Balancing Travel: Autumn Holiday in Western Europe

Sometimes you really need to get out of Dodge.

I wanted a break from taking care of my house and thinking about repairs, so that meant no stay-cation for me. I definitely wanted a vacation from my job, which meant I would need to leave the country to supposedly be beyond its reach. I also wanted a break from the daily crime report and certain bizarre Presidential candidates. I even wanted a break from blogging so I could read a book!

Okay, I admit it … I was desperate to leave.

I get excited about a vacation — or holiday, as the Brits call it — while I’m planning it. This time, I started four months before I left. I had scheduled my vacation to coincide with my tennis buddies’ travel in France. I found a good airfare to Paris. But, at some point in the planning, I decided to go in a different direction. I wanted to spend more time in Paris, and go north from there.  I added Brussels and Amsterdam to my itinerary. Of those destinations, Amsterdam would be brand new to me.

Expanded map of FR-BE-NE

Map from Insight Guide’s Northern France

I’d been to Paris once before when my mother and I were on a tour of France 17 years ago. We spent four days in the city, and I lost most of my film of Paris. I don’t remember that much about it, except our tour guide running us into the Louvre to see “The Mona Lisa” and back out to the bus again. But, here’s what was great about that experience:  I realized I didn’t need a tour to travel in Europe; I fell in love with France; and I enjoyed traveling there with my mama.

This time, I traveled solo and met up with locals. Knowing people who live where you’re traveling adds another layer to the experience. I balanced my trip with solo time and people time.

What would northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands be like in October? Lucky for me, it was mostly sunny and only rained twice in 17 days. I was surprised! Aren’t these supposed to be the perpetually grey-sky countries this time of year??? Even though it was mostly dry, the weather became cooler as time went on.  I had packed lightweight layers of outerwear in anticipation of cooler weather, rain, and wind. That was a good thing because I wore them all, sometimes at the same time.

Here are some favorite images from sunny autumn days in France, Belgium, and Amsterdam.

See how I plan a trip here. I hope you enjoyed this preview, and stay tuned for more posts on my travels in Western Europe!

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