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topdog1961

European Family Vacation

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Jim Vander

Most has been said but extra emphasis

Check to make sure your Visa does not charge foreign conversion fees they get big fast they ding you on every transaction

Travelers Checks are passe  

Pack light you can have laundry done anywhere you'll spend a bit more than checked bag fees but you won't be lugging them

Bring at least one set of upscale clothes eg sport coat in case you see somewhere especially nice you want to dine

If you get your fill of Germany (Cologne is pretty nice as well) Paris is farther than Amsterdam/Harlem and  the Dutch are exceptionally friendly and virtually all speak English, but don't let the stereotypes worry you Paris is amazing

 

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atticus

30+ years ago backpacking through that area I found Koblenz, Mainz and Cochem in the Mosel valley to be great. Not sure how they are now. 

 

If if you do visit Normandy don't miss the Bayeux tapestry. It's one of the greatest objects I've ever seen. The two most significant amphibious invasions in world history in the same place. 

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sneem

If you go to Normandy, and it is a must, don't miss Pegasus bridge. Site of one of the greatest feats of arms I have ever known. This is where the gliders, at night in the rain and wind, flown by cross trained rifleman not skilled aviators, crash landed along the side of the river by the bridge and held it all night and into the next day until relieved. Had they lost the bridge, the Brits and Canadians would have had no way to advance inland off the beaches. Standing there and seeing the markers where they put those gliders down under the existing conditions, I could only shake my head in awe. Even the excellent portrayal in "The Longest Day" doesn't do it justice.

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Speaks

I get to Asia pretty often for work but use miles to take my wife to Europe every so often. I wont be the best person to tell you where to go as we tend to hang out in Denmark mostly and that would be a bit of a hike for you. I was not real fond of Paris but I only spent 24 hours there and was quite jet lagged to it may have colored my view. 

 

Many credit cards work fine and require little need for cash, check yours for conversion fees, if it has them get a new one. I use a delta Amex and a United chase card that work fine. If you want cash get it from a local ATM not from the conversion place at the airport.

 

For phones most carriers have a version of what ATT calls "day pass" which is about $10 a day and lets you use your phone just like you were at home for voice, text, data, everything. I have been down the route of international plans etc and for me its worth the cost to just forget about it even being an issue. If you dont do that whatsapp and wifi are your friend but be careful. I have racked up some insane bills in India by accident before daypass was a thing. 

 

If I recall from a trip to Germany as a kid many years ago there are some pretty neat castles within a short ride from Frankfurt. 

 

When you come home use the mobile passport app, its not really faster than the kiosk but puts you in a different line which at many ports of entry is much shorter. Even if you decide the kiosk line looks better it at least lets you choose. 

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Zoli 16ga.

Paris and Versailles. What Atticus said plus Munich, Heidelberg, Cologne, berlin. Europe is small. if you rent a car driving 2 or 3 hours will get you into 1 or more counties.

 

Some friendly advice...soak in the culture. You may not find ketchup, T-bone steaks or menus in english. You'll be hard pressed to find a beer that  tastes like budwieser...lol. Its not Canada or America. You may experiance a bit of culture shock if you haven't travelled much. expect prices to be more for most anything than you would pay here. Not everyone speaks English, but you'll be surprised how many do. Their train system is amazing, and will be on time within 1 or 2 minutes. its a great way to get to another city and see the country side. Paris is a much friendlier place than in the past.

I have traveled alot, and I have found the above will help enhance your experiences. 😀

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Brad Eden

Reminds me, I need to renew my Passport. I have the photos taken by my daughter and all the paperwork. Just got to scoff up the fee and send it in. Jo is planning a trip to Portugal within the next year. First time I'll be overseas. Gulp.

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topdog1961

Thanks for all the great advice. I’ve already put some of it to use. Here are some updates. 

 

I checked the status of our passports online and we should be receiving them “on or about 6/9/19” 👍

 

The young German lady and her family have a pretty full itinerary planned for all of us that includes trips to Cologne, Amsterdam and a vacation rental on the North Sea. That’s great that she and her family want to spend so much of their time with us and be our personal tour guides. We plan on renting a 7 passenger minivan the entire time to transport all of us in one vehicle. And yes, it is a stick shift. Weird but I like it. Those Europeans aren’t auto shift sissies like most Americans. Bruges is about 3 hours away so my wife and I may slip away for a day and night to see that, but it looks like The D-Day beaches and Paris will have to wait till another trip. 

 

Our town had another German exchange student recently. We didn’t host him but I took him hunting and he got an 8 point Ohio buck and is a fine young man. We met his family when they flew over to visit and they live near Frankfurt. We are spending a night with them on the way out. 

 

Thanks all again and keep the advice coming. 

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casts_by_fly

TD,

 

if if you’re going to drive to Bruges for the day, then that will steer you to different things than if you are planing the night.  A canal boat ride around town (hop on hop off) is a good ride and you’ll get to see and learn lots. A carriage ride is nice (weather dependent) but they are expensive. I’d suggest a boat over horses unless you have a need to ride a carriage.

 

The bell tower is cool to go to the top, but a lot of steps. Pack your chukkar legs.  The main square (where the bell tower is) is cool to see for five minutes.  Then start walking around. Pick out a couple cool places and just walk.  Lots of tiny streets and cool shops.  If you or your wife are into Christmas things, there are a couple shops around town that are great:

 

https://kaethe-wohlfahrt.com/

 

We go there for beer. There are a ton of amazing places that have hundreds of beers.  Since you’re driving, probably not your primary objective for visiting.  That said, there are a couple places to visit.  The original beer bar that put Bruges on the map is t’bruges beertje.  Daisy still runs the place and they have all of the truly Belgian beers worth drinking. They don’t open until 4pm though so tough with a 3 hour drive after. Also they don’t really do food (just snacks) so maybe not a great choice.  Another option would be cafe vlissinghe:

 

http://www.cafevlissinghe.be/cafevlissinghe.be/home.html

 

Very old bar and they have a kitchen smaller than the one in my house as you walk in the door.  Great for lunch. Plenty of good beer. And it is a nice walk along the canal to get out there. You can see the back residential streets on the way. 

 

Also great to eat for lunch or dinner is de havre Mann brewery. The brewer tour is good, but if you’ve seen a brewery tour before they are all the same. The food is good and the beer on draft is the freshest you’ll find.  The canal boat tour has a drop off nearby. 

 

There is is lots of chocolate. Most places have something to try so sample around. But the best one is dumon chocolatier. There is one next to de havre Mann (also a Kath wolhlfart nearby) that is the best and our regular.  If you like churches then the basilica is around the corner too.

 

if you like to eat steamed mussels then there are plenty of places of varying quality. Poulles moulles is our favorite. Two people can probably share an order, especially if you get a starter (their seafood soup is great).  

 

Any requests for Bruges?  Happy to answer anything.

 

rick

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casts_by_fly

Also, we got these in Bruges. 

 

 

E957BFCA-08B7-4637-AABE-1009D4CF3687.jpeg

6AF2C328-240F-4664-A1AF-9305B48BC9AF.jpeg

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WyomingArt

Bruges: If you like contemporary art the Museum has a Salvador Dali exhibit. 

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casts_by_fly

Ah, forgot to mention. Skip the fry museum. Tourist bait. Chocolate museum is ok, but if you only have one day I’d probably skip it. 

 

Rick

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sneem

Bruges is a very interesting place. The church of the holy blood is interesting. The lower level is like a rock grotto and the upper level is like tinsel town. They supposedly have a vial of Christ's blood but it is not always shown. There is also a church with a Leonardo DaVinci pieta. Take a canal boat tour.  

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topdog1961

We’ll be in Bruges one day and night at least. 

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bullseyebill

You're going to be in Battle of the Bulge  and Market Garden territory, might be able to find a museum or two.

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