MY TRIP

Like DCB, I’m going to Europe this summer, but I’m leaving next week. I’ve got two weeks there but my itinerary is completely different. I’m starting out in Paris for a few days, then taking a train to St Tropez to meet up wit mah boo, then up to Amsterdam for the rest of the trip. The last time I went to Europe was several years ago, and I’m interested to spend more time in a few places rather than trying to move all over the Continent. I thought about going to London, but getting price-raped isn’t my idea of fun, and who can resist St Tropez? Not me.

Unlike the Batchie, I’m not staying in hostels. I was able to find fairly cheap hotels in nice neighborhoods close to public transportation. Seriously, how was it possible to plan trips like these before the internet?

So again, dear readers, any advice you’ve got is appreciated. The dates I’m there are fairly firm but not inflexible. I’m also intrigued by the idea of renting a car in Europe, maybe to take a day trip somewhere. Does anyone have experience with this?

Oh, and while I’m gone, you’ll have a very sad and empty two weeks without any posts. On the other hand, there’ll be two full weeks of me when DCB goes to Spain. Giddy up.

17 thoughts on “MY TRIP

  1. Anonymous

    If you go to Amsterdam, you don’t go for the “jazz”. You go for the “coffee”. Or what they call coffee shops. Which don’t really sell coffee. Only advice I’d give is, just have great friends (or your boo) with you. Everything else is up to … chance. Like I brougth along great friends, and we ended up meeting these Australians babes on the tram. If you were a guy, I’d say go to Romania. But you’re not, so there it is.

  2. Charlotte

    I remember a wonderful meal in the Jordaan neighborhood in Amsterdam at a place called the Albatross. Even though it is really cheesy and touristy I liked our canal boat tour there too.

    A day trip may also be worthwhile. Delft and Leiden are cute towns.

    And eat stroopwaffles

  3. Lonnie Bruner

    My suggestion: skip Paris, Amsterdam and London. Those are all tourist-heavy spots that you can see when you’re old and rich. Hit Poland, Croatia or Greece. You won’t regret it.

  4. crewcial aka seenster

    Hit Poland, Croatia or Greece.

    Totally, although Zagreb (Croatia) is becoming like, another party capital of Europe, so it’s getting expensive there and full of eurotrash club girls (attn: DCB). This time of year, hit up Greece, definitely – it’s still tourist season, but fuck it. If you were able to visit Turkey, it’s amazingly beautiful, but a total lack of nightlife in Istanbul. But yeah, skip the usual tourist traps.

    Oh fuck, go have some real Belgian beer.

  5. sutton

    rent a car. it’s easy. your US license covers you. but car theft is a big problem, especially the further east you go. in fact, you often can’t take rental cars very far east if you rent them in places like France or Germany, etc. Just brush up on your traffic language knowledge a little, but, as you may recall, most of western europe is pretty good at having informative, non-language-specific signs.

    One thing: in the US, a diesel car is unusual. Not so in Europe, where a German car rental company might not even point out to you that they have rented you a diesel car. Said diesel car might not say that it is diesel anywhere except the owner’s manual and a tiny sticker INSIDE the gas door.

    Do YOU look inside the gas door for important, tiny stickers?

    Moral: diesel cars really do not like regular gas. And, probably, vice versa, although I have never tested the latter.

    Have fun!

  6. Raincouver

    Hey Sally,

    Are you beginning in Paris?
    From Toulon / St. Tropez you can fly via Ryanair.com to London (price rape indeed) or to BRUSSELS. I would do the latter, as the city is amazing (profited from conflict diamonds), and then head to Antwerp and Amsterdam via Train.

    Les trains de grande vitesse (TGV) are expensive. Just from Paris to Lille it’s about 80 bucks, if memory serves. Don’t do anything on-line, it’s a ripoff with the Eurorail. Reservations are only 4 euro.

    Virgin Express is not that much cheaper.
    http://www.virgin-express.com/en/destinations/

    Or you can rent a car. I know you said you don’t want to go all over Europe, but consider that the distances are short, compared to North America. There is usually no charge to drop off a car within a country. So you could drive from Paris to Lyon (gastronomic capital), then to St. Tropez, then to Marseille. You drop off the car in Marseille, and then fly virgin express to belgium. Stay there overnight (again, beautiful city) and then take the train to amsterdam.

    The hotels may be an issue. My fiancee and I booked through a hostel site and through hotels.com. The hostel site was not impressive. The place in Madrid was okay but very noisy. We were in Puerta del Sol and that was its only saving grace (what a blast). In Valencia we used the hostel site and stayed at a 4 star hotel (off season) for 70 euro. Brand new, modern decor, and right on the beach. For Paris (3 star), Bilbao (4 star), Frankfurt (5 star), and other cities I have used hotels.com. They give you a map of the hotel location which helps to determine how close you are to the metro. INTERNET INTERNET INTERNET.

    In contrast, I am going to Mexico in two weeks. Over the Sierra Madre Oriental down to Veracruz (f. 1519), into Tlapacoyan (f. 1240), back through Cordoba (f. ?), Orizaba, and then Puebla (f. 1531) and Cholula (f. 800), before returning to Tenochtitlan, or Mexico city (f. 1215). Not as old as Marseille, but just as exciting!

    Cordiales et chaleureuses salutations. Je te shouhait d’un bon voyage.
    Raincouver

  7. aurelgrooves

    my two cents as a frenchie.
    ryanair and easyjet are super cheap ways to fly. check out their sites, you can even buy last minute.
    a few things to keep in mind if you rent a car for a long distance is that:

    a) you can drive super fast and it’s awesome.
    but,
    b) it’s a lot more expensive to rent a car there than here (those $30/day deals are quite hard to come by)
    c) gas is expensive. no, like really expensive. here we’re all wah-wah-middle-east-$3/gallon! try $2 or more a LITER.
    d) tolls. oh, how we love our free potholed roads here, and those cute little baskets that ask you to nicely toss in 35 cents. when you cross france on their wonderfully impeccable highways the tolls are actually ATM/credit card machines. see how it feels to drop a triple digit $$$ toll and you might think twice about driving.

    i would rent a scooter or something for a day in saint tropez. besides, parking is a bitch.

    to get around between cities, take the train (TGV). when you search for tickets from SNCF:
    http://www.voyages-sncf.com/leisure/fr/launch/home/ they show you a range of prices to choose from…you can tell when are peak times and which times are cheaper. start by clicking on promos at the top and you can find special cheap-o deals.

    benefits of the train: it’s fast, on time, and you can bring your own booze and meet people.

  8. Jewcano

    Don’t bother with Amsterdam, at least not for more than a day. It’s so full of Americans trying to get stoned that you might as well have just stayed home and gone to a Phish concert, you’d have seen as much culture. Also, watch out for places where the water is more expensive than the food. If you go to the Netherlands, get out of the big cities (which takes all of 5 minutes) since all the beauty is in the countryside. The Dutch are also much friendlier to Americans than most of the rest of Europe.
    I personally like Paris. I always try my best to stay away from American hangouts when I go, so I don’t have to deal with tourist attitudes. Your mileage may vary. Wandering around in Paris, especially as a woman on her own, can put you in some seriously unsafe neighborhoods rather easily, regardless of time of day. Pay attention to your surroundings and you’ll be fine.
    St. Tropez this time of year will be full of fat, oily Germans who believe all beaches are de facto nude ones. If you’re looking for pomp and circumstance go to Monte Carlo (bring a fancy dress or the casino won’t let you in the door.) If you just want to see the Cote d’Azur go in between the big cities, it’s far nicer.
    Pickpocketing, especially of obvious Americans, especially in the south of France, is a big problem. Be smart, if you have an expensive purse and wave around your iPod/camera/phone/etc, you’ll get robbed. The smart American dresses frumpy (no one in Europe our age has money) and blends in.
    European drivers do not believe in the rule of law. It’s not, say, southern India, but the driving is very chaotic. I’ve seen many an American driver reduced to tears by the terror and complexity of driving a rental in Europe. My advice, pack light, take the trains, sightsee on foot. Or drop the bucks and go on an organized tour.

  9. Jay Gatsby

    I agree with Jewcano. I recently did a week in Italy and had to constantly keep an eye out for pickpockets in Rome and Florence. The South of France is great (although it’s been quite a few years since I was there), as is Paris itself (lots to see). The French do have attitudes, but only if you try to speak high school French or cop an attitude of your own. Stick to English, be polite/respectful, and you’ll be fine. The Ugly American isn’t popular anywhere in the world these days.

  10. Raincouver

    Aurelgrooves is absolutely right.

    The tolls are a killer! That’s why I suggested a mix of planes, trains, and automobiles. Even with the SNCF discounts, the tickets are expensive. They also run at different times, and may connect in smaller cities. If you are fluent in French, that may not be a problem, but otherwise stick with the TGV.

    I checked AVIS.COM and I got these rates:
    1. Economy Renault Clio 1.2 or similar (Manual) 203.99 USD

    2. Subcompact Toyota Yaris or similar (M) 190.99 USD

    3. Compact Renault Megane 1.6 or similar (M) 205.22 USD

    Add 87 USD Tax

    This is a 7 day rate, pick up in Paris and drop off in Toulon (close to St. Tropez). Enough to get you around in the south of France before flying from Toulon to Belgium or Amsterdam. The cheapest rate I found on SNCF was 68 Euro (85 USD). but most rates are about 100 Euro.

    I disagree strongly with Jewcano on the driving. Having driven all over North America, as well as through many cities in Europe, I can rightly attest to the more orderly driving habits of the EU. This is most true in the highways. As for pickpockets, that happens everywhere. Georgetown, Manhattan, Vancouver, you name it. That should go without saying.

    Post photos when you return!

    RC

  11. Lou P.

    Paris, London, and Amsterdam are all fun cities that you should enjoy. There are unique elements to all three places that have to be experienced to be understood.

    Paris: Visit the L’Ouvre. I went in 1998 (pre-Dan Brown writing about it), and it has some fantastic art.

    London: If by chance they still have Shangri-La night at the Metro, I’d recommend that. There are so many fun things to do in London that I couldn’t begin to narrow them down; it’s the closest I’ve seen to New York City outside of NYC. If you’re into plays, London has the best off-Broadway shows arguably of anywhere in the world (though that’s not my area of expertise.)

    Amsterdam: The laid-back, relaxed atmosphere there is outstanding. Best vibe of any city that I’ve ever been to, even moreso than New Orleans. The Van Gogh museum is well-worth a visit, as is the Anne Frank house. And Heineken’s brewery is in town there.

    I have to admit, I’m jealous of you getting to visit all three places in one trip. Hope you have a good time.

  12. Discombulated Diva

    I got to Europe often, but this summer i took my first trip to Paris… it was excellent… loved Paris, take time to really enjoy the food… if you get a chance, go to this restaurant called the Hippopatumus, its in Montparrnasse (I know i spelled it wrong)… but the food was incredible… The Louvre was cool, huge…. unfortunately, u can’t take a picture of the Mona Lisa… the clubs were great… we took the train there and stayed at the club til 5am, and took the train back to out hotel… great experience…
    If you the the Eiffel Tower, go all the way to the top, its definitely worth the time and the 11 euros… anyways, enjoy Paris, I know i really did!!!

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