Eurotrip: Part 1 (Reims, Trier and Dinant)

Days 1 and 2: Flying in, Reims, Trier, and Dinant

The past couple of weeks I’ve been on blog-silence due to vacation! What a wonderful reason not to post–as opposed to laziness or worse–writer’s block! I took a vacation with Doug, my sister, Stephanie, and my parents!

Usually I’m great at sleeping on the plane. In the past I’ve taken a hefty snooze, and woken up in time to put on makeup and look stunning (okay, that might be an overstatement) when I step off the flight. I don’t know why, but this time I was unable to sleep so I was a bit cranky the first day or two of the trip. Sorry, family! My parents rented a car and after we got 5 suitcases and 5 people (!) to fit in a car about the same size as our Pontiac Vibe we hit the open road and headed towards Trier, Germany by way of Reims, France.

Reims would be the perfect French city to move to, IMO. I was met with a good mix of old and modern, the buildings were slightly more colorful than those in Paris, and many people spoke English but not too many–I wouldn’t be tempted to use it as a crutch the way it’s so easy to do in Paris, where the locals like to condescendingly answer my questions (posed in French) with an English reply. The size of the city was less intimidating, too.

The gorgeous cathedral where French kings were crowned.

My family tried their best to look like tourists. ;)

After a quick meal we hopped back in the car and made it to Germany in no time. Well, it felt like no time to me–I snoozed in the back seat with Stephanie and Doug. I am such an indecisive person. At first I wanted to be a renter my whole life and have people repair home problems for me, then I wanted to have a huge house with a huge fantasy-land backyard, and now I want to like in a cute row house like this one we saw in Germany:

How can you blame me, right?

Well, turns out our hotel wasn’t in Trier, but across the river in Trier-Zewen which was much smaller and MUCH less English-speaking. Or French-speaking for that matter. Ordering dinner was an adventure. Three of us played it safe and ordered “chicken.” We were surprised with an intact deep-fried half-chicken. Yowza. Doug and Stephanie ordered schnitzel, which contrary to my Sound of Music loving mind was not a pastry, or to those who dine at Weinerschnitzel, was not a hotdog. It was a huge breaded pork chop topped with red bell peppers (in Doug’s case) and mushrooms (in Stephanie’s case). The schnitzel was better than the chicken, in my opinion, but I’m not a pork fan so I don’t know if I could have eaten it all.

Our room was small but comfortable.

Trier itself claims the title of the oldest city in Germany and was very nice. It boasted an impressive cathedral (complete with ringing church bells, like you’d see in a movie) in a very different style than the one we’d seen the previous day:

And had some cute mideval-style architecture. When we got there the town was just waking up–most stores weren’t open and it was very quiet and sleepy.

After a bit of exploring in the drizzle, it began to pour so we high-tailed it back to the car and headed for Belgium. Since our time in Trier had been cut short by the downpour, we took a meandering path off our planned route to explore some smaller towns nestled up in the mountains of southern Belgium. We happed upon Dinant–which was so picturesque, built on the two banks of a river. In the past, it had been home to a castle but the castle had been burned down hundreds of years ago.

The foundations of the castle had become a fortress, and we took a sky tram up to the fortress where we were met with a mediocre collection of cannons and war memorabilia. They did have a cool old plane though, and the view from the top was killer–made the whole excursion worth it:

After a brief lunch we piled back into the car to make it to Bruges by the evening.

My next Eurotrip post will cover Bruges and Brussels, and my third will cover Paris! I’d like to do an overall wrap up of my impressions after that, so if you have any questions please feel free to ask! 


Planning: Eurotrip

I am so excited to begin planning a trip overseas. I have been dying to travel extensively ever since I got back from my Morocco, Rome, and Paris trip in 2009 (the whole reason I started this blog). A number of months ago, my mom mentioned that she and my dad were planning a trip to Europe for their 30th anniversary and asked for my two-cents on locations to visit. We batted around ideas like Prague, Northern Italy, Germany and France, among others, and then didn’t talk about it for a while. My mom and dad settled on taking a two-week road trip in Paris, Belgium, and England and invited us to join them for at least part of the trip. Naturally we were delighted at the prospect and immediately began saving a few hundred dollars a month (not easy, especially since we’re still making car payments!). We are going this summer so we still have several months to continue saving.

So far, we have a general itenerary for the trip, and here it is:

Day 1: Arrive in Paris (hopefully get an arrival flight at the same time as my parents) and get in a rental car to drive to Trier, Germany. Along the way, stop and see a few sights in Reims and Luxembourg. Stay the night in Trier, the oldest city in Germany, founded in 16 BC!!

Image from Luxemblog. Click to view site.

Day 2: See a German castle, drive towards Belgium, spend part of the day in Brussels. Check in to Vacation home in Bruges. Stay night in Bruges.

Day 3: Sightsee in Bruges, including canal tour, among other things. Stay night in Bruges.

Image from Wikipedia.

Day 4: Spend the day relaxing on the beach on Oostende. Every vacation needs at least one relaxing day on the beach, weather permitting. Stay night in Bruges.

Day 5: Part ways with my parents (they will be taking a ferry across to England and staying there a few days). Take a train from Bruges or Dunkirk back to Paris. This day should be a Monday: get to Paris in time to visit Les Puces (Paris’s famous flea market!)  Stay the night in Paris.

Day 6: Sightsee in Paris, climb the Eiffel tower, shopping, etc.

Day 7: More Paris. There is no such thing as too many days in Paris.

Day 8: Get to the airport on time to sadly bring our Eurotrip to a close.

Originally we had decided to go to Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam, but in a moment of clarity decided that just because I’ve been to Paris was an unfair reason to rule it out, especially since that’s where we really wanted to go. This will have been my third time in Paris–I can’t believe what a lucky girl I am. I am determined to see/do/eat new things for me, while at the same time show Doug all the best Paris has to offer–playing tour guide is going to be so exciting!