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Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

Chicago, Illinois
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Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

Hello all,

I am just looking for general opinions on what you would rather do. We are experienced Europe travelers. Our budget is $5k (we travel very modestly), and we have 10-12 days to go in late November-early December.

We have narrowed our options down to:

Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid (via train)

Amsterdam and Brussels (via train with maybe an additional stop off)

We live in Chicago, so we are used to cold and wet weather in November/December, so that isn't much of a concern (though if it's really bad, please let me know). We're not terribly in to super touristy things, though I love museums and art. Walking, roughing it, sights off of the map are what we are ideally looking for. We're late 20s, so up to anything.

My husband has been to Spain (and is Spanish speaking) and did a college-esque trip to Amsterdam in his prime. He has no preference. I am a city girl who has mainly done eastern Europe/Germany/Switzerland, so I also have no frame of reference.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated!

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1. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

<college-esque trip to Amsterdam in his prime> If you are in your 20's, when was that pray tell? :-))

There's no doubt about it - Amsterdam/Brussels!

I would recommend 6 or 7 days in Amsterdam (with day trips) with the rest of the time split between Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent.

Think about an open jaw plane ticket.

Edited: 06 July 2014, 05:30
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2. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

Spain would be great of course. Mind you, Madrid is also cold in winter.

As for the north, I'd opt for Paris instead of ugly, grey, smelly Brussels. A train Amsterdam - Paris takes just over 3 hours. seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-… (and fly open jaw if you can).

You could even add London, there is the Eurostar train connection from Paris to London. But definitely make it 15 days in that case.

I can't really recommend one region over the other, I love Amsterdam, and I love Spain... I think it's a matter of what you're in the 'mood' for culture-wise, north versus south. More rational or more emotional culture? More indoors activities and sights, or more outdoor life? More art & music oriented, or more food oriented?

Edited: 06 July 2014, 05:37
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3. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

Well, you don't want to be in Madrid in the heat of summer. It is brutal. Oh sure a dry heat...just like being in an oven, so as much as I love Amsterdam and think Brussels is barely ok, at that time of year I would go for Spain. Not that the weather is bad here in November, it is just probably better in Spain.

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4. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

I think November is a great time to visit Amsterdam (I will be there for two weeks this November). The weather can be cold and rainy but is not nearly as extreme as Chicago. It can also be clear and sunny. Yes, Spain is beautiful but it simply won't have the feel of excitement or the vibe you will find in Amsterdam.

Try to stay in the Central Canal Ring (Grachtengordel). The city is flat and compact making it among the most walkable in the world. You can walk from one end of the city center to the other in about 30 minutes. And in between you have some of the most famous museums found anywhere, eclectic food, and brown cafes (pubs) second to none. Take day trips to the university town of Leiden, Delft (home of the legendary blue porcelain), Haarlem, and the cute village of Edam.

Early on you should take a 60 - 90 minute canal cruise to get a perspective from the water. Look for places you want to come back and visit later. Notice the differences in architecture from the different periods of the Golden Age and the Amsterdam School. If smoking pot is not your thing, stop in have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the ambiance of a coffeeshop anyway (where else will you see one?),

Spend the better part of a day walking the local History of WWII. Start with the Anne Frank House. From there take a 20 minute walk to the Resistance Museum. That will put you in the middle of the Jewish Quarter. Visit the Portuguese Synagogue. Visit the dockworker monument erected in tribute to the only European strike staged during the war in support of the Jews. Go to the Hollandsche Schouwburg, the former performing arts theater where Nazis staged the Jews before transferring them to the concentration camps.

All of this is not to mention the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum (Holland's equivalent of the Louvre), or the Hermitage. Take in live performances in the Stopera or the Concertgebouw. And while Amsterdam is not that big, more nationalities live there than any other city in the world.

While many on this forum do not speak highly of Brussels, it is truly a great city. Few other places have a like heritage of two distinctly speaking peoples, the Flemish (Dutch), and the Walloons (French). Even the street signs are in two languages. The Grand Place and the area around it is as spectacular as any square in the world. The Rue des Bouchers (Street of the Butchers) is preeminent among foodies worldwide for its concentration of upscale eateries. Brussels is the seat of the European Union and NATO Headquarters. It hosts regional headquarters for such organizations as UNESCO, The WHO, UNICEF,The World Bank, and many more.

From Brussels you can take day trips or overnight trips to Waterloo, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Liege, or Charleroi. Do you want to visit a town and take in the flavor where they speak French or Flemish?

Neither Spain nor the Benelux would be a bad choice but I highly recommend the later.

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5. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

That would be 5-1 in Amsterdam's favor

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6. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

Well if you are not into the little special things that Amsterdam has to offer and you want to evade winter then I suggest going to Barcelona or Valencia. Amsterdam is filled with with annoying people and bad weather. That is what puts me off from it. Brussels is doable in 2 days, so for such a long trip I wouldn't go there. Barcelona is a little too packed but it is filled with cultural and outdoor activities. And if your husband speaks Spanish than there is no need to worry about difficulties with English. So, Barcelona or Valencia would be my choice.

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7. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

If you want to go to Spain I suggest southern Spain. Malaga, Ronda, Cordoba, Granada etc. Barcelona can be as cold as Amsterdam in november often only some 50-60F and it's a cloudy month also.

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8. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

I have been to Spain once. I really enjoyed that trip but have never been back.

I have been to Amsterdam once. I returned over 20 additional times.

For me this would be a no brainer

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9. Re: Amsterdam vs. Spain in November

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