Road Tripping Northwest Europe: Planes, Trains, Buses, Cars, Boats, and Bikes

I love road trips. Taking one in Europe sure gives you one pleased-as-punch gal!

We decided to stop in NYC on the way to and from Europe for 3 reasons:

  1. Break up the long flights
  2. Help curb jet lag (it worked!)
  3. Why not?!
I will admit that the reason this plan worked so well for us is because our airport hotel allowed us to check is super early (8am!) and super late (3pm!). If we hadn’t been able to sleep off our plane rides then it would have been a LOT more difficult.
Once in Paris, we stayed put for 5 full days. Then we picked up a car (HEAVEN after all the public transit!) and spent a week and a half driving through parts of 5 countries (France, Luxembourg, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium). We spent 2 days in each, soaking up as much as we possibly could within our timeline.

Here is a snapshot of our route, not taking into account any side trips.

When posting about all the doings we did and the sights we saw, it’s easy to think that we overbooked and overextended ourselves. However, it really didn’t feel that way. Each day we would sleep in and eat breakfast at a leisurely pace before driving an hour or two to our first destination. We’d eat and explore before driving another hour or two to the next destination where we’d eat and explore again before settling in for the night.

We love seeing the lazy landscapes and the little towns. We love the freedom only driving can bring.

Here is a collection of our “traveling” pictures.

Planes

We look so happy to catch our flight!

2 hours later…

There was a 2 hour flight delay so we didn’t take off until almost 2am.

Of course once on board the kids were too hyped to go to sleep for quite a while.

That’s why we looked like this when we landed.

Our flight home also had a 2 hour delay, this time it began after we had already boarded. Argh! Oh, and there were multiple crying babies surrounding us so we got to relax real nice-like the whole way home.

Trains

Our kids decided they are not fans of subways. Usually I don’t mind too much but for whatever reasons, this time around I wasn’t feeling it either.

Buses

We opted for the bus most of the time in Paris and it was a great, convenient way to get around. Plus, you get to site-see on your way.

Cars

There is a story about picking up our rental car:

Per Rob: “We booked through Dollar and it turned out that the rental was serviced through Hertz. Nate, Madeleine, and I took an Uber to the address listed but it was not the correct address. We had to go into the train station and walk a long way to the counter only to find it closed. I called the number and was directed to walk across the street and go two floors below ground in a parking garage to find the counter. On the way into the garage, a parking gate came down on me, smacking the top of my head. Luckily it wasn’t a heavy gate and the kids sure had a good laugh.

After that, I found out that I needed my passport to get the car. It was located back at the hotel with Julie and Cara. I booked an Uber to bring them, the luggage, and the passports to the car rental location. After a dreadfully long processing time we finally drove away in our car… two hours later than planned.”

We thought the Autobahn was cool, especially the acceleration part! 175 kph = 105 mph.

But our hearts are with the country roads of Luxembourg. The winding, forested, meadowy, empty back roads where you are free to drive like you mean it.

Driving in the little towns was interesting. Those older European women have a stellar finger wag! I suppose they have much practice with tourists driving down the wrong way all the time…

Circling and circling, sometimes it took forever to drive 1 mile. The roads are tight and it’s not easy to get anywhere.

And parking! Never free. Always tight.

Boats

We went on a couple of boats. The first was our Seine river cruise. I like doing this at night so you can see the architecture all lit up. Plus, what a killer view of Ms. Eiffel!

Our next boat we captained ourselves. This was a fantastic way to see the canals of Utrecht. The kids loved piloting the s-l-o-w boat themselves while Rob and I relaxed. Toward the end we got caught in a storm at sea. The waves weren’t quite billowing but we all got drenched. Add that to the memorable list!

Caroline worked very well as an anchor… Just kidding, we tied her up because she wasn’t following orders…Actually, she was dishonoring the pirate’s code. No, that wasn’t it. Why was she tied up??

Our next boat ride was to Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

Bikes

Utrecht could be renamed Planet of the Bikes. They surrounded us at all times and they were like swarms of flies coming straight at us. Pedestrians definitely don’t have the right of way there.

The next day we rented bikes and rode to the windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands. It was a seriously fun way to spend time touring. The thunderheads were threatening and we weren’t keen on riding a couple of miles back in another storm so we headed back early (and it never did rain).

Transport stats:

  • 20 = Train and bus rides Taken
  • 22 = Parking Meters Paid
  • 150 = Roundabouts Driven Through

So over the river and through the woods we finally made it back home!!

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