Amsterdam and Belgium help

May 7th, 2007, 03:08 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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If you're interested in seeing birds in the Zwin nature reserve, it's easier from Brugge; only 15 mins by train. Then rent bicycles.
2 nights in Maastricht may be too much, unless you plan on exploring the countryside too. It's a lovely city, well worth visiting.

I live near Antwerp, and think it's a great town, but adding that to your itinerary might be too much.
You could stop in Brussels on your way to Brugge if you want to see the Grand Place. If you want to add another town, then Gent is easy to get to from Brugge.
Tulips is offline  
May 7th, 2007, 12:42 PM
  #22  
 
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Regarding your stop in Brussels for a few hours, Grand Place is an easy taxi ride, or an easy walk [depending on which station in Brussels you're stopping at] and worth spending some time in.
LoisL is offline  
May 7th, 2007, 12:56 PM
  #23  
 
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I agree with Tulips: 2 nights in Maastricht might be too much. Living close to Antwerp myself, too, I regret you left out 'my' city. It's very worthwhile visiting.
MyriamC is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 08:07 PM
  #24  
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Thanks for the birding tips, looks interesting.
We were thinking about exploring some of the countryside in Maastricht so 2 nights hopefully won't be too much. I was hoping that would be a contrast to the other places. We are also trying to stay at least two nights in places that we don't feel so rushed.
As for Antwerp, many people on this board seem to like it even more than Brussels and I'm thinking I should find a way to fit it in, is the main part of town accessible from the train station?

Should we add 1-2 nights to Antwerp and subtract from Maastricht and or Haarlem?
I would rather not do only 1 night in a place but maybe it's worth it. Would Antwerp be less touristy than any of the other places or just the same?

We need to stay near Amsterdam the last night because our flight leaves at 11am on a Thursday.
aguila22 is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 11:30 PM
  #25  
 
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You'll be 3 nights in Amsterdam at the beginning of your trip and 2 nights in Haarlem at the end. Both cities are only a 16 min. train ride apart so either city can easily be visited from the other one.

Area around Maastricht: especially the countryside in the province of Limburg at the Dutch/Belgian/German border is very pretty. I feel though, that you should have a car to explore the area at the fullest.

Antwerp: what can I say? It's 'my' city and, yes, I like it much better than Brussels because I know it much better. You can easily get from the train station to the historical centre. It's either a 20 min. walk or a 3 min. ride on the pre-metro system (lowest floor at Antwerpen Centraal station). Antwerp is getting a lot of press publicity these last years so it's becoming more and more popular with tourists but not to the same extent as Brugge for instance. Antwerp is a city where people actually live and work, it's not *just* for tourists as is Brugge. Mid August might be busy because of the yearly Rubens market on Mother's Day (Aug. 15).
Feel free to email me directly if you need more info.
MyriamC is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 12:20 AM
  #26  
 
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I agree - there is little point in staying tow nights in Haarlem, unless of course you want to go back into Amsterdam. The train problems mentioned earlier between Utrecht and Amsterdam have now been solved, so Utrecht could be a possiblity.
Antwerp is lovely and worth a visit. The area around Maastricht really needs a car, but Maastricht itself is wonderful and you can take a boat ride along the Maas to see a bit of the scenery. You could of course hire a car for a day. Maastricht is too far away to stay to get to Schiphol for your flight. Maybe if you don't fancy Utrecht you could make Haarlem your last night just to get the plane and add a night on to Amsterdam at the beginning, which would enable you to do a birding trip to Oostvaardersplassen for instance.
hetismij is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 03:05 AM
  #27  
 
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Check the train schedules; you may be able to get a direct train from Antwerp to Schiphol early enough for your flight. Trains stop at Schiphol. Try www.ns.nl or www.thalys.com
Tulips is offline  
May 9th, 2007, 03:12 AM
  #28  
 
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There's a direct train from Antwerpen Centraal to Schiphol that leaves around 6.30, gets to Schiphol around 8.30; don't know if that is enough time. That is the earliest train. www.nmbs.be
Tulips is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 01:01 PM
  #29  
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thanks again for all of the feedback.
As of now:
Amsterdam 4 nights
Maastricht 2 nights (then explore Brussels)
Brugge 2 nights
Antwerp 1 night

In looking into train options, i realized that renting a car after our stay in Amsterdam (and dropping off at Schiphol) will cost us less $214 (before gas) whereas the train would be about $335 (not including taxis).
I was looking forward to the train but it seems to limit some options (such as exploring countrysides and more remote areas).
Given that we also need to add the expense and pain of parking would people recommend sticking with the train option or opting for the similarly priced car option that allows some more flexibility?

I'm curious to hear what you think especially from people who have done a similar trip.

Thanks!
aguila22 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 05:21 AM
  #30  
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train or drive?
aguila22 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 05:30 AM
  #31  
 
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I would go for the car, but I nearly always prefer it to the train. As long as you don't have to drive and park in Amsterdam, which is a bit of a pain. Check to see if the hotels you have booked have parking.
Tulips is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 05:33 AM
  #32  
 
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>train or drive?

You are almost always staying in cities. Take the trains, and possibly rent a car for a day or two when going far out into the countryside. In most cases, there is no need for taxis - Antwerp has an excellent tram system, and Bruges is quite small.
altamiro is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 09:54 AM
  #33  
 
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keep in mind that gas is a lot mroe expensive in Europe than here. We just got back from Ireland and Northern Ireland, where a full tank of gas cost us approx. $75 for a mid size car, and Northern Ireland was more expensive.
LoisL is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 12:29 PM
  #34  
 
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I too would go for a car. You can see so much more of the countryside that way. You may get away with just filling up when you return the car. Petrol in the Netherlands is about €1.50 per litre pn the motorways, about €1.46 off the motorways. European cars have better fuel economy than US cars.
Do check about parking by your hotels.
hetismij is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 10:57 PM
  #35  
 
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And if you get a diesel you'll spend even less.

Check with the hotels about parking though.
Tulips is offline  
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