OUR 16-DAY TRIP TO EUROPE...AND ENGAGEMENT! - positiveequation.com

OUR 16-DAY TRIP TO EUROPE…AND ENGAGEMENT!

 

This year I turned 30 and thus an epic EuroTrip was necessary! My boyfriend and I (soon to become fiance…) started doing research on where we wanted to go. I came across the website, routeperfect.com. It allows you to enter your dates, a city to start from and builds a sample itinerary. From there you can fully customize all the cities you’d like to visit and how far they are by train or car. 

I found a crazy good deal for roundtrip tickets from LA to Paris for roughly 60,000 miles each. Our flights were completely paid for by Delta Skymiles!

I spent HOURS researching accommodations. I wanted to make every stop special by finding more boutique and B&B style places + staying within a budget.

This was hard, but it paid off!!

We found gems in each city with lovely people. Check out my reviews in the breakdown of each city below!

 

Trip Itinerary:

France

Paris (3 days)

Saint-Malo (2 days)

Lille (2 days)

Belgium

Gent & Brugge (3 days) 

Amsterdam (3 days)

Germany 

Cologne/Koln (3 days) 

Back to Paris to fly out 

PARIS

When we arrived in Paris we were exhausted from an 11-hour flight from LAX to AMS (Amsterdam), then another hour flight into Charles de Gaulle, Paris. Definitely give yourself time to get adjusted to the time difference the first few days. 

Accommodations: Hotel Adele & Jules

Super cute boutique hotel.  It’s surrounded by a ton of restaurants and bars with Montemarte close by. A train station is also right around the corner making it super easy to travel through the city. The room wasn’t huge, but it was modern, clean, comfortable bed and they have espresso and coffee available in the morning. (Breakfast is available, but it was very expensive) 

Highlights:

  • Go to Pain Pain for DELICIOUS croissants and the cutest cafe ambiance. It’s also in Montmartre, a great area to walk around and explore.
  • Like art but don’t want to walk around museums all day? L’Atelier des Lumieres is an incredible Van Gogh exhibit with motion graphics and light all around the room and walls. **Get tickets ahead of time and plan to be there early, it was getting crowded by Noon
  • For lunch, we went to Las de Falafels from a friends recommendation. SO good. 
  • History time! We bought a two-part pass to visit Sainte Chapelle and Conciergerie. Sainte Chapelle is an unreal cathedral with gorgeous stained glass. Right next door is the Conciergerie. It’s where Marie Antoinette was held right before she was executed. You get to stand right where she was held…pretty cool to walk through and read the history of the building and what was happening during the French Revolution.  

Nap time! By this point, we were exhausted since we woke up at 6 am from the time difference. (9 hours!)

Another note, nothing in Paris opens early. We woke up figuring bakeries would be open…nope! Most of the cafes don’t open till 9-10ish. They know how to live!! 

  • After nap time, we went to the Eiffel Tower. Seeing the Eiffel Tower was unreal! It’s an open drinking area on the lawn, so feel free to bring drinks and watch the light show at sunset. (A ton of guys will also walk around with bottles of wine and beer for sale) 
  • Fan of jazz music? Friends of ours recommended Le Sherwood. It’s a great little bar with live music. The musicians sang in English and the cocktails were delicious! 
  • Looking for a true Paris dinner experience with AH-mazing food? Robert de Louise is your spot! Try and get a reservation – the seating inside is super limited. We were lucky to get a spot at the bar. We ordered: Pate, mushrooms, duck, prime rib, and creme brûlée 🙂 

 

Versailles

WOW. We spent our second day in Paris traveling to Versailles. There’s no words to describe the immense wealth and beauty of the palace. Just go!!

It’s a 45-minute train ride out of Paris and very easy to navigate. When you go, give yourself a full day to walk the audio tour inside and roam the gardens. The gardens are 2,000 acres…so definitely wear comfortable shoes. 

Visit to Versailles

Photo credit: Daniel Snyder, Snyder Imagination

The Louvre

Our last day in Paris was also a national holiday, so we woke up and NO one was outside at 8 am. We walked from our hotel to the Louvre for a semi-private tour with ironically, six other Americans. 

Our City Wonders guide Allister was hilarious and very knowledgeable! He was very passionate about art and an incredible storyteller. I highly recommend taking a semi-private tour through The Louvre. There’s so much to see and you’d walk right past art that has tremendous significance. Worth the investment!

After the tour, we got our rental car from Gare du Nord and headed to what would be a very memorable city for us, Saint-Malo.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Dana Bakich (@danabakich) on May 30, 2019 at 3:04pm PDT

SAINT-MALO, DINAN, CANCALE & MONT SAINT-MICHEL

Accommodation: Maison Angelus

I chose Maison Angelus, a B&B for our two-night stay in Saint-Malo and I wish we had one extra day here! When Cristina and Giulio greeted us at their home, I knew it would be a very special visit. 🙂

They were so warm and inviting – the sweetest couple from Italy. Our room was perfect with natural light and plenty of room! The pictures don’t do the room size justice. 

The weather was great so we decided to spend the first night walking along the coast and had crepes for dinner. Google translator was our best friend for figuring out the menus!

Maison Angelus in Saint Malo, FranceMaison Angelus, Saint-Malo Hosts

 

Highlights:

  • Saint-Malo is a great spot to have a car and take day trips around the area. Dinan is a quaint medieval town that left us in awe at every turn. With buildings from 1480, this city has so much charm. We only stopped for an hour or so, but you could easily do a half day here or more. 

Dinan, France

  • We continued driving along the coast to Cancale. OMG if you like Oysters you have to come here! There’s an oyster farm in the ocean that we could see with the low tide. Different vendors set up and sell you fresh oysters with lemon to eat right along the ocean. The best part? When you finish eating them, everyone just throws them on the ground! Looks like a ton of oyster seashells. Also, we bought 12 oysters and 2 beers for $8 euros!

Oysters in Cancale, France

  • After Cancale, we headed to our last stop of the day, Mont Saint-Michel.

The BIGGEST Surprise 

The picturesque abbey, really castle-like, looks like it floats on the water. When it’s high tide, the reflection across the water is beautiful. 

We went around 4 pm and it was still pretty busy, but the crowds were coming out. The weather was perfect – sunny and warm. We decided to walk the .5 miles up to the abbey instead of taking the shuttle. Lucky for my boyfriend, I made that suggestion instead of him having to convince me to walk…

As we walked up the path, we stopped to take photos along the way. There were a ton of people on one side, so I mentioned we should go walk on the other side where it was pretty empty. We continued to walk until we were close enough for another photo opp. 

There was a guy standing by himself and as I went to speak my broken French to ask for a photo, he spoke English! Daniel gave him his camera and we posed for a couple pictures. 

This lovely stranger then asked Daniel if the shot was composed how he wanted…WHO does that?! This was a random guy.

Daniel went and checked the shot. We took a few more photos and as I went to turn and continue walking, I hear Daniel say, “One more thing…” 

I turned back and he was on one knee

The next few moments were all a blur, but I said, “YES!” 

I was completely surprised and shocked at how calm he was ALL day with a ring in his pocket. A crowd from across the way clapped and I think that’s when I was brought back to reality. This was all REAL! 

After the proposal, there was no way I could read about Mont Saint-Michel! We wandered aimlessly for a few minutes before deciding we couldn’t concentrate on history right now. 

When we told the news to our B&B hosts, they kissed our cheeks and exclaimed, “Brava! Brava!” We had a wonderful seafood feast that night with champagne and wine, celebrating with other guests from Holland. 

We were on such a high the rest of the trip continuing the celebration with everyone we met. 🙂 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Dana Bakich (@danabakich) on Jun 1, 2019 at 9:28am PDT

LILLE

Accommodation: Hermitage Autograph Collection

We stayed in a beautiful historic hospice from the 16th century. With the original tiled floor, this place felt regal. We definitely got an upgrade to a stunning and HUGE suite with a king size bed and a pretty dope bathtub. After all our walking, that bathtub was heaven. 

Highlights:

  • Our hotel!
  • We had an amazing Italian meal at II Ristorante. Get the scallops and risotto and the lasagna. Bon Appetit! 
  • The Cathedral is stunning. We were fortunate to walk in when the organ was being played. 
  • Walk around Old Town (I ended up being stung by a huge bee TWICE, so we decided that was a sign to be lazy and enjoy our hotel) 

 

We dropped the car off here and took from trains the rest of the trip. 

Lille, France Lille, France

BELGIUM: GENT & BRUGGE

Accommodation: Ganda Room & Suites

We couldn’t have picked a better place to stay in Gent. You walk in and there’s a huge chandler hanging with a cute patio just ahead. Our room was massive with a private patio. Our favorite part of each day was coming back to the B&B, making an espresso and heading up to the terrace to plan our next day + Daniel flew his drone. 

Thank you Annik and Kristof for a wonderful stay! 

Gent and Brugge were two of our favorite cities on the trip! At this point, we got better at not rushing around. We explored at a more relaxed pace. 

Brugge is a quick train ride from Gent. Known as “Venice of the North” you should definitely make the trip. 

Brugge Highlights:

  • Just walking around the city – it’s so beautiful looking at the buildings 
  • Canal boat tour in Brugge
  • Eating Belgian waffles YUM!
  • Doing a beer tasting along the river

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Dana Bakich (@danabakich) on Jun 4, 2019 at 4:53am PDT


Gent Highlights:

  • Walking through the Bavo’s Cathedral + listening to the audio guide of the famous Mystic Lamb painting
  • Climbing the Belfry
  • Touring Castle of Counts – BEST audio tour! Super funny and great sound effects
  • Walking along the river and through market square
  • Fry Willys – BEST fish and chips

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Dana Bakich (@danabakich) on Jun 6, 2019 at 1:24am PDT

AMSTERDAM

This city is beauuuutiful! I love turning every corner (looking for bikes) and finding another canal to explore. 

Accommodation: 

We rented an apartment recommended by a friend – super cute spot with plenty of room and a little garden backyard. Great location!

Highlights:

  • The Heineken Experience – I’m not the biggest Heineken fan, but the museum is really well done and interactive. We also purchased the canal boat tour in our package with a drop off at A’dam lookout. SO worth it. 
  • Anne Frank House – I remember reading her book in Middle School and was always fascinated by her. It’s a somber experience walking through the exact rooms where her family lived in hiding for nearly two years. The actual bookcase is still there…The Holocaust is something so difficult to comprehend. Her diary and story is something we must never forget.
  • FreeDam Tours – I’ve never done a free walking tour before, now I’m HOOKED! We met up with two friends and went on the tour together. It was super informative about the history of the city – the prostitution and drugs. Did you know marijuana isn’t actually legal there!? Definitely book a free tour and tip your guide. 🙂
  • Dutch waffles…I’m addicted. 
  • BEST gyro I’ve ever had: Mitsos Greek Traiterie

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Dana Bakich (@danabakich) on Jun 7, 2019 at 2:22pm PDT

GERMANY: COLOGNE/KOLN

When we exited Centraal Station, the massive cathedral is RIGHT there. There’s a lot of crowds in the afternoon, so highly recommend coming back in the morning around 9 am. 

The city of Cologne doesn’t have the charm of Belgium or Paris. We honestly we’re kind of meh about the town…until our walking tour. See below!

Accommodation: Pullman Cologne

This was the first “big hotel” we stayed in. When we told them about our engagement, they upgraded us to a room on the 9th floor with an unreal view of the cathedral + a walk around balcony. They also have a gym with a sauna and steam room to enjoy after a long day of walking. 

Highlights:

  • Cologne Cathedral – Get their early and spend the 4 euros to walk the 533 steps to the top! Incredible views. The gothic style church is nearly black outside, but in certain areas, you see restoration is taking place exposing a beautiful white/cream stone. 90% of Cologne was destroyed by the Allies bomb raids, but the cathedral was unharmed because it provided the airmen with a visual target for the rest of the city.
  • CYHI (Can You Handle It) Walking Tours – Another incredible FREE walking tour with Anshita as our guide. Cologne has 2000 years of history starting back when the Romans ruled. This three-hour tour completely opened our eyes to the creativity, power, and devastation Cologne has endured. 
  • Concentration Camp – During our walking tour, Anshita pointed out the base for the Gestapo and a small concentration camp. Literally right around the corner from our hotel. Now a museum, all the prison cells still stand underground with the writing of poems, anguish, and letters from the prisoners. 
  • Biergarten – Definitely grab yourself a local beer, Kolsch and brats. SO SO good.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Dana Bakich (@danabakich) on Jun 10, 2019 at 7:33am PDT

Within just 30 years of WWII, Cologne was rebuilt. We spent our last day walking to the Aachener Weiher Park. There’s a Biergarten to grab food and Kolsch to enjoy! 

The park is also fascinating. You’ll notice there’s hills in the park when the rest of the city is flat. After WWII, they needed somewhere to put all the destruction…it’s all there with a park built on top of it. Crazy.

From Cologne, we took a train back to Paris and stayed at a hotel close to the airport for our early morning flight!

Now it’s time to plan a destination wedding… 🙂 

© 2018 showit template BY WITH GRACE AND GOLD. photos by shelby rae photographs.