Two Weeks in Europe – Our Itinerary Week 1
It’s true that the only thing getting me though this cold, dark month is planning our upcoming vacation. We have just two short months until the big trip, so we’ve made a lot of progress on the itinerary. Before, we only knew a rough outline of where we wanted to go, but as we get closer and closer to the trip, things are starting to fill in! Everyone we speak with has such different ‘musts’ for us, but we’ve taken the plunge on some things just for the sake of needing to make a decision and I’m here to share our up-to-date itinerary with you! There were tons of people who commented on the last post who were preparing for similar trips this year, so I’m going to go into some detail as to where we’re staying, what we’re doing, and how much we’re spending. Since there is a lot of info, I’m breaking it into two posts, week one and week two!
Flights – First things first, we booked our flights (economy plus!) with Membership Rewards. We got an Amex the month we got married and have used it for all of our monthly expenses ever since with the knowledge that we’d use those points for our 5 year anniversary. We are flying into Paris on a Friday and out of Rome on a Sunday, two weeks (and two days) later.
Hotel: Finding a hotel in Paris was the biggest source of anxiety for me. I wanted to book the three nights in Paris with Chase points, so I was restricted to what was available to purchase with points. The hotels that were well priced were far out of town and the ones that were in the nice arrondissements are either crazy expensive or shabby. In the end, we chose a boutique hotel called Hotel de Neuve that had some iffy reviews on Trip Advisor, but was in the Marias, and most of the reviewers raved about the location. We used points, but it goes for about €143 per night which is a fairly good deal for the neighborhood.
Extras: We booked a bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours while in the city which I am SO excited about. I know it’s quite touristy, but we’ve done them in Germany and Amsterdam and really loved that it was a great way to get acquainted with the city early on, and use the knowledge learned during the tour during the rest of the visit. The tour is €32 per person.
In addition to the bike tour, since we’ll be in Paris over the weekend, I am dying to go to the flea market. Doesn’t that seem like a dream? Aside from the bike tour and the flea market, we’ll plan on just walking around and exploring. Any must-sees?
Restaurants: I have a little list going of a few places (including this one & this one) I’d like to check out, but I plan on using Le Fourchette to enable us to find restaurants throughout Paris – and our whole trip – which are highly rated and within budget. If you have a restaurant you think we must try, let me know!
After three days in Paris, we’ll swing by the airport and pick up a car to drive to Rome, with a few stops, of course. This is our biggest expense, coming in at $1400 since we are returning it in a different country from which we pick it up. After lots of research on the trains however, we determined that the cost difference would be negligible and having the ability to go anywhere at anytime the wind takes us is very appealing. After grabbing the car, we’ll drive 3 hours to Beaune, in the Burgundy region of France. We chose Beaune because of it’s caves which sounded like an adventure!
Hotel: For all of the smaller towns, I really enjoyed exploring boutique hotels with tons of character with Booking.com. In Beaune, we’ve booked two nights at Abbaye de Maizieres which used to be a Monastery, and has wine caves and a highly rated restaurant. I love the look of the stone caves in the basement, and at about €150 per night (including breakfast, or should I say le petit déjeuner), it seemed like a decent deal for a town known for tourist traps!
Extras: We’re planning to hit the wineries in Beaune, I mean, what else would we do there?! Have any of you been to wineries in that region and have any recommendations?
I read about how Gruyeres is one of the most picturesque towns in Europe, and it happens to be on the way to Lauterbrunnen from Beaune, so we can’t not stop. Cheese is my favorite food (yes, all the cheese) so it’s only natural that I’d want to visit. It will be a 3 hour trip from Beaune to Gruyeres, and since this will probably be a lunch stop on our way onward to Lauterbrunnen, we’ll then have an hour longer from Gruyeres to Lauterbrunnen.
Lauterbrunnen is a quaint alpine village which is most well known for it’s massive waterfalls that you can see throughout the small town. This was top of the list for Matt, which makes total since. Matt is outdoorsy and adventurous. He loves skiing, hiking, and pretty much any activity that can be done on the side of a mountain.
Hotel: From what I’ve read, it’s a waste to stay in Lauterbrunnen if you don’t have a view of the Staubbach falls. We booked two nights at Hotel Staubbach and at $175/night locked up a waterfall-view room with a balcony.
Extras: We’ve heard that paragliding is big here, but that seems totally scary. We might just stay feet to the ground and hike throughout any of the acclaimed trails and explore the car-less town of Murren. I’ve also heard wonderful things about the cable car up to Schithorn. Of course, I’ll also try to secure myself some Fondue.
All of that is just week one! We’ll be in Paris for three nights, Beaune for two nights, and Lauterbrunnen for two nights before heading on to week two – Italy!
p.s. Also, thank you all SO much for all of your recommendations on language learning for the trip! I’ve decided to learn just a tad French for politeness’ sake, but to really focus on Italian in depth. I’ve been using Duolingo and My Daily Phrase Italian Podcast. So far, so good… or should I say bene!
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