Happy Tuesday, friends! I am SO excited to finally begin sharing our Europe trip with you!
Like I said in this post, we’re back from our recent 2-week adventure in Europe. I went with my husband, a friend of ours from college, and my sister-in-law!
Let me just start by saying this: one of my favorite things about travel (and other big events) is the actual planning! 🙂 I spent much of June finalizing details for our 2 week trip. Much had to be finalized: passports, plane tickets, finding and communicating with Airbnb hosts, tickets for tourist attractions pre-purchased, packing (we each brought only 2 bags)…the list goes on! 🙂 I had to-do lists galore around our house, and July 5th was the deadline!
I always love reading others’ itineraries and seeing how they decided to lay out their trip. So, I wanted to start off these Europe-related posts by sharing an outline of our itinerary!
Why have an itinerary?
1 // It guides your trip. I do have fond memories of trips taken where we or my family were more spontaneous, and that can be a really neat way to experience local culture, too. However, with something as significant-feeling as Europe, having a set plan of what we wanted to do each day kept us moving forward and pacing our trip wisely.
2 // It allows you to see everything on your list! Traveling internationally can be overwhelming at times, especially when the culture speaks a different language than you do. It’s no fun making your way through a semi-stressful situation (say, catching a subway train and realizing you’re on the wrong train!) and forgetting to hit up a certain site on your list in the process! Itineraries can act as a kind of to-do list that reminds you what you meant to visit each day.
3 // It keeps things efficient, travel-wise and money-wise. It’s kind of like writing your grocery list in order of the store (like I talked about in this post, haha). When you are able to plan ahead, you can take into account the geography of the area and prevent yourself from running back and forth to cover everything. I spent a lot of time with London and Paris city maps spread out on the table – I circled all of our sites on the map and tried to group sites together that were in the same general part of the city. That way, we wouldn’t be rushing from the way east side of London in the morning to the way west side for something, and back and forth all day. It saves train costs and time to group things together in advance!
4 // You know what to expect. That’s just because I am one of those people who likes to know what’s coming up. 🙂
** I should note here that things happen and itineraries must change sometimes…that certainly happened to us along the way a couple times. But — I still feel that having an itinerary was invaluable for us in Europe!
The focus of our Europe trip
My husband had been looking forward to this trip for YEARS! 🙂 And his roommate Steve, too (who was one of the best men at our wedding). I think Bjorn had been talking about this trip before he and I were ever even dating! 2016 is a special time of remembrance for certain World War I events in Europe, and my husband (being a history teacher) knew he wanted to be in Europe in 2016 to visit certain battlefields, museums, and monuments.
So, as you’ll soon see in our itinerary, the focus of this trip was experiencing the WWI history sites. We definitely infused a lot of other fun excursions into our 2 weeks in Europe, but know that our itinerary had that historical emphasis. (And truly, I’m so glad it did! Being married to Bjorn has helped my understanding of history and a wider appreciation for perspectives in our world.)
Our 2-Week Europe Itinerary Through England, France, & Belgium
(I had a much “prettier” looking itinerary than the below list, haha! But the list I’m sharing below is a bit altered from our original itinerary, to reflect what we actually did and saw!)
Tuesday, July 5 at 7 pm:
– Fly from Minneapolis St. Paul to London Heathrow (this ended up getting changed due to bad weather in Minnesota…so we got up at 3 am the next morning for a 5 am flight)
July 6 – Travel Day/London:
– (We got to our London Airbnb at midnight their time)
– Night #1 at London Airbnb
July 7 – London:
– British Museum
– Exploring along the Thames
– Night #2 at London Airbnb
July 8 – London:
– Tower of London
– Service at Westminster Abbey
– See a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater
– Night #3 at London Airbnb
July 9 – London:
– Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
– St. Paul’s Church
– Imperial War Museum
– Night #4 at London Airbnb
July 10 – London/Paris:
– National Gallery/Museum of Natural History
– Ride the Eurostar through the Chunnel to Paris
– See Arc de Triomphe
– Eiffel Tower (yeah, the Eiffel Tower was on the plan and we had our 10:30 pm tickets…about that..I’ll share a crazy story later!)
– Night #1 at Paris Airbnb
July 11 – Paris:
– Notre Dame
– French Army Museum (Musee de l’armee) and Napoleon’s Tomb
– Seine river cruise
– Night #2 at Paris Airbnb
July 12 – Versailles:
– Spend the day at Chateau de Versailles outside of Paris
– Pick up rental car at CDG Airport
– Drive to Verdun, France area
– Night at Verdun area Airbnb
July 13 – Verdun, France:
– Visit the Douaumont Ossuary and surrounding forts
– Drive to Belgium
– Night at Waterloo area Airbnb
July 14 – Waterloo, Belgium:
– Waterloo Museum, Lion’s Mound, and Hougoumont Farm
– Drive to Ypres, Belgium for museum/exploring
– Night at Ypres area Airbnb (which was technically in France)
July 15 – Ypres, Belgium:
– Hill 62 Museum
– Passchendaele 1917 Museum
– Tyne Cot Cemetery
– Langemark German Cemetery
– Vimy Ridge Canadian Monument
– German Pillbox on the Hindenburg Line
– Drive down to Albert, France
– Night #1 at Albert, France Airbnb
July 16 – Albert, France:
– Signe and I got to explore/shop around Albert while the guys went to The Somme Museum and monuments
– Night #2 at Albert, France Airbnb
July 17 – Compiegne, France:
– Drive down to Compiegne
– Chateau de Pierrefonds (castle)
– Chateau de Compiegne (palace)
– Armistice Memorial Museum/Glade of the Armistice in the Forest of Compiegne
– Homemade French supper with our Compiegne area Airbnb host
– Night #1 at Compiegne area Airbnb
July 18 – Compiegne, France:
– Signe and I spent the day exploring/shopping in Compiegne while the guys saw the Battle of Belleau Wood, American cemetery, and a German cemetery
– Night #2 at Compiegne area Airbnb
July 19 – Travel Day:
– Return rental car at CDG Airport and fly home from Paris to Minneapolis St. Paul, via a layover in Philadelphia
Well, there you go! 🙂 It’s fun even to think back on how packed our days were – we really soaked up everything we possibly could while we were there! I’ll be back with more specific posts about different parts of the trip. 🙂