Updated: Dec 26, 2020
Jim and I are in Zermatt, Switzerland now. Went for a hike up the mountain this afternoon. We were trying to find somewhere but went too far & there were no signs so after an hour we turned back. We did find the first Ricola Garden up at the top of the mountain though. I sank into some snow while trying to walk. It gets really cold once the sun goes down. It's now 29°F and snowing! I'm freezing lol. I posted some pics on FB. Time to go out for some drinks. Much love xo
Fly out from Bermuda Nov 5th
Arrive in London Nov 6th Train to Paris
Paris = Nov 6th-8th
Brussels = Nov 8th-10th
Amsterdam = for the afternoon
Germany = Nov 10th-12th
Zermatt = Nov 12th - 14th
Venice = Nov 14th-17th
Florence = Nov 17th - 19th
Riomaggorie = Nov 19th
Monterosso = Nov 20th-22nd
Milan = Nov 22nd
Thirsk = Nov 23rd-25th
Fuengirola = Nov 25th - 28th
Gatwick = Nov 29th
Fly back to Bermuda on Nov 30th
Travel tip if traveling by train:
We purchased Rail Europe Global Pass tickets to cover three weeks at $1,256 for two. We also needed to buy individual train tickets to get from place to place. Be prepared to have patience! Some routes need reservations, and some do not. We tried to time our trains to check out of the hotel at 11am and check into the next hotel at 3pm. Of course, this was a rough estimate and depended on travel time and the train timetable. I always wanted to try to get into a new place before dark to do some sightseeing. If you are going in Fall or Winter, make sure you ask about upcoming discounts before you book and pay. It could save you a couple of hundred dollars.
Even though our trip was in 2017, all places listed are still relevant unless otherwise stated. I spent months researching and reading reviews before putting together this itinerary. It was good jumping around Googlemaps.com to check up on everywhere, as it brought back a lot of great memories. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas if you plan to travel and need to create an itinerary. We found that there was enough time given to each place and that the pace of travel wasn't too overwhelming. Our budget was $6,000 for everything - planes, trains, places, hotels, and restaurants. Our hotels were all affordable mid-range.
Nov 5, 2017
Jim and I flew out of Bermuda on British Airways. He wasn't thrilled that I had decided to take the most giant suitcase in the world along on this trip. I also took a small suitcase, knapsack, and a comfortable pillow. Honestly, if I could pack my suitcase again, I would have packed a LOT lighter! I just didn't know what to expect, and even though I had created an itinerary, there were still lots of gaps on our night portion of the trip. I didn't know whether I would need a dress and heels. I had very casual daywear, smart casual nightwear, and something to sleep in. I had tall boots, ankle boots, sneakers, and heels. Of course, I also needed my hairdryer, straightener, and makeup. Pack light! Your daywear is easily your nightwear unless you do have something extraordinary planned. Casual is the way to go. Nobody will see you in the same outfit in another town or country. If you're worried about wearing the same shirt in all of your photos, wear a jacket lol.
Nov 6th, 2017
So back to the plane ride, I was delighted we had the whole row to ourselves. Jim can sleep anywhere and basically in any position. Me, on the other hand, I need to be comfortable. My pillow went on his lap, and thankfully, I had just enough room to be comfortable for a few long naps.
When we arrived in Heathrow, London, at 6:30am, we had to catch a train to Victoria where we got the underground to Kings Cross. I made a point of going to a ticket counter to enquire about a later part of our trip to the northern part of the UK. I had booked a two for one railway pass for a roundtrip ticket. At the counter, the man told me I had everything I needed, so we made our way to our train to Paris. It took about an hour to get on the train as long lines were going through security. Luggage and bags had to be checked and placed on conveyor belts. I had spent I think 10 Euros more and got us 1st class tickets. I figured I might be tired and grumpy, so a little extra space and a hearty breakfast would hopefully cure that. I highly recommend spending the little extra.
$70 / depart 8:31am London St. Pancras / arrive 11:51am Paris Nord on Eurostar
We arrived safely in Paris. The minicab driver was a little scary, but I managed to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower while we whipped around the corner. We checked into the hotel, took a nap for a few hours, and then went out to walk around to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. I was quickly made aware that you need to pay if you want to use a public bathroom. We were going to eat at a Mcdonald's, so I figured I would just use the bathroom there. And yes, McDonald's even though we were surrounded by wonderful restaurants. At the first McDonald's we went into, I was pulled to the side by security, and they patted me down and went through my purse. We are in McDonald's, yeah? WTF?!
Needless to say, I wanted to leave right away and try somewhere else. The next McDonalds we went in, we didn't have to deal with security, so we stayed, and I finally got to pee for free!
Champs-Élysées had some of the most beautiful shops I have ever seen. I can see why it is quoted as 'the world's most beautiful avenue.' Be prepared to pay high prices, as it retails the most luxurious brands.
Arc de Triomphe was massive to see in person. We wanted to cross the road to be in the center, but I couldn't find the way over, and the traffic was way too busy to try to run across multiple lanes. That indeed is a death wish! There is a way over if you have time. I am not sure I would have made it up the 284 steps to the viewing platform lol.
Did you know: The construction of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was ordered in 1806 by Napoleon, the French Emperor. Napoleon wanted to honor the Grande Armee, the name of the French army at that time. www.thingstodoinparis.com/attractions/arcdetriomphe/history/facts/
The Eiffel Tower is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. It was constructed from 1887 to 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair. It has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world.
Hotel: It doesn't appear to still be in business. It would have only received ☆☆ stars as the room was very tiny. It was in a great location, near the Eiffel Tower.
Dinner: McDonalds on Champs-Élysées
Drinks: Au Bureau Paris was comfortable but nothing particularly memorable. It was quite classy and smart casual. We ate bar food and had a few beers. ☆☆☆
Celtic Corner was more lively, just around the corner, and we briefly met American tourists from Arizona. The bathrooms definitely surprised me as they were unisex and without a door. I had to double-check with someone before entering. There was a guy at a urinal, so I quickly ran into a stall. Other than traumatizing bathroom trips, which friends know means after every beer, it was a cool spot to hangout. I butchered a bit of French as the night went on. ☆☆☆☆
We left the bar around midnight and got lost going back to the hotel. My sense of direction almost had us there. We called an Uber only to find out the hotel was one block away *roll eyes* lol.
Nov 7th, 2017
We slept in due to a hangover. Getting out of bed was quite the chore. So walking around the city was out of the question. We decided to go on a boat tour. How much energy do you need to sit on a boat and look at things?! I would highly recommend going on a boat tour. I don't think it really matters which tour company you use, but we went with Bateaux Parisiens. It is an excellent way of getting around to see the sights. After our wonderful boat cruise, which finished at sunset, we went next door to Le Bistro Parisien. Jim got a hot drink since he was cold, and I opted for a glass of Prosecco.☆☆☆☆
We decided to to to Montparnasse Tower as opposed to the Eiffel Tower. While Montparnasse Tower was an excellent choice as it is far less crowded, I do wish I had actually gone up the Eiffel Tower. I'm not one to wait in a long line, but you can't go to Paris and not do it. At least you won't have a regret. The tower offered a great night view with the whole city lit up. It was also the cheaper choice with quite a bit of history.
Click on a thumbnail to enlarge
This was the night of our 'Pizza in every place we go' tour started. Not preplanned, but that's how it ended up, lol. We ate one of the best pizzas I have ever had at Ristorante La Rivetta Venezia.
Did you know: Tour Maine-Montparnasse, also commonly named Tour Montparnasse, is a 210-meter (689 ft) office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris, France. Constructed from 1969 to 1973, it was the tallest skyscraper in France until 2011, when it was surpassed by the 231-metre (758 ft) Tour First. It remains the tallest building in Paris outside of the La Défense business district. As of February 2020, it is the 14th tallest building in the European Union. The tower was designed by architects Eugène Beaudouin, Urbain Cassan, and Louis Hoym de Marien and built by Campenon Bernard.
Dinner: Ristorante La Rivetta Venezia ☆☆☆☆☆
It was time to take the train out of Paris and into Belgium.
$54 / 12:25pm Paris Nord - 1:47pm Bruxelles Midi on Thalys
Jim's mother, twin brothers with their wives and kids, live in Brussels. I had met Jim's mother, Susan, in Bermuda when she had visited. Jim and I were just friends when I first met her, now we were married. First, we had to check into our lovely hotel, Citadines Toison d'Or, an apartment hotel. Great service. My only complaint is the whole building is control by one thermostat, so you can't adjust it. In my case, the heat was too high.
We met with everyone at the Mini Louise, which is around the corner from the hotel. A family friend, Kelly, owned the bar. Jim's brothers, Jon and Jeff, are close copies of Jim, personality-wise. Their wives, Christine and Staci, are really nice and easy to talk with. They had their children with them, Marcus and Brenda - Jon and Christine, and Stirling - Jeff and Staci. I met a few friends of the family as well.
Susan greeted me by putting a veil on my head and a paper bouquet in my hand. Jim and I had gotten married in Las Vegas, without any family. We had just wanted something simple. I must have looked like a deer in headlights with the veil on my head and holding a bouquet! It was overwhelming meeting everyone at once, but the effort was certainly appreciated, and I felt very welcomed. We had a few drinks before Susan took the children home to babysit, and the rest of us went for dinner at a fondue restaurant, Henri 1. It was a proper Swizz fondue restaurant. We cooked our own beef and chicken in one pot and bread and cheese in another pot for the vegetarians at the table. After we went back to Mini Louise for more drinks. The wives went home, but I stuck it out with the boys until 2:30am. Yawn!
Hotel: Citadines Toison d'Or Brussels (Apart Hotel Brussels) ☆☆☆☆ stars. The room is spacious, and the kitchenette is handy for those staying longer than a couple of days.
Dinner: Henri 1 ☆☆☆☆
Drinks: Mini Louise. Small bar with outdoor seating. ☆☆☆☆
I woke up exhausted due to Jim snoring all night long, lol. I even went outside at 5:30am just to give my ears a break. I have silicon earplugs, but the herd of buffaloes cut right through. I finally downloaded a white noise app to my tablet and put headphones on over my earplugs.
Jim's brother Jon was going to take us sightseeing, but I told Jim to go ahead and spend time with his brother while I stayed in bed. When I finally got up, I walked around the corner to The Huggy's Bar. What is really cool about this place is they specialize in beers and burgers. They have a menu matching types of burgers to their draft beer. It's relatively modern with red brick walls, low and high tables, and bar seating. After we took a train to Jon's house for a family dinner.
Lunch: The Huggy's Bar ☆☆☆☆
Dinner: Jon and Christine's house ☆☆☆☆☆
$66 / 9:52am Bruxelles Midi - 11:42am Amsterdam Cs on Thalys
Arrived by train in Amsterdam to find it raining. Bought an umbrella, and it stopped, lol. Had lunch in a pizza cafe and did a boat tour. Got to the train station and it started raining again. Anyone want an umbrella?
We were only in Amsterdam for a couple of hours, so doing the 1hr boat tour was definitely the way to get around quickly to see the artistic heritage and elaborate canal systems. It is a gorgeous place to visit. I also have never seen so many bicycles. There are literally thousands!
Click on a thumbnail to enlarge
Had to book train tickets with another company as I had issues with EuroRail. I think it cost us $60 and we arrived in Dusseldorf around 6pm.
We took an afternoon train to Dusseldorf, Germany, to see my Dad. My Dad moved to Germany in 2010 with his friends Orenda and Norbert, who are a married couple. My Dad had a stroke a few months beforehand, so I really wanted to see him. This was actually the whole reason for the trip. We were getting in too late to see him, so we arranged for an entire day the following day. We checked into Sheraton Düsseldorf Airport Hotel, freshened up, and took a train to Dusseldorf's old town to pub hop. McLaughlin's, O'Reilly's Irish Pub & Restaurant, The Irish Pub Bei Fatty, Sutton's Irish Pub, Duls Pub are some of the pubs we went to. It was quite crowded in every pub we went into, but we managed to find seating.
Did you know: The narrow streets of Altstadt, Düsseldorf's old town, are home to chic cocktail bars, cool dance clubs and pubs pouring the city's traditional Altbier. Local eateries serve meaty Rhineland specialties to sushi and Italian, and the broad promenade along the Rhine is lined with relaxed cafes.
Hotel: Sheraton Dusseldorf Airport Hotel. We chose an airport hotel as we were flying out at 7am on the 13th. Sheraton did not disappoint. Spacious rooms with a huge bathroom. It was luxury ☆☆☆☆☆
We had lunch in Dusseldorf, Germany, with my Dad, Orenda, and Norbert at Weisses Haus (The White House). They offer a wide variety. Orenda spoke to the waitress in German, but they do speak English and have an English menu. The food is excellent. I would definitely recommend going. ☆☆☆☆
It was so good to see my Dad. Orenda caught me up to speed with everything that had been going on with my Father. He was doing really well, but the stroke had left him feeling a little frustrated here and there. He is still very fit for his age and goes walking several times a week. Dad was very excited to see me and to meet Jim. After lunch, we drove to the condo where they all lived. It was good to see my Dad's surroundings and visualize what he does daily. He happily took us out onto the porch, where he likes to sit every day. It was a lovely view of hills and windmills—a lot of greenery, trees, and the garden below.
Orenda suggested that we go for a couple of beers. We actually went to the old town where Jim and I had been the night before. My Dad took us through a restaurant that has a brewery, Zum Schlüssel. We had drinks under a tent across the road. Dad was in great spirits, so we went to the Wheel of Vision Ferris Wheel. Norbert and Jim opted to go to a nearby pub for a beer while Dad, Orenda, and I went on the wheel. It was enclosed and offered great views. Recommend ☆☆☆
I was definitely sad when Jim and I were dropped back off at the hotel. I was trying not to cry when I hugged my Dad goodbye. I'm actually trying not to cry while writing this as the feelings come all back to me, and I miss my Dad dearly. Jim went and got take-out for us, and we had a few drinks at the hotel bar before going to bed early. We needed to get up at 5am for our flight to Zurich, Switzerland.
It's so good to be reminded of family, especially around Christmas. Even if they are far away, they are always with you in your heart. This year covid has distanced everyone. Please stay safe and don't put your loved ones in harm's way.
Our next blog will be on Jan 1st - A surfing blog which will focus on the world-famous, big wave surfing spot Mavericks in Half Moon Bay, California.
Part 2 of our Europe trip will be posted on Jan 15th. Follow our adventures to Switzerland, Italy, UK, and... try to guess the last place we went to. We were cold, hot, rained on, and covered in snow, but what unique places we visited!
The contents of this website are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice. While all information shared here is believed to be accurate, the owner/operator of this website specifically disclaims all warranties expressed, implied or statutory, regarding the accuracy, timeliness, and/or completeness of the information contained herein. Please discuss any specific needs with a qualified professional.
#travel #Europe #London #Paris #Brussels #Amsterdam #Dusseldorf #Zermatt #Venice #Florence #CinqueTerra #Thirsk #Fuengirola #travelblog #bloggerslife #Ravenskyes #outandabout #traveltips #trains #eurotrain #travelitinerary #scheduletrip #traveling #planning #travelingabroad #familytrips #familyphotos