UPDATE #5: The minimum number of people needed for this trip to be confirmed is 15 (see the “Flights, Days Off, & Airport Transfer” section of the trip posting for full details). We currently have 11 people signed up. Based on our past trips and the current rate of signups, we are not projected to reach that minimum. As such, and unfortunately, this trip has been canceled. Those that made deposit or payment for the trip can receive a full refund, or apply those payment(s) to our Island Hopping Getaway — 9 Incredible Days in Greece!! trip coming up in September. Please let me know what you wish to do by sending me a message through my Meetup profile (do NOT comment on the trip posting). My sincerest apologies for the inconvenience. I hope to see you at another upcoming event or trip soon again!
UPDATE #4: The $2195 price will increase to $2295 before Tues. Feb. 6th (see the “Price” section of the trip posting for full details). Follow the steps in the “Payment” section to secure your spot. I hope can join us for this amazing adventure!
UPDATE #3: The $2095 early-bird price has ended and the trip price is now $2195. I looking forward to seeing you on the trip!
UPDATE #2: There are fewer than 10 early bird spots left and the price will increase from $2095 to $2195 when the early bird spots are gone or BEFORE Mon. Dec. 11th (whichever comes first). To be fair to those who want to join in and are ready to make payment, I’ll be removing those that haven’t paid at least the deposit by Sun. Dec. 10th. Make at least the deposit payment to lock in your spot and the early bird price (see the “Payment” section of the trip posting for full details). If you’ve already made payment, the PayPal email you received is confirmation that we’ve received your payment (no need to email me asking for payment confirmation). This UPDATE has been emailed to the yes RSVPs. I hope you are able to join us!
UPDATE #1: I’ve announced the Europe pre-trip dinner. Click here. If you’ve already made payment or deposit for the Europe trip itself and can make the dinner, please go ahead and RSVP but do NOT make payment, as that’s included as part of joining the Europe trip itself (please do so by Wed. Nov. 15th). After that date, payment will be required for joining the dinner. If you’ve made payment for the Europe trip itself, and you’d like to RSVP for the dinner after that date, send me a message through my Meetup profile, and I’ll manually add you to the dinner event. I hope to see you there!
Old World charm abounds in Western Europe!
Scenic canals, world-renowned museums, grand medieval castles, beautiful gardens, picturesque cobbled lanes, soaring towers, impressive monuments, and the finest chocolates. Let’s visit the part of the world where interlocking countries create a jigsaw of history, art, architecture, cuisines, time-honored traditions, and inspired-new trends! This action-packed tour of Western Europe highlights is perfect for the adventurer with limited time who wants to explore the region’s diversity. We’ll get to see famous art masterpieces up close, cruise through scenic canals, learn how beer is brewed and bottled, enjoy a 360º panoramic view at the top of an iconic observation deck, ride Europe’s highest swing, taste divine chocolates, privately tour one of the largest castles in the world (and much more). Our Adventure Tour Leader will help us find the secluded spots only the locals know. Does this sound like a fun and relaxing vacation to you?
Six Reasons to Book This Trip:
- Affordable Adventure — Did you know that this trip INCLUDES a visit to the remarkable Van Gogh Museum, a visit to Heineken’s first brewery which includes 2 free beers, a picturesque Amsterdam canal boat ride, a visit to the top of the incredible A’dam Tower with outstanding 360º panoramic views, a ride on Europe’s highest hydraulic swing, a guided city tour of Bruges, a guided chocolate tour & tasting, a guided city tour of Paris, a private tour of the opulent Palace of Versailles, an Adventure Tour Leader for the full duration of our adventure, 8 hot breakfasts, transfers from and to the airport, all transfers between cities, 8 nights in a hotel, 3 events in DC (2 dinners and 1 Embassy visit), plus a Paris book discussion (book included) during the trip… all for less than $235 a day??
- Shared Photos — As with all of our events, we can all upload our pictures to this website to share the best of our photos and multiply the memories!
- Make New Friends — We are the ONLY Meetup group that offers us the opportunity to travel abroad with other globally-minded people from the DC area, PLUS arrange 3 more events for the group that take place in DC to make sure that we will make friends that we will continue to see in DC!
- Leadership — I (J.T., your organizer) will be there every step of the way, making sure that the trip goes as smoothly as possible.
- Book Discussion — We will each receive, read, and discuss sections of “The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City,” a tale of one man’s journey (a New York Times best-selling author) to Paris that will help paint a picture for us of the culture and beauty of Paris. Please note if new prints are unavailable, the best available condition used book will be obtained.
- Unforgettable Memories — Western Europe truly is a beautiful and adventurous place. Let’s experience it together and make some wonderful memories!
This 9-day exciting expedition through Western Europe is crammed with all the energy and activities deserving of our group. We’ll begin our journey in DC with a fabulous dinner at Blackfinn restaurant in DC. Then, before departing on our trip, we will have a private visit at the Embassy of Belgium featuring diplomats who will teach us about their country. Shortly after we return stateside, we’ll reunite at DC’s popular St. Arnold’s restaurant with an evening of tasty food and a recap of our travel experience for our reunion dinner!
To help us pass the time while traveling and to learn even more about this culture-rich society, we’ll read the book “The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City,” by David Lebovitz during our trip. At certain points during the trip, I (J.T., your Meetup organizer) will lead discussions of the book for anyone who wants to participate!
Please note this is a joint trip with the 30s & 40s Going Out Group, and the Global Travelers Going Out Group. Our traveling group will likely consist of members with an average age in their 30s.
Questions? If you have any questions not answered on this page, please post a comment in the comment box below, message me through my Meetup profile, or call / text me at 703.470.4848.
We’ve got an early bird special for this trip of $2095! The first 20 paid sign-ups, or those who pay before Sat. Dec. 11th (whichever comes first) get the early bird price! After that, the trip price will go to $2195, then $2295, then $2395. Our past trips have always sold out quickly! We have a LIMITED number of spots so make sure to RSVP early AND make payment to secure your spot and get the early bird price! To make payment, please follow the steps in the Payment section of the event posting.
I hope you can join us on this amazing adventure!
Sun. Dec. 3rd: Pre-Trip Dinner at Blackfinn
This delicious meal at Blackfinn restaurant (or similar) is open to other group members as a paid event, but is FREE for those attending the trip. It is wonderful way for all trip-goers to meet each other for the first time, and it’s a perfect time for those who haven’t yet signed up to ask any questions related to the trip. I will even refund the cost of the dinner to anyone who signs up and makes payment for the Europe trip AFTER our dinner!
(Embassy of Belgium)
Thurs. May 10th: Belgium Pre-Trip Embassy Visit
We will meet with Belgium diplomats and receive an official country briefing including the history, geography, culture and tourism of Belgium (pending embassy approval). This event is organized exclusively for trip-goers and will NOT be open to other members of our group.
Sat. June 16th: Day 1, Amsterdam
Arrive at any time in Amsterdam, then check in and enjoy the city. Amsterdam is one of the greatest small cities in the world. In 2012, Amsterdam was ranked the second best city to live in by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The name of the city dates from the 12th century, when a dam was built in the Amstel river. Today the water is still a defining element of Amsterdam. From 165 scenic canals (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) stretching 60 miles in length to world-famous museums and historical sights, it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. With more canals than Venice, Amsterdam also has 3 times the number of bridges (1281) than Venice. Matter of fact, the water in the canals is so clean that Artis Zoo gives its elephants pure drinking water straight from the Amsterdam canals. The city is built on 11 million wooden poles supporting it’s buildings. As one of the top 25 safest cities in the world, Amsterdam is also a city of tolerance and diversity. It has all the advantages of a big city: rich culture, lively nightlife, international restaurants, good transport – but is quiet, and largely thanks to its extensive canals, has little road traffic. In this city, a destination is never far away, so get a bike for an authentic local experience (63% of Amsterdammers cycle daily).
Amsterdam has the world’s highest museum density (over 70 museums attracting millions of visitors each year) and it home to cultural treasures like the Anne Frank House, the National Monument, Stedelijk Museum, and Rijksmuseum with its world-famous “The Night Watch’’ by Rembrandt the painter. Amsterdam coffeeshops are allowed to sell small amounts of cannabis and it’s strictly regulated and taxed. The pleasant Jordaan district boasts narrow streets, bustling cafés and stately merchant houses lining the famous canals. Go shopping in small boutiques and art galleries in de 9 straatjes (9 streets) or visit one of the large department stores for indoor shopping.
Overnight: Max Brown Museum Square Hotel or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 15 minutes. Approximate Distance: 9 miles
(Van Gogh Museum)
Sun. June 17th: Day 2, Amsterdam
We’ll meet with our Adventure Tour Leader and other group members at our welcome breakfast. After breakfast, we’ll enjoy a short ~5 minute walk to the Van Gogh Museum!
The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of art works by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh in the world, featuring masterpieces such as Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, Almond Blossom, and The Bedroom. The permanent collection includes more than 200 paintings by him, 500 drawings, and more than 750 letters. He was little appreciated in his lifetime, selling just one single work. Today, the Van Gogh Museum draws some 1.5 million visitors each year. We are free to spend as much of the morning here admiring the works of Mr. van Gogh.
In the afternoon, we’ll walk ~10 minutes from our hotel to the Heineken Experience. We’ll discover the dynamic world of Heineken, in the former Heineken brewery (built in 1867) where the beer was first brewed, and learn everything there is to know about the world-famous Dutch pilsner. We’ll experience for ourselves what it’s like to be brewed and bottled on the Brew U ride. We’ll also learn how to pour the perfect draft Heineken. The Heineken Experience includes an interactive self-guided walk through the factory, a Heineken tasting session (2 beers or soft drinks included), fun information about the company’s history and the Heineken logo, and much more!
(Canal Boat Cruise)
After the Heineken Experience, we’ll enjoy a ~45 minute canal boat cruise, with a guide who will share their extensive knowledge of the city. A day in Amsterdam isn’t complete without a cruise through the canals of Amsterdam. There’s no better way to get a grip on the architectural marvels of Amsterdam than by taking a canal tour; we’ll cruise past beautiful bridges and merchant houses. Besides providing a stunning backdrop to the city’s historical center, floating down Amsterdam’s canals is one of the most memorable ways to discover the city’s sights and attractions. Often called the “Venice of the North,” Amsterdam has over 60 miles of canals and over 1,500 bridges. Amsterdam’s 165 canals were created in the 17th century to improve the city’s transportation system and to stimulate trade relations. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site defines Amsterdam’s landscape. Taking a boat ride is one of the best ways to appreciate this urban canal ring and the city’s other waterways.
At the end of our canal ride, we’ll arrive at A’dam Lookout, an iconic observation deck located on the top of A’dam Tower. The tower is serviced by an elevator that covers 20 floors in 22 seconds. With an unrivaled 360º panoramic view of Amsterdam, we’ll see the city’s historical center, its pulsating port, the unique Dutch polder landscape and we’ll spot the famous canals. Complementing the experience is a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition about Amsterdam’s history and culture.
(Over the Edge Swing)
While at A’dam Lookout, we’ll get to ride the famous “Over-the-Edge” hydraulic swing, Europe’s highest swing. We’ll swing back and forth over the edge of the tower at a thrilling height of 330 feet above the ground. We’ll enjoy the unrivaled view over the capital city and it’s sensational vistas, while the adrenaline flows through our body!
After our time at A’dam Lookout, we are free to explore the downtown area, have dinner, experience Amsterdam’s nightlife, shops, and markets, before returning to our hotel on our own. Our hotel is just a couple of miles away from A’dam Lookout, a walk which can be broken up piecemeal by having dinner, exploring the downtown area, shopping, etc.
Overnight: Max Brown Museum Square Hotel or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 1 hour. Approximate Distance: 4 miles
Mon. June 18th: Day 3, Amsterdam / Bruges
Today is a free day for us to enjoy the city of Amsterdam. Optional activities in the city abound, from the historically significant Anne Frank House, to world-renowned museums, neighborhoods, and parks.
In the evening, we’ll enjoy a scenic journey to Bruges in our own private charter bus. Gorgeous Bruges is full of history and a tourist’s dream, a fact that garnered it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage City. What could be more inspiring than a place that looks like a backdrop for a fairy tale? Bruges is Belgium’s most perfectly preserved medieval town, and its jaw-dropping, beautiful architecture attracts more than 2 million visitors a year, and is Belgium’s most popular destination for tourists. Picturesque cobbled lanes and dreamy canals lead to photogenic market squares lined with soaring towers, historic churches, vivid time-tunnel art, and old whitewashed almshouses. And there’s plenty of it. We’ll fall immediately under its spell, charmed by the atmosphere of this most delightful town in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. Once the second largest city in Europe, after London, we’ll understand why this is a favorite destination for all types of travelers. Where else can we find a café or bar with a log fire, dip into the extraordinarily rich museums, ride a bike along a canal, munch mussels and wash them down with the world’s best beer, savor heavenly chocolate, and see Flemish Primitives and a Michelangelo, all within 300 yards of a bell tower that jingles every 15 minutes? The whole city emanates an appreciation of the past, a love of the present, and enthusiasm for the future.
Overnight: Floris Karos Hotel or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours. Approximate Distance: 170 miles
Tues. June 19th: Day 4, Bruges
In the morning, we’ll stroll ~15 minutes to the center of town to begin an informative and comprehensive 2 hour leisurely walking tour, where we’ll uncover the history and explore the sites of Belgium’s postcard perfect town up close. Our friendly and knowledgeable Bruges tour guide will give us insights into the people, places, and events of this medieval city. We’ll explore the historic center and let this fascinating city come to life through stories, descriptions, and urban legends. We’ll also see places where the film “In Bruges” was shot and we’ll receive loads of discounts and tips on the “must do’s” of today’s Bruges!
Sites we’ll get to see on our guided tour include De Halve Maan Brewery, the only family brewery in the center of Bruges that is still active (dating back 6 generations to 1856); Market Square (Markt), the scene of mediëval festivals, fairs, tournaments, uprisings, and executions; and Burg Square, the area of the former fortified castle in the center of Bruges, which includes what is perhaps the most beautiful building in Bruges, the Gothic Town Hall or Stadhuis, dating back to 1376. Other stops along our tour include Cloth Halls, Palace of Gruuthuse, Old St. John’s Hospital, Beguinage, Lake of Love, Stove Street, Church of Our Lady, Bonifacius Bridge, Groeninge Museum, Dijver Canal, Rozenhoedkaai, Fish Market, and more!
In the afternoon, we can pick optional activities according to our interests. There are many great possibilities, including climbing to the top of a remarkable tower, wandering through a lovely park, viewing famous works of art, or visiting a potato fry museum.
Overnight: Floris Karos Hotel or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 30 minutes. Approximate Distance: 1 mile
Wed. June 20th : Day 5, Bruges / Brussels
In the morning, we’ll board our private coach en route to Brussels, Belgium’s fascinating capital. Also the capital of the European Union, Brussels is historic while hip, bureaucratic while bizarre, self-confident while unshowy, and multicultural to its roots. Famous for its chocolates and beers, there are also almost 90 museums, beautiful parks, architecture, bars, and much more. The cityscape swings from majestic to quirky. Organic art nouveau facades, 1960s concrete developments, regal 19th-century mansions, and glass of the European Union’s Gotham City swirls out from Brussels’ medieval core. Reopened in 2006, the Atomium, Brussels’ Eiffel Tower, provides great views, inside and out. Architecture fans should visit Musee Horta, home of Belgian master architect Victor Horta. St. Gery’s clubs and bars are packed year-round. Seafood eateries abound in Ste. Catherine. One constant is the enviable quality of everyday life, with a café / bar scene that never gets old.
(Chocolate Tour & Tasting)
In the afternoon, we’ll set off on a guided chocolate tour where we’ll visit 6 of the most beautiful chocolate shops in Brussels! We’ll taste at least 9 sublime chocolates, from the traditional pralines and truffles, to the most avant-garde combinations. We’ll learn about the events that transformed Belgium into the mecca for chocolate lovers throughout the world. The tour is a gentle 2.5 hour stroll from Brussels’ medieval center to the poshest of neighborhoods, where we’ll pass along beautiful galleries, romantic city views, and impressive monuments. Not only will we taste the finest chocolate, every shop we visit is an attraction in itself. Our view of chocolate will dramatically change after this tour!
Overnight: Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 1.5 hours. Approximate Distance: 60 miles
(Delirium Cafe Option)
Thurs. June 21st: Day 6, Brussels
Today, let’s explore what Brussels has to offer. We can pick optional activities according to our interests. Possibilities are numerous and include visiting the magnificent Grand Place, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; savoring authentic Belgian waffles; admiring the largest collection of fine arts in the country at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium; being amazed at the beauty that is Gaasbeek Castle and it’s garden; marveling at the Manneken Pis, a statue of a small boy peeing into a water fountain, often dressed up in costume, and the best known symbol of the people of Brussels; viewing hall of fame comic book art, from Tin Tin to the Smurfs, at the Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art; enjoying a beer or 2 at Delirium Café, a bar with the largest selection of beer in the world (as recognized by Guinness Book of Records) with over 2000 brands from over 70 countries; or diving at Nemo 33, the most amazing indoor non-chlorinated fresh water diving pool and the 2nd deepest one in the world at 113 feet.
Overnight: Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre or similar.
Fri. June 22nd: Day 7, Brussels / Paris
We’ll depart in the morning for Paris in our own private charter bus. Paris has a timeless familiarity for first-time and frequent visitors, with instantly recognizable architectural icons, along with exquisite cuisine, chic boutiques, and priceless artistic treasures. Rated as the 3rd most tourist attractive city in the world (behind Bangkok and London), Paris also has the 3rd most number of Michelin stars for restaurants (behind Tokyo and Kyoto). Founded in the 3rd century BC, and previously called Lutetia, Paris is one of the world’s few really legendary capitals. Far from resting on its laurels, the French capital has taken a pro-active approach to enhancing its appeal by undertaking a quality-focused and sustainable development strategy based on constant innovation. This great city is a blend of past and future. Its pleasingly symmetrical layout, the result of the work of visionary rulers and architects, dates to the 19th century, while 21st century Paris is a laboratory of the future. The Paris Métro (with 302 stations) is the 4th largest public transport system in the world, and the city has only 1 stop sign. Parisians love their dogs! Matter of fact, there are more dogs (300,000) in Paris than there are children. Paris is a dream destination for French and international visitors alike.
Once we arrive, we’ll get to experience an enlightening and cultural 2-hour guided walking tour, where we’ll discover everything that is Paris up close. Our helpful and informed Paris tour guide will give us insights into the people, places, and events of this famous city. We will see the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Conciergerie Castle, the Pont des Arts, then we’ll cross the River Seine, and reach the Louvre. From there, we’ll follow our way to the end of the Tuileries Garden, to get a perspective on the Champs Elysées, and the Eiffel Tower.
(Notre Dame Cathedral)
The Notre Dame Cathedral is the most popular monument in Paris and in all of France, beating even the Eiffel Tower with 13 million visitors each year. It a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is the symbolic heart of the city. Measuring 200 feet in height, the towers provide some of the best viewing points in Paris. At the summit of 387 steps, it’s not only worth the climb for the 360-degree panorama over Paris, but also to admire the stone gargoyles crouching on its ledge. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, and is probably best known for its relation to the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, made famous by the numerous cartoons and movies inspired by it. But the famous cathedral is also an active Catholic church, a place of pilgrimage, and the focal point for Catholicism in France – religious events of national significance still take place here.
La Conciergerie is the oldest royal palace in Paris and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s an imposing sight with its castle-like turrets and dramatic riverfront location. Stretching along the west side of the Île de la Cité, which is an island in the River Seine that is actually classed as the true heart of Paris, and even today all distances are measured from the centre of this island. The former medieval palace is best known for its role in the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, when it served as the first prison in France. Its most famous prisoner was Marie-Antoinette. The Conciergerie’s 154-foot high clock tower displays Paris’ oldest clock.
The Pont des Arts is situated between the Institut de France and the Louvre. Built between 1801 and 1804, it was the first iron bridge in Paris. Reserved for pedestrians, the footbridge makes for a pleasant stroll with family and friends. It is a good location for holiday photos, as it offers fine views of the Seine and its monuments. The bridge is especially popular with couples, as for years, lovestruck visitors had affixed locks, often inscribed with their initials or names, to the wire mesh panels, flinging keys into the Seine River below. But in 2015, after a section of the bridges railing collapsed under the weight (45 tons worth) of some 700,000 declarations of fidelity, the city removed the locks, citing reasons of aesthetics and security.
(Pont des Arts Bridge)
The real essence of Paris is captured by the River Seine. The lifeblood of Paris, the River Seine plays many roles in the city: It separates the Right Bank from the Left Bank, acting as a dividing line between Paris’ historically sophisticated and bohemian halves; it provides transportation and sightseeing via riverboat, plenty of opportunity for romantic strolls, and a source for picturesque photo ops; and its riverbanks are a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with the city’s top landmarks.
The Louvre is the world’s largest and finest art museum in the world. It’s a historic monument and a central landmark of the city located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city’s 1st district (arrondissement). Home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, it houses an unparalleled collection of items (approximately 38,000) covering the full spectrum of art through the ages, from prehistory to the 21st century, that are exhibited over an area of 780,000 square feet. It is a city within the city, a vast, multi-level maze of galleries, passageways, staircases, and escalators. The Louvre is the icing on the cake of French culture and a testament to European art history – it’s not surprising that it’s the most visited art gallery in the world, receiving over 7 million visitors a year.
The Tuileries Garden is one of the most elegant and popular promenades of Paris, and shows off the Parisian style of intricate landscaping. Once the property of French royalty, it is the oldest park in Paris and open free to the public. Created on the site of an ancient Gallo-Roman clay pit and medieval tile factories (tuileries), the Tuileries encompasses just over 60 acres and runs along the right bank of the River Seine from the Place du Carrousel to the Place de la Concorde. Various kings and queens left their mark on the gardens, from Catherine de Medici, in the 16th century, who commissioned the garden, to King Louis XIV whose plans for the gardens are pretty much what we see today.
For glory and grandeur, the Champs-Elysées is the most famous avenue in the world. If the monuments and symmetrical landscaping don’t convince you, remember that it means “Elysian Fields,” which indicates that someone thought this street was heaven on earth. Tourists and Parisians can be spotted strolling at any time of day or night and at any time of year along this iconic 1 mile (and 230 foot wide) stretch between the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. Like the Eiffel Tower, the avenue is a symbol of Paris. It is lined with theaters, restaurants, cafes, luxury boutiques, flagship stores, and nightclubs. It is also the setting each year for major events such as the Bastille Day military parade, the arrival of the Tour de France, and the Christmas lights. Finally, the Avenue des Champs-Elysées has some of the top museums in Paris. Climbing all the way to the top of the Arc de Triomphe offers a spectacular view of Paris! In the neighborhood surrounding the famous street, you’ll find a brief respite from the intense crowds, a less touristy feel, and a return to old Paris.
With its famous tapering cast iron tip, the Eiffel Tower is not just the symbol of Paris but of all of France. Initially disliked by Parisians, it is the most-visited paid monument in the world, with 7 million visitors a year. Over 1,000 feet tall, about the same height as an 81-story building, it is the tallest structure in Paris. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years. The Eiffel Tower is considered an architectural wonder and is one of the most recognizable landmarks on the planet. Today, it continues to serve an important role in television and radio broadcasts. The tower has three levels, with restaurants on the first and second levels. The top level’s upper platform is 906-feet above the ground – the highest observation deck accessible to the public in the European Union.
After the tour, we’ll have the rest of the afternoon to explore the city on our own. We can choose to enter any of the sites we’ve just received an overview of and walked by! Our hotel is just a couple of miles away from where our tour ends, a walk which can be broken up piecemeal by having dinner, exploring the downtown area, and shopping to our hearts content!
Overnight: Ibis Paris Bastille Opera or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours hours. Approximate Distance: 200 miles
(Palace of Versailles)
Sat. June 23rd: Day 8, Paris / Versailles
In the morning we’ll set off to our own private charter bus and our own private guided tour of the Palace of Versailles.
We’ll see the opulence of the Palace of Versailles and tour the grand apartments, beautiful gardens, and stunning Hall of Mirrors. The Palace of Versailles is one of the largest and most opulent castles in the world. A fine example of 18th century French architecture and art, it is one of the most visited attractions – and castles – in France, as well as being a UNESCO’s World Heritage site and must-see French landmark. Formerly a humble hunting lodge, the Palace of Versailles (Chateau de Versailles) is the extravagant creation of Louis XIV. Embellished to epitomize ultimate royal decadence, the inequality of which tindered the French Revolution, Versailles Palace is a feast for the eyes — its 700 rooms are replete with frescoed ceilings and carvings, while the Versailles Gardens (Jardins de Versailles) brim with geometrically designed walkways and fountains. No visit to Paris, or France for that matter, is complete without experiencing the grandeur of Versailles.
After our day trip, we’ll be taken back to our hotel, and for those up for it, we’ll head out for a final night on the town!
Overnight: Ibis Paris Bastille Opera or similar. Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours hours. Approximate Distance: 45 miles
Sun. June 24th: Day 9, Paris
Depart at any time.
TBD: Post-Trip Reunion Dinner at St. Arnold’s
Dates and details TBD. We will feast on a sumptuous Belgian meal at St. Arnold’s (or similar) in the Cleveland Park neighborhood! Dinner attendance will also be open to non-trip goers in our group.
Price below reflects double occupancy. For single occupancy, please add $650. Full payment is due by Sun. Mar. 18th.
- $2095 if booked before Mon. Dec. 11th (or whenever early birds sell out)
- $2195 if booked before Tues. Feb. 6th
- $2295 if booked before Sun. Apr. 1st
- $2395 on or after Sun. Apr. 1st*
* Starting Sun. Apr. 1st, spaces are subject to availability. If booking on or after Sun. Apr. 1st, do NOT purchase your airline ticket until you have been confirmed on the trip by the Organizer.
Non-refundable deposit of $500 is due at booking, full payment is due by Sun. Mar. 18th or at booking, whichever is later. This deposit locks in a price per the “Price” section.
The travel company needs the following information for final booking. Please send me a message (through my Meetup profile) with this information as soon as you’ve secured your spot by making payment (you can get to me your flight information later, but please get to me everything else that you can): 1. Full name as it appears on passport 2. Passport number 3. Passport issue date 4. Passport expiry date (as a general rule, passport must be 6 months valid beyond date of entry into another country 5. Date of birth 6. Nationality 7. Existing medical conditions 8. Meal requirements 9. Emergency contact / next of kin. 10. Will you take advantage of the transfer to the hotel upon arrival? 11. Will you take advantage of the transfer to the airport upon departure? 12. Cell phone number 13. Will you be getting a single room for an extra $650? 14. Sex 15. Roommate’s name (if you have one; otherwise, a roommate of the same sex will be assigned to you) 16. Arrival flight airline, number, and landing time; and departure flight airline, number, and take-off time (when you secure it).
Price is based on double occupancy. If you have a preference for a roommate, please let me know full first and last name (send me a message through my Meetup profile). Otherwise, you will be assigned a roommate (same sex). Single supplement is $650 to stay in your own room. Optionally, if you plan to stay additional days in Europe either before our after our tour, and wish to book pre or post-tour accommodations, you may do so for $280 per night (Amsterdam pre-tour) or $145 (Paris post-tour). Please click here (pre-tour) or please click here (post-tour) to make payment, and also send to me the exact dates you are looking to book through my Meetup profile.
PayPal account not required. Please follow the steps below (if payment by smartphone doesn’t work, please try your computer). Your RSVP is not guaranteed without payment, and your email receipt is confirmation that we have received your payment (please check your spam folder and email settings). You can also log into your PayPal or credit card account online to verify payment. All of our trips have sold out, so I recommend you secure your spot online early.
- Select “Yes” under “Are you going?” (or select “Change” RSVP to add more guests if you’ve already purchased ticket(s))
- Enter the number of guests coming and click “Finish RSVP”
- Click “Pay Now” (or “Pay Online Now”) at the top of the event posting near the ticket price per person
- Verify correct dollar amount for number of people you’re paying for. Modify if appropriate, click “Pay Now” or “Check Out” button
If you are paying in full, and if you are looking for double occupancy, leave the dollar amount as is. If you are looking for single occupancy, please add $650 to the total and change the dollar figure. For your convenience, the single occupancy price will either be $2745 (booked before Mon. Dec. 11th), $2845 (booked before Tues. Feb. 6th), $2945 (booked before Sun. Apr. 1st), or $3045 (booked on or after Sun. Apr. 1st). Click “Pay Now” or “Check Out” button.
If you are paying just the non-refundable deposit, change the dollar amount to $500. Click “Pay Now” or “Check Out” button. You will need to pay the balance by Sun. Mar. 18th.
- If you don’t have a PayPal account, click “Pay with a Debit or Credit Card”
- If you have a PayPal account, simply log in, and pay as you normally would via PayPal
REMAINDER BALANCE PAYMENT DUE
PayPal account not required. If you’ve already paid the initial non-refundable $500 deposit, please follow the instructions below for making the balance payment (if payment by smartphone doesn’t work, please try your computer). Your email receipt is confirmation that we have received your payment (please check your spam folder and email settings). Balance payment must be made by Sun. Mar. 18th, otherwise you will lose your deposit and your spot on the trip. If you would like to pay your balance in installments, please message me through my Meetup profile.
- Click on the appropriate link below
To pay the balance ($1595) for the $2095 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Sat. Dec. 11th), please click here
To pay the balance ($1695) for the $2195 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Tues. Feb. 6th), please click here
To pay the balance ($1795) for the $2295 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Sun. Apr. 1st), please click here
To pay the balance ($2245) for the $2745 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Sat. Dec. 11th), please click here
To pay the balance ($2345) for the $2845 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Tues. Feb. 6th), please click here
To pay the balance ($2445) for the $2945 price (to qualify, you must have made deposit before Sun. Apr. 1st), please click here
- If you don’t have a Paypal account, click “Pay with a Debit or Credit Card”
- If you have a PayPal account, simply log in, and pay as you normally would via PayPal
- Pre-trip dinner at Blackfinn restaurant (or similar) in DC
- Pre-trip Embassy of Belgium visit with diplomats
- “The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City” paperback version and book discussions during the trip (please note if new prints are unavailable, the best available condition used book will be obtained)
- Accommodations as stated above (hotels 8 nights, based on twin-share rooms)
- 8 hot breakfasts
- Van Gogh Museum visit
- Interactive Heineken Experience brewery visit to include 2 beers or soft drinks
- Guided Amsterdam canal boat cruise ride
- A’dam Lookout observation deck visit
- Over-the-Edge hydraulic swing (Europe’s highest) ride
- Guided city tour of Bruges to see the De Halve Maan Brewery, Market Square, Burg Square, Cloth Halls, Palace of Gruuthuse, Old St. John’s Hospital, Beguinage, Lake of Love, Stove Street, Church of Our Lady, Bonifacius Bridge, Groeninge Museum, Dijver, Rozenhoedkaai, Fish Market, and more
- Guided chocolate tour to include 9 sublime chocolates
- Guided city tour of Paris to see the Notre Dame Cathedral, Conciergerie Castle, Pont des Arts, River Seine, Louvre, Tuileries Garden, Champs Elysées, Eiffel Tower, and more
- Guided Palace of Versailles private tour
- Group arrival and departure transfers from / to airport
- All transfers between destinations and to / from included activities (local bus, air-conditioned bus / minivan)
- English speaking travel guide
- Meetup group facilitation with book discussion by J.T. (Organizer)
- Local guides / representative assistance
- Post-trip reunion dinner at St. Arnold’s (or similar)
- Entrance fees not listed
- International airfare
- Applicable tourist visas
- Airport taxes
- Tips or gratuities for tour leader, bus driver, day / excursion guides, porters, etc. (typically $10 per day for tour leader, $1 – 2 per day for charter bus driver, $5 for excursion guide [half day], $1 – 2 per bag for porter)
- Meals not mentioned above
- Excursions and activities listed as optional or suggestions
FLIGHTS, DAYS OFF, & AIRPORT TRANSFER
Please do not purchase your air ticket until this trip is confirmed (15 people have paid). You will receive notification by email when the trip is confirmed and I will also update the event posting at the top of this page. We can coordinate air schedules in the comment box of this page to try to get the same flights.
When buying your air ticket, make sure it arrives on Sat. June 16th and departs on Sun. June 24th. Also, depending on how many transfers you get, you may need to request off of work Fri. June 15th – Sun. June 24th. Please send to me your flight information through my Meetup profile.
Upon arrival on Sat. June 16th, our group transfer from the airport (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – AMS) to the hotel will depart the airport at 3pm. If you’d like to take advantage of our free group transfer, please be sure to arrive before then. Look for the person at the arrival gates with the sign that says “J.T.’s Washington DC Europe Meetup Trip.” If you are unable to take advantage of our group transfer, there are several options to get to the hotel. 1. Uber – It will take ~20 minutes and cost ~$22 – 30 USD 2. Taxi – Follow the signs to the taxi stands at the airport. Cost is ~$40 – 55 USD and will take ~20 minutes. 3. Shared Bus – Similar to our Super Shuttle, cost is ~$20 USD and will take ~30 minutes – 1 hour. Please book before arrival. Booking and additional information can be found here… https://www.schipholh… 4. Public Bus – Follow the signs to the “Amsterdam Airport Express Bus.” The line 197 bus will go very near the hotel. Ask the bus driver to let you off the near the Van Gogh Museum (which is about 1.5 blocks from the hotel). Cost is $3 – 6 USD and will take ~35 minutes.
For departure on Sun. June 24th, our group transfer from the hotel to the airport (Charles de Gaulle Airport – CDG) will depart at 9am. So if you’d like to take advantage of our free group transfer, please be ready to leave the hotel by then and book your flight accordingly.
VISAS, VACCINES, & IMMUNIZATIONS
For U.S. citizens, please take a look at the State Department website for visa information here… https://travel.state…. (click Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements). Please inform yourself if you are able to obtain visas at the borders, visa regulations change often, therefore we cannot hand out information. Please take a look at the CDC website for recommended vaccinations and medications here… http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/… . I suggest visiting a travel clinic prior to departure, since they can make recommendations on vaccinations that may be useful for travel to this country.
You are required to purchase an all-inclusive insurance policy that covers emergency repatriation, medical, and evacuation for a combined minimum amount of $200,000. Trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage loss and accidents should also be included. Costs vary by age, travel dates, and when you purchase, but an approximate quote is $100 – $150 for a 30-year-old. You should extend the insurance to cover your entire journey if you are arriving before or departing after our trip. Please secure full coverage (rather than coverage for covered reasons). You will need to book your air flights first before getting insurance coverage.
Mains electricity in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France is 230V 50Hz and utilizes plug types C, E, and F. Depending on your appliance, you may need a converter and an adapter. Please see the following link for more information… https://en.wikipedia….
If you have any questions not answered on this page, please post a comment in the comment box, message me through my Meetup profile, or call / text me at 703.470.4848
Since payment is made in advance for this trip, all sales are final unless the trip is canceled or rescheduled. Thanks for understanding. =)
SUGGESTED ITEMS TO BRING
1. USD cash 2. Credit and / or debit card 3. Pre-departure information and trip details 4.Passport, with photocopies (as a general rule, passport must have at least 6 months of validity beyond the date of entry into another country 5. Travel insurance (with photocopies) 6. Airline tickets (with photocopies) 7. Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required (with photocopies, see “Visa, Vaccinations, & Immunizations” section) 8. Camera (with extra memory cards and batteries) 9. Reading / writing material 10. Binoculars 11. Day pack 12.Plastic bags or cover for backpacks 13. Lock for luggage 14. Fleece top / long sleeve top 15.Windproof / waterproof jacket 16. Small towel and swim wear 17. Shirts / t-shirts 18. Water shoes / sports sandals / flip flops 19. Sun hat 20. Shorts / skirts 21. Long pants / jeans 22.Hiking pants 23. Hiking boots / sturdy walking shoes 24. Rain poncho / umbrella 25. Sunblock 26. Sunglasses 27. Toiletries 28. Watch or alarm clock 29. Water bottle 30. Pocketknife 31.Flashlight 32. Insect repellent 33. First-aid kit (should contain lip balm, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking) 34. Ear plugs 35. Eye mask 36. Moneybelt 37.Outlet adapter 38. Sleepwear
For many of the amazing people that are working to make our trip happen (the bus drivers, guides, hotel staff, etc), our tips are extremely important. Their work is often seasonal and unreliable, and in the excitement of the trip, they often get overlooked and forgotten. While tipping is never mandatory, we want to make sure that we take care of the staff that works so hard to help us enjoy our trip. We recommend (but do not require) that you bring $150 USD for tipping. We’d like to collect everyone’s tip money at the beginning of the trip and then tip all of the staff appropriately as the trip goes along. This method has two main benefits: it will ensure all staff are fairly compensated for their efforts, and you will not have to worry about constantly finding cash to tip the dozens of staff. If everyone contributes $150 USD, it will allow us to tip everyone well and leave a little extra to give to the staff that really go above and beyond for the group. Thank you for understanding.