Trip Report 30 Days Travel in Europe

My wife and I departed for Europe from Seattle on 2 June and returned on 3 July. We visited the following countries in this time frame; Germany, Netherlands, France, England, Scotland and Ireland. For transportation we used a 30 day Global Select Senior Rail Pass and a Brit Rail 4 day pass and flew two flights on Aer Lingus. In our planning we had used a travel consult with Rich Earl in late July or early August of last year. Rich's advise was pretty much right on course and was greatly appreciated.
Germany - Found the rail system to work quite well overall, be advised if going to Bacharach via train with luggage be prepared to lug it down stairs from a platform and up to the street after crossing under the tracks and vice versa when leaving. Wurzburg is also not a luggage friendly station, no escalators, luggage conveyors or elevators to rail platforms. Pay close attention to reader boards on the platform because if a train is delayed the next train will arrive and it is easy to board the wrong train, ask if not sure. The reader board will state whether a train is delayed in German only, you will see the delayed train posted only at the scheduled time with no alteration to the time. Used ICE quite a bit but some regional trains too. U Bahn and S Bahn in Berlin.
Accommodation - We chose hotels near or easy access to train stations, all were good but be careful in Frankfurt because hotels near the Central Train Station are clean but later at night the area is not so delightful (red light district). In Nuremberg we stayed at the Victoria hotel and were not aware of the tunnel from the train station to the old section and walked about 200 meters down the street and back up this was not necessary.
Tours - We did the Neuschwanstein, Obermagau and Lindendorf Castle tour from Munich it was very good.
Netherlands - Did one train trip only up to Koog Z and used street cars in the city of Amsterdam. Thalys to Paris Nord.
Hotel was upscale older clean and good breakfast -- New Carlton.
France- SNCF (French Rail) was on strike operating but alternative schedule found trains comfortable at Bayeux we could not get a taxi, luckily a French friend of mine showed up and took us to the hotel. Used Metro in Paris.
Accommodation; We stayed at Lion d' Or in Bayeux older hotel no elevators but staff takes your luggage up excellent restaurant.
in Paris we stayed at the Mecure Eiffel Central Du Tour about 400 meters from the Eiffel Tower good access to Metro (two blocks). Very good breakfast.
Tours - Did the Dday tour in Bayeux 8 hour well worth while. The tour operator in Paris for Paris by night did not show up at all, but had tried to contact us that they cancelled the tour because of a musical festival, I was not pleased since my wife and I hung around from 21:45 to 23:30 for a 22:00 pick up. We found out after the fact, they cancelled.
England - Transportation - Used Eurostar from Paris to London, Oyster card in the city and Brit Rail pass to Cardiff, Edinburgh/Glasgow and then down to Liverpool. I Did not activate the London Visitor's passes.
Accommodation- Stayed at the Union Jack Club only military or veterans can stay here reasonable price across from Waterloo Station. In Glasgow stayed at the Best Western Central very good but no elevators and no restaurant.
Liverpool - Stayed in the city at Nadler hotel formerly Base2Stay very good hotel, no restaurant.
Tour - Did the Fab Four Beatles tour very good.
When flying Aer Lingus be sure to book and pay bag fees online prior to the airport costs double if you wait until you get to the airport the savings on the flights will be ate up in bag fees.
Ireland- Transportation outside of Dublin is lacking, rail and buses are good but schedules not that great.
Hotel in Dublin was good with good buffet- Cassidys, Parnell Square.
We took 2,500 Euro used 2,000; 600GBP used 500, took $700 US and brought all back. Used cards for hotels and souvenirs.
Thanks Rich.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3851 posts

Hi,

Good, interesting, and informative report. True, about the delayed trains. Riding the ICE using a Global Pass makes it worth it. In Frankfurt there are hotels in the Hbf area without having to dodge the "red light" district, which gets tedious, such as hotels on Poststraße and Karlstraße as you exit left from the station.

Where did you stay in Berlin? Bacharach is one of those towns which has no locker facilities.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8279 posts

I have never used public transportation in Ireland, always rented a car. Did you travel outside of Dublin at all - day tours or anything?

Posted by airprof
22 posts

Hello Nancy;
Yes we did travel outside of Dublin; We arrived on Friday 27 June. On Saturday we took the train to Waterford with the intent of taking the train or bus over to Cork and Coab. There are only two trains a day to Cork from Waterford on the weekend but multiple buses all take at least two hours. The bus station in Waterford is closed on the weekend, the ticket machines would not accept a 50 Euro note and would not read my chip card visa. We returned to Dublin via Limerick Junction. The next day, Sunday, we took the bus to Eienneskillen, had no problems with the ticket machine in Dublin reading my card. We also knew that Eienneskillen is in Northern Ireland and they use GBP there. On Monday we took the Irish Rail Tour to the Cliffs of Moher. We found Ireland quite charming and the people extraordinarily friendly and the food excellent. We actually spent very little time in Dublin other than sleeping there. I ran out of characters on my initial post to add more details for Ireland. I chose not to drive in Ireland I do not like narrow roads.

Posted by airprof
22 posts

Hello Fred;
We stayed in the I31 Boutique Hotel on Invalidenstrasse Mitte in Berlin. It is about 1 KM east of the main Berlin Hbf. The hotel is convenient to the U-6 Natural Museum station about a block east of that station and two blocks west of the Nord Bahnhof S-Bhan (S-2 and others). The hotel is new well appointed rooms and a good breakfast buffet. When the city was divided and occupied this was the Soviet Sector, very close to the British Sector border just across the river that is east of the main Hbf, the French Sector was just north about 1Km. The only issue is the road construction down Invalidenstrasse in front of the hotel. Apparently they are putting in a new U Bahn line according to the hotel staff. As for Bacharach they are working on that station perhaps they will add a couple of elevators and perhaps some lockers for those not spending the night with luggage. We were told Rick Steves was there about a week and half or two weeks before our arrival.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3851 posts

Hi,

The area around Hbf and Invalidenstrasse is almost always undergoing some construction. You were most likely ca a 10 mins or so walk from the hotel to Hbf. The historical cemetery (one the very oldest in Berlin) is off Invalidenstrasse, ie, turn right from as you exit.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3851 posts

Hi,

Continuation of my earlier comments....If Invalidenstrasse is going to have an U-Bahn station, that means all three local means of tranportation (bus, S-Bahn, U-Bahn) will stop at Berlin Hbf. or close by. To get to Invalidenstraße I always take the S-Bahn, but it's good to know which buses can be used, eg, getting to Berlin Ostbahnhof from Hbf when the S-Bahn system is shut down for repairs, as it was in 2009 when I was in Berlin.

The Oyster card is all you need for London, super convenient.

Posted by airprof
22 posts

Fred;
You are correct concerning the Oyster Card for London the same holds true for Dublin but there it is called the LEAP Card. Paris still uses the tickets for the Paris visitors pass but I believe they also have an IC Card. Berlin to has an IC card but we had a five day visitors pass with transportation. We used a tourist day passes for transportation in Regensburg, Amsterdam and Cardiff, Wales also. As for Asia the SUICA card in Japan is also great, used it for four years while working in the Tokyo/Yokohama Metro area. Next year in February, may finally get to fly on a 787-8 on ANA; We are returning to Vietnam for two weeks with a trip to Angkor Wat Cambodia (Siem Riep) as well as Nha Trang and Qui Nhon Vietnam I used to work in those two Vietnamese cities as a civilian in the seventies. Don't know if my wife will want to leave Ho Chi Minh city aka Saigon because she has five sisters there. In the fall next year we are doing a tour in China. I was a first officer for Trans International Airlines back in the early seventies and later flew crew in P-3 Orions in the US Navy. Only Continent I've not been to is Antarctica and not really interested in going. I've traveled extensively but sometimes weren't in places long enough to do anything.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3851 posts

@ airprof....Thanks for the report. It shows you are indeed what your name describes, a pro in the air. Add an "i" to your title to make it "profi" you'll have the "slang" for a "professional" in German....ein profi.

Posted by airprof
22 posts

To pwood;

The amount of cash that was spent is listed in the next to last sentence of my report. I would estimate the trip total including hotels and transportation including general spending (cash listed) was a total of just less than $10K, we paid cash for most meals a few were on the hotel bills but very few. We have not returned the two unused London Visitor Passes, we will receive an 85% refund on those and this will amount to just over $800. We did not do a lot of lavish spending and for the most part stayed at three and four star hotels.
Rich Earl in a consult done with him estimated we would probably need about $10K, the figure was pretty accurate for a two person thirty day trip.