Geneva Switzerland, Paris France, London England
submitted by - Lee General Manager Bursch Travel
AIR: A two hour layover in Amsterdam is not too long at all. We had to go through the passport checkpoint and it was a long process. I would never book a one hour connection in Amsterdam.
HOTEL: We spent our first nights in Geneva at the Hotel Tor which was in a great location and had a quad room, which is hard to find. The hotel is small and seems more like an apartment building, but they bring breakfast to your room in the morning and are very nice. The hotel is not even close to sound proof, but we knew that from the reviews and were prepared.
TOURS: We walked around the city on our own and enjoyed it, but we hired AutoVentures to take us out into the countryside so we could see more of Switzerland. They brought us around Lake Geneva on a private tour that lasted 8 hours. It was one of the highlights of our trip! It is an upscale product for independent chauffeur driven tours. They can also find unique cooking classes etc. They work very closely with travel agents.
Hint: We ate at the somewhat touristy, somewhat tacky Edelweiss Restaurant so that we could enjoy a neat fondue dinner. (Skip dipping the bread and order the little potatoes instead!) As it turned out, it was one of the most enjoyable meals we had. They hire musicians for the evening and they play every instrument you can imagine. They even let the guests play the Alpine Horn if they want to try! Of course they yodel for the crowd too! The restaurant opens at 7:00PM and you must make reservations. The Hotel Edelweiss is next door. It has a Swiss alpine look and seems nice.
TRAIN: We took the train from Geneva to Paris. The Rail Europe pamphlet said to arrive at the station 30 minutes ahead of departure, but that would have been a big mistake. I'd say 60 minutes so that people can find their way around and get through passport checks.
HOTEL: We stayed at the Best Western Hotel Victor Hugo and it was great. We could walk easily to the Arc, the Champs Elysee and the Eiffel Tower. We found great places to eat near the hotel, a grocery store up the block and a great bakery around the corner. They served a nice breakfast each morning, which is included in some packages which is a good value. If breakfast is not included, it is expensive for what you get. If you don't know this already, the Best Westerns in Europe are much better than the ones we have in the US.
TOURS: We did some walking around on our own, but we also hired a guide for a day to take us to the difficult to reach sites. She also took us to the Louvre to see all of the highlights in a record amount of time because she knows how to "workâ€ the museum. She charges about 50.00 Euro per hour and is worth every penny when you split it up amongst a small group. She grew up in Texas and married a guy from Paris and has been guiding English speaking guests for many years. The last time I was in Paris we got robbed on the subway, so I liked having a guide with us on the trains, especially with 4 ladies who clearly looked like tourists!
We also took a bike tour to Versailles and it was also a highlight of the trip. We met at their office and then put our bikes on the train to Versailles. We biked to a local market to get a picnic lunch and then biked into the grounds of Versailles. After lunch and a bike ride around the gardens, we got plenty of free time to explore the palace on our own. The guides are super fun and it is a great way to see a city or tourist attraction. They have tours in several European cities.
We visited the Eiffel Tower and saved hours of waiting in line. Bursch Travel can help you with these details. Also one highlight is to be at the top for the sunset. We have several tips on how to plan for that. Just give us a call.
The tower itself twinkles at the top of each hour starting at 9:00 PM for 5 minutes, and it is more fun to this from the ground than being in the tower.
EUROSTAR: We took the Eurostar (or Chunnel) from Paris to London. It is a lovely 2 hour trip. We sat in first class. We happened to be the only ones in our train car and it was a blast. We ate and drank like Queens in First class! (then I needed a nap after we arrived! ïŠ) If people can afford it, they should do it! Again, arrive at the train station an hour before.
HOTEL: We were very fortunate to stay at a friends flat while she was on vacation, but the Hotel Phoenix, which is a Best Western, is right around the corner from her and is a great place that we have used before. I also picked up a tour at the Bayswater Inn and that looked like a nice place to stay too.
TOURS: We did the Original Double Decker bus hop-on hop- off tour and that was fine, but it can get tricky picking up busses when you hop off. We also took a full day tour to Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon and the Warwick Castle. It was a great day!
Hints: The city is preparing for the Olympics, so expect train stations to be shut down, roads to be closed and other things that could disrupt travelers for awhile.