2 weeks Belguim, Netherlands & Holland

Old Feb 20th, 2007, 08:56 PM
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2 weeks Belguim, Netherlands & Holland

We have the last 2 weeks of Sept.& would like to see a part of Western Europe. We are 50ish couple who enjoy walking, biking, architecture, food,history. Maybe a stay on a canal boat or a couple of day bike trip. We are thinking of arriving in Brussels & leaving from Amsterdam, but at this point are fairly open. We would like to book air tickets as soon as we can. Any ideas on possible itinaries, rent car? train? Cities to stay at? We usully like to stay at least 2 days in each place. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old Feb 20th, 2007, 09:12 PM
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The southeastern portion of Belgium justifies a car. Although I recommend visiting Brugge (my favorite), Antwerp, Ghent, and Brussels, more to the northwest. No need for a car in these cities -- would probably be more of a hinderance. I drove in Brussels and vowed never to do so again. For some reason SE Belgium reminded me of Virginia, just with more history, castles, etc. It must have been all that greenery.

You could then train to Amsterdam and settle in -- taking day trips by train. Many places to visit outside the city. A car would be most inconvenient in Amsterdam. I was nervous enough crossing the street on foot -- all those bikes!
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Old Feb 20th, 2007, 09:23 PM
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Thanks luvtotravel, have you been to Holland? I really have no idea of how much we can see in 2 weeks... What about renting a car for a week Then trains?
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 02:56 AM
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In Holland go to Delft, nice old city, also visit the windmills in Kinderdijk - not too far from Rotterdam-
If you like modern buildings, go to Rotterdam and make a harbotboattour.
Of course Scheveningen the seaside resort of The Hague
Then Amsterdam - canalboattrip, Ann Frank House, various musea. Great city to walk and also rent a bike.
At many trainstations in Holland you can rent bikes anyway.
Only end of sepmteber can be cool and rainy..
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 03:09 AM
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The transportation in NL is very good so you don't necessarily need a car.

You might like the islands - like ameland for a day or two where you can cycle around.

I would stay in Brussels for - 2 days, (with side trip to Antwerp) Bruges, 1 day - then move on to the Netherlands - much more interesting.
 
Old Feb 21st, 2007, 03:22 AM
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If you like walking, biking etc then maybe you should try getting away from Amsterdam for a few days. You could try the island of Texel, which you can get to by train and ferry from Amsterdam, or go to Friesland, Overijssel or Gelderland and enjoy the countryside and villages in those provinces. Around Maastricht in the south is also very beautiful and very un-Dutch! Bikes can be hired in almost any town or village, often from the station. Or try Naarden, Spakenburg, Soestdijk (the home of the late Queen Juliana - now open to the public) all nearer to Amsterdam.
In Belgium the Ardennes offer good waking, but you will need a car to get there.
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 03:42 AM
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My husband and I have been to the BeNeLux region several times. Our tastes are similar to yours sans the biking.

My two week itinerary would look something like this:

1) Fly to Brussels

2) Brussels (recover from jet lag) - Hotel/Brussels

3) Brussels - Hotel/Brussels

4) Train to Brugge - Hotel/Brugge

5) Brugge - Hotel/Brugge

6) Train to Ghent or Antwerp.
Train to Delft. - Hotel/Delft

7) Den Hague & Sheveningen - Hotel/Delft

8) Delft. Train to Haarlem - Hotel/Haarlem

9) Haarlem - Hotel/Haarlem

10) Train to Amsterdam - Hotel/Amsterdam

11) Amsterdam - Hotel/Amsterdam

12) Amsterdam - Hotel/Amsterdam

13) Amsterdam - Hotel/Amsterdam

14) Fly Home

While in Amsterdam you can do a day trip to Utrecht & Gouda.

I'll be happy to answer any other questions you have, if I can. I'm off to work now. Enjoy planning. Peace, Robyn >-
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 03:46 AM
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By the way, I would do this itinerary by train. The rail system in the Netherlands and Belgium is very efficient and easy to travel on. A car would be a hinderance in all these cities/towns. Peace, Robyn >-
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 05:18 AM
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What about Arnhem? there is a national park on the outskirts of there where you can bike through (can't remember the name off the top of my head) and it was lovely.

Also Utrecht is a beautiful city and Nijmegen, which claims alongside the Hague to be the oldest town in the Netherlands.

In Belgium, i like Ypres and Bruges (esp Bruges)
 
Old Feb 21st, 2007, 06:58 AM
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The National park is Hoge Veluwe. If you stay in Arnhem you can also visit Nijmegen from there. But not sure either is really worth it. Why stay in Haarlem and then got to Amsterdam? Either go to Haarlem from Amsterdam, or probably a cheaper option is to stay in Haarlem!
Vlieland Terschelling Ameland and Shiermonnikoog are all lovely islands but a bit further away from Amsterdam which is why I suggested Texel. It is also the easiest to get to by public transport. If you really want to see Holland though hire a car after a couple of days in Amsterdam and get out to the villages and countryside.
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 07:10 AM
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You will love Amsterdam and Belgium - we've spent a couple of long weekend type trips in each area and will definitely return as there is so much to see and do. If you are in Brussels, be sure to spend at least a day or two in Brugge. It is beautiful in and of itself but take a full day in Ipres and the western front. I spent three days in Brugge - could have used one more. 4 days in Amsterdam and could have used at least 2 more for outside area day trips. We stayed in the Ramada Inn/Suites in amsterdam (nice place but a default since it was Queen's day and all others were booked), Metropole in Brussels(business trip for DH) and the Bryghia in Bruges. No need for a car in either place; trains are very efficient, walking is the best way to get around once in the city.
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 07:24 AM
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We were in Brussels, Brugges and Amsterdam last May and did not rent a car, the public transportation system is great. Brussels is interesting, but 2 days is plenty there. Brugges is really beautiful, but I would try to avoid the weekends because it seems to get incredibly crowded. We were leaving on a Friday afternoon and people were pouring in! We stayed at a wonderful B&B called Number 11 which I highly recommend. Annie will take great care of you! It's easy to get to Amsterdam from Brugges and it's lovely there. We day tripped to Haarlem and thought it was great. If we had more time (we were only there for 6 days and then had to go to London) I would have stayed 2 days in Haarlem, and also checked out Delft.

Have a great time and get ready for the best cheese, milk and chocolates (particularly Dumon in Brugges)!
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 07:33 AM
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whatever you do, don't bike in downtown Amsterdam. They just fly around, actually you have to watch out for the bikers when walking around the city
 
Old Feb 21st, 2007, 08:18 AM
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It is certainly possible to get an overview of Holland and Belgium in two weeks. We spent 16 nights in Benelux two years ago and even managed to squeeze in Luxembourg and Friesland (a little visited part of Holland).

Unfortunately, you will not be visiting at tulip time, but there is still plenty to see. If you are in the Delft area, the historic windmills of Kinderdijk would be a good biking opportunity.

Holland and Belgium are great places to explore by car. Distances are not great and English is widely spoken.

To give you an idea of what you can realistically expect to fit in, our itinerary is below. We used a rental car for all portions of the trip except the start and finish in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam - 2 Nights. This included an evening canal cruise with dinner. Very touristy, but we loved it.

Delft - 4 Nights. In addition to Delft, we visited The Hague, Keukenhof Gardens, drove around photographing tulip fields, and made three visits to Kinderdijk (only 15 miles from Delft, we couldn't resist returning).

Alkmaar - 2 Nights. We did the Friday morning Cheese Market. Also visited the Zaanse Schans and Zuiderzee open-air museums.

Leeuwarden - 2 Nights. Drove around the province of Friesland. Checked out the North Sea and crossed the Afsluitdijk.

Leuven (near Brussels) - 4 Nights. Visited the Belgian towns of Brugge, Antwerp, Dinant, and Namur. Drove to Vianden and the Mueller Valley in Luxembourg.

Amsterdam - 2 Nights. Discovered Dutch pancakes.
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 10:25 AM
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The Amsterdam sites that I think are 'must see's are: rijksmuseum (1/2 day), Van Gogh museum (1/2 day), Ann Frank Huis (1/2 day), Amstel Hotel, canal cruise, tour of little villages north of A'dam, Our Lord in the Attic church, all the various churches you'll see along the canals, Dutch Resistance Museum, Benjinhof, Willet-Holthuysen, vondelpark, dam square, etc....and that leaves out the red light district! In Brugge, go to the main square, tour the bell tower, go to the Basilica of Holy Blood, go thru the adjacent museum, visit the two cathedrals that are skyline standouts, go to the hospital museum, take a canal cruise, wander the side streets, spend a full day on an Ipres tour of the western front, go to the chocolate museum, buy some of the best chocoloates in the world, see how lace is still made by hand, there are two wonderful primitive art museums along the canals, and so on. Avoid the weekend if possible since many tourist descend then. You can sit on the main square, have a beer, coffee, hot chocolate, and just people watch. There is so much to see and do; we tend to pack things in but you may want to take a more leisurely pace. gosh, you're making me want to return as soon as possible and its only been 3 months since I was there!
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 08:30 PM
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WOW, thanks for all of the suggestions & ideas, we are now much more comfortable of our choice of destinations! Has anyone stayed on a house boat in Amsterdam or??? Any B&B suggestions. I understand there are a number of different rail passes, any suggestions?
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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 07:36 AM
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Could someone tell me how long the train journey is from Brussels to Brugge?
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Old Feb 22nd, 2007, 08:34 AM
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@Juicy: it takes about 1 hour. It can be a few minutes les, or ten minutes more, depending on the train you take. All trains also stop in Ghent.
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Old Feb 25th, 2007, 05:13 PM
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Can anyone suggest what towns near Amsterdam we can escape to for a nice countryside bike ride? Staying in Amsterdam for 2 nights in June and would like to rent bikes to sightsee. Where is the best place to rent bikes from? Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 25th, 2007, 05:28 PM
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Maybe a stay on a canal boat

I remember seeing a couple listed on www.vrbo.com
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