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besty order to travel??

I am planning a 3 week retirement trip in September. I have taught for 44 years. I would like to go to Amsterdam (2-3 days with side trips), Bruges (2-3 days with side trips), Bastogne and Huertgen Forest area; my uncle won the Bronze star for fighting with the 9th infantry division in the Huertgen Forest in Sept/Oct. 1944, (1-2 days), Normandy (4-5 days), Alsace region/Colmar (2-3 days) and finally the Black Forest (3-4 or more days)
I am thinking of flying into Frankfurt, rent a car and use it for the Black Forest and Alsace region. Drive to Aachen and return the car. Take a train from Aachen to somewhere in Normandy (any ideas???) rent another car for Normandy. Drive car to Lille and drop off the car, Pick up train from Lille to Bruges and then "train it" for the rest of the trip and then fly out of Amsterdam. This way I can avoid the huge surcharge for turning a rental car into a different country from where it was originally rented. Does this make any sense? Can anybody help? thanks

Posted by
552 posts

So a few nights in Paris is not of interest? Taking the train from Germany to Normandy will mean changing from the 'Est' or 'Nord' train stations to the one called St. Lazare, where a main train line goes from Paris, through Rouen, and onto Caen. With a layover like that, I'd consider spending some nights in the city. Either that, or just keep the car, drive through the Loire Valley on the way to Normandy, then thru Brugge, and back into Germany, maybe taking the fast train, non-stop, from Cologne to Amsterdam.

Posted by
795 posts

I'd get a Eurail pass and "train it" for the entire trip. It is cheaper and easier than having to go through the airport circus and the hassle of renting cars. You can relax and enjoy yourself and enjoy the scenery. European trains are fantastic.

Posted by
22453 posts

Be very careful of the Eurail or any rail pass without doing you homework to determine if it is cheaper. The old days of a rail pass being a "no-brainer" good deal are long gone. France tends to limit the numbers of seats available for passes and sometime the supplement charge is great than what the discount ticket would have been. I think you should a car when you cannot convenient get to a site via train. Then renting a car for one or two days makes sense.

Posted by
12040 posts

It also should be noted that neither Bastogne nor the Hürtgewald region have passenger rail service... so the advice to purchase a rail pass makes not sense here. Even more so than usual.

Posted by
68 posts

Have you considered hiring a private guide for the Bastogne/Huertgen part of your trip? They can be expensive but could be a great resource since you have a family connection there.

Posted by
13690 posts


You can take the train to Düren ( by ticket or Pass), check at the station for buses going to Huertgen Forest or to Vossenack where the big military cemetery is. Are you mainly tracking down the route of your uncle and the 9th Inf Div, or do you have time for other battle sites/memorials as well? What about the lower Rhine area? The British and German military cemeteries? If you know where they are, you can track them down, even by train.