I’ll start off by saying, wow does time just fly by! I can’t get over how quickly my trip to Paris and Brussels flew by. I seriously enjoyed every single minute of both cities! This was my first trip to Europe and I can’t believe I didn’t travel there sooner. This trip was a 30th birthday present to myself because I’ve wanted to travel to Europe for a few years now and figured what a great way to treat myself I’m already planning my next trip there so any suggestions are highly appreciated.
I’ll be posting more in-depth reviews about my week long trip but I wanted to share some of the highlights with you all – the good & bad. My family and I flew out on an Air France Friday night flight from JFK direct to Paris. It was nice flying over on the night flight because I went straight to sleep, woke up an hour or so before landing and felt completely adjusted to the time difference. It was only a seven hour flight and left around 7 pm New York time but landed around 8 am Paris time.
The view from the Paris Hotel
It has to be said, Air France was the most chaotic airline I have ever flown! From check-in to boarding the plane there was just no guidance. When it was time to board the plane, Air France made no announcement so everyone just rushed towards the gate all at once which of course slowed things down. Then when I arrived at my seat, there was someone sitting there. I politely told the man he was in my seat and he said he did not speak any English. The flight stewardesses were right behind me and offered no help whatsoever. Eventually, the man did get up and go to his correct seat but I had to convince the man myself to get up.
Landing in Paris was no easier. There was no organized customs line so it was just a swarm of people from all different arriving flights trying to cram their way in.
Oh and the icing on the cake? A lot of people from my flight were receiving emails from Air France saying their luggage was lost. Needless to say, lots of people were stressed out! I received one of those emails too about 10 minutes after the flight landed which didn’t make sense to me because how could they have taken our luggage off the flight so quickly? FYI I decided I wanted to overpack & bring lots of options for this trip and did check in luggage. I know, I know. After finally getting through the mess that was customs, I wanted to check the baggage claim area before filing my lost luggage claim and it turns out my luggage was there!
Seine River – Paris, France
I don’t think it was right of Air France to send out those emails to so many passengers, stressing them out, when everyone’s luggage arrived just fine. I guess they never properly scanned in the suitcases at JFK?
However, after the airline chaos, the trip was an absolute breeze! We took an Uber from the airport to our hotel, Citadines Place d’Italie, checked in and went straight out to explore the neighborhood. I couldn’t be more happy with the area we chose to stay in! The metro was directly across the street from the hotel and it was a breeze to get all around the city. If you can handle NYC’s subway system any subway system is a piece of cake! Later on that same day, we all went on a free walking tour with Sandemans New Europe to get a feel for the city.
The Louvre – Paris, France
We spent three and a half days in Paris then took the Thalys train from the Gare du Nord over to Brussels. It was an easy train ride and we arrived about 20 minutes before our train departure. It was organized and everything moved pretty quickly. I was shocked they didn’t check our passports! Now I know why so many people love living in Europe, it’s so easy to get around from country to country on the train.
Once we arrived in Brussels in a little over an hour, we took an Uber over to our next hotel, Citadines Toison d’Or Brussels. We just dropped our bags off in the room and went out exploring. This hotel was in a huge shopping district! Every high end store imaginable was in the area. It kind of reminded me of Fifth Avenue in NYC. The area was nice but not really my style. However, it was only a 20 minute walk to the city center and Grand Place so that was great. Since we were only in Brussels for two and a half days and everything was pretty walkable, we didn’t get on the metro once.
View from the Brussels Hotel
While in Brussels, I was able to go on a chocolate and beer tour with The Brussels Journey and it was such a cool experience. I’m not much of a beer person but I knew I had to do it while in Brussels and who doesn’t love chocolate! I’ll be doing a full recap post on the tour next week so check back for that.
The streets of Brussels, Belgium
At the end of the trip, we flew Delta back home to JFK and it was a much easier and organized experience. Not one problem at all!
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert – Brussels, Belgium
I’m so happy I went on this trip and got experience parts of Europe. Now that I’ve gone to both Paris and Brussels, I would like to go back to both cities for a longer period of time so I can explore more. There is always so much to see that can’t be done on one trip.
Super long post I know! I’ll be sharing posts on each of the hotels we stayed in, the restaurants we ate in, the sites we saw and both tours we went on.
What’s one place you’d like to travel back to and see again?