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First timer...yeah...need some advice

Hello everyone,
We (my daughter and I) just signed up for our first tour! We are doing the 21 BOE in June...super excited!
The questions I have are mostly about the flights to Europe. I'm looking at taking Norwegian air either to Amsterdam with an 5.5 hour layover in Oslo (17 hrs total) or a direct flight to London(only 7 hrs), then take a quick plane the next day to Amsterdam. That would give us a full day to explore London.

Option 1: 6/1 depart JFK 9:55pm -->6/2 arrive OSL 1:45pm--> 5+hr layover --> 6/2 depart 7:05pm-->6/2 arrive AMS 9:00pm ~$400
or
Option 2: 6/1 depart JFK 11:00pm arrive LGW 6/2 11:00am. Then next day 6/3 fly into AMS early arrive 9am. ~$350

Not to mention that JFK is not our starting airport, we will be arriving there around 1:30 so there's already a long stay in the airport.
The second option is less expensive and less travel time and time is money when traveling. I know there will be added expenses for the train into London and whatnot but we gain an extra day to add a city that's not on the itinerary. Either way we have 6/3 to see Amsterdam on our own before the tour starts on 6/4.

The things that concern me are navigating the train system in London, trying to cram in too much to see as much as possible, hauling our luggage on the train/subway and least of all jet lag. I am leaning towards the LGW flight simply because even if we don't tour London we can just stay in a hotel and not an plan or airport.

Any ideas, tips, suggestions or opinions wold be greatly appreciated!

Posted by
500 posts

Option 1: I'd absorb the $50 for the longer layover, and to have a full day and night (6/3/17) in AMS before the tour.
I'd table London for another time. Absorbing jet lag wandering around the canals of AMS is more appealing to me.

Option 2: You have less than 24 hours to get into London and back to the airport the next day. You cut into your full day in AMS on 6/3/17. For a savings of $50 on airfare, it is not worth the additional money to me to warrant a brief jet lagged visit and 1 night stay in London. Time wise youll likely get into the city by 1/130pm, and the next morning you'd be up at pre dawn hours to get your early flight to AMS. You will have jet lag or some type of travel time adjustment, then absorb another crazy round of less than 24 hours doesn't work for me.

I added London as a pre tour to the Berlin-Prague-Vienna Tour. But I had 3 nights and 2 full days to give it justice to my wallet and time.

Posted by
12016 posts

Option 2 is considerably more expensive by the time you factor in a hotel in London. But worth it if you want to break up the journey and see a bit of London.

You also have the option 2(b)---- book your Norwegian Air flight just to London and take the Eurostar train to Amsterdam the next day. There is an 8:58 departure that would get you to Amsterdam by 3 pm.

This way you do not have to return to the airport and wait through security, etc. if you stay near St. Pancras train station, you are close to some great London sights.

It looks like the train tix for the two of you would be around £125, so this option may end up being more expensive. But you would get nice views of the landscape from the train, before and after the tunnel.

Posted by
2672 posts

From options 1 or 2, I'd pick 2. Fly into London, check into an airport hotel, and then take the tube into London to see Westminster Abby, embankment, and up to Trafalgar Square. If still time, walk down to Buck House. Have a nice dinner and head back to the hotel. Fly out in the morning. This seems much more relaxing to me.

However, my first choice would be what Lola suggested.

Posted by
342 posts

We travel with my husband's guide dog. What we do to make it easier for his guide and our bodies is fly from the west coast to the east coast and spend the night at a hotel near the Newark airport. From there we take a nonstop flight to our next destination. We do it so it is easier on the dog but we think it is easier on our bodies to adjust to the time differences and get going. Once we land in Europe in the morning we go until a natural bedtime for the location. We still get jet lag but it seems we adjust faster.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for the ideas. I do like the idea of breaking up the journey by stopping in London weather it's in an airport hotel or in the city. Either way I will be paying for a hotel in London or Amsterdam for the night. Lola, I do like your idea of taking the eurostar...avoid the airport for a scenic train ride.

Posted by
845 posts

No one else has commented on your "hauling our luggage" comment, so I guess I will. Read on this site about packing light. One carry-on sized suitcase and one personal item will hold plenty enough for 21 days, and you can handle them both yourself in any travel conditions. It's super important once you get on the tour, too. That itinerary is full of places where you don't want to be lugging around a 50 pound suitcase. Pack light! You won't be sorry!

Posted by
9319 posts

Option #1--for your flight from OSL to AMS, are you only looking at Norwegian flights? Both SAS and KLM have later afternoon flights that would take a couple of hours off your total flight time. I would do this giving you some extra time in Amsterdam and an easier adjustment to jet lag for your long travels would be over. STop in London on your way back if you want to. After all, the tour ends in Paris and it's only two hours by train to London.

Regarding Option #2....it will be about 12:00/12:30 before you leave the airport and then take the train into London. The tube doesn't go to Gatwick. Figure 1:30 by the time you get to your hotel. And then you have to get a very early train back to the airport. Adding in jet lag you probably won't get to see much

If doing Option #2, I'd go with the previous postings and take the train to Amsterdam. . Nonstop to Brussels on Eurostar and then a quick change for the train to Amsterdam. It will be more relaxing. And less hassle. I suggest staying at the Premier Inn St. Pancras which is diagonally across the street from the train station and directly across the street from the British Library.

You say you are not starting at JFK. Where are you starting? You may be overlooking a better flight.

Posted by
11 posts

MrsEB the fares are one way, the first itinerary is the airline's with the layover in Oslo (not my choice) the second would be a patchwork of a direct flight to London form JFK and then easyjet for $50 to Amsterdam. I looked for flights from my home airport and they were ridiculous, traveling from the east coast to O'Hare then back east to JFK then on to Amsterdam, maybe I didn't look hard enough but I already have my return flight taken care of I just need to figure out how I want to get to AMS. I found super cheap ticks to and from JFK with Delta but direct nonstop flight from around my home airport or even JFK were more that what I am willing to pay. The flight into London is a direct flight from JFK with no layover so that's why I am considering it, and easy 7 hours for over $2000 less than what Delta would charge x2. Maybe I'm just being cheap >.<
cleleste, thanks for mentioning the luggage. We do plan on packing light, we both have convertible backpacks so if need be we can be hands free! We definitely plan on packing light :)

Posted by
2426 posts

We also found great flights to London, ours from Oakland CA. We are going on the Portugal tour followed by Best of London. To get to Lisbon would have been an 8 hour layover in Gatwick and getting to Lisbon fairly late at night. We decided to camp here instead http://www.alexanderhotels.co.uk/langshott-manor-luxury-hotel-surrey/ which is close to Gatwick, enjoy dinner, a nights rest, then fly to Lisbon the next day. We were not so interested in seeing London that day as we will be seeing it soon enough. And, we all get pretty jet lagged so a shower, high tea, a cocktail, dinner, soft bed sounded like the ticket!

Posted by
4219 posts

Buying one way flights is never cheaper. You need to search smarter.

Use kayak.com or another aggregator and search round trip or multi city (open jaw) flights.

What are you dates, departure city in the US, arrival city in Europe and departure city in Europe? With those details we can help!

Posted by
112 posts

You say JFK is not your starting point. What is your starting and final return point? This info might shed more light on options. Ditto the comments to totally skip London and opt for more time to acclimate in AMS. London is huge and absolutely not a day trip. With only a day you'd spend more time running around never enjoying the place.

Posted by
282 posts

It appears like you're looking for some support for option #2, and if that's what you prefer, go for it! You're traveling light so hauling bags between the airport, train, and hotel shouldn't be too bad. You'll figure out the trains, especially since there will be no language barrier. As far as trying to cram in too much, the fact that you're on a 21 day tour that visits six countries, with overnight stays in 11 cities, and with 2 to 8 miles per day of walking, tells me that you're a person who likes fast-paced adventure. Why not see one more city, even if your time there is limited?

On a trip from Athens to Chicago a few years ago, we had a scheduled plane change at Heathrow. When we arrived at Heathrow at about noon, we found that our flight had been canceled. The airline could get us on our way to Chicago that day if we were willing to have a 10 hour layover in Boston, but we weren't. They offered to put us up in an airport area hotel, retrieve our luggage for us, and get us on a flight to Chicago early the next a.m. We declined that option too. We decided instead to turn lemons into lemonade by using the flight cancellation as an excuse to explore London. We booked a 12:45 p.m. flight home the next day. We turned down the airline's offer to retrieve our luggage, instead having them hold it for check-in to the next day's flight, which they were willing to do under the circumstances of our cancelled flight. It did take a couple hours to get through immigration control so we could leave the airport. We took the Heathrow Express from the airport to Paddington Station, which was expensive but fast (15 min.) We bought toothbrushes, found a hotel, and checked in. I'll admit that by now, it was close to 5:00 p.m., but we had a whole free evening to explore London, at a beautiful time of year with lots of daylight hours left! Our self-guided walking tour took us through Hyde Park and St. James Park, past Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, the House of Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye and the Thames River. We got some wonderful exercise and ended the day with a great dinner in a pub. This was such a better option than biding our time in the airport in Boston or in an airport hotel near Heathrow! There was plenty of time in the a.m. to navigate our way back to the airport.

You're going to have about the same amount of time in London that we had. It's one of our travel stories, now, about how we got an unexpected opportunity to experience London on a vacation that was just supposed to be Greece. We have great memories of our whirlwind walk all around the streets of London that evening.

I know it's not everyone's style of travel, but life is short and I want to see as much of the world as I can!

Posted by
918 posts

Are either of you frequent fliers? If you have airline status you may be able to access a lounge at JFK where you can spread out and relax. I took my son to Germany and Spain last summer and we had a 6 hour layover at JFK. We went to the British Airways Galleries lounge and stayed there for several hours. They have lots of free food and beverages, comfortable chairs as well as showers! They even have an outdoor terrace. You may want to check into lounge access (there are a lot of different ones there). Certain credit cards also get you access to airport lounges, too. Some lounges allow you to purchase a day pass.

Also, check WOW airlines. I just did a search for June 1st for Newark via Iceland to Amsterdam. Price is $350 and the schedule is
EWR - KEF (WW104) to: Reykjavik KEF
Departure: 1 June 2017 18:35 - Arrival: 2 June 2017 04:40
Operated by: WOW Air
Time between flights: 1 Hours 25 Minutes
KEF - AMS (WW442) to: Amsterdam AMS
Departure: 2 June 2017 06:05 - Arrival: 2 June 2017 11:15
Operated by: WOW Air

You just have to get from JFK to Newark in time to get the flight but that should be doable. Rome2rio can give you options.

WORD OF CAUTION: WOW charges for everything. Make sure you know what you are getting for $350 and how much extra you will have to spend for baggage, seat, food, etc.

Posted by
11 posts

Vickie, I am somewhat leaning towards the 2nd option. The first is almost 2 full days of travel! And like you said I want to see as much as I can, by stopping in London I can fo that even if its only one or 2 things it's better than sitting in an airport all day IMO.

Posted by
12016 posts

Emily---what you say about one-way flights is generally true. But Norwegian Air Nd I believe also Iceland Air have true one-way pricing. The price is the same whether you. Book one way alone or as part of a Multi-city or round trip.

Some US airlines do that as well---Alaska Airlines and Southwest, to name two I use.

Posted by
4521 posts

jencduke, What is the nearest major airport to you?

Posted by
373 posts

One other thing to consider is the tour you are taking. It is 21 days of pretty rigorous travel. The pace of a RS tour is different than many other tours. Not only do you walk more miles, but the amount of experiences offered mean you are intellectually over-extended as well. I would skip London. Having that extra time in AMS will allow you to completely recover and be ready for your tour. Do research ahead of time and explore some parts of AMS the tour will not cover.

Posted by
11 posts

Laura, Atlanta is the closest international airport to me but I already have flights to and from JFK.

Posted by
265 posts

Another idea.

EDIT: I wrote this before I found out you leave from ATL and already have tickets to JFK. I also see you don't show your return flights and costs. My quick price research is at the end.

Fly into AMS at least one day before the 21 day tour starts.

After the tour ends in Paris take the Eurostar train to London for a couple of days and fly home from London. On this 21 days you will see so much and if you are up to it take the plunge to London and then you will really have seen all of the top major cities in Europe. (I kind of like Traveling Mom's idea of skipping London. One jet lagged day in London could be a disappointment and be a waste of time and money.)

Again what airport do you live near. It could make a difference in the total cost of your airfare. With your home airport we can better research an efficient and lowest cost airplane fare.
Don't underestimate the pain and drain of jet lag.

EDIT: Non Stop - JFK to AMS on June 2nd Return from London to JFK on June 29th $964.

Non Stop - JFK to AMS on June 2nd Return from Paris (so no London) 1 stop $931.-988.
All on Delta.
.

Posted by
3542 posts

KLM airlines is showing a direct flight from ATL-AMS 8 hrs.
Return from CDG-ATL 12 hrs, 1 change AMS. $936 R/T

Why go all the way to JFK???

Posted by
4481 posts

jencduke, does your RS tour start in Haarlem? If so, I'd skip London and head to the Netherlands. When we did out BOE trip, we arrived several days early and spent the entire time enjoying Haarlem. There's lots to see and do there.

Celeste beat me to commenting on your luggage - with convertible backpacks you schlepping luggage should not be a concern. But jet lag is, and a 17 + hour flight (with layovers) sounds miserable. When we flew to Amsterdam, we went nonstop from Atlanta. (Through DFW, there are no direct flights to ATL from Tulsa.) Check again; surely there's a better itinerary.

Posted by
333 posts

You and your daughter will LOVE the 21BOE! That being said, the two flight choices you present will leave both you and your daughter physically exhausted and bleary eyed! The only thing you'll be up to doing in London (by the time you get through security, get to a hotel and check in) is eat supper and sleep! Realistically, you won't have time- or energy- to do much more. Opt for the extra day in Holland. Go to Haarlem and have a relaxing day of rest and exploration. Haarlem is interesting and easy to get around in on foot (and easy to fall in love with!) The people are very nice, most know English. The food is good and there is a lot of history and culture there. On the 21 day tour, you'll hit the ground running and not stop for 3 weeks! You'll NEED a day of rest and relaxation after those flights and before that hectic tour!

As others have said, tack London on to the end, or save it for later when you'll be able to enjoy it. That's my two cents based on my two previous Europe trips (I've been to Amsterdam/Haarlem twice now and London once- loved them all, but Amsterdam/Haarlem win hands down) and my 21BOE experience.
Whatever you decide, have a great time!
Lisa

Posted by
408 posts

Have a great trip. I am sure you know if for some reason your Atlanta to JFK flight is delayed or cancelled since you are on separate tickets to Europe it could cause problems with a short connection.

Have you been to Europe before? I would not under estimate jet lag. Have not done the BOE21 but did the BOE14 last year. Great tour but it is non stop
Wasn't sure if your daughter is an adult or kid but my kids (teens) really needed some down time.

We started our tour in Paris and we got in early & went to Normandy for three days. That first day and half we were very groggy with jet lag.

Enjoy!

Posted by
4219 posts

Why the OP didn't book direct ATL to Amsterdam and back to ATL from Paris is beyond me. There are many one stop/same ticket options here. Even non-stop!

The exhaustion, checking in/out, so many connections and flights will have them so tired at the beginning of their tour.

And all to save a couple hundred $$$? Time is money, people. I've learned it never pays to be cheap when flying internationally. Smart, yes. Cheap, no.

Posted by
12195 posts

Being on an international flight to Europe and being cheap about it can be done depending on the price and what you're willing to put up with and if you encounter any deals. I always fly Economy direct from SFO no matter what type of sardine can it is because after 11 hrs I'm there in the morning...period. I know someone who booked on-line yesterday for a departure the first week of August 2017, (high season) returning the first week in Oct, from SFO to Warsaw with a two hour layover in Paris CDG on Air France on Economy for $1151. The flight ticket is SFO - Warsaw via Paris CDG, return CDG to SFO. direct , eleven hours. That's cheap all factors considered for a two month stay still in high season.

Posted by
4219 posts

Fred - exactly. You fly smart. I bet there are cheaper ways for you to get from SFO to Europe, but you've learned direct is best, even if it costs a bit more. I always fly Austrian direct to the US.

I guess having lived 7 years in Ghana and nearly 10 years in Vienna as an American who comes home 3-4 times/year has taught me a thing or two.

Posted by
5011 posts

Agree with Fred and Emily.

jencduke - you are killing yourself for no good reason. No offense intended, but IMHO, both of your proposals are bad choices.

You live in/near Atlanta. The busiest airport in the country, with direct flights to everywhere. Fer cryin' outloud, stop torturing yourself with 2, 3 or 4 extra, unnecessary connections! Forget going through JFK, that's nuts. Oslo - really, Oslo? Take a look at a map! Get a nonstop from ATL to Europe and back, if you don't, you will wish you had.

You are kidding yourself when you think you are going to get a bonus day in London. No, you're not. You're going to get a groggy, cranky, miserable couple of hours that break your heart because all you will want to do is go to sleep at 1:00 in the afternoon - which you will do, and you will pay dearly for that (one of the most expensive cities in the world to get a hotel room in). Forget London, go another time when you can actually see and do something there besides experience the inside of an over-priced hotel.

Time for a Plan C. Start over. Fly from ATL to Europe and back. Find a non-stop - it won't cost you much more than what you would spend with 5 stops via Rangoon once you factor in the hotels, the wasted time and your misery.

I know, not what you wanted to hear, but you will have a much better trip if you find a better way. Good luck.

Posted by
468 posts

I agree with the prior posters who suggest flying nonstop and enjoying more time in the Netherlands. When my family took the BOE21 tour several years ago, we drove several hours to be able to fly KLM and AirFrance nonstop, and I am SO glad we did! No need to worry about missing connections, and such a huge time savings!

We arrived in Amsterdam early on a Friday morning for a BOE tour that started Sunday late afternoon. If I had to do it over again, I would have added even MORE time to our pre-tour stay in the Netherlands. We took a day trip to visit a friend who lives a few hours northeast of Amsterdam, and spent another day enjoying the VanGogh Museum and Resistance Museum in Amsterdam. On our arrival day we mostly walked around Haarlem. I'm really glad we didn't plan anything for the day, because we would have been too tired to enjoy it. Walking around town, however, was perfect. And we woke up the next day feeling caught up on sleep and time and ready to go. I have not spoken with anyone who says they wished they had spent less time in Amsterdam at the beginning of the tour!

If you had a solid 3+ days to spend in London prior to the start of the trip, that would be one thing. But don't go there for a day -- you'll do both yourselves and the city a disservice!

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks everyone! That's what I've been looking for, suggestions form people whove done it before. Like I said first timer here, I don't want to get in over my head. I don't have my heart set on London I was just thinking it would be a fun addition. If jet lag is that terrible I'll look into a direct flight. Thanks for the help and ideas!

Posted by
12195 posts

"if jet lag is that terrible...." Keep in mind, however, that not everyone gets jet lag, not everyone lands after a transatlantic flight of 6 hrs or 11 hrs zoned out, wiped out, exhausted. You yourself know as do I know for myself.

I do heartily agree that from Atlanta, a major hub, getting a direct flight to Europe in your case is the best choice. One time I flew into Atlanta, over 25 years ago, from SFO direct for vacation in August.

Posted by
744 posts

I'm not an experienced traveler like so many other folks on this forum, but ... In June 2015 we left Chicago at 4 p.m., arriving in London about 8 a.m. the next day. We trudged on, zombie-like, through our jet lag, did and saw a lot of stuff on that first day, which we don't regret. We saw Buckingham Palace, had lunch in a pub, were nodding off in Parliament and, as I posted about a while back, I totally hit the proverbial wall at Westminster Abbey in the afternoon. Then we went on the London Eye, spent a wonderful hour or two in St. James's park, walked back to our hotel and had a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant.

And then we went to bed, got a good night's sleep, got up, had a big English breakfast and went out to explore more of London, feeling pretty OK.

I can't for one moment, imagine getting up that next morning, trekking to an airport to catch another flight and traveling again. Short answer, don't do it. Save London for another trip. Period.

Posted by
14241 posts

Option 2. I guess you are looking at the 6.30 am flight from Gatwick. You'll have to be at the airport well before that. You may need to check luggage (cabin allowances are often lower and more strictly enforced than "legacy" airlines). I don't know Gatwick, but even allowing 90 minutes at the airport, you'll have to leave your London city hotel around 4 am to get there by 5 a.m. (and you may want to allow a little more time so you can have breakfast before boarding). As someone wrote earlier, you probably won't get into the city on the 2nd until well after noon, with little sleep (on a 6-7 hour flight, you'll have at best 4 quiet hours on the plane). So you have part of the afternoon, a lot of Friday afternoon rush hour and the evening to see a tiny bit of London. Then you get a few hours sleep, get up at 3 am. So you are starting your 3-week marathon with a 2-day mini-marathon. Even if you spend the night at an airport hotel, you're still going to have to get up around 4 a.m.

As I understand it, you've already locked yourself into leaving JFK on the 1st and buying one-way flight/s to Amsterdam. I would either spend 2 nights in London or skip it. You need at least one full night's sleep before starting the tour.

Posted by
4 posts

We did BOE21 in April 16. We flew 26 hours (with a 3 hour break in Hong Kong in the middle) from New Zealand to Amsterdam. We needed 2 nights to recover before the tour started and were really glad we did because the full day in Amsterdam is the biggest walking day of the tour....absolutely exhausting! We went to London for a few days after the tour ended in Paris. We enjoyed it but we were really tired by this stage. This tour was the best thing we have ever done...it was exceptional. Pack lightly like everyone suggests...but not too lightly as the only real opportunities for laundry were Ruette and Cinque Terre (beware the dryers shrink your clothes).two pairs of walking shoes is a must, we had two pairs of identical trainers and changing from one pair to the next really eased the sore feet.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for the tips kiwigirl! I did find a flight thats only 10 hours with less than a 2 hour layover via Iceland. I may do that..it arrives around noon on friday so that will give us plenty of time to rest and adjust. Either that or bite the bullet and reschedule all flights to direct from atl. When I was originally looking all the flights were 28+/- hours, now when I'm looking I find direct flights to and from for less than 8 hours. Rookie mistake there I guess.

Posted by
1007 posts

I am in agreement with other posters who say that is a good idea to arrive at the first tour stop before the tour starts.

For our next RS tour (Village of Southern England - May 2017). We are flying Aer Lingus from Hartford - BDL to Dublin, and staying couple of days before continuing on to Canterbury on another Aer Lingus flight. After the tour, we are staying in Bath, visiting friends in Wales, then flying from Bristol and Dublin on Ryanair. We are flying home from Dublin the next day. Aer Lingus is sort of a budget airline, but not as bare bones as WOW or Norwegian. One nice aspect of flying on Aer Lingus is that you can go through US customs and immigration in Dublin on the way home.

Posted by
116 posts

Glad to hear you picked a flight to get you to Amsterdam earlier. We did the BOE last year and were able to arrive early--(retired). You won't have time for the Van Gough museum on the tour unless you run through it. I'm a fan, so we did that ahead. Last year the Ann Frank museum was included but I didn't see it on the itinerary this year. We had cold and wet weather in our pre-tour (April) so went to a few museums rather than bike rides. Also the open markets are fun--great street food--and there was one in Haarlem on Saturday. Haarlem is a fun town to explore as is Amsterdam.

The tour is active and 2 pairs of shoes a must. I brought extra underwear (small to pack) and had no problems with laundry. You will love this tour!

Posted by
11 posts

Hi patty, we are planning on seeing the Van Gogh museum, my daughter is really looking forward to it. Our flight arrives 1230ish on Friday. I think once we check into our hotel we'll stroll around town get some lunch or early dinner and try to adjust to the local time, then do the museum on Saturday and possibly rent bikes or go to the Anne Frank house.

Posted by
4481 posts

Jean, we loved the Van Gogh museum. It was very crowded, but just wonderful. I also recommend Rembrandt's House. There was a great demonstration of etching and printing when we were there. And Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder - Our Lord in the Attic is great, as well. It's from when Catholicism was banned in the Netherlands, and there were tiny churches hidden in private homes.

Have a good time; that's a great tour.

Posted by
116 posts

If you want to go to the Van Gough museum Saturday, try to get a reservation. We went to the TI the day we went and thought we had a reservation, but it was only a ticket. The line was shorter than the ticket line, but still over an hour wait. See if they have evening hours on Friday. You can drop your bags at the hotel and take the train in to Amsterdam. You will be too excited to be tired the first day. Then, you will have all of Saturday open. The first time we went to Amsterdam (with our 18 and 20 year old kids), we land around 7-8 am. We took the train to Amsterdam and put our bags in a locker, then spent the day there, picked up the bags and took the train to Haarlem where we stayed. We weren't on a RS tour but liked the smaller city.

Posted by
18359 posts

I disagree with Patty and would definitely not pay in advance for admission to a museum the day after an overnight trans-Atlantic flight. Most travelers are at least mentally foggy that first day, and some of us can barely put one foot in front of the other after a sleepless night. I'm with those who believe that first day is for walking around outside in hopes of staying awake until some time after dark. No way would I want to schedule one of my top sights (unless it was free) on that first day!

Posted by
12195 posts

"You'll be too excited to be tired all day." How true! On my very first trip to Paris, landed at Orly on a TWA flight at 9 am on a Sunday in the summer nonstop from SFO, got to the hostel near Metro Station "Nation," had lunch there, and between 1330 and 1400 hrs or so, by Metro was at the Les Invalides,... all fired up to see the place, the Army Museum, and the Napoleon exhibits, and spent most of the afternoon there.

Posted by
59 posts

Hi there,

I would suggest Heathrow and taking the Heathrow Express to London. My husband and I did this on our first 14 day trip to England and it was very easy to navigate. it was our first European travel adventure and I was not sure about navigating the trains, but it was easy! I read and re-read the information, and suggest looking it up on Trip Advisor.

We fly British Airways many times because they have a great nonstop from the West Coast. San Diego) there. It is not always cheap but my husband who is not a great flier loves it so I shop for airfare sales.

It drops you in the center of London near a Rick Steves approved neighborhood (Paddington Station) , which you can easily use as a base for travel. I do agree with the others, however that London needs 3-4 days to see. After our initial London stay we travelled to Cotswalds, Bath, Cardiff, Conwy, Keswick and Edinburgh, and used Ricks guidebooks as our guide. Driving in Great Britain was an adventure! We have been back to London since and have always stayed a few days, picking up the sights we missed the first time. We love London and it has always been great fun to go through there either on our way home or our way to Europe.

Good luck with you first trip!

Nancy