Advice For European Travel

Bill U

Level 2 Member
#1
My wife and I will be traveling in Europe this Fall. We arrive in Brussels on Sept 30th. We would like to spend a couple of days in Brussels and then travel to Paris to celebrate our 1 year anniversary (Oct 6th). We would love to hear from those who have experienced these cities. Any recommendations on places to stay, local spots to eat and European train travel are most welcome.
 

plane2port

Level 2 Member
#2
Bill, its been many years since we were in Brussels, but we celebrated our anniversary in Paris about 3 years ago. We rented an apartment in the 20th arrondissement near the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. It had a small kitchen and laundry, and was probably cheaper than a hotel. We used the website Cities Reference dot com, but I would feel comfortable using airbnb or home away. There was a street a few blocks from the apartment that was door-t0-door restaurants and no tourists. I'm sure other arrondissements would be good. The Quartier Latin is pretty touristy but you can't be more central. If you stay on the Right Bank make sure you bring your credit card with the largest credit line, ha, ha!
 

Bill U

Level 2 Member
#3
Bill, its been many years since we were in Brussels, but we celebrated our anniversary in Paris about 3 years ago. We rented an apartment in the 20th arrondissement near the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. It had a small kitchen and laundry, and was probably cheaper than a hotel. We used the website Cities Reference dot com, but I would feel comfortable using airbnb or home away. There was a street a few blocks from the apartment that was door-t0-door restaurants and no tourists. I'm sure other arrondissements would be good. The Quartier Latin is pretty touristy but you can't be more central. If you stay on the Right Bank make sure you bring your credit card with the largest credit line, ha, ha!
Thanks for the info. I've been scouring the AirBnB listings all day. Hope to find the right set up in the next few weeks!
 

inflightmeal

Level 2 Member
#4
I find Amsterdam to be a really wonderful place. The little secret is that you don't need to be there just to smoke/eat/drink weed and have affordable prostitutes! It's a beautiful place with tons of culture and personality. I think we Yanks label it a party city, while she has much more to offer.
 

cwilson830

Level 2 Member
#5
My wife and I will be traveling in Europe this Fall. We arrive in Brussels on Sept 30th. We would like to spend a couple of days in Brussels and then travel to Paris to celebrate our 1 year anniversary (Oct 6th). We would love to hear from those who have experienced these cities. Any recommendations on places to stay, local spots to eat and European train travel are most welcome.
As for train travel, you'll take Thalys between the two cities.
 

Bill U

Level 2 Member
#6
Thanks everybody for all the suggestions. Since my original posting I was able to fly to Paris for a few days and learn my way around the city. In addition, I booked travel from Brussels to Paris (Thalys) as suggested by cwilson830. My wife and I are very excited about our trip. We have rented an apartment we found on TripAdvisor just a couple of blocks from the Arc de Triomphe. Any suggestions about London would be welcome.
 

smittytabb

Moderator
Staff member
#7
Thanks everybody for all the suggestions. Since my original posting I was able to fly to Paris for a few days and learn my way around the city. In addition, I booked travel from Brussels to Paris (Thalys) as suggested by cwilson830. My wife and I are very excited about our trip. We have rented an apartment we found on TripAdvisor just a couple of blocks from the Arc de Triomphe. Any suggestions about London would be welcome.
How long are you in London? I particularly enjoyed the May Fair hotel but got it for two nights for 50K Club Carlson points which is long gone now. One of my children lived there and I have been there many times. Great city.
 

Bill U

Level 2 Member
#8
How long are you in London? I particularly enjoyed the May Fair hotel but got it for two nights for 50K Club Carlson points which is long gone now. One of my children lived there and I have been there many times. Great city.
We will be in London for 4 nights. Plan is to utilize Hyatt free nights at London Hyatt- Churchill. Thinking about a Thames "water taxi"/tour of the highlights of the city etc. Any thoughts on getting around town are welcome.
 

smittytabb

Moderator
Staff member
#9
We will be in London for 4 nights. Plan is to utilize Hyatt free nights at London Hyatt- Churchill. Thinking about a Thames "water taxi"/tour of the highlights of the city etc. Any thoughts on getting around town are welcome.
Take the Tube and buses. London has great public transportation. Depending on where I am staying in the city, I even take the Tube into town from the airport. I travel very light.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
#10
We will be in London for 4 nights. Plan is to utilize Hyatt free nights at London Hyatt- Churchill. Thinking about a Thames "water taxi"/tour of the highlights of the city etc. Any thoughts on getting around town are welcome.
Research the Hop On / Hop Off bus tours. I think we got a 2 day pass and we were able to whip around the city to overview things, then use it as basic transportation of sorts to get to specific places. These tour usually includes a Thames river one-way tour, too. But it's easy to take the bus the other way. You just have to watch for when your tickets expire. We also took trains a couple of times. It seemed to be an easy-to-navigate city. Oh, yeah, we walked quite a bit, too.
 

Bill U

Level 2 Member
#11
Research the Hop On / Hop Off bus tours. I think we got a 2 day pass and we were able to whip around the city to overview things, then use it as basic transportation of sorts to get to specific places. These tour usually includes a Thames river one-way tour, too. But it's easy to take the bus the other way. You just have to watch for when your tickets expire. We also took trains a couple of times. It seemed to be an easy-to-navigate city. Oh, yeah, we walked quite a bit, too.
Thanks Knick:
This is the kind of utility that I am very interested in. I will definitely check it out when I hit London. Thanks again.
Bill U
 

cavil

Level 2 Member
#14
My favorite neighborhood to stay in London is the Seven Dials near Covent Garden. There's a decent Radisson Blu Mercer Street hotel that is located on one of the spokes of the dials. The area is charming with numerous pubs, clubs, and restaurants spanning all price ranges. There are also scores of smaller stores if shopping is your thing. Leicester Square and the same day, half-price ticket booth is a five minute walk away. About 75% of the West End theatres are within easy walking distance. The Royal Opera House Covent Garden is less than a ten minute walk away. It aint cheap though. I shelled out $323 for one ticket to a matinee performance of La Boheme.

A much better bargain (and an awesome experience) is seeing a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre. About $20-40 range if I recall, but they sell out far in advance. From the 7 Dials a 45 minute walk will take you along Fleet Street (yes there is a barber shop there!) to St Paul's Cathedral and then cross the Millennium footbridge and arrive at the Globe on the south bank. Right next door to the globe is the astounding Tate Modern, arguably the greatest modern art museum in the world. From the Tate you can take a relaxing stroll along the South bank all the way to the London Eye. We bought "skip-the-line VIP tickets" in advance of our trip and walked right into our gondola with no waiting.

London is magnificent. You'll love it and be planning to go back.
 

Peridot83

Level 2 Member
#15
It's been about 11 years since I was in belgium. We stayed in Brussles, Charleoi (not much going on for turists but my grandfather is from there and we still have cousins there), and Brugge. Maybe I was just young, but Brussles didn't do much for me, but I loved Brugge and it's a easy train ride. The beer culture there is amazing. My cousins took me to a bar from that had been there from the time of Napoleon, and introduced me to Trappist tripels. So if I were you I would at least do a day trip to Brugge, and maybe a brewery tour or two.
 

Bill U

Level 2 Member
#16
My favorite neighborhood to stay in London is the Seven Dials near Covent Garden. There's a decent Radisson Blu Mercer Street hotel that is located on one of the spokes of the dials. The area is charming with numerous pubs, clubs, and restaurants spanning all price ranges. There are also scores of smaller stores if shopping is your thing. Leicester Square and the same day, half-price ticket booth is a five minute walk away. About 75% of the West End theatres are within easy walking distance. The Royal Opera House Covent Garden is less than a ten minute walk away. It aint cheap though. I shelled out $323 for one ticket to a matinee performance of La Boheme.

A much better bargain (and an awesome experience) is seeing a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre. About $20-40 range if I recall, but they sell out far in advance. From the 7 Dials a 45 minute walk will take you along Fleet Street (yes there is a barber shop there!) to St Paul's Cathedral and then cross the Millennium footbridge and arrive at the Globe on the south bank. Right next door to the globe is the astounding Tate Modern, arguably the greatest modern art museum in the world. From the Tate you can take a relaxing stroll along the South bank all the way to the London Eye. We bought "skip-the-line VIP tickets" in advance of our trip and walked right into our gondola with no waiting.

London is magnificent. You'll love it and be planning to go back.
Thanks Cavil:
This is the kind of information that is quite helpful - especially the theatre info. I'm going to check out the VIP tickers today.
Bill U
 

Bill U

Level 2 Member
#17
It's been about 11 years since I was in belgium. We stayed in Brussles, Charleoi (not much going on for turists but my grandfather is from there and we still have cousins there), and Brugge. Maybe I was just young, but Brussles didn't do much for me, but I loved Brugge and it's a easy train ride. The beer culture there is amazing. My cousins took me to a bar from that had been there from the time of Napoleon, and introduced me to Trappist tripels. So if I were you I would at least do a day trip to Brugge, and maybe a brewery tour or two.
Thanks for the tips. A day trip to Brugge is on the Brussels agenda. Bill U
 

cavil

Level 2 Member
#18
Thanks Cavil:
This is the kind of information that is quite helpful - especially the theatre info. I'm going to check out the VIP tickers today.
Bill U
You're welcome.
Regarding the same-day, half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square, it is a standalone building within the square itself. If you Google map zoom in on Leicester Square it shows TKTS, the building at the southern end of the square. There's a small clock tower on top of the building. Multiple smaller outfits in storefronts near the square claim to be the "real thing". They are not. I once made the mistake, as a London rookie many years ago, of buying half price tickets and discovered I was charged more than face value! The shyster outfits will have signage advertising the "big" shows like Phantom, Les Mis, Lion King---you'll never get those for half price.

The genuine ticket booth has an electronic tote board listing all the shows and clearly showing the discount they offer. Not everything is half price.

Nearly always available half-price (and a great bargain) is the long-running ghost story The Woman in Black.
Two knock-your-socks-off musicals I recommend are We Will Rock You, and Beautiful---The Carole King Musical.

Please report back when you complete your trip. Bon voyage.
 
#19
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