** Be careful to keep your possessions protected, and do not surrender your passport to anyone who might ask you on the street! There are well-dressed gypsies in the city, especially in the "high-rent-districts", who are looking to take advantage of tourists!!
Boat trip is nice way to experience Paris.Haven't taken the train from Paris to London, but it's no big chore. Quite frankly, I'm not a fan of staying in downtown London, but there are a number of Marriott facilities there for your choosing. I usually stay out in Horley (near Gatwick) and take the train into the city and then back out in evening, but then, I like to have an auto to drive out in the country. Therefore, I would also drive to Edinburgh (day drive), but many interesting stops along the way - Huntingdon, Cambridge, Ely, Stamford, Lincoln, Boston, etc., to name a few.
I usually stay on outside of Edinburgh also at Marriott, not too far from the airport. Driving into Edinburgh, however, can be a bit testy, but you might just prefer to stay downtown at the Princess, or other less expensive B&B Hotels. However, if you had a car you could drive over the River Forth to St. Andrews to visit the famous golf town....
Those are fascinating photo's and wonderful advice, which I certainly support!
First I think we would all recommend clark3 "Review" previous posts on the places indicated! They will save much time and money!
Secondly, if clark3, would then get specific questions, we all could help a lot more!
As indicated, use Concierges to help, don't drive, think of your budget, and be prepared to be flexible.
Really hope I can help, I really thrill at doing a "Good deed"!
Thank-you for the opportunity to share some information with you!
First of all, try to look at previous posts on Amsterdam, and the rest of your trip!
A few things:
When you fly into AMS, think about taking the train directly from the airport to the main train station. It will save you a lot of money and time. If you stay at The Renaissance, you can just walk across the street to the hotel. One thing I would strongly recommend is a "Cruise" around the canals. This was really enjoyable, educational and priced very reasonable.
This boat was the best value in Amsterdam! A short walk from the train station!
Now as far as the train travel, think about a Euro-Rail package! Make sure you know exactly what train station you are leaving from and arriving to. Likewise, make sure you actually have a seat on the train. They can often be oversold and many don't have seats, especially AMS to Paris.
Just spend some time going thru previous posts and pick you hotel locations carefully. If you need more specific information, let us know, and we will sure help! Lastly, don't forget to take the Eurostar! It's an interesting trip from Paris to London. Just make sure, if you have a Platinum AMEX card, it will get you into the VIP Lounge, as you wait for boarding!
"This boat was the best value in Amsterdam!"
After having lived in Amsterdam woriking drug enforcement, I remember other things at that time being described as the best value in Amsterdam.
I know the best inexpensive dinner I had in Amsterdam was at Madre Maria. A short walk from the Renaissance.
A good "Wood fired grill" is always fun anywhere, but especially good in Amsterdam!
thanks for all the wonderful info--am staying at the Renaissance in Amsterdam, Renaissance Arc de Triumph in Paris, the Renaissance St Pancras London (I think this is the train station too!) and finally the Residence in Edinburough. Will definitely do the canal cruise in Amsterdam, will look into AMS to Paris and plan on Eurostar to London. The day trip to Omaha Beach sounds smartest--(drove in Ireland it was a challenge!) can the Renaissance concierge help arrange it? Is the train trip to Edinburgh worth time and first class?---we would like to see it as my wife has roots there. and then fly from there back to chicago
Re: The Edinburgh bit, I'd say the train trip is worthwhile, done it several times, the scenery on the East Coast line is lovely. Likewise the 1st class uprade is also worth it, just book early. As for Edinburgh, it's a beautiful and very walkable city, the castle perched above the city is breathtaking, and worth the climb. Do try the malt whiskies, enormous selection, huge variety, add veRy small amounts of water as you drink (I use a teaspoon to help drip in the right amount when at home) and experience the richness of each dram!
The St Pancras bit, it is a wonderfully restored masterpiece, do explore, but beware unless you're a PP there's no upgrade from the extension wing (Barlow) to the historic building (chambers) AND only plats/PPs get access to the fabulous lounge (called Chambers club). You'll be OK, though. Food is served almost the entire day and free wine/beer from 11am to 11pm, premium liquors are from 5pm-9pm. It's a strong offering in a typically "English Gentlemans Club" setting. Lastly the hotel is sat on top of St Psncras station and right next to Kings Cross (the departure point for East Coast services to Edinburgh).
My advice, do it... (I'm jealous already!)
As a note, while Platinum Elites do not get a "free upgrade" you are eligible for a discounted upgrade, we paid 100 pounds a night for an upgrade and it was AMAZING! So depending on how long you are staying, it could be worth the upgrade to see the original part of the hotel. You definitely get more bonus treats in your room and the rooms are gorgeous. So I would say ask when you get there about upgrades as the cost varies by how busy they are so it might be worth it for you. Sounds like a great trip!!
Yes, the Concierge, Remi, and his staff, can help with anything in France. They are "Gold Key" certified, wonderful people! If you need his email address, let me know!
These Concierge professionals are great! You may want to arrange to have a private car and driver take you to Normandy. It will cost more, but it's worth it!
No, save your money on first class train travel. Just pack the food and refreshments you want and wander around the train. You will enjoy it and save money!
Please review previous posts on The Eurostar, Paris, London, Amsterdam. I have never been to Scotland, so I can't help much there!
So well put!
One must remember to ask for items that are not non the menu. They came comped, but were not listed on the breakfast menu!
The Eggs B. are the best!
I wasn't specifically asked, but will chime in anyway. Everything looked good with the routing right up until Scotland! That's a fair distance from London, especially with so much to see in the south. Cornwall is a great destination. The lakes district will be a good substitute for Scotland and is a wee bit closer. Finally, if you want to do the Normandy beaches right, spend the night in bayeux or Caen or honfleur and spend a solid day there. The day trips from Paris leave before the sun rises, and return late. It's a long bus ride and not enough time exploring the sites. Omaha beach, pointe du hoc, the american military cemetery at colleville sur met, Pegasus bridge, and the fantastic museum at Caen are worth the time.
I've taken groups before and will have another there in late July 2015. If you're interested, I know a local guide I can suggest that is outstanding. Let me know if you'd like the contact details.
There are "Day trips" via van's/buses out of Paris that would be a very good way to see The Omaha Beach Area. If you think you would like to drive, via a rental car, it is actually a pretty easy trip, (Once you get out of Paris!), but I would not recommend renting cars. Likewise, be prepared for "Rough weather", no matter what time of year I have been there, it was alway "Dicey"!
Have a great trip!
As clark3 is intending to use the rail I'd say Edinburgh is much easier to reach from London by train than the Lake District. Do try to reserve at least a few weeks in advance and you can travel return as low as £50 standard, £100 1st class. Journey time is well less than 5 hours, direct from Kings Cross station...
Jerry Coin is the BEST source of information on almost any destination in Europe. Sally and I stayed at the Renaissance in Amsterdam and really liked it. We were back in Amsterdam again this summer...great place and the World Court is about an hour train ride from there...............Bill
You are way too kind! Thank-you for your note!
Mostly, am so glad you had such wonderful times in Amsterdam! There is really a lot of wonderful things to do there.
We still need to get together on my next trip to Atlanta, or yours to STL! This photo is for you!
Paris to Amsterdam, a relaxing train ride! Thanks for reminding me! A great time! Brought my own meals and refreshments and really enjoyed the trip. Right into the main train station, and walked to The Renaissance!
Even if you're not an art connoisseur, a trip to the Rijksmuseum Museumwell is well worth the time, and you can take the shuttle train from hotel there...
Additional thoughts as posted previously: Planning Another Western Europe trip
Nice information and photo's!
Here's a few more!
Anne Franks Home is a wonderful place to visit!
He takes us up to 100 miles of canals and all are interesting!
found a neat website ricksteves.com (the pbs travel guy) and train travel can be planned and even purchased if desired here---literally all the hotels planned for this trip are near to easy access train stations-----question--how far in advance of may 2015 should i book--a month or so?
Consider booking the train travel just after you book your flight!
I only take with me (and I've trained my wife accordingly) to take only carry-on (roller board) luggage, plus small shoulder bag, like my wife's pocketbook, with me on trips. European trains are normally quite full - even in first class - and you have to store luggage overhead. If you have to cross train tracks (underground) at the terminals, you have to go up/down stairs, so heavy luggage is a problem, unless you're the "Hulk". You can park your luggage in a cubicle near the train door exit, but I don't like to lose sight of my luggage on a train. Train schedules are not very flexible, extremely rare that they are no on time within a few minutes.
As far as the UK rail options go, your best bet is booking 12 weeks in advance as that's when the advance fares are loaded, www.thetrainline.com is a particularly easy site to use, though charges a small booking fee that doesn't have to be paid if you book direct with each rail operator individually.
Rail fares in the UK don't work like airfares, although there are fare buckets, the fares within each bucket don't vary, once the bucket is gone no further inventory is released at that price again. Hence booking at 10-12 weeks advance gets the very lowest fares...
We were in Europe in April and yes, thanks to jerrycoin's advice and vast knowledge, our trip planning was a load off our minds. London County Hall lived up to everyone's raves; we were given a suite with a view of Big Ben out of the living room and one of the London Eye out of the bedroom--and we were on points! Took Eurostar through the Chunnel to Paris--so very efficient and a nice ride. The Ren Arc de Triomphe was mostly good--location, breakfast very good, but small room when larger were available online was a disappointment. I had even paid a surcharge to guarantee more space in advance, but would have appreciated an upgrade to one of the available larger spaces showing on the website when I'm traveling with the family. The TGV from Paris to Munich was a highlight of the trip! We booked business class and basically got an upstairs seat (we were four) around a table so we could get the poker game started and served a snack and glass of wine as we sped through the French and German countryside.
In Munich, we stayed at the Munich Marriott and again it was a bit disappointing vis a vis Rewards treatment. The hotel itself is much more of a business hotel, located in a quiet area--and we knew that going in. But the room we received was so small we had to stack a chair on top of another to make room for a (very small) rollaway we'd had on the reservation for months. The next day I took my phone to the desk showing all the available larger spaces (the front desk clerk said none were available) open for the dates of our stay, and we were reluctantly moved to a slightly larger room, but hey at least the furniture did not have to be stacked! The breakfast there was wonderful, as it was at the County Hall and the Ren.
We'd booked months in advance for a tour of the BMW manufacturing plant (it fills up WAY early) and that was well worth it for this family of engineers--yes, we were THOSE people!
All in all, the advice I get on this site rivals anywhere else, and I so appreciate it!
greetings and happy new year!---a little off topic but I value all of your opinions. The Europe trip plans are going smoothly(late may-early june) However I am sending my daughter and husband to San Juan for a 4 day get away at the courtyard by the airport.-----I am using my Marriott visa/points/and platinum status for them. At the courtyard are there any perks like at the renaissance --or can she just hope for a late checkout---is breakfast ever free? any help is always appreciated!! ps any fear about paris based on recent events---I have none---comments please