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bestlaidtravelplans Oct 14th, 2017 01:31 PM

Belgium Itinerary
 
DH and I are off to Belgium next spring, uncharted territory for us both. We are looking forward to exploring a new part of Europe and getting a flavor of something different. We’re in our early 30s, love history, nature, castles, ruins, architecture, food, beer & wine, etc. I'm a planner but we're flexible in our traveling; we like to have a good outline of things to do and prefer to stay busy but we don't always stick to the itinerary or we move things around depending on time and energy and weather...

<B>Friday April 13:</B> Arrive Brussels 8:45 am. Train to Bruges (assuming we don’t need to pre-buy tickets ahead of time since trains run so regularly? Check into lodging, do a De Halve Maan brewery tour, visit the Groeninge Museum, go for a canal boat ride.

<B>Saturday April 14:</B> Quick look through the ‘t zand and dijver market. Do the Rick Steves Walking Tour (skipping the city hall and Memling museum). We are interested in doing the Quasimundo bicycle tour to Damme in the afternoon. Would be cutting our Bruges time short if we did this?

<B>Sunday April 15:</B> Day trip to Ghent

<B>Monday April 16:</B> Pick up rental car at 9am, head straight to In Flanders Field Museum. Take North Salient Battlefield Tour 1:00-5:00. Unsure if we should stay for the Last Post at 8:00pm since it’s a 50 minute drive back to Bruges?

<B>Tuesday April 17:</B> Drive to Wallonia (not sure where to make our base - Namur or Durbuy perhaps?). Potential list of stops along the way if we have time: Hallerbos Bluebell Forest (if blooming), Villers Abbey, Beersel Castle, stop for a short time in Crupet and check out the outside of the castle there.

<B>Wednesday April 18:</B> We are interested in doing three things this day but am doubtful of being able to do all three unless we get a really early start to the day: Rochehaut ladder hike, Chateau de Bouillon, and Orval Abbey. Any help narrowing down on these? They all sound really interesting.

<B>Thursday April 19:</B> Visit the Bokrijk Open Air Museum. Unsure if we should base the end of our trip in Brussels or Leuven? Return rental car. If we stay in Brussels, we’d do the Rick Steve's Grand Place Walk and explore Brussels.

<B>Friday April 20:</B> Day trip to Leuven (if basing in Brussels)

<B>Saturday April 21:</B> Visit the Groot-Bijgaarden Castle Floralia Show. Horta Museum in the afternoon. Suggestions for dinner? It’s our actual wedding anniversary, budget would be up to 150 euros with a bottle of entry level wine. Something with nice atmosphere and good food, just not overly fancy.

<B>Sunday April 22:</B> Flight home

PalenQ Oct 14th, 2017 02:26 PM

Would be cutting our Bruges time short if we did this?>

Not really as I assume the walking tour gets you about everywhere and when you return from Damme walk around the old quays north (?) of the main square and see the white humpbacked drawbridges and ancient canal facades wondrfully illuminated.

Train to Bruges (assuming we don’t need to pre-buy tickets ahead of time since trains run so regularly?>

Right no seat reservations even possible and flat fare tickets- buy both Zaventem-Brussels Centraal and from there to Bruges at airport train station - ask if on one ticket you can get off at Centraal station or just buy two separate tickets, which can be used on any train - out bags in luggage lockers or storage place in Centraal station and you are a few blocks from the Grand' Place and Mannequin Pis and the heart of Brussels tiny old town.

Ask when buying tickets about storing bags at Centraal station - if they have facilities - if not ask if Gare Midi or Zuid (South) station has luggage storage and then take train back to Centraal station. First class is not much more and these commuter type trains can be crowded at certain times but 1st class rarely so.

For lots about European trains like 1st v 2nd cl and Belgian ones check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

lavandula Oct 14th, 2017 03:57 PM

Just about your day in Ieper (Ypres) - why not pack up the car with your things and stay the night in Ieper for that night. I would suggest you stay for the Last Post - it's quite an important event there and it would be a shame to miss it. Then you could drive straight to Wallonia. I don't know Namur myself but I think it would make a better base than Durbuy, which is sort of in the middle of nowhere and I think that would make it a pain to get in and out of. Namur at least has close access to main roads.
For the last few days I would stay in Brussels and get rid of the car. There are numerous hotels in Brussels where you can park your car but it will cost up to EUR27 per day (we made enquiries about Hotel Bloom! for next year and decided it was too expensive, plus I am not keen on the area), and public transport in Brussels is really good. Easy trains to Leuven, which is very compact and walkable.
I have been to Bouillon and seen the castle - worth seeing. There is a falconry display there which is interesting.
Hope you find somewhere nice for your anniversary. You could try a Michelin-starred restaurant; there are a few in Brussels with 2 stars.

Lavandula

joannyc Oct 14th, 2017 04:50 PM

I flew into Brussels and did my time there upfront to recover from jet lag. Then picked up my rental car for the remainder of the trip. I spent my last night in a lovely hotel, a former tannery, in Namur. Then drove to the airport from there the next morning.

Be sure to stop in Dinant for a few hours or so! Lovely view of the town from across the river! Beautiful! Birthplace of Adolph Sax, inventor of the saxophone. Citadel on top of the cliff, Notre Dame cathedral, etc. Google it for images.

menachem Oct 18th, 2017 11:48 AM

Instead of Durbuy, stay in Barvaux. There's nothing in Durbuy except a couple of cafes/brasseries/ham shops/beer shops. It's a pretty town though, but very small.

Barvaux at least has supermarkets and ordinary shops and more choice, restaurant wise.

PalenQ Oct 18th, 2017 11:56 AM

Ask when buying tickets about storing bags at Centraal station - if they have facilities>

Belgian on another thread said that there were luggage storages at Central Station so stuff bags there and stroll to town center and go back and get bags and continue on to Bruges - there are frequent direct trains from Central station to Bruges.

pariswat Oct 18th, 2017 12:14 PM

In Bruxelles I recommend the la truffe blanche - been there 2-3 times, never disappointed. 150 e pp.
great list from Whathello
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-bruxelles.cfm

Durbuy is as Menachem described it : small, nice, but nothing actually... just renowned because very very small. A must do for Chinese groups.

Dinant is nicer than Namur and closer to the Ardennes. Bastogne is interessing if yu're into WW2.

A short TR from Woinparis on Beersel's castle.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...of-beersel.cfm

Bouillon is one of my fav. very medieval.

PalenQ Oct 18th, 2017 01:29 PM

I prefer Woinparis and Whathello's take on restaurants more than pariswat (though all three live in the same dwelling near Brussels) - how much should one tip in Belgium?

Seriously take all those recommendations seriously from a great source.


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