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Copenhagen, Munich, Paris, and London in 10 days

After dreaming about a trip to Europe for a long, long time, my wife and I finally took the step. We managed to carve out some time around Thanksgiving scoring some good deals on flights to and from Europe on Norwegian Airlines.

Arriving in Copenhagen around 11:45 local time we determined to fight the effects of jet lag by hitting the streets. We walked around the Kongens Nytorv area, Nyhavn, and the Christiansborg Palace area and went up the tower to get a bird's eye view of the city.

With it being the start of the holiday season, we stumbled onto a Christmas market. It was small, but packed with stalls selling food, drink (the glogg highly recommended), all rolled up in a cozy Danish experience complete with a choir of young girls singing holiday songs.

The next day we took the Netto Boat harbor tour (highly recommended). The overview of the area and information provided was fascinating. Afterwards, we saw the Marble Church, the changing of the guard at Amalienborg, and joined the small crowd gathered around (and on) the Little Mermaid. Then we met up with some Danish friends we hadn't seen in over seven years and strolled down the Stroget, got a private tour (think extended look see) of the University of Copenhagen's historic library -- our friend works in the IT dept. Then to Tivoli to take in the holiday lights, capping the evening with an amazing and authentic Danish holiday meal.

The next morning we flew to Munich and spent the next two nights at Pension Lindner (highly recommended) located within a ten minute walk of Marienplatz. The first afternoon and evening we filled with a quick subway ride to the Allianz Arena where my favorite football (soccer) team was playing a home game. I tried to get tickets several months in advance, but the waiting list was at 100,000+ so it didn't happen. No worries. After soaking up the atmosphere in the area, we headed back to Marienplatz and walked over to the Hofbrauhaus. It was packed, mostly with tourists like us I'm guessing. Yet it was still an experience I highly recommend. We weren't able to score a couple of seats. So after checking out the action, we discovered a much quieter and more authentic experience within a few minutes walk. The rest of the evening we strolled around before calling it a night.

The next day we did the Rick Steve's city walk. I highly, highly recommend his audio tours for the information and insights. We saw inside a handful of historic cathedrals and got back to the Hofbrauhaus for some veal sausage, spaetzle, and beer, of course. We took our time on this walk and managed to fill the day.

In the morning it was on to Paris for the next three nights. I probably did the most research on Paris as I had some preconceived notions of what it would be like and had also heard that the scammers runneth wild here. Well, upon exiting the secure area wouldn't you know we were met by the petition girls, right in the airport. But having familiarized ourselves with their game ahead of time, it was no big deal. I'm amazed they're tolerated inside the airport.

Despite many warnings, we took the RER B to Chatellet Les Halles station downtown wondering all along what all the fuss was about. I mean sure, the trip goes through some shabby looking suburbs, but the people on the train were either travelers like us or locals going about their business. If one has any experience using rapid transit in the US or Canada, Paris's metro system is a cinch.

With that said, being newbies, we wore money belts and were glad we did, if for nothing more than the peace of mind. I will say though, considering I used my smartphone the whole trip, carrying it in an outer zipped pocket, when not in my hand, along with a generous amount of daily cash in a pants pocket, I think that common sense and some experience/confidence can be almost as effective as an actual money belt. But that's another discussion.

......continued

Posted by
117 posts

.....continued from above.

We managed to see quite a bit while in the city and walked more than I've ever walked in a three day period in my life -- at least that's what my body was telling me, even managing a necessary trip to the neighborhood Apotek for some extra strength ibuprofen.

Paris is the ultimate walking city, not shocking I know. We saw the biggies, including the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysees, Notre Dame, St. Chapelle, Shakespeare & Company, portions of the Latin Quarter and St. Germain, the Marais including the Place de Vosges, made it up to Montmartre, braved the holiday shoppers at Galeries Lafayette, and finished up our stay with an evening at the Louvre.

Of course we spread this out over the three days managing to sample some of the local "delicacies" -- crepes, escargot (the garlic parsley butter really is great for dipping your baguettes into), croissants, along with a spell or two of stylish cafe sitting as well.

The highlight of our stay was our accommodations. We stayed at a B&B in the apartment of a retired French couple in a Hausmann building in the Marais. They spoke almost no english. But we managed to communicate without any problems. And the breakfasts? Oh my. Fresh croissants, berries and goat yogurt, baguettes, an assortment of cheeses, and French press coffee -- oh la la. We didn't want to leave. After three days, however, it was off to London via Eurostar for the final two nights and one day.

London was almost overwhelming from the standpoint of how many people were everywhere. There were plenty of folks out and about in every city. But the intensity and numbers seemed to increase as we went along. No doubt London is always crammed with people. And maybe it was also the time of year, not sure. It didn't matter where we went, it was busy. And yet, we got into Westminster Abbey without waiting more than a few minutes in line, walked right into the Tower of London, and straight onto the London Eye without a wait. As an aside, the tip in Rick's London guide on buying your Tower tickets at the Trader's Gate gift shop before heading to the attraction is almost worth the price of the book alone. I can only imagine how valuable this tip is in high season.

Anyway, to summarize, we saw the above sights in London, did Rick's Westminster, West End, and East End walks, lingered in Trafalgar Square, walked past Buckingham Palace managing a glimpse at the changing of the guard ceremony as we wound our way around and through the throngs of people. Hung out in Covent Garden, braved the crush of shoppers at Harrods, and enjoyed a very pleasant walk through Hyde Park to Kensington Palace. Again, spread out over the course of almost three full days and two nights.

We planned our trip using Rick's information and guides along with a few other online sources starting about three months prior to the trip. Being able to plan and go on our trip of a lifetime and do it on our own with Rick along as our tour guide was a real confidence builder, and we will be doing so again in about a year, only to different places.

Thanks to many of the folks on this board for your insights. It was most helpful. I hope you all realize that your contributions are invaluable to those of us who are doing (and have done) this for the first time.

If you made it this far, thank you for your time. Europe rocks!

Posted by
102 posts

An amazing trip for the time you had. This traveler's schedule is often too much for the time. Congratulations for a travel plan well done.

Posted by
117 posts

Thanks Larry. Perhaps some would consider our trip too "busy." The trick for us was in planning and coordinating activities by stringing them together in a somewhat logical sequence. Our actual itinerary was even more packed than what I've shared. But we never felt any pressure to "conquer" anything and some things were dropped along the way such as an evening trip to the National Gallery. And with the exception of a scheduled time at the Eiffel Tower and making our plane and train connections, which we always had ample time for, we were never under any pressure. We knew we would return and I think approaching the trip in that way helped us to accomplish more, if that makes any sense.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

Great report. It helps when planning is behind such an intense travel schedule and using public transportation at home certainly prepares you to tackle taking the Paris Metro...how true.

"fight the effects of jet lag by hitting the streets." Bravo! I did exactly that when I was younger and sometimes felt the effects of jet lag, ie, hit the history museum or the streets.

Posted by
2261 posts

Well done, rr! I'll just say that we experienced London the same way. Like you it was after Paris at the end of our trip last year and we found it to be so intense-we were a little surprised by that. I made a mental note not to end a trip in London.
Cheers!

Posted by
7380 posts

Excellent trip report - thanks for sharing! Now my mouth is watering for those fantastic French breakfasts!

Posted by
3580 posts

Your trip sounds perfect. You obviously did a lot of planning and didn't leave much to chance. I don't think it sounds too busy, just ambitious and well-executed. I suppose you will go back at some point, but meanwhile you've seen some great sites.

Posted by
117 posts

Swan, it was the right pace for us. And I agree, we saw some amazing sights and made some wonderful memories. Thanks for reading.

Posted by
15640 posts

I loved reading your trip report. It sounds like a crazy-busy trip that most of us here wouldn't dream of trying, but you pulled it off superbly.

What's the name of the B&B in Paris? How did you find it?

Posted by
2081 posts

Ricky,

Great report.

Once you get a trip or trips under your belt, you should have an better idea on whats too fast or too slow.

But the best part is that you can go back!

I like to head back to London for my leftover day or day(s) on my way back home. For me its a way to chill and enjoy the end of my trip.

if you have a chance, you have to try some of the high speed intercountry trains over there. They are so sweet.

happy trails.

Posted by
117 posts

Completely agree Ray. I think at times we were shocked by how much we were able to accomplish without exhausting ourselves in the process. And yet we barely scratched the surface, which is the best part.

And yes, I'm with you on the trains suggestion. It's on the list.

Thank you for reading.