The Netherlands, Belgium and France!

My long-time dream is to see the lavender fields in bloom…

Lavender fields in bloom

Lavender fields in bloom (picture courtesy of google images)

I am hoping to make that happen this summer. We are now finalizing plans for our next big adventure and can’t wait!

The trip will begin with us flying from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, leaving on July 9th. We will have three nights there on our own to explore before joining our Gate 1 tour. This one is called 8 Day Classic Amsterdam, Bruges & Paris. You can click here to see the day-to-day itinerary if you are interested.

We are a huge fan of Gate 1, and have met some amazing people on their tours that we are privileged to stay in contact with today. 

The July 12th tour still shows available if any of our traveling friends want to join us!

Side note:  If you are new to Gate 1, I can send you a code to save you $100.  Just let me know if you are interested.

Another aspect of Gate 1 Travel that I especially appreciate is the flexibility they allow. We are able to customize the dates we want to fly and which airport to fly out of. This gives us freedom to go early to explore some on our own, or stay a few days longer at the end of the tour, or to combine another tour or cruise while already in Europe of wherever we have chosen to travel.

And NO, I do not receive any compensation from Gate 1 – I just really like them!

Map of Gate 1 itinerary

.  Map of Gate 1 itinerary

In 1984, with a friend in the travel industry, I visited Brugge, Brussels and Amsterdam on one of those “Tuesday it must be Belgium”, fly through each country, tours. I fell madly in love with Bruges (Brugge in Dutch) and vowed to return some day. Tim has not been to either The Netherlands or Belgium, so I’m really excited to share this with him.

I was confused over what country Amsterdam is actually in – Holland or The Netherlands, and thought that I might not be the only one. I found this great clip on YouTube that was VERY helpful and wanted to share it with anyone else who might also need some clarification:

The tour portion will end in Paris, but we are NOT going home just yet!

We will be joining a friend and his teenage daughter on a two-week Uniworld river cruise throughout FRANCE! The cruise is called Grand France. You can click on the link to learn more about the cruise, including the day-to-day itinerary. This will be our first time on Uniworld, and we are thrilled to check them out.

Uniworld cruise itinerary

Uniworld cruise itinerary

Our cruise will end on August 2nd in Avignon where we will spend a couple of extra days on our own, then catch a train to Paris, overnight and fly home on August 5th.

Let the countdown begin!

Gratitude Moment: Today (and everyday) I am grateful for family. It is our connections, whether through birth, marriage or friendship, who ground us, support us, understand us, and love us through good times and bad that makes this wonderful, crazy ride all worth while.

We would love to hear any recommendations of what to see, or do, or where to eat in Amsterdam and in Avignon. 

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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24 Responses to The Netherlands, Belgium and France!

  1. christinelaennec says:

    What a great video! I learned a lot. Your tour sounds like great fun. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but people I know who have, rave about the Anne Frank museum.

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  2. Meagan says:

    I just found your blog, and I’ve gotta say, this trip sounds amazing! My husband and I are treating my mother to a trip to France in July, and we’ll be in Beaune and Avignon, too! We’re renting bicycles in Beaune to explore the vineyards, and I can’t stop thinking about wandering through the lavender fields in Provence! What a dream! We’ll be renting a car so we can see all of the hilltop towns and lavender fields at our own pace. I’ll be posting updates on my website, and i can’t wait to see updates from your trip! It’s going to be gorgeous!

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    • Meagan, I too am hoping to do some bike riding at a couple of stops along the river cruise. Our ship has bikes available to us. Having a car will really give you so much more freedom. Kind of wishing now I had booked longer time in Avignon. I’m looking forward to following you as well, will you be blogging about your trip?

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  3. Thanks Christine, the Anne Frank museum is on my list. I too learned a lot from that video. I can better understand why it is so confusing now.

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  4. Stephanie says:

    Yes the Anne Frank museum is a must but definitely book your tickets ahead of time because the lines in the summer can be long! I enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum and just wandering around walking along the canals. Also I would do a boat tour on the canal either in Amsterdam or in Bruges. I highly recommend a day trip to Ghent from Bruges if you have the time! Gravensteen Castle and St Bavo’s Cathedral’s Altarpiece are amazing. Love your gratitude moment!

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    • Stephanie, thanks for the tip regarding getting the tickets ahead of time. I’ll look online. The Van Gogh Museum will also be on our list. We have a canal cruise on the Gate 1 portion in Amsterdam. Sadly we will not have time for a day trip to Ghent. (Making mental note to add these suggestions for future trip!) Hugs, JJ

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  5. Anne Jorgensen says:

    ohhh sounds just wonderful! I wish we could join you, but that is prime time beach season for me! But am so happy for you and tim.ANd once again, it all fell together for you for a “summer vacation” ….and a very civilized one in such first world locations as well! I have sedn the lavender fields in france and it is totally wonderful… also – and almost better ( for me at least) will be the sunflower fields- tourne de soleil … the flowers actually move their heads and follow the sun I enjoy speaking french and love travel there. But Craig does not parlez vous and gets really tired of my talking to strangers (haha) and he is unable to understand! pretty funny…

    I am at the shore w Katie and the three kids, for a few days… Wes, her husband is on a biz trip (w prospecive clients and golf!!)… and Craig should be here shortly for dinner… it is baby jack’s first time here! we will all go home on Sunday at various times…( I have a baby shower midway — perfectly located —between here and home, to attend!) It was a lovely day, sunny and “shirt sleeve weather”..and we did not even walk to the beach/ocean… we just played in the yard, bikes and stayed around the house, the kids were too excited about being back again… really adorable. W me following them around w my camera! anyway, congrats onthe vacation plans! a >

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  6. Shoshana Magdieli says:

    You will love it! I just came back from Nederland where I was born and lived as a child and visit Belgium as well Burgh is beautiful Enjoy it Shoshana

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  7. Ginny Schaw says:

    Hi Joanne. Your trip sounds wonderful! It has been awhile since I was in Amsterdam, but I have fond memories of Indonesian food. I loved the Rijstaffel. It is a feast made up of multiple small rice dishes and it was delicious! I tried to create it once and it was more than a cullinary challenge!

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    • Hi Ginny, we watched a program last night that had us drooling over the “rice table”. I’m planning on doing a little research to find a good restaurant near the center of town so we can give it a try.

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  8. Janna D says:

    If you’re going to be in Avignon, I highly, highly recommend going to Pont Du Gard. You can buy a pass at the bus station for 10 euros that includes bus fare and entry to the aqueducts (that alone is usually 10 euro). It is just a 30-40 minute bus ride a way and is breathtaking and mind blowing. I also recommending take the train (15 minute ride) to Orange and exploring the Roman Theatre there. Is also incredible and is one of the 3 Roman Theatres that still has its acoustic wall intact. So worth it!

    I thoroughly enjoyed Avignon though. It was quiet, peaceful, not to touristy. There are a lot of shops. I’d check out the bridge there as well as the Palace of the Popes for sure.

    Hope you have a great trip! I love this region and hope to go back someday!

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  9. This looks delightful, I’m sure you will enjoy your trip. Bruges is my favourite town in Belgium 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sounds wonderful Joanne – we spent a week in Bruges last summer and loved it, so much to see and do, Belgium is a wonderful country. Paris and Amsterdam I love too!! Looking forward to reading all about it.

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  11. Hi Tim and Joanne
    We will just miss you in Amsterdam, Bruges and Paris, arrive in Amsterdam 24 June then cycling to Bruges (over 7 days) staying overnight on a barge, in Paris for four days before heading on, part of a six month adventure.

    We spent two days in Avignon in late August 2013 before biking around Provence. You will have no trouble filling in your time, the Popes Palace is worth a visit but go early to avoid the crowd. There are lots of towns in easy reach of Avignon, Arles is amazing, especially their Saturday morning market, Le Baux is a great example of a hill top town or, you can catch the train to L’Isle sur la Sourge about 30 minutes from Avignon, a very different place with canals, water wheels, a great place for a day trip.

    Unfotunately we were too late for the Lavender. We caught the train from Avignon to London via Paris, whole trip took 6 hoirs including the trip across Paris to board the Eurostar. You can cover a lot of ground at over 300km per hour. Unfortunately, trains are largely a memory here in New Zealand.

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    • I’m sorry our time in Amsterdam will not overlap. It would have been wonderful to meet up with fellow travelers. Doing a seven day bike ride from Amsterdam to Bruges and staying on a barge at night sounds like an amazing idea. We need to look into that for a future adventure. Did you go through a tour company to arrange it? Thank you for the suggestions for Avignon and surrounding area. On my way now to check out your blog to see what other travel gems I can pick up. Appreciate all your input and wish you all the best on your six month journey!

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  12. Katelyn says:

    Went to Bruges on a weekend trip to Belgium and it is an absolute fairytale. If you have time on your tour, I’d highly recommend a house drawn carriage ride. They leave right from the city’s center square and travel through “Old Bruges” with the guide (you can request an English speaker) pointing out all sorts of hidden gems! Enjoy!!

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  13. kalison0515 says:

    I can’t believe that these are the three countries I plan to visit in Sept-Oct 2015! I also recommend Gent — even more than Brugge — because I think it is more of an authentic, less touristy city. It is only 15 minutes by train from Brugge and has canals over two rivers. When I made a scrapbook of my trip to Belgium in 2007, I described Gent as gritty and gorgeous. I want to revisit it this time, along with a couple of new places. Thanks for sharing your information here! This is great!

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