10 days in belgium and western germany

Old Mar 24th, 2012, 01:39 PM
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10 days in belgium and western germany

Hello everyone,

I have been a quietly enjoying travel discussions on this forum for some time now, and have been very impressed with everyone's knowledge and willingness to help out with any travel questions. I just booked plane tickets to Brussels (Yay!) for July 2012. I am planning to spend 10 nights in Belgium and western Germany - unless I get a better suggestion on what else can be done.

We are flying to Brussels from California. We get there on Thursday around 11 am. I haven't figured out where to go from the airport. Starting Saturday, I have booked an apartment in Gemund, Germany through RCI for 7 nights. I don't have to use all 7 nights and I am flexible if spending an extra night in Belgium works better. The following Saturday, we have a morning flight to catch from Brussels.

We are definitely going to rent a car before to head to Germany. I don't know if I need the car when we land in Brussels.

We are a family of four with two kids (ages 2.5 and 6.5). We will definitely need to pick kid friendly places/activities and don't think we will be doing museums or fancy dinners. We are not trying to squeeze too many places into this trip but then don't want it to be boring either.

Please help me figure out where to go and what to do. Where should we start our trip? Would you suggest going to Bruges directly from Brussels?

thank you!
Megan
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 04:10 PM
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>>>>Would you suggest going to Bruges directly from Brussels?

With young kids, actually, yes. You don't need a car there, it looks kind of fairytale, there is plenty to amuse you, and the kids will be enchanted. Put off renting a car as long as you can.
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 04:25 PM
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Are you not going to museums because you don't like them or the kids? If you like museums take a look at this site:

http://brusselsmuseums.be/en/index.php

Brussels has some great art museums. Your kids may be a little young to appreciate Horta's work but a trip to the Comic Strip Museum may be fun for them.
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Old Mar 24th, 2012, 05:21 PM
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It think you'll find much to keep you and the kids occupied in Brussels, so don't rush off as soon as you land, maybe a day or 2 will be good, then you can go to your apartment, and then when you come back (either after 7 days or sooner) you should also visit Brugge/Bruges as it is very pretty and the kids will love it.

As was mentioned, in Brussels the Comic Strip Museum might be fun, along with a visit to Mini-Europe and even the Atomium. Many dismiss them, but they are fun - the Atomium, apart from exhibitions and looking at the exterior, there are tours and temporary exhibitions that might be of interest. And Mini-Europe is also fun for adults and kids with some of the major European cities all together in miniature. You can also purchase a combi ticket for Mini-Europe and the Atomium. Getting there from the centre of town is easy enough by train and metro.

And of course some waffles, fries and mussels will be a treat and easy to find in Brussels (and Brugge for that matter). There's also a Chocolate Museum in the Grand'Place in Brussels which might be a fun detour before sampling some from the plethora of shops around the city.
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 04:28 AM
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Brussels would not be my first choice with children - well, it wouldn't be my first choice anyway.

I would rent the car at the airport and drive straight to Brugge - it is only 1:15 away. Taking a train, with a connection, with 2 little ones after an overnight flight seems a little daunting to me. Parking in Brugge is not the simplest thing, depending on where you stay, so that is the other side of the coin.

I think that you should be okay spending your 7 days in Gemund, especially since you will have a car. I haven't personally partaken in any but I imagine that there are any number of outdoor things you can do with the kids in and around the 3 country corner there with the Ardennes forest in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany.

You are probably spending your last night at an airport hotel?
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 05:06 AM
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Perhaps you may want to visit Europapark near Freiburg for the kids. It's an amusement park with different European themed villages throughout the park.

We haven't been there for some number of years but it was fun when we went with our kids (although they were a bit older than yours).
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 06:19 AM
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There are definitely things to do with kids in Brussels. In addition to the places others have mentioned, you could consider the Museum of Musical Instruments which is in a spectacular Art Nouveau building and has interactive exhibits. The museum of Central Africa in the suburb of Tervuren (and reachable by tram from the center of the city) would probably appeal to them, too. There are more details about both in my trip report from last fall.

Brugge is a beautiful small city with good art museums but I am not sure that kids would be especially charmed by the general atmosphere. The older one would probably enjoy climbing the belfry and seeing the windmills, and the canal boat tour would be a good activity. Ghent, much closer than Brugge to Brussels, also has a charming old city center and canals. One advantage of going there is that you and your husband could see a major piece of Flemish art, the spectacular Van Eyck altarpiece of the Adoration of the Mystic lamb in St. Bavo's Cathedral, without going into a museum.

My husband and I found that when we went to Europe when our kids were young it often made sense to split up and let one adult have some time in a museum or just enjoy a leisurely stroll.

I am not familiar with the area in Germany where you will be staying but it looks from our guide books there is plenty to do. castles are always a hit with kids. Aachen is an attractive and interesting nearby city.
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 08:24 AM
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If you spend time in Brussels your kids may also be interested in going to the Museum of the City - Maison du Roi-to see the extensive costume collection of the nearby Manneken-Pis statue.
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Old Mar 25th, 2012, 09:54 PM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

dfourh - yes, I don't want to rent the car until we head towards Germany. We will def need a car there as the place where we will be staying in middle of national forest.

lsky - it gets extremely hard to keep kids from running around in museums, which sometimes can be very disrespectful to other visitors. kids def enjoy fountains, trains, people, birds more than art right now.

madamtrashheap - thank you for wonderful suggestions. I'll have to look up mini europe as I didn't know about it at all.

aramis - Since this is my first visit to Belgium, and I would like to spend at least one day in Brussels. It may be as charming as many other cities or town, but I am sure that it has plenty to keep us happy for couple of days. Given it's a short trip, I may spend only one day for Comic strip museum, mini europe, chocolates, waffles.

pauljagman - Where can I find info about europapark?


vttraveler - I'll look up your trip reports thank you!

If I decide to spend first three days between Brussels and Bruges - would it be better to stay at one place and do a day trip to the other? I have heard that Bruges is really magical at night time. Given that we have young kids, we may not be out too late but I am wondering if we can take a train back to Brussels around 8ish at night.

I have not started looking at Gemund area yet. We will definitely visit smaller town and also cologne and Duesseldorf (cologne is about 50 kms and Duesseldorf is about 110 kms from the apartment). Are there any castles or attractions there that we shouldn't miss?

thank you,

Megan
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Old May 14th, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Hello everyone,

Now that we are almost 60 days away from starting the trip, I am in panic mode! I need to finalize my trip soon.

Here is what I know for sure.

Day1 - thurs:
- Arrive at BRU at ~9:30 am, put extra bags in airport locker, and go straight to Brugge/Bruges.
- Train or car - tbd. We will def. need a car before we get to Germany.
- I have started contacting B&B (based on some older threads on Fodors) for availibility and pricing. Pls let me know if you have any suggestions. My budget is about $150/night.
- We will get half the day in Bruges. Night in Brugge.

Day2 - fri:
- All day, night in Brugge.

Day3- sat:
- Start from Brugge in the morning.
- Spend time in Ghent or Brussels. (Any other suggestions?)
- Drive to Schleiden, Germany.
- Night in Schleiden-Gemünd
.

Day4 - sun:
- Places around Schleiden. May be Europapark & Monschau (less than 30 mins away)
- Night in Schleiden-Gemünd


Day5 - mon:
- Cologne or Bonn. Both are about 1 hr drive. Or shall we skip and instead visit for something else? Maastricht? It's 1 hr 20 mins from the apartment.
- Night in Schleiden-Gemünd


Day6 - tues:
- Cochem and Berg Eltz. Apartment to Cochem is 1 hr 40 mins.
- I am wondering if we should spend a night here even though we will have the aprtment so that we can visit another rhine or mosel town or village the next day?
- Night - undecided

Day7 - wed:
- Unsure

Day8 - thur:
- Unsure

Day 9 - fri:
- Pack and leave for Brussels in the morning. Though we have rented the apartment for whole week, I think we will be spending last night in Brussels as we have 8:45 am flight to catch.
- Spend day in Brussels
- Night in Brussels

Day 10 - Sat:
- Catch the flight.

Please let me know what you think.

thank you all!

Megan
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Old May 14th, 2012, 03:30 PM
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Mega max ; Comments below, after a re-paste of your stated itinerary


"Arrive at BRU at ~9:30 am, put extra bags in airport locker, and go straight to Brugge/Bruges.
Train or car - tbd. We will def. need a car before we get to Germany."

You want a car by Day 3, for your drive to Schleiden. Compare the cost of 2 additional days rental, plus gas and parking with the cost of train fare and taxis for for the 4 of you to get from BRU to Brugge. I don't think you would want to leave Brugge with all your stuff and take another train to Gehnt, renting a car only when you leave for Germany. I think it might be cheaper, or at least comparable.


"Day3- sat:
- Start from Brugge in the morning.
- Spend time in Ghent or Brussels. (Any other suggestions?)"

Ghent Ghent Ghent



"Day4 - sun:
- Places around Schleiden. May be Europapark & Monschau (less than 30 mins away)"

Europapark is more than 5 hours away from Schleiden.



"Day5 - mon:
- Cologne or Bonn. Both are about 1 hr drive. Or shall we skip and instead visit for something else? Maastricht? It's 1 hr 20 mins from the apartment."

Cologne has the Dom and.... well, it has the Dom.

Bonn was West Germany's seat of government, a completely modern and rather dull city, I am afraid.

Maastricht is quite nice - worth the extra 20 minutes, but I think Aachen would be even better, and it is closer.

"Day6 - tues:
- Cochem and Berg Eltz. Apartment to Cochem is 1 hr 40 mins.
- I am wondering if we should spend a night here even though we will have the aprtment so that we can visit another rhine or mosel town or village the next day?
- Night - undecided"

Cochem is about 1:30 from Schleiden. You could stay, make it the Mosel if you do and head south west towards Bernkastel (1:00). It is 1:40 back to Schleiden from Bernkastel.

"Day7 - wed:
- Unsure

Day8 - thur:
- Unsure"


Vianden 1:40
Trier 1:40
Aachen
Maastricht

"Day 9 - fri:
- Pack and leave for Brussels in the morning. Though we have rented the apartment for whole week, I think we will be spending last night in Brussels as we have 8:45 am flight to catch.
- Spend day in Brussels
- Night in Brussels"

Yup

"Day 10 - Sat:
- Catch the flight."

SO sad
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Old May 14th, 2012, 05:17 PM
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Might be in the minority on this forum and elsewhere, but wouldn't concentrate too much on "holiday activities" for young children, beyond say, looking out for a nice park/stretch of grass and/or cute animals - ducks usually oblige, but of course any animal will do - speaking of which, in Brugge there is a much-photographed golden labrador which spends its days resting on a window ledge overlooking one of the main canals. In Maastricht, on the easy, circular walk of the old town there is a nice grassy area near the river (and a likely passing barge bonus for the 6.5 yo).
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Old May 14th, 2012, 09:06 PM
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In Brussels the Parc de Bruxelles (right in the middle of Brussels, Parc metro station and just near the Palace) has a playground. Also another member of the forum put me onto Océade, which is a water park or giant pool - your kids might enjoy those. Océade is somewhere near Mini-Europe and the Atomium:

http://www.oceade.be/en/index.php


Lavandula
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Old May 14th, 2012, 09:30 PM
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Also, the famous restaurant serving mussels and frites, Chez Léon, also has a free children's menu. This way you can strike moules et frites off your bucket list and keep the kids happy as well:

http://uk.chezleon.be/index.asp?id=553
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Old May 15th, 2012, 08:51 AM
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Aramis - thank you for your feedback!

I have been leaning towards spending 4-5 hours in Ghent on day 3. We will have one day in Brussels on the last days so might as well see Ghent on our way from Brugge to Schleiden.

Europapark! Ha! I must have typed something else in google map

Day 6 - which town and hotel or b&b would you suggest spending a night if we want to be in Mosel area and why? Also, if I had to pick only two or three towns in that area, what would you recommend?

I am thinking about adding a day in Maastricht. Need to do some research on that
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Old May 15th, 2012, 08:57 AM
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farrermog, lavandula - thank you for giving some ideas about kid-friendly activities. Animals, open areas and fountains are usually big attractions for my kids, and I am sure that we will come across at least one of the three everyday
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Old May 15th, 2012, 03:22 PM
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Fountain in Parc de Bruxelles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uvwis_gZKag

Also the Manneken Pis is a fountain ...

Lavandula
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Old May 16th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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If you want an alternative to a theme park.. You will be next door to the Eifel National Park when in Gemünd. Maybe that can also be interesting, as they also have activities for kids, trails to explore stuff and so on. And it costs nothing and requires hardly any driving as Gemünd is at the Southern edge of the park anyway.
http://www.nationalpark-eifel.de/go/eifel/english.html
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Old May 16th, 2012, 05:36 PM
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Thanks, Cowboy1968. Since the apartment at a very close proximity to the Eifel National Park (I think it's within the national park boundary), we will sure be spending time there.
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Old May 16th, 2012, 06:44 PM
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The tour de France bike race begins in Belgium this year, the first weekend. Liege Is hosting it. It may be good. Fun if you're there at that time,
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