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3 Nights in October - Berlin, Munich, or Belgian Cities

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I'll be attending the BookFair in Frankfurt this October. I'm attempting to carve out some time ahead of the fair to visit a new city / new cities for three nights: I'd fly overnight on Friday from New York, spend all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and by say 10-11 AM on Tuesday catch the train to Frankfurt. Oh and one of these nights would be my birthday, so I figured why not have a solo weekend away to add to the conference!

I've narrowed down to three candidates, that all have nonstop flights from NYC (and are all in the same price range in terms of flight), are within about 4 hours by train of Frankfurt, and are new to me (I recently visited Amsterdam and my second trip to Paris is in 3 weeks, so those were ruled out).

I'm now having trouble narrowing down between a long weekend in Berlin, Munich, or Belgium (some combination of Bruges, Ghent, and/or Antwerp, and I would definitely want to stay at least one night in Bruges). Based on what I like to do, and your experiences, where would you advise me to go?

Here are my major interests for city breaks, and what my perceptions are from the research I've done so far:

-FOOD AND DRINK: sounds like Belgium is an easy winner in this category in terms of overall food quality. I like a range of food options, from street food to high end dining, although most of my meals are usually in causal restaurants or cafes. I know very little about the food of Germany, and more specifically the food of Berlin or Munich and Bavaria - it sounds very beer and sausage heavy, which does not send me anywhere. Berlin sounds like it would rank second here for availability of options, and some great Turkish/vegetarian choices. I'm not a big drinker, but I don't drink beer, only wine, so that element is lost to me in either case. I'm hoping in either case, German/French/Italian/Austrian/etc wine is on offer in restaurants instead of only beer.

-MUSEUMS AND HOMES/PALACES: I'm from New York, so I love the option of ducking into a great museum if the weather is poor, or it strikes my fancy. On my last trip to Paris, I visited Musee d'Orsay, de l'Orangerie and Marmottan, and loved the latter two especially for low crowds. In Amsterdam, I visited the Van Gogh Museum which I found overly crowded and poorly laid out, but loved the Rijksmuseum which was not crowded on my visit and was fascinated with the Old Master collections. Oddly though, I loved Versailles, but I did gardens first followed by interiors in the late afternoon, so again wasn't overwhelmed with other tourists. Bruges/Ghent/Antwerp don't seem to have a big must see museum or home/palace for my tastes, but those they have seem interesting enough that I would wander in if I passed by and felt inclined. Berlin sounds like it has a wealth of museums, and I'd certainly have to do more research to see which ones I may consider in my short time (although Pergamon sounds great to me). I'm intrigued by Munich's Alte Pinakothek, to see more Old Masters, as well as their Neue Pinakothek and Munich Residenz (and maybe the Glyptothek to shortlist)

-SCENERY AND/OR CITYSCAPE: I loved the architecture of Paris as much as the canals of Amsterdam as much as the wild countryside of Iceland. So here I think Munich or the Belgian cities are in the lead, Munich for its rebuilt old city and the potential to see the Bavarian Alps, Belgian cities for their architecture and canals. I can't get a read on Berlin, but thursdayd's trip report about all the construction seemed to put a damper on appreciating strolling around the city. Being able to do a canal tour or bike tour also has extra appeal in the Belgian cities.

-LIMITED TIME: It sounds as though Munich is probably most easily "seen" in 3 nights, because the city center is very compact. The Belgian cities are also well linked, although I would need to figure out where to put the other two nights besides one in Bruges. Berlin sounds like it is the hardest to get an initial feel for in only 3 nights, and the less compact nature and array of sights warrant more time.

-LIMITED LANGUAGE: My French is pretty good, though that won't help me in Belgium other than in Brussels where I'd change trains. I have no knowledge of Dutch or German, though I would make an effort to learn at least some pleasantries and important words beforehand. So I'll mostly be using pleasantries, Google translate, English and miming to get around, if that makes a difference.

Right now, based on all these factors, I would probably lean towards the Belgian cities, with Munich a close second. I feel like I may be missing something about Berlin, but maybe it just doesn't suit what I'm looking for at the moment.

Short version: 3 nights, looking for great food at a range of price points, art museums/historical palace and residences as an option, and some beautiful scenery (city, town or nature) to wander about in and take photos. Leaning towards Belgian cities (needing help with night combination) or Munich. What would you choose based on my interests?

Thanks, and sorry that was so long!

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