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11 replies
Planes, trains or Automobiles
sammohanty
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Need some guidance to either fly, rail or drive from London to Basel via Brusells? I have a 7 year old with me. I can skip one for the other if it is either too expensive or consumes too much time. In any case, i will have to go for both the places in the same or separate trips.
Please advice

I am leaving from US and traveling for 11 days
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oldlady
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Assuming 1) you’re comfortable driving and 2) budget isn’t terribly tight..

Eurostar to Brussels, drive from there.

sammohanty
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I have found out that driving from London to Basel is only 9 hours. I assume it goes through France. Yes, i am comfortable driving and budget is not a constraint.
However, I do not feel comfortable driving on the left hand side unless it is the highway. I recently had an accident and I am now a little nervous.
Later this week, i will need to get my International license.

I am leaving from US and traveling for 11 days
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Requesting help with Transport, Itinerary, Sights
oldlady
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Driving via Eurostar or driving via ferry ? Left hand or right hand car?

sammohanty
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Ferry sounds nice!!!! Is it expensive? How do I know the price difference, how long does it take? my son is really going to enjoy it??

I have not driven a car in Europe since my accident in London in 2010.
I am not sure if I can get a Left hand side, I am much more comfortable driving in Belgium than UK…

I am leaving from US and traveling for 11 days
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Requesting help with Transport, Itinerary, Sights
oldlady
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Ferry takes the better part of a day and while it’s OK, Eurostar is so much faster I usually don’t recommend ferry for this trip. While ferry can be a relaxing and interesting experience, IMO this one isn’t. We took one of the fast ferries from Oostende Belgium to Dover. The actual ferry ride is only a couple of hours, but you have to check in advance (maybe 2 hours?), so lots of waiting around the ferry terminal (like waiting around the airport) for a 7 year old. We went in June and with the hydrofoil type fast ferry there is little outside space and it was FAR too cold and windy to be outside anyway. Inside seemed like being on board a jumbo jet that was wide enough for an on-board McDonalds and duty free shopping. It was terribly crowded and fairly difficult to find seats together. Just getting around on the ferry was an exercise in battling crowds — a bit like shopping on Black Friday. It’s usually cheaper than Eurostar, but not always enough to be “worth it” for me. By train from London it would involve train to Ashford, connection to local train to Dover, bus to ferry port, ferry to Ostende, walk ( covered walkway through parking lots and general port stuff) to train station, train to Brussels.
I would take Eurostar to Belgium and rent a car when you’re ready to leave Brussels. If you really want the ferry experience (I wanted to see “ white cliffs of Dover” and IMO, it wasn’t worth it) I’d only do it one way.

clevelandbrown
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I would advise against renting a car if you will be in large cities, and if you will have to rent it in one country and return it in another (that really increases the cost), and congestion and parking are complications.

Public transportation (trains in your case) is comfortable and faster than driving, and in many cases a young child rides free if accompanied by an adult.

A car is nice if you will be visiting smaller towns and villages where public transportation is limited. For example, I am looking at visiting Charleville-Mézières this fall for a puppet festival. Because of the crowds, housing may be a problem and I am considering renting a gite, which means we will need a car to get from the gite to the festival. My plan is to fly into Paris and take a train to Reims, rent a car there and return it there.

When we visited Brussels we bought a pass for the metro, trams, and buses, and were able to get anywhere we wanted easily. In Basel, we mostly walked, and bought tickets when our destination was too far.

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sammohanty
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Both of you have really put this ferry thing and car renting off. If you are travelling in and out of London, you can see those nice bill boards indicating a shopping experience, wineries and ferry ride at Calais, Dover etc. Guess, it is all a marketing gimmick!!

I thought it would be exciting to take my son over the water. But not at the expense of crowd, dirty toilets etc.
He hates public bathroom and has caused me enough grief over that.
Frankly, once i told him of the trip, he is the one who was looking forward to it.

I am going to take the train to Brussels and if weather permitting I will drive from there. I am also hearing about some terrible weather so might have to just hop in and hop out without caring for a sightseeing expedition.
I then have to figure out what to do for the rest of the 7 days.

I really need to go somewhere warm!!! Wonder if driving to Portugal might be worth it!! Needs another topic…
Thank you

I am leaving from US and traveling for 11 days
London, Brussels, Basel, Paris, London
Requesting help with Transport, Itinerary, Sights
oldlady
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I wouldn’t say the ads are necessarily misleading, particularly if you want to party or shop your way across the channel… If you want to shop, the ferry has its advantages since the ferry is largely a floating duty free shop. On board bar is a more comfortable spot for a couple of beers than getting an airline style drink at your seat on Eurostar. I don’t remember if this ferry had a “casino” (usually just a handful of slot machines) or not. Also, if you want to take your car on the ferry, I think it’s a lot cheaper than taking your car on Eurostar and perhaps somewhat faster and slicker in terms of loading and unloading vehicles than Eurostar. Condition of bathrooms on ferry varies with the roughness of the crossing — usually spotless at the start and still acceptable at the end, but if the ride is rough enough that even a handful of people are sea-sick, there are a few slobs on board, etc….

sammohanty
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Cleveland,
For some reason, I would like to use my International license, so please explain me what is a gite? Is that economical?
Parking issues?: how about if I park in the outskirts and take the tube to the city?
Traffic issues? Is it as bad as Moscow or Lagos? Beijing or Delhi?

Based on Oldlady’s comments, i will not go for the Eurostar for sure, but driving over from calais to Disney in paris won’t be that bad, or is it? I don’t want to pay heavy parking fees nor get into traffic jams…

I love driving and we love taking long drives….But I also understand driving here is not the same in Europe. Have you driving with a kid? Frankly, more than me, it is my son who is excited….

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clevelandbrown
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A gite is a rural lodging, often a farmhouse, or a suite in a larger farmhouse. They are often relatively inexpensive and I think people like them because they are away from the cities and let you see the countryside.

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sammohanty
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That’s sound interesting? I like the concept. I will stop by in local tourism offices and get further information.
Blog says, AAA should have it. I have to pick up my maps anyway, so I will get the details from them.

I am leaving from US and traveling for 11 days
London, Brussels, Basel, Paris, London
Requesting help with Transport, Itinerary, Sights