Amsterdam or Bruges?

Oct 3rd, 2006, 04:44 PM
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Amsterdam or Bruges?

We are coming to Berlin next fall to run the marathon and will spend 4 days in Berlin. We have friends who live in the Essen area and will be visiting them following the marathon for 3 or 4 days and then we are planning a bike trip down the Rhine from Koblenz to Bingen, stopping along the way in Boppard and Oberwesel. That part of our trip will take 3 days. Following that we'll stop back in Essen and make our way to Paris. I haven't decided if we'll try to get a cheap flight or take a train. I don't really want to drive to Paris. I think a car would just be too much trouble there. Anyway, we want to spend 3 or 4 days in Paris. That leaves us 2 or 3 days before we head back to Essen to catch our flight back from Duesseldorf. We are considering traveling to Bruges, Belgium from Paris and spending a night there, or, in the alternative, heading back to Essen and then visiting Amsterdam for a day or maybe one night. It's only a 2 hour drive from Essen, so that could be a quick trip or an overnight. My question is, what do you think? Amsterdam or Bruges? My husband has been reading about Bruges and thinks it would be nice. We have been to Amsterdam for one day but didn't really get to see a lot and the weather wasn't too nice. We ate at a Chinese restaurant and someone in our party had some kind of animal "intestine" on their plate. He didn't realize what he was ordering. Anyway, not a good memory from Amsterdam, but we are going with friends who have never been there before and I'm thinking maybe it could be a nicer experience this time. My husband is not too adventurous in the Amsterdam sense, but we could head over to the redlight district of Amsterdam, take a boat trip on the canals, rent a bik. Any thoughts on the plan? And also what do you think about transportation? There are four of us, so a car could be cheaper and an experience, "the German autobahn." But what about luggage for 4 people? Also maybe we could buy some kind of train pass and do the whole thing that way. But some variety might be fun, a cheap flight, a car rental, a train trip. We do have the option of leaving some of our things in Essen once we get there so we don't have to carry it all around the whole trip. So what do you think, Amsterdam or Bruges if you only have two days/one night?

Sorry I'm going on. Thanks for your thoughts. I'm so excited. I love Europe and am so looking forward to a marathon in a foreign city.
CRose10328 is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2006, 06:41 PM
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Hi, Bruges is very pretty and probably what you imagine a charming, little city to be. I've never been to Amsterdam but from what I've seen of it in photos and on TV, I don't think I'd like it as much as Bruges.
phoenix79 is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2006, 10:41 PM
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Amsterdam is pretty "urban," while Brugges is a walkable, old world town - so you're really looking at two quite different experiences. We've been to both and while I enjoyed the VanGogh Museum and the Anne Frank house in A'dam (forget why we didn't make it to the Rijks), my choice would be a leisurely, more laid back visit to Brugges...
tuckerdc is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2006, 10:56 PM
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Although I am an absolute fan of AMS and all it has to offer - a fully-functional modern city full of historic treasures and architecture, huge collections of timeless art both old and ultra-modern, and much beauty - from what you tell us about your tastes, and considering you just have barely a day, I suggest the much smaller and easily absorbed fairy-tale town of Bruges.
WallyKringen is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 02:14 AM
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I also vote for Bruges over Amsterdam to get a change from all the big cities. By the way, while you're in Essen, try to work in a visit to nearby Hattingen, a delightful little town with many 16th century buildings still in use (the 16th century Latin school is now a cafe, for example).

Also, while your proposed bike trip along the Rhine should be fun, IMO, a bike trip through Muensterland is much better. Beautiful scenery, great bike paths, lovely villages, and the area is very receptive to cyclists...the local travel board will arrange a terrific itinerary for you. Plus Muensterland, while not far from Essen, is one of the undiscovered gems of Germany.
BTilke is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 04:58 AM
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I guess I'm going to look into Bruges more seriously. Thanks for all your insights. And I will check out Munsterland and Hattingen close to Essen. I love this planning!

CRose10328 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 06:07 AM
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Where do I find a website for the local travel board for Muensterland? I've done a couple of searches and didn't come up with much in English for Muensterland.

CRose10328 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 06:25 AM
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I would choose Bruges for a wonderful, relaxed time. We have stayed at Absolut Verhult (B&B) and Hotel Erasmus and they were both great. Rent a bike and explore, or walk everywhere. The canal boat trip is good too. And you absolutely must sample lots of chocolates!
PWAbbott is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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I just topped a thread about a similar trip. Good contact info there.

When we lived in the Essen/Bochum area a while ago, we spent most of our free time poking around Muensterland. Really liked it.
BTilke is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 07:34 AM
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These are two very different destinations. Bruges is a small, charming, beautiful medieval town and Amsterdam is a big, urban, sprawling, interesting city with a lot to do.

The negatives are that parts of Bruges are ridiculously touristy and parts of Amsterdam are messy, busy, and loud (like any big city).

It's really a matter of what kind of stay you're looking for - they're quite different.
john127 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 07:40 AM
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For me it would be Amsterdam, hands down. I liked the pictures of Brugge, but when I got there it was so touristy I didn't enjoy it except for the food. Food in Belgium is fantastic. Food in Amsterdam is not great, although I never encountered an intestine there.

Amsterdam is really very beautiful along the canals. It is one of my favorite cities in Europe. Everybody rides bicycles and lives very differently than people do elsewhere. In Brugge, there doesn't seem to be anybody living there who isn't in the tourist business. It's very pretty, but it's like a theme park.

fall06 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2006, 09:03 AM
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I was in both Amsterdam and Brugge in May and I agree with fall06 completely. But if you only have one day then Brugge would probably be a better choice.
Lily is offline  

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