Please sign in to post.

Comments on Ghent-Paris-London-Amsterdam trip

I know better than to post up a report of what we did, let's face it, everyone here has likely done it or better. So instead I have some comments on our just completed Ghent-Paris-London-Amsterdam trip.

First, there is a good reason one can snare that sub-$500 airfare for late-March early April, the weather is not great. Ghent was in and out of mist and drizzle, Paris was cold and raw. In spite of which we enjoyed them. Perhaps this was the reason for the following observation: In Paris we had 10 Metro trips, we stayed near Nord, we walked a lot, we were at Jardins de Trocadero on a Sunday night - and can report no attempted pick-pocketings nor did we see any in progress, no one ever tossed a ring in front of us (or anywhere we could see), no petition girls, saw no 3-card Monty, etc. The street traffic was worse than anything we have ever seen, and the Metros were jammed beyond belief (disclaimer-we have yet to visit Rome). Unfortunately I caught a bad cold and cough in Paris, and by the time we got to London I was a mess. Two days later I had to seek out medical attention. Host sent me to Pharmacy, they sent me to Waterloo clinic, who said they can't do anything and sent me to St Thomas's ER -who then sent me back to Waterloo, but with the necessary appointment. Was seen, meds prescribed, back to Pharmacy, and back home. This all cost 59p (more than Ryanair!), and has left us in awe of the British health system (and next time I see someone complain about the VAT, I will bring this up), and also took under 2 hours door to door.

There was an incredible piece of good luck on the transfer to London. We booked the 11:04 Eurostar on April 3. That was an SNCF strike day, and 1/3 of Eurostars have SNCF drivers. We had dithered a 1/2 year back as to whether to get out as fast as we can and book the 10:04, or take it easy for the 11:04. We chose not to rush. Good choice - when we got up to the check-in area we found out that the 10:04 had been cancelled because of the strike!

Don't know if it was because I was still reeling form the chest cold, or maybe we are finally getting too old, but this time around the smokiness - both tobacco and cannabis - was really bothering us in Amsterdam. But I was improved enough to get to Keukenhof for a day. Not at its peak, but still worth it.

We also are wondering if there is a new fare class/ticket option on the Dutch trains. One that allows the purchase of the seat next to you place your bags. We could not believe the number of people - and this seemed to be primarily men age 20-40 who on a train packed with standing riders would not release the seat next to them while their packages - some as small as briefcases - got to sit down.

We noticed in Amsterdam more attempts than in prior years to slip DCC conversion by you on their handheld machines. And Amsterdam (along with Belgium) has entered the "if you need water with your meal it's going to cost you 35 cents per ounce crowd." I can understand that drinks are profit areas for restaurants. We are not drinkers, and find this infuriating.

So as to not leave this as total a negative - Ghent is beautiful no matter the weather, this was our first Paris experience and we enjoyed it. London is our favorite city, and this marked our 5th trip in 6 years, so it was a real bummer to be room-bound for almost all of it becasue of my illness. Especially so as my wife went off to London Walks' "The Blitz" (while I ultimately went for help), which I had been really keen on doing as we have just finished the two Connie Willis novels about the Blitz, "Blackout" and "All Clear" and I was hoping to really look these areas over with the incredible descriptions from her novels.

Posted by
12618 posts

Well, poo that you got sick! I appreciate your comments and just so you know, I love to read Trip Reports no matter what. If I'm not there I like to read about others who have just gotten back, lol!

Sorry you missed the Blitz walk. I finally was there on the right day to do it last Fall and thought it very good. You can put it on your list for next trip! I'll take a look at that author!

Thanks for taking the time to post. Hope you are recovered!

Posted by
5646 posts

Being sick on a trip is no fun! I hear you about the pot smoke in Amsterdam - it's legal out here in Oregon now and I routinely smell it here too. Some people are brazen enough here to smoke a joint openly in public, something I never saw happen in Amsterdam.

You can have poor weather even if you go closer to "in season." I visited Paris and Belgium in mid-May a few years back, and I had mostly rain with a few sunny days. I too saw Ghent only in the rain. Luckily, I had been to Paris before in better weather. And I did get nice days in both Bruges and Brussels. Do hope to return to Ghent someday in better weather, however! It is a really nice town.

Posted by
2625 posts

We don't have a problem with Cannabis per se, and indulge in edibles on occasion. It's just that smoke of any kind really bothers us now, especially when nursing a rotten cough.There is a big difference between some aroma and serious smoke.

Posted by
2314 posts

I'm with you on the smoke annoyance -- I was at an outdoor concert in Orange and the smokers were basically unavoidable even though the posted signage prohibited smoking in the seating area -- I was bothered enough to approach the ushers/security to complain, and they themselves were openly vaping, so it proved pointless. It's one of those strange cultural differences that France seems so comparatively progressive in many ways but still doesn't seem very bothered by people who poison those seated nearby...