Buses and Trains: This Four-Country Euro Trip Can Be the Itinerary For Your Next Family Vacation - Travel

The trip brought them from Römerberg to Disneyland to Chateau De Versailles.

Planning a family vacation is always a challenge considering everybody’s conflicting schedules.

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An opportunity presented itself when the dates of my sisters’ summer break were released. A family of three industrious entrepreneurs, two college students, and an eighth-grader could now come together for an incredible European adventure.

The Main is the longest river entirely in Germany

After a layover in Singapore, we were in the sky for thirteen hours. The flight, thankfully, was so smooth and comfortable that I slept through half of it. Our plane landed in Frankfurt, Germany around 9:12pm.

Into Germany and the Netherlands

After a well-rested evening, we strolled through the Römerberg, the most iconic square in Frankfurt. Trade fairs and markets are popular in this area, especially during the Christmas season. It was an eventful afternoon as we also witnessed a wedding.

We passed by a statue and some local coffee shops as our tour guide mentioned surprising facts. The historic buildings we saw, for example, were reconstructed because the government realized there were not many tourist spots in Frankfurt.

Amsterdam has more than 100km of canals, 90 islands and 1,500 bridges

We rode a river cruise on the Main River through the Primus Line, and reached the top of the Main Tower. Afterward, we also went to a weekend market where we delighted ourselves with carrot cake and the city’s famous apple wine.

For those who want to have a little trip away from the city, the old towns of Sachsenhausen-Nord take around thirty minutes to drive. We commenced our two-hour train ride to Amsterdam the next day after an amazing time in Germany.

The moment we hopped on the train, we could already sense the party vibe since a big group of people that seemed to be in their early 20s kept singing random songs loudly and would not sit still.

The Brussels Town Hall is located on the famed Grand Place, a central square in the middle of Brussels. It is the last remaining medieval building in the area

We could hear beer bottles getting cracked open followed by clanking sounds. “Cheers!” they exclaimed. Amsterdam is known worldwide for its nightlife and it was exciting to get a kick of it even before arriving at our destination.

We allotted a day to explore by riding a Lover’s Canal Cruise and strolling the city by foot. We paid extra careful since residents in the city prefer to commute by bicycle.

Once we got our canal fix, the next few days were dedicated to immersing ourselves in the Dutch culture by visiting Holland’s countryside. We took a road trip to the Volendam Windmills where they demonstrated the production of peanut oil, and moved along to the fish market, cheese factory, and clog shoemaking factory.

A must for every cheese lover, the Cheese Factory at Volendam will make every available wheel

If you ever get tired of Amsterdam’s canals and you’re more inclined to traditional urban life, Rotterdam is the place to be.

The Euromast Tower offers a fine dining restaurant and panoramic views of downtown Rotterdam. Luckily, a rock band was performing when we got to the topmost floor, and it was one of the most exhilarating sights we’ve ever seen.

All that walking could make anybody hungry, so we happily ate the best Dutch apple pies in the Delft while listening to a band playing in the center of the town square. The train journey from Amsterdam to Brussels was two and a half hours

The first guild of clog makers dates back to 1570. These wooden shoes were worn by farmers, fishermen, factory workers and artisans to protect their feet

Belgium, beyond chocolates

As soon as we got our belongings settled in our hotel, we dashed out again to try what Belgium was best known for: waffles and chocolates. My taste buds were on cloud nine and I couldn’t believe that we were actually here, trying out authentic Belgian waffles!

Hotels in city centers always have a huge advantage due to their proximity to shops, restaurants, and commute areas. My sisters and I were discussing amongst ourselves which waffle store to try because we wanted to try a top-rated one, and we ended up in Vitalgaufre.

For a comprehensive tour of Brussels and its neighboring cities, we rode a premium bus service that had stops in the Brussels Grasmarkt, Atomium, and the Godiva Factory. There are only two Godiva factories in the world and the other is in the USA.

What is believed to be the last remaining Blood of Jesus is kept in the Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges. A strict policy of silence and no photography is implemented here to honor the sanctity of the relic. There was one man who wouldn’t stop taking photos, and he thought he could get away with it but fellow tourists were already reprimanding him and demanded that he respect the rules of the Church.

Thankfully the situation didn’t escalate any further, and we were able to immediately catch a glimpse of the cloth where the blood of Jesus was found. It felt so surreal and almost like my faith was renewed.

If you want to purchase the finest Belgian chocolates, simply look for a store called The Chocolate Line. Our mom gave us $50 each for souvenirs to bring home to our friends, but white chocolates are my ultimate favorite so I spent $25 for myself and only the other half was for my friends. We ended the day with a refreshing chocolate beer.

Moulin Rouge is known as the birthplace of the modern form of the Paris Olympia

We were scheduled for a “Battle of the Bulge” tour at Bastogne the following day and we were immediately greeted by rainy weather.

Our first stop was an American Soldiers’ Memorial and the downpour added a bit of dramatic flair as we held up our umbrellas and looking out to the graves

of the fallen soldiers. We were given an audio set that narrated various events that happened in World War II as we moved to different sections of the museum.

Four fictional characters expressed the war through their eyes. One was a young Belgian schoolboy, another was a twenty-five-year-old Belgian teacher, and the other two were German and American soldiers in their early twenties. We studied battle tanks, detonated grenades (no longer active), worn-out uniforms, and romantic handwritten letters to the soldiers’ wives and family members.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Notre-Dame de Paris caught fire on April 2019. In July 2019, the French Parliament passed a law requiring it be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire

The most heartbreaking part of the tour for me was when we visited the German soldiers’ memorial. Majority of the crosses had the names of the soldiers engraved, however, there were some that said “Only known to God” in German. This meant that they were identified through their uniforms but not enough for name recognition. Needless to say, this has impacted me more than any history classroom lecture.

To lighten the mood, our tour guide brought us to Durbuy, and it claims to be the smallest town in the world. My family and I ate tasty chicken kebabs and posed for some pictures quickly since we only had twenty more minutes to spare.

Vive la France

Before we knew it, we were already in the last country of our Eurotrip which was France. Laying my eyes on the Eiffel Tower for the first time was dreamlike and I couldn’t believe this glorious work of iron was right in front of me.

The design of the Eiffel Tower was originally criticized by French artists and intellectuals but has since become a global icon

An estimated seven million tourists come to see the tower each year, and I can see why. We spent the rest of the day people watching in a nearby coffee shop and blissfully observed as life passed us by.

The next morning, we were already on the road at half-past six and embarked on our four-hour road trip to Étretat, a town on the north coast of France. Rock formations abound the area and seagulls merrily chirped by the bay.

We strolled through the town, bought some souvenirs, and ate scrumptious crepes for a snack. Us four children wanted a little more adventure and action so we reserved a day for Disneyland’s theme parks.

We arrived a few minutes past 10 to maximize our time with the two parks: Disneyland and Disney Studios. Hyperspace Mountain was personally the best ride we enjoyed. Our parents only rode low-intensity rides such as the carousel and the ones with broadway performances.

Our final stops in France were the Museu De Louvre and Chateau De Versailles. We weren’t able to go inside the Museu De Louvre anymore because of the long lines and we still had other plans afterward considering had limited time. We snapped some photos, and off we went.

As I scrutinized the map of the Chateau De Versailles, I got a grasp on how massive the palace was. There were even rentable golf carts for effortless navigation. We didn’t intend to go further, and some parts of the palace were under construction during our visit. Thankfully, we concluded our brief rendezvous with our photographer right before it started to drizzle.

Located at the north coast of France, the town of Étretat is known for its stunning rock formations

“Not so bad,” we thought. Majority of the best parts of our Europe trip had fair weather. On the way to the airport, our family was already conversing about other European cities we aim to visit.

This story originally came out in the October 2019 issue of Lifestyle Asia.


Banner Photo: The restaurant at La Monnaie De Munt, the opera house in Brussels where the National Opera of Brussels is housed

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