You probably looked at this post title and likely only recognized the city in the middle, huh? Don’t worry, up until a few months ago, Paris was the only city on that list I knew about, too! So I thought it might be good to preface all the trip posts coming up with an explanation of how we chose these cities to see, especially considering Europe is a HUGE continent with lots of must-see cities. Hopefully, this will help in case you’re struggling with the same or a similar situation when it comes to trip planning.
A little over a week ago (god, time flies), I got back from my last big vacation of the year. It was one that my boyfriend and I weren’t sure we’d even be going on until two months before we left. But stars aligned and before I knew it, we were off to Europe!
Our main reason for going was so my boyfriend could attend a conference in Heidelberg, Germany (now you know why it ended up on the list). I had no clue what this university town would be like and from pictures, it reminded me a lot of these ceramic Christmas villages capes that my grandma likes to put out during the holidays. I’ll save what the town was actually like for my recap post on it.
Knowing that we wanted the conference to be at the end of our trip, we ended up with 10 free days that could be used to go anywhere we went. I’ve been to Europe once before on a blitz group tour that took me to places like Paris and Amsterdam. It was a ton of fun, but made it impossible to really enjoy any of the cities I went to since I usually had 1.5 days MAX to explore – definitely not enough time to eat a whole lot of croissants or Belgian waffles. The bf, on the other hand, had only been to London. So, we had a lot of countries to choose from.
After a lot of TripAdvisoring, asking more knowledgable family and friends, and asking social media (more me than him, natch), we ended up picking Paris because “Paris is always a good idea” (thank you, Audrey) and because it would only take 3 hours to train to Heidelberg from there (we really wanted to train and the idea of flying never crossed our minds).
From there, it was a no brainer for my bf to pick the Normandy region of France as the place he wanted to start our trip. He’s a major history and politics buff and he talked about going to see the D-Day beaches the same way I talked about eating French pastries and cheese. He narrowed down the city to Bayeux based on a lot of great feedback on TripAdvisor forums. It was rated as the best city to take a D-Day tour from and, while it’s a small town (we made our way around it in one afternoon), there were some cool tourist attractions and it was close to other cities and attractions we wanted to see.
So, after we decided on our cities, this is the itinerary we ended up with (including transportation and travel time, in case you find those handy):
- Fly into Paris CDG via London (approx. 13 hours and 20 minutes including the layover). Take a train from CDG to Paris St. Lazare station and then a train to Bayeux from there (approx. 2 hours 30 mins of train travel)
- Bayeux for 3 days
- One train back to Paris (approx. 2 hours 10 mins)
- Paris for 5.5 days
- Take late afternoon train from Paris Est station to Karlsruhe and then another train to Heidelberg (approx. 4.5 hours of train travel)
- Heidelberg for 6 days
- Train from Heidelberg to Frankfurt Airport (approx. 1 hour 10 mins of train travel). Fly back home via London (approx. 13 hours and 5 minutes including the layover).
Anyway, I’m excited to share the rest of my trip with you guys. I have some really great stories to share so stay tuned!
What’s your method or strategy for picking the countries or cities you want to see? Share them in the comments below – I’d love to know what your experience was like.