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European Vacation {planning}

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  • European Vacation {planning}

    So we've decided to go for it - we're taking the kids (they'll be 6 and 8) to Europe for two weeks this summer. I'm hoping you gals will have some great ideas for things to do (or not to do) with kids in London, Paris and Amsterdam. We've booked our plane tickets, DH is working on accommodations, and I've been tasked with planning our activities (and yes, pre-planning the scrapbook). We're not renting a car in London or Paris, and will happily travel on the Metro and rail system. We have a place lined up in London (in Waterloo), but neither DH nor I have ever been to Paris, so we don't even know what area of the city to stay in, let alone what to include on our itinerary. DH grew up in the Netherlands and his friends are still here (we're staying with them, roaming the country with them, so we'll get a bit further away from the city). So, if you live (or have lived), visited (with or without kids) or are otherwise knowledgeable about things to do in London, Paris or Amsterdam (or the Netherlands in general....we're going to spend the most time there), I'd greatly appreciate your advice! TIA!!

  • #2
    I am profoundly jealous. That is all.

    I wish I had some good advice. I've been to London for a short visit (a few hours at a time) and once to Paris (less than six hours), so I don't know what to offer other than just soak as much in as possible. I took a bus tour from London that went to Stonehenge, Salisbury & Bath. That wouldn't be very exciting for kids, but it was a lovely little day trip. Another little side trip is Oxford, which is charming.

    I'll be keeping an eye on this thread because it is a huge desire of mine to take a trip back to Europe and we'll have a kidlet with us, so I need to think ahead.
    --- KIMBERLEE ---


    • #3
      That is going to be one awesome vacation for sure !!! I would suggest you go to the Nemo Science museum in Amsterdam. It's great and awesome for your children for sure. You can check it out here...


      The Netherlands is pretty compact. It only takes 3-ish hours from the top to drive to the bottom of our little country I'll have a think if I can come up with 'outside the box' things to do over here


      • #4
        Whooooo hooooooo! How fabulous! I have some suggestions for London for you, but there is so much to choose from, what sorts of things do you like? Are you interested in trying to get tickets for a show? Museums(interactive or traditional), just sight seeing? eeeek, I'm excited on your behalf!


        • #5
          I was just going to say the same about London! There's so much on offer, you'll need to narrow it down :-). I'm going this weekend, going to the British Museum so I'll report back on that! Not having a car is definitely the right choice, much easier to get about by tube. One thing I will say is check a real map not just the tube map, some of those stations are crazily close together and much quicker to walk between.


          • #6
            I've only been to Paris with my man or my girlfriends, not kids, but I'd advise to visit the mandatory monuments: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées if you like shopping or just don't mind the crowds, Notre Dame, Sacré-Coeur (you can climb the hill by foot, it's very easy, and there's a little touristic train going all around the hill, it's great!) and Montmartre (the artists' spot nearby the Sacré Coeur). You can also take a boat tour, by night if you can (but it might be too late for the kids in Summer). That's a great way to see many of the monuments with a unique point of view. For the Eiffel Tower I'd buy the tickets in advance to avoid the crazy crowds and long lines, and get a full ticket (to go aaaaall the way to the last floor of the tower), it's definitely a fabulous experience that you have to do at least once! If you like the museums, Le Louvre is a must see. Even if you don't get in, just going to see the building and the glass pyramid is great. And try to find little restaurants a bit away of touristic areas, that's worth walking 5 more minutes to enjoy a much better meal at a decent price!


            • #7
              For the most part, we are outdoors people, but we do appreciate a good science and history museum or aquarium. But in visiting places we've *never* been, or places we may never get to visit again, we try to make sure we experience the best that place has to offer, and also the things that have made that place famous. That said, long lines, huge crowds, no thanks. And with two young-ish kids, we do best if we can keep them moving and engaged in what we're doing/seeing. Anything they can climb on is a huge plus. My lists, below, are the culmination of only about an hour's searching, and are far from complete or set in stone.

              Our London list (so far) has a ride on the London Eye, and a ride (probably more likely one of those touristy hop-on/hop-off day pass things) on a red, open-top double decker bus (DS is very specific in his requests). We also have the British Museum on the list (if there are dinosaur bones, we're golden). We were talking just the other day about seeing a show. My kids would probably enjoy The Lion King. The down side of this part of the trip is that, as of now, we only have two nights in London unless I can talk DH into paying for another night (we'd originally planned three, but he flipped out about the cost of hotels in London), so the chances of us getting out of the city are slim. What else did you have in mind corrin and Jude?

              Our tentative Paris list has the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre. I read a blog post that said to pick three things to find in the Louvre, read up on them, and then spend your time trying to find them, rather than wandering aimlessly and getting lost. That was about the end of my study of Paris....and it's the city I have the least knowledge about going into this trip-planning. I think we're thinking three nights in Paris (unless we steal another night for London, or get to the NL a day later). Sacre Coeur looks beautiful chloe! Thanks for the recommendation. I may ping you to ask about how to say phrases like "was this beautiful pastry made with wheat flour?" so that I can make sure my severely-gluten-intolerant daughter has only wonderful memories of Paris.

              And the Netherlands. Years ago DH had this whole 10-day trip worked out where we basically ate our way across the country and visited all his favorite haunts (he left there when he was 12, so I can only imagine what this would actually have entailed). And his friends now are glad to "play tourist" with us, but have offered nothing in the way of ideas. In Amsterdam, the Nemo (thanks biancka!), Scheepvaartmuseum, Anne Frank museum (DH insists), and maybe a canal tour. Hoge Veluwe, the Wadden Islands (Schiermanikoog), and the Naturalis Museum in Leiden (DH's early-life stomping grounds....I don't think we'll leave the country without at least driving through the town I've been hearing about for the past 20 years). If I had to guess, we'll probably spend a couple of days in Amsterdam, a couple of days at the coast, and the rest of the time .... undetermined as of now.


              • chloe
                chloe commented
                Editing a comment
                Oh, I didn't know about your DD being gluten-intolerant. That's something you'll have to plan in advance, I'm not sure if French restaurants are as sensitive to this issue as US restaurants! I'll try to help you as much as I can!
                Last edited by chloe; 01-28-2016, 06:08 PM.

              • biancka
                biancka commented
                Editing a comment
                That is going to be a trip of a lifetime for sure I've been to Leiden too.......gorgeous city. I went there for a concert and meeting up with a student friend who showed me the college side of Leiden. All I could say is WOW..so different than my little town for sure. haha

              • gracelee
                gracelee commented
                Editing a comment
                My DD is gluten-sensitive as well and it's such a big part of any trip I plan... even when we're just going to grab a bite like we're going to tonight. That made me smile. I haven't been to Europe but your trip sounds so fun! Good luck planning!!

            • #8
              The Lion King is fabulous, but book your tickets early as it sells out fast!

              The London eye is iconic, but if you are short on time, be sure that it is what you definately want to do (in bad weather, you can't see a whole lot, while in good weather it is great, but waiting until the last minute to book your time/ride means facing sometimes very long queues). But it is a nice walk from there along the Thames river to the houses of Parliment and Big Ben.

              Trafalgar square is always a must in my opinion (climbing up on the lions!), which is a very short walk to a number of other sights.

              I'd also recommend walking over Tower Bridge to get to the Tower of London - even if you don't go in the tower, it is a landmark that is worth seeing - although you might get to do that on one of the open top bus tours.

              Are you wanting to see Buckingham Palace? might be worth checking the times of the changing of the guards (the horse guards I think have the more interesting change), and that is right next to St James' park - lovely to walk around, have a picnic and if the weather is nice. This is still very central and would be within walking ditance of lots of other things, just depends which direction you want to go.

              Hyde Park is a nice park to be out in if the weather is fine (has various statues if you like to play spot the statue! incl Pricess Diana memorial water feature), and it has the Serpentine in it, where you can hire a little boat to punt in for half an hour - kinda fun! But have a plan B in case it is a rainy/chilly day.

              I haven't ever been to the British Museum, I know the Natural History Museum has dinosaur bones, but I imagine you will have done your homework on where to find the best bones! I don't think that the British museum is too far from Covent Garden (street performers - sometimes fantastic, sometimes a bit blah to be honest!).

              If you pick a few definates, and see what is around, a lot of sights might be within a 10-15mins walk, and if you are outdoorsy you would have no problem planning a little route to take in a few sights. The open top bus tours are pretty good to show you the famous sights, if you just want to see them as you pass!

              I'm not sure that any of that will help much!
              Last edited by corrin; 01-28-2016, 06:34 PM.


              • caliten
                caliten commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks Corrin! I will have to sit down with a map to see just how close everything is, and then figure out how far I can conceivably make my kids walk (but if I throw in tube rides, red buses and some sort of water taxi......).

            • #9
              Wonderful vacations !!!!!
              All is beautiful in Paris !!!!
              You have to visit MontMartre, The Eiffel Tower, Les Champs Elysées, And so beautiful places!
              ----- FRANCE -----


              • #10
                As a Dutchie living & working abroad for 12 years already I can recommend some nice places which are nice to visit and which the Dutchies living in NL not really think about.
                You view your own country with new eyes when you have been away for a long time!

                - Drunense Duinen near Den Bosch: we went there with the kids 2 years ago & they had a blast. It's gorgeous and you can go for a nice walk
                - Go to Nijmegen area - Nijmegen is the oldest city in NL - and there is a great forest area nearby > take a long or short hike and have pancakes or poffertjes in a authentic Dutch pancakes restaurant | you are also nearby some war memorials (Groesbeek) (Canadian & American soldiers have found their last resting place there)
                - Go to Rotterdam .................YES if you want to see a dynamic city go there and visit the new Market Place, the Cube houses and the old harbour. Take a water taxi to Hotel New York and have lunch or high tea there. You are also able to book a harbour sight seeing tour
                - Visit Kinderdijk >> area with all awesome working windmills
                - The tulip fields or "De Keukenhof" can't be missed but that depends when you are visiting NL
                - Leiden is a fantastic city to visit and you can't miss Naturalis
                - Rijksmuseum in Adam
                - Kroller Moller museum combined with a visit to "the Veluwe"
                Also it's nice to visit a castle like "Haarzuilens"
                Oh and visit the coast ......... and I especially love a little town "Brielle" a little authentic "real" town (history wise)

                What I really liked last time was a " kids play forest " near Eemnes which was awesome!! It's a gated area where no doggies can roam. The kids are free to play, run around, climb and there are lots of opportunities to have a playing with water feast as well. But I am biased as Shanghai is a big metropolis with nasty downsides as bad bad pollution. So all nature things we really love as a family.

                Anyway will sleep on it & let you know some more
                Last edited by MissK; 01-29-2016, 01:25 PM.


                • caliten
                  caliten commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Spectacular! Thank you MissK! Our friends who live in the NL have commented that they don't know how to be tourists in their own country, so your list gives us a great starting point. Bedankt!!

                • MissK
                  MissK commented
                  Editing a comment
                  caliten I didn't know you are able to speak Dutch! Wat een leuke verrassing!

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