1st time to Belgium

Old May 11th, 2004, 09:45 PM
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1st time to Belgium

I will be traveling from Frankfurt to Paris via Belgium. This is my first time to Europe and I would enjoy seeing Belgium for 2-3 days and sampling Belgium beer. Recommendations on a great place to visit en route to Paris. Thank You!
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:01 PM
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The obvious suggestion would be to research Brugge, Ghent & Antwerp. Brussells is arguably a mini version of Paris.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:06 PM
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In my opinion, Brussels does not compare to Paris at all. It's not as scenic. All of its tourist sights are great but I found the city to be unattractive. Granted I spent only one day there but what I saw was enough. Again, this is just my opinion.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:07 PM
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I did like the chocolates alot though!
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:20 PM
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I agree with you francophile and I've been to Brussells a few times. I just don't want to upset members who live in Brussels. Besides I'm going to Brussels again next month, I have to think positively.
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Old May 11th, 2004, 10:35 PM
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Hi Dax, just get some chocolates and you'll be ok!
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Old May 12th, 2004, 12:39 AM
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Francophile and DAX, a few questions since you believe one day was enough for Brussels:
Did you wander around the Parc Woluwe? Visit the Van Buren Museum?
Take a stroll around the Etangs in Ixelles and have a coffee by the fireplace (or on the terrace) at Canterbury's?
Stop for a meal at Les Brasseries Georges?
Try the Place Chatelain outdoor market?
Look for gourment souvenirs at Rob's Fine Foods?
Have an afternoon drink at Au Vieux St. Martin?
Dance on the tables at Mappa?
Attend a preview at the Horta auction house?
Listen to the gossip of international correspondents at The Old Hack, hearing tidbits of juicy stories that never make the evening news?
See Belgian fashions at Natan?
Check out the museums and special exhibits at the Cinquantenaire?
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Old May 12th, 2004, 02:23 AM
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Brugges would be a first choice. Paris is a big city, and Brugges is a small little gem. It is so old and beautifully preserved and clean. The beer and chocolates add to the fun!
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Old May 12th, 2004, 03:23 AM
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jalong: Brugge is very special indeed. If you like less tourists and a livelier city, but still medieval, try Ghent. Antwerp is a bit bigger, and especially good for shopping and nightlife.

BTilke: thank you for putting some of the things to find out in Brussels. You never replied to the other post, though it was a genuine question I had
For directions I presume I'll use www.pagesjaunes.be
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Old May 12th, 2004, 07:36 AM
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Thanks BTilke for your wonderful suggestions for my next visit. I knew you would defend Brussells. I usually spend 3 days in Brussells and no I haven't done anything on your list. Maybe my wife may enjoy dancing on tables at Mappa but I'm looking forward to drinking some abbey beers. It costs $ 8-10 a bottle in the US.
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Old May 12th, 2004, 08:31 AM
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To really enjoy Brussels, you have to make a conscious effort to Get Away From The Grand'Place. Especially for restaurants--the rue des Bouchers, etc., is about the last place in Brussels I'd send people to for dinner.
Stardust, I am working on a post about Brussels but am very busy right now putting a press kit together for an event in Milan in less than two weeks. I promise to get the post finished soon!
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Old May 12th, 2004, 10:15 AM
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Thanks for that jalong! Specifically, any thoughts on Beer Gardens? I'm told I simply must visit one!

Thanks!
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Old May 12th, 2004, 12:07 PM
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No, honestly, I did not visit any of the places you mention. Sorry if I offended you about my not liking Brussels.
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Old May 13th, 2004, 12:48 AM
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Wow, BTilke, you're a perfect ambassador for our capital city!
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Old May 13th, 2004, 03:15 AM
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People are perfectly free to not like Brussels, but Brussels is not as easy to "get your head around" as places like London, Paris, Vienna or Prague, which leads many people with IMHO an inaccurate first impression. Aside from the Grand'Place and the Sablon, it doesn't have many "obvious" sightseeing spots. You have to do a little more work to enjoy it. A lot of the best things about Brussels are not in the inner core, which does have some (many!) horrible, ugly buildings that look like they came from a 1970 issue of Soviet Architect's Digest.
OTOH, the Parc Woluwe, the first place I mentioned, is one of the most beautiful green spaces in Europe, not just Belgium. Few tourists make it there, which is a shame. I take the dog there almost every day to stroll among the trees, chase bunnies (she never catches any), and admire the variety of bird life. The park's cafe, Les Etangs Maellerts, is pretty and serves surprisingly good food, attracts an upscale crowd for lunch, but the service is...not perfect. The park is a great place to take kids--little kids can feed the swans or play mini-golf, teenagers can hang out at the skateboard section (they have ramps and obstacles set up for local skateboard afficionados). It's also near the BEST gourmet grocery store in Brussels, perhaps in all of Belgium, which is Rob's Fine Foods (www.robfinefood.be and click on your language choice--French, Dutch, English). Rob's has a casual little cafe of its own and an outstanding wine department (in the basement level)--arguably the best wine shop in Brussels.
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Old May 13th, 2004, 03:40 AM
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By the way, on the Rob's web site, you can take a little virtual tour around the store...we shop there a few times a week for freshly baked bread, delicious charcuterie, etc. The walk up the street to Royal Mail, a little neighborhood cafe/restaurant with a very nice house red and welcoming staff. Plus excellent home cooked lunch specials every weekday--7.35 euros for soup or appetizer and main course or main course and dessert du jour.
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 04:54 PM
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BTilke -- Could you tell me how to get to the Parc Woluwe if using public transportation? Also where is the Royal Mail -- which direction from Rob's? and how far?
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 06:06 PM
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You mentioned sampling Belgian beer, so I'd say put a night in Brussels on your list for a walk around the beer cafes sampling as many varieties as you can handle.
A must-see is Bruges (or Brugge, depending on whose map you're consulting). I also like to search out littler lesser-known places when I travel - if that appeals, then try De Panne on the Belgian coast a short distance north of the French border.
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Old May 23rd, 2004, 10:23 AM
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ttt for BTilke
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Old Jun 3rd, 2004, 09:45 AM
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Jalong -

My husband and I plan most of our trips around beer (like some folks do wine), and you cannot go wrong with a stay in Brugge.

Our top 3 fave spots for drinking beer in Brugge are:
* Erasmus Hotel Cafe (odd recommendation, but great draught choices and super friendly service)
* De Garre
* T'Brugges Beertje

Favorite Dining Experience:
* Den Dyver - gourmet beer restaurant. Each course is served with a recommended beer which is presented by a server who also describes the beer and gives its history

Fun Brewery Experience:
* Straffe Hendrick!

Brugge is absolutely fabulous. MOst people only go for a day trip, but I have stayed in Brugge for two 1-week vacations and have just loved it.

Beer recommendation: The flemish reds are very unique and delicious, and can sometimes have a sour taste. My favorite is Duchesse de Bourgogne.

Enjoy your trip!!!
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