Help, I think I screwed up! (London, Paris, Amsterdam)

We are in a bit of a quandary, and perhaps you can help advise on how we can fix this (airline/train/travel wise).. ? I'm traveling with my husband and 2 teen daughters (ages 15 and 18) Looking back, we weren't really thinking when we booked the flights. We were originally going to stay 4 days in London and the rest of the time in Amsterdam. Our flight itinerary: Fly from LAX to Amsterdam (layover 2 hours) then on to London. Four days later, a flight from London to Amsterdam for 12 days. However, we realized this may be a bit long to be in Amsterdam, and decided to add Paris to the mix. So now we are trying to "fix" this by eating the ticket from London to Amsterdam, and taking the train to Paris, and then on to Amsterdam. Uggh. (KLM would charge massive fees to change the London to Amsterdam flight (around $500 per person) We don't have any hotels or apartments booked, but we have to at least keep the original ticket that gets us to London and the one flying out of Amsterdam. The stays in between, hopefully, can be moved around. Any advice at all is appreciated!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8726 posts

So if all the time you are in London and you want to leave it immediatley afterwards you must either know London really well or hate it in London. Samuel Johnson said "When a Man is tired of London, he is tired of Life". There are all sorts of things to do in and around the Netherlands and BeNeLux. It will depend on what time of year you all will be coming over. March to May? Tulips.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

You have a high probability that if you dont fly on your London to Amsterdam leg, that the airline will cancel your return ticket from Amsterdam to home. This has happened many times and has been frequently discussed on this site.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Your twelve days in Amsterdam wouldn't be too many, if I understand you. Paris is a long way south and you might consider something closer. I would suggest four days in Amsterdam then go over to Cologne by train and spend a few days there. Ibis hotel is part of the train station in Cologne and it is right by the Cologne Cathedral. From there you could go by train to Delft for several days, and take day trips to Gouda, Haarlem, etc. I can help you with some of the particulars.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2429 posts

Since you don't have hotels/apartments booked yet, you might just keep the tickets you have, spend a few days in Amsterdam, spend several days in Paris, then return to Amsterdam for the night before your flight home. You could add Brugge/Brussels to the mix as well. The Amsterdam-Paris train takes about 3.5 hours.

Posted by Emily
Chicago
256 posts

I agree with the post above me. Maybe skip Paris this time, and explore areas around where you will be. You could see Brussels, Antwerp, Utrecht, and/or Delft and not have to worry about changing anything. Or if you're really set on Paris, split up your 12 days and take the train between the two cities.

Posted by Jon
Cincinnati, OH, USA
241 posts

Gina: I agree with Zoe; we were in Amsterdam a few years ago for about 4 days, one day was spent getting familiar with the city, one day for a trip to Haarlem, another day on the canals, and a final day for Museums. We then took the train to Bruges where we stayed two days and two nights (great little B=B (send a PM if you want the name). Rented bicycles for the two days and saw a lot of Bruges. Then took the train to Paris. We never felt rushed or that we spent too much time in either Amsterdam or Bruges. Don't worry about the flight deal, enjoy your visit, it'll all pan out.
Jon PS While in Amsterdam, we booked our lodging on a houseboat; you daughters (and you and your husband) might get a kick out of this. It wasn't a 5 star place for luxury, but memories that might equal The Four Seasons.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8637 posts

I agree with Zoe. If you have your heart set on seeing Paris, you don't need to "eat" your plane tickets from London to Amsterdam. Fly to Amsterdam as planned. Spend a week there and then take a Thalys high-speed train to Paris. If you book well in advance (up to 90 days allowed) on thalys.com, you can get a discount fare as low as €35.00. After a few days in Paris, take the train back to Amsterdam the evening before you are scheduled to fly home.

Posted by david
washington
837 posts

I have several comments. Brian may be correct, but only if this was booked as a multi city ticket. If the open jaw trip LA-London, Amsterdam-LA was booked separately from the single, one way trip London-Amsterdam, there should be no problem. Assuming Tim's information to be correct, I believe that about the cheapest Eurostar ticket is around $100. Therefore, the London-Paris train would cost approximately $400 vs. train Amsterdam-Paris $140. In either case, you have already paid for, and cannot receive reimbursement for the air tickets London-Amsterdam. Therefore, I would choose the "Tim option". Secondly, I would definitely stick with your plan to go to Paris. Yes, there are other areas in Benelux and western Germany. However, they do not compare to Paris. Particularly Cologne makes no sense. It takes 2.5 hours to Cologne; 3.25 to Paris.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Thanks to all for your thoughtful replies. I really appreciate it. I think maybe I wasn't so clear :( .. we still want to go to London, Paris and Amsterdam. What I meant to say is that perhaps we can allocate our time differently. Also, and I'm sorry I didn't mention this, we have to be in London for the first 3 days (family event) So we still want to fly into London and leave out of Amsterdam. My question is more about the plane ticket/train and if we should allocate more time in Paris and London, as opposed to so much time in Amsterdam... If I am reading correctly, no one has even mentioned time in London. Even Tim said a week in Amsterdam, and then Paris. Maybe I confused things by mentioning we fly first into Amsterdam, but it is only a layover. The trip is basically LAX to London - London to Amsterdam - Amsterdam to LAX And yes, we booked both flights at the same time. I just need to call KLM again and make sure we can cancel the London to Amsterdam flight without messing up the Amsterdam to LAX flight. Now I am quite worried about that. I appreciate all the comments on the train as well. Very helpful! Will check that out as soon as I am certain our last leg isn't going to get cancelled. I guess it's possible that we may be stuck with the flight plan and unable to get out of it, but I won't know until I ask. I should have called about that before I posted here. Thank you all again. :)

Posted by Adam
Boston
2626 posts

Yes, split the time differently. I'd say at least 4 days each in London and in Paris and 3 in Amsterdam. That's only 11 days out of 16, but it sounds as though you may be traveling for a number of the unallocated days. Spend some time with guidebooks to determine which places deserve more time and how much. Ideally you would think about it enough to be able to say, Another day in Paris gets us this, versus London gets us that, versus A'dam gets us thus. I do not fully understand all of your ticket constraints but trust your impulse to see all three great cities.

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8637 posts

Gina, I understood that initially you would only have a layover in Amsterdam on your way to London and that after four days you would fly to Amsterdam to begin a visit there. In the larger scheme of things, if you get discount fares on Thalys trains, it won't cost all that much to take the train from Amsterdam to Paris and back to Amsterdam. Take the 12 days you originally planned for Amsterdam and divide them any way you choose. My suggestion for a week in Amsterdam and the remainder of your 12 days in Paris was just that - only a suggestion. However, if you take the time and spend the money to go to Paris at all, make it worth your while by staying there at least 3 nights so you have 2 full days there in addition to the days you will be taking the train each way, limiting your sightseeing time on those days.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Ok, just talked to KLM. Brian was right. If I do any changes (including canceling that leg), it's $250 a person. And on top of that, more fees to fly into a different airport. Ouch. So, we're going to keep the original flights, however, once we get to Amsterdam (via London), we'll just catch a train from Amsterdam to Paris (like Tim suggested) for 7 or 8 days, then train back to Amsterdam for the remaining 4 or 5 days. Thanks for bearing with me, and for trying to understand something I didn't convey very well. Nigel, We are taking UK trip next year and will be spending much more time in London. Also the oldest daughter scheduled an important appt there to do some artwork, so we figured we'd work it into our plans and just stay for a few days. I'm just not willing to pay $1000 plus in airline fees, just to spend a few more days in London. Next time, you can be sure I will be much smarter when it comes to planning. And, I will come here and ask questions FIRST, and book later. Yikes. :/

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8637 posts

Gina, Your latest plan sounds like a good one to me. I haven't been to Amsterdam so I can't comment on how many days you should stay there; but, IMO, Paris deserves all the time you can give it!

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

I have to agree with Tim. A few days is enough for me in Amsterdam, but there is no such thing as too much time in Paris!

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Thanks! The more we learn about Paris, the more exciting it is! Looks like we can get round trip train fare for just over $250. So it looks like 3 nights in London, 7 nights Paris, and 5 nights Amsterdam. Arrive London March 30 depart April 2 Arrive Amsterdam April 2, take train to Paris/Arrive Paris April 2 - depart April 9 Arrive Amsterdam April 9, depart April 14. London, 2 full days Paris 6 full days
Amsterdam 4 full days. The other days spent partially on trains/planes. Even then, we will be in one city or the other and enjoying ourselves :) Now .. what to do, where to go and and where to stay.. We just booked a beautiful apartment for our 7 nights in Paris - so excited!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8726 posts

If going at the end of March, while you are in Amsterdam consider a trip to Keukenhof - their website is http://www.keukenhof.nl/ - to see the most fabulous Tulips, Hyachinths, and other bulbs. World renowned, just south of Amsterdam Well worth an excursion. It opens on 21th March in 2013.

Posted by LaRae
spokane
472 posts

Lots of fun daytrips out of Amsterdam. Go to www.flickr.com and see photos of Leiden and Delft. Both fun daytrips. I would take a couple days to see Brugge. Easy to spend a week in Amsterdam itself.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Nigel, that looks wonderful! Thank you. LaRae, we only have 4 full days in Amsterdam. I don't think that will leave enough time to do 2 days in Brugge. Leiden and Delft look beautiful as well, but at over an hour by train, maybe a bit far this trip. Next time!

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1151 posts

Gina, You have planned it out the best way possible, IMO, given your tickets. Look into an apartment rental for your time in Paris. It's very cost efficient once you are 4 people. I have done this for the last two years, and will only go back to a hotel if we are staying in Paris for less than 3 nights. The first apartment was in the Marais and the last one near République. Stick to the lower numbers for the arrondissements, and you will be closer to the Seine.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1555 posts

Nice day trip from Amsterdam is Haarlem, about half hour by train, lovely little town, a couple of windmills, great church with a huge square in front and my favorite is the Ten Boom museum, that is reason we went there. If plan on Anne Frank museum and you should,get tickets ahead of time so won't have to wait on line. We took canal cruise from Boom Chicago, very intimate little boat, think max of maybe fifteen people,price right and could take your own wine,cheese. Was great. Enjoy.

Posted by Gina
Los Angeles / Orange County
28 posts

Thanks Diane and Gail. Diane, we got a gorgeous apartment in Paris, but it's on the border of the 8th and 17th. I actually quite like the area.. A bit of quiet after a days worth of hustle and bustle! :) Gail, thank you, wonderful ideas.